Posts tagged with "new Yorker"

Kaelen Felix illustrates Ritchie Torres for 360 Magazine

TRAILBLAZER: CONGRESSMAN RITCHIE TORRES

By Elle Grant

January 3rd marked the commencement of the 117th Congress and the swearing of its newest members. For many, it marked the beginning of a new dawn. One that will be followed by the inauguration of TIME’s People of the Year, President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. They will replace President Trump on Inauguration Day on January 20th. Yet several other remarkable individuals were elected this year and sworn in a bit earlier, solidifying the 117th Congress as the most diverse in American history. One of these representatives is a freshly elected Ritchie Torres, a 32-year-old politician serving the 15th congressional district in the Bronx, New York. Torres is the first openly gay Afro-Latino man elected to Congress, and one of two gay Black men that will serve in the 117th Congress, a distinction he shares with fellow New Yorker Mondaire Jones. 360 Magazine had the opportunity to sit down with Torres to discuss the story of his life, the issues he considers vital, as well as pick his brain for his thoughts on current events.

“I am a product of the Bronx,” Torres says of his childhood, “I spent most of my life in poverty.” Ritchie Torres was raised by a single mother, one of three children, in the Throggs Neck neighborhood of the East Bronx. He recalls the difficulty his mother had raising a family on minimum wage in the 1990s, as well as the awful conditions of the public housing he grew up in. Torres recollects these experiences with the soft yet fluid countenance that marked his speech throughout 360’s conversation with him. He floats between topics and memories with ease.

He recalls, with a rich sense of irony, the construction of Trump Golf Links as a child. “My life is something of a metaphor. I grew up right across the street of what became Trump golf course and actually something funny, is when the golf course was undergoing construction, it unleashed a skunk infestation. So, I often tell people I’ve been smelling the stench of Donald Trump long before he became President.” His own situation, compared with the government subsidized construction of the Trump Golf Links, deeply unsettled Torres’ image of society. He says collectively of his youth, “Those experiences shape not only who I am as a person, but as a public official.”

Such injustices prompted Torres to seek to become “The change that you wish the see in the world,” he says, quoting Mahatma Gandhi. He named public figures such as Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, Ted Kennedy as role models. He got his start as a housing organizer and eventually took the leap of faith to run for public office, becoming New York’s youngest elected city official at age 25. He had “No ties to the machine. No ties to the dynasties of Bronx politics, but I was young and energetic. I knocked on thousands of doors,” he claims that kind of face-to-face contact won him that election. Torres then became the first LGBTQ+ official elected from the Bronx.

“I think it has several implications,” he says when asked what this early accomplishment meant to him. “I mean, first, we are all products of our identities and our lived experiences. Right? Who we are as people shapes what we do as policy makers. It is important to have LGBTQ policy makers in the room where decisions are being made. A wise person once said, ‘If you don’t have a seat at the table, then you are probably on the menu.’” Referring to his 2020 election win, he says “My election means that LGBTQ people of color, in particular, will have a seat at one of the most powerful tables, the United States Congress.” He calls the reality of his election both empowering and normalizing. “I am a symbol of possibility.”

“I met Mondaire for the first time four years ago,” Torres says of Mondaire Jones, U.S. representative of New York’s 17th congressional district. “I remember when I met him for the first time, we had a conversation about the lack of LGBTQ representation of color in New York state politics. And I never imagined that four years later, he and I would become the first openly LGBTQ Black members of United States Congress.”

Congressmen Torres recognizes that his path, though marked with accomplishments, has not been one of only highs. Torres stands apart as a public official on the national stage who is open about the lows of his life and his struggles with mental health. When asked why he chooses to be so transparent, he says “I felt a deep sense of obligation to speak openly about my own struggles with depression in order to break the silence and shame and stigma that surrounds mental health.” He seeks to evolve, not perpetuate, the current ideas surrounding mental health. He hopes to show that “there is a way forward” out of difficult moments, which for him were struggles with substance abuse, the loss of a friend, and moments when he considered taking his own life. But seven years later, Torres was elected to city council. “I would not be alive today, much less a member of the United States Congress, were it not for mental health care which saved my life.” He aspires to send a message that “Recovery is possible. You can take an antidepressant, as I do every day, and find normalcy and stability” and achieve feats like being elected to Congress.

