Miami LGBTQ Pride Parade and a Baptism by Glitter

Meandering my way through a crowd splashed in the colors of the rainbow, I found myself fully immersed into a parade that not only celebrated the pride of being fabulously different, but also the bond of a community bound by their love of loving freely.

Miami’s yearly Gay Pride Parade, a weekend-long celebration, once again proved that the Magic city is the home for unapologetic misfits. Throughout my re-exploration of Collin’s Avenue, where the streets were closed off to make way for extraveggant floats and dancers, I came in contact with people of all ages, ethniticites, and religions. That weekend, only one thing mattered: unity.

The crowd sparkled in the sunlight with their vibrant costumes and glitter. A man, sporting the latest makeup trends while holding a sign that read “Free Glitter” approached me as I was merely participating in the parade as a speculator through the lens of my camera.  Before I knew it, my face, clothes and hair, was drenched by a silver waterfall.

And just like that, having arrived as a stranger, I emerged from the crowd illuminated by glitter and as a member of the family.



From the Editors: You Can Count on Us

By Edysmar Diaz-Cruz & Daniela Morales

screen-shot-2016-10-14-at-9-10-50-pmAs editors of Miami Lakes Educational Center’s student paper, the Harbinger, we pride ourselves in leading a newsroom comprised of young minds, young talent, and young voices. We may be high schoolers, but we know what it takes to publish authentic news when the student body needs to hear it most. We share the stories that take place within our school, we analyze the politics in our local community, and we are well aware of the struggles facing journalists of the future.

Continue reading “From the Editors: You Can Count on Us”

Wake Me Up When November Ends

On November first, I submitted my first official college application. And later that week I submitted another, then another, then another. And now the wait has officially begun. I still have a lot more applications to go — safety schools, scholarships, regular decision applications—yet it’s so hard to believe that I’m at the point in my life where I’m making decisions for myself, decisions that can possibly change the course of the rest of my life.

Part of me is ready for it, but another part isn’t.

I’m ready to grow up into the person I’ve always wanted to be with the help of my dream colleges, but part of me wants to remain young, naive, and full of teenage bliss.

Nonetheless, the moment that I’ve been waiting for (my first college acceptance) is right around the corner and, quite frankly, I can’t wait. The first week of December is when I start to hear back from colleges, and I’ve never wanted November to end so soon.

This month-long wait is both a blessing and a curse.

I am giddy, excited, and hopeful but the pessimism and worries still weigh heavy on my shoulders. It’s going to be a rough month full of anxiety, self-doubt, and long nights of fighting away my sleep depriving thoughts of what-ifs.

November is going to be all about preparing emotionally for what may come in the future— whether I’ve planned for it or not. It is a month for self-reflection and deciding what I truly want to for myself. Yet, no matter what the outcome may be, I am confident that I’ll make the best of it.

Journalism Day at FIU: Calvin Hughes Shares His Wisdom

Under the humid East St. Louis sun, a young Calvin Hughes spent afternoons dribbling around the community basketball court, working on his jump shots and perfecting free-throws. Nothing could fathom his determination, for basketball, he believed, was the passport out of a rough neighborhood.

Today, Calvin Hughes is a news anchor on WPLG Local 10, in Miami, Florida. An emmy award-winning journalist, Hughes continues to be determined and hardworking amidst an ever-changing career. Because of his extensive knowledge in the field’s past, present, and future, he was invited to address an audience of young, aspiring journalists as a keynote speaker for Florida Scholastic Press Association’s (FSPA) 44th Annual Journalism Day at Florida International University (FIU) on Oct.14.

He emphasized the importance of developing strong communication skills: “At some point in your life, you will be called upon,” he said, warning the audience that one day, their speaking and writing skills will be tested. Hughes knows first-hand the importance of obtaining effective communication skills in the field of journalism. When he couldn’t obtain a scholarship through his basketball aspirations, Hughes sought fulfillment elsewhere. A teacher who noticed his unique way of telling stories in his writing suggested dabbling with journalism.

He joined the school newspaper, but quickly realized that his basketball slang and street talk wouldn’t cut it.