The 117th Congress is slated to be the most diverse in history. Torres says of this reality, “I think American is increasingly becoming a multi-racial, multi-ethnic inclusive democracy. We are witnessing the collapse of politics as an old voice network. I am part of a new generation of young leaders every bit as diverse as America itself. Congress is becoming what it always should have been, a miniaturization of America itself.”

Torres acknowledges the year 2020, monumental in many ways, as harrowing for his Bronx community. “COVID-19 has been a catastrophe for the city and the country, and the South Bronx has been the epicenter of COVID-19. The South Bronx had the highest rate of COVID-19 morbidity and mortality during the peak of the pandemic. And just as destructive as COVID-19 itself were the deeper inequalities that were brought to light.” He argued that the coronavirus exposed the deeper health inequalities, racial inequalities, and class inequalities laid bare by the pandemic.

These issues are at the forefront of Torres’ mind in thinking of his work as a legislator. When asked what he saw as the first step to rectifying the rampant racial injustice in the United States, he answered “the first thing is to bring greater accountability to policing in America,” an argument familiar to many Americans following the deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd and their ensuing protests. As the Black Lives Matter movement swept the nation with greater momentum than ever before, cries for justice and defunding the police became common across the country’s cities. “Where there is no accountability, there will never be an end to police brutality” Torres says, being especially critical of qualified immunity in the United States.

Torres heads to Congress as a man with a mission regarding many issues. He himself declares “My great passion is affordable housing,” reflecting a long journey working continually in the housing sphere. He seeks to secure far greater funding for public housing in New York City and to expand the Section 8 program. The Section 8 program, also known as the Housing Choice Voucher program, created by an act in 1978, provides assistance to eligible low- and moderate-income families to rent housing in the private market. Torres says, “For me the surest way to stimulate the economy is to put money in the pockets of struggling families.” In order to do that, he believes the solution is an expanded child tax credit, which he describes as the single largest tax expenditure in America, yet he finds fault with a system that is “so regressive that it excludes a third of American families. Particularly the poorest families in America.” Torres’ passion shines through when he discusses the subject, detailing how this solution could slash childhood poverty by 40% in the span of the year. He calls its potential an absolute “game changer.”

Without question, affordable housing and tax reform are the first issues Torres hopes to address after being sworn in to the 117th Congress on January 3rd, 2020. “For me, the central mission of my life is to fight poverty in America. Racially constructed poverty in America. The South Bronx is said to be the poorest district in America and if we can make progressive policies work in the South Bronx, we can make them work anywhere.”

360 Magazine also had the opportunity to discuss a variety of current issues with Congressman Torres, one of which being the then impending Senate run-offs in Georgia. Following races too close to call in November 2020, Republican incumbent David Perdue is facing a challenge from Democrat Jon Ossoff. Additionally, GOP appointee Kelly Loeffler is defending her seat against Democrat Reverend Raphael Warnock. The election is vital because it will determine which party will control the Senate. “The stakes are supremely important,” Torres says of Georgia. “As long as Mitch McConnell refuses to bring critical bills to the floor for a vote, there is a limit to what we can accomplish. For me, Mitch McConnell is the single greatest obstruction on the path to progress. Winning those two seats in Georgia are essential.”

Regarding the impending mayoral race in his home of New York City, as well as early polls that display former Presidential candidate Andrew Yang as the frontrunner, Torres is coy. “The mayor’s race is wide open. Anyone who claims to have it figured out is lying.” He goes on to affirm “It is full of more than one credible candidate.”

“To be clear, I never announced that I wasn’t going to be in the squad.” Torres says, referring to ‘The Squad’ of United States Congress, composed of Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a fellow New Yorker, Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib. With new young progressive politicians like Torres joining the fray, claims of expanding membership are common. Torres, along with the aforementioned Mondaire Jones, as well as Congresswoman Cori Bush, Congresswoman Marie Newman, and Congressman Jamaal Brown are commonly referred to as impending members.

Instead, Torres clarifies, “I would never issue an announcement that I would not be a part of something. That would be an odd thing to do. Whenever I’m asked about the squad, I simply state that I’m my own person and I prefer to be judged on the basis of my own story and my own record, on my own terms.” He goes on to assert he is willing to work with “anyone and everyone in the service of delivering to the people of the South Bronx. That is my highest priority.” Torres is clear in this declaration that he is willing to work with more conservative members of his own party or the Republican party in hopes of progress.

On a future in politics, Torres affirmed his intent to serve the people in the moment and to “let the dice fall where they may” regarding the future. When asked what wisdom he would impart to a younger generation, Congressman Torres says “We are all only as strong as the support we have in our lives and be grateful for the supporters you have. The friends and family. I would not be here today if not for the friendship of people who believed in me more than I believed in myself. Know who those people are and value them and be grateful for them.”

Update as of 1/14/21, Congressman Ritchie Torres has formally endorsed former presidential candidate Andrew Yang for mayor of New York City. This comes just a day after Andrew Yang announced his campaign in a video titled ‘Why I’m Running,’ which features Torres in it.

Urszula Makowska

Photo by Leslie Moncada.

Fashion trends in 2018

Fashion and Social media influencer Urszula Makowska is a fashionable New Yorker with over 116k followers on Instagram. She was invited to almost every event of the New York Fashion Week. Urszula is influencing others with her fashion style and at this occasion, she had an interview that revealed what the fashion trends are of 2018, as seen at the NYFW.

As a fashion blogger, what were you looking forward to seeing in New York Fashion week?

The most exciting time of the year for bloggers is always fashion week. This time of the year is the busiest for us. We plan our outfits and the events we will attend in advance. We work hard to coordinate everything to perfection including travel and hotel stays.

Personally, I love fashion week. For me, it is extremely exciting. I am a fashion addict and I love to attend shows and presentations to view the upcoming trends for the next seasons. I love to see what designers have created for the upcoming seasons. It is all a work of art and a way to express yourself. Then I love to share the upcoming trends with my followers and readers. During this F/W 2018 New York Fashion Week, I was super excited to attend my shows since I officially received over 40 invitations, and this included some of the big designers from Badgley Mischka to BCBG Maxazria. I was extremely proud of myself to have the ability to attend my shows and presentations. It has shown me how far I came into my career as a blogger. I was also looking forward to not only attending the shows and events, but also seeing friends who were flying into New York City, networking, meeting other bloggers, and working together with photographers to take photos of my looks.

Why is it important for a fashion blogger to attend Fashion Week?

Fashion week is extremely important for any fashion blogger and fashion influencer. Now-in-days, we bloggers and influencers hold the power to influencing and generating sales. We dominate the market and this directly means that we always have to be on top of the upcoming trends. Followers and readers look up to us as having the knowledge of our niche and market. They know us as the experts for getting style inspiration or simply buying what we are wearing or using. Fashion week allows us to keep up with the upcoming trends. We are able to see what products will be hot for the next season and how they can be styled. We are able to see the new trends before anyone else and we are able to introduce these new innovations to our followers and readers.

Aside from that, attending fashion week is also important to us in terms of networking. By attending these events, we are meeting people constantly. These people may be bloggers, editors, or photographers. We have the ability to form a relationship and partner together in the future. I know I personally have met a lot of people this season and I created strong friendships with them. We are always working together and supporting one another. At the end of the day, this only benefits you.

What was your best event so far from NYFW and why?