For hours on end, he’d take the local newspaper and read out loud. He was relentless and eager to perfect his speaking skills. “I had to completely transform the way I spoke. I practiced working on my diction…Just like I worked on my jump shot,” he said, now a seasoned reporter with a confident, booming voice.

Hughes has had a lot of experience with adapting to change, coincidentally the Journalism Day’s theme for the year. He experienced a culture shock when he transitioned from small town reporting as a recent college graduate to covering international news in the diverse city of Miami, Florida.

“In Miami, you have to be concerned about what’s going on … everywhere,” he said.

Not only did he have to adjust to a new city, but also to a new age of technology. He witnessed the field of journalism confront a new generation that receives news from social media networks. His role as a news anchor, in response, changed. He would no longer break the news; instead his job developed into fact checking and serving as the “journalism police.”

He realized that journalism is a transforming market and pointed out that this year’s coverage of the presidential election is an example why: Both presidential candidates announced their bid for presidency on Twitter. Baffled, Hughes looked unto the young audience before him and said, “Your generation has challenged my generation. We’re still trying to figure you out.”

Ultimately, Calvin Hughes has learned over the course of his career that journalism demands a quick adaptation to change. But he reminded those present on Journalism Day that although the field is transforming, one thing will always remain the same: Journalists’ adamant pursuit of the truth.

“The truth is being compromised,” he said. “It’s up to your generation that the future of communication lives on.”

Taking the Miami Herald Newsroom by Storm

As of August of this school year, I started interning for the Miami Herald Media Company. I’m still learning the ropes of how things work in a newsroom, but, essentially, I am a reporter! It’s almost like the real deal, except that I get high school credit rather than paychecks. But that’s totally fine with me, because interning for the Miami Herald is something I’ve wanted to do ever since I was a sophomore, a newbie in the journalism program at my school. So far it’s been great. I just turned in my first assignment with my fellow intern and colleague, both in school and out, Daniela Morales. Together we introduced ourselves to reporters and editors in the newsroom, and made sure to represent our school newspaper, the Harbinger!

Flint Promised Clean Water but got High Levels of Lead Instead.

Brown water contaminated with high levels of lead has been coursing through the pipelines of 100,000 resident homes in Flint, Michigan for the past two years now. Left with no other alternatives, the people of Flint drank it despite its smell, taste, and color.

They were constantly assured by officials that it was safe to drink.

Today, at least 100 children have tested positive for high levels of toxic lead in their blood which in many cases results in the irreversible effects of lead poisoning. Residents have developed rashes, hair loss, along with other severe health problems. And E. Coli bacteria was discovered in the water.

“My hair’s falling out. My blood tests are a mess,” Flint resident Melissa Mays told CBS news. “I was healthy.”  

Before the water crisis, the people of Flint were already stricken with the struggles of poverty and local crime. About 41 percent of Flint residents live at or below the poverty line.

And because the city can’t afford to fund a full-fledged police force with the tools necessary to keep crime at bay, Flint residents live in the most dangerous city of the country. So much so that Flint has earned the nickname of Murder Town of America.

Poverty continued to dictate the lives of Flint residents as the call for finding a cheaper water source landed a spot on the money-saving agenda for the city, a decision that ultimately snowballed into the water crisis of today.

In April 2014, the water source in Flint was switched from Lake Huron to the local Flint River as a temporary water source until a regional water system was finished—a project that wouldn’t be completed until two years later in 2016.

There were complaints right away, but the crisis wasn’t acknowledged until much later by local and state officials in October 2015. By the time the Michigan National Guard arrived to relieve the city with bottled water, filters and testing kits, the damage had already been done to both the people and the pipes of the city.

Since Flint water is highly corrosive and since the water service lines in Flint contain lead, the water leached lead off the pipes and into residents’ homes. This could have been prevented if the city had not failed to properly treat the water by adding anti-corrosion chemicals into it.

Republican governor Rick Snyder promised a solution to the people of Flint during his annual State of the State speech.

“We are praying for you, we are working hard for you and we are absolutely committed to taking the right steps to effectively solve this crisis,” he said. “To you, the people of Flint, I say tonight as I have before: I am sorry, and I will fix it.”

Flint residents, however, weren’t convinced. Many rallied and protested against the governor, calling for his resignation.  Many lost trust in their local government.