The best event from NYFW for me was going backstage with Aveda for Tibi. I personally love Tibi and have always wanted to attend one of their shows. Tibi’s fashion shows are extremely popular. A lot of bloggers always want to attend Tibi’s show. Luckily, I was able to go backstage with Aveda since I have a strong relationship with Aveda as one of their influencers. I was able to see the full on hair trends, hair tips, hair inspirations, makeup trends, makeup inspirations, and looks beforehand. I was extremely happy to see everything beforehand, but to learn a lot myself. I was happy to network and see my Aveda family.

Which look was your favorite look that you wore to NYFW?

One of my favorite looks for the shows was the classic Chanel themed look I went for from the S/S 2018 show. I bought a cute classic Zara dress and jacket that looked similar to the Chanel vibes from their S/S 2018 show. I layered a lilac turtleneck under the dress and paired it off with Kanye West Tubular shoes.

Photo by Yiyu Chen.

Which fashion trends are going to be popular this year according to NYFW?

There are a lot of upcoming trends that I saw during the F/W 2018/2019 shows that I am looking forward to.

Currently plaid is in, but don’t worry, it is not leaving anywhere anytime soon. For the upcoming seasons, we will see plaid like never before. It will be bolder than ever. We will be making statements in plaid. Plaid in saturated hues such as hot pink will be hotter than ever. During NYFW plenty of designers showcased plaid suits in hot pink and they were incredible.

Regarding outerwear, puffers, fur, and trench coats will be in trend. They will be more dramatic than ever. They will catch anyone’s eyes. We saw puffers on the runway in bright hues and extremely oversized. That is how we will see them in the fall and winter. Fur jackets were seen in bright colors from yellow to red. Trench coats were seen in leopard prints everywhere during NYFW.

One new trend that was introduced the new crop top silhouette. This top is a part bathing suit, part sports bra, and part strapless bra with underwire. It was seen a lot on the runway and will be extremely popular.

In terms of color trends, red and hot pink will be the hottest colors of the season. We saw bright pink everywhere on the runway from tops to shoes. We also saw red dominate from head to toe. The most exciting part is that the combination of pink and red will be extremely popular. Most designers used a combination of both of their pieces.

What is your personal favorite trend from NYFW?

One of my personal favorite trends will be tea length floral dresses. During the shows, these dresses were paired with cute booties. I am a big fan of booties and floral prints. I find this trend to be extremely chic, but casual. It is perfect for any person to easily put together for any occasion.

Photo by Curtis Pan.

About Urszula

Urszula Makowska is a growing social media influencer, full-time fashion blogger, and actress born and raised in the heart of New York City. Growing up in Brooklyn, she attended dance class for five years and completed her certificate in acting. As an actress, she is best known for my role on MTV’s show CatfishSeason 5B Episode 1: Lucas & Many. Since the episode aired, MTV filmed a follow up with Urszula Makowska in February of 2017, adding the footage to the original episode.

Urszulala formerly launched as Fash Fab in 2012 by Urszula in the early development of her fashion career. Strictly, blogging about fashion at the time, she shared her daily fashion inspirations, outfits, and tips with viewers with the hope of inspiring them with her taste. Through her blog, she has affiliated and partnered with major brands such as Aveda, NYLON, Amika, Christian Dior, LA MER, I SAW IT FIRST, Cartier, Estee Lauder, Givenchy, Daniel Wellington, and many other brands.

What was once known as Fash Fab, soon became re-branded to Urszulala. The blog took a step into the darker side of fashion. The darker and edgier look has grown the blog’s popularity. The bold eyebrows and cat eyes are her signature look. Furthermore, the blog has expanded into beauty, lifestyle, and travel that has inspired others.

Urszula has been featured on

Elle, MTV, Huffington Post, Yahoo, Entertainment Weekly, Bustle, Buzzfeed, and many other publications.

Jessica Markowski

Jessica Markowski is a model and digital influencer with over 175,000 followers on Instagram. Although she was born in Poland, Jessica is native New Yorker living the ‘American Dream’ as a full-time Instagramer and has shared her social media tips with various A-list publications. This time with 360!


How to start


I think it is first important for you to understand your niche. You have to have a core understanding of who you are, what to represent and what can differentiate you from everyone else. I think from you know your values, you can create Instagram into a business that can hopefully lead to becoming full-time.


How to know what is my field 


I think that ties a lot back to knowing yourself. Know your passions, your hobbies, your line of work, and know what it is that YOU are good at. If you are an amazing photographer, show that. If you are good at cooking, show that!  I think you just have to figure out what is special about you that you would want the world to admire and know you for.


How to get followers


I think gaining a following is different per individual. But here are a few things I think are a good place to start:


1. Use the right hashtags. Hashtags are a great way to introduce your platform to people who have not seen your account in the first place. It increases the number of eyes on your page.


2. Create a good visual. I think the photographs would be high-level quality, portray a particular emotion. I think those of main reasons why we are compelled to follow certain people in the first place.


3. Post at a particular time. From doing this for a period of time, I have a home to realize what time of day my audience is most engaged and most likely to like my photo.


How to influence others


Here are my top 4 values I kept with me in hopes of becoming influential: 


1. Be very honest about your emotions and own them. 


2. Show you are glad for others.


3. Be strong for others.


4. Choose to be happy.


How to maintain 


I think it certainly is important to know and connect with your audience. Know who they are, what they like. Try to understand what is the core reason why they are following you in the first place. I think about that before every outfit, every partnership I make, every shoot I have. Not only do I want the image to satisfy me, I want to satisfy everyone who is inspired by me.

 *photo: Leslie Moncada


Recently in Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/making-instagram-a-full-time-career-an-interview-with_us_58c0f07ae4b070e55af9ebb9


MIRANDA LAMBERT’S “TIN MAN” RECEIVES TWO GRAMMY AWARD NOMINATIONS

“TIN MAN” NOMINATED FOR

BEST COUNTRY SOLO PERFORMANCE

AND

BEST COUNTRY SONG

Vanner Records/RCA Records Nashville and prior GRAMMY Award-winner Miranda Lambert receives TWO nominations for her critically lauded, current radio single, “Tin Man,” for the 60th Annual GRAMMY Awards.

The emotionally raw song received nods for BEST COUNTRY SOLO PERFORMANCE, which applauds the vocal performance that Lambert delivers as well as BEST COUNTRY SONG, which highlights the songwriter which Lambert also touts along with co-writers Jack Ingram and Jon Randall.

With how special “Tin Man” is to Lambert it’s no surprise that the artist who is “at the top of her game” [Rolling Stone] penned and performed such a beautiful and raw song that has continued to stand on its own and now today both the artist and songwriter behind “Tin Man” be acknowledged by the GRAMMY Awards.

The double GRAMMY Award-nominated song is one of 24 tracks from the Texas singer-songwriter’s sixth studio, double, album The Weight of These Wings and appears in two of the four categories that comprise the Country music field, adding further endorsement to the declaration that “Lambert is just what country needs.” [New Yorker]

About Miranda Lambert:

Vanner Records/RCA Records Nashville singer/songwriter Miranda Lambert is the reigning ACM Female Vocalist of the Year, having been bestowed this honor for eight consecutive years. Her accolades include 2 Grammy Awards, 12 (CMA) Country Music Associations Awards, and 28 (ACM) Academy of Country Music Awards as well as many other honors, including the prestigious Harmony Award from the Nashville Symphony.

The Texas native released her most recent effort, a double album titled The Weight of These Wings in November 2016, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Country Albums chart. She touts six studio albums to her repertoire; Kerosene (2005), Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (2007), Revolution (2009), Four The Record (2011) and Platinum (2014), the latter earning Lambert a GRAMMY Award for Best Country Album, in addition to her previous GRAMMY win for Best Female Country Vocal Performance in 2010 for “The House That Built Me.” The first song released from The Weight Of These Wings, “Vice,” received multiple Grammy and ACM Award nominations. Her third single, “Tin Man”, is currently at Country Radio. www.Mirandalambert.com

Photo Attached

Credit: Courtesy of RCA Nashville