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These Afro-Latino Actors Are Pushing Back Against Erasure in Hollywood

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The Panamanian-American actor Sarunas Jackson often hears a familiar line of questioning soon after he meets someone new. “You say you’re Black, but you speak Spanish. So what is it? Which one are you?” Jackson says people ask him.

Jackson is Afro-Latino, a label for people who identify as both Black and Latino. Many Afro-Latinos are descended from African slaves who were brought to the Caribbean and South America as opposed to the U.S.: “It’s just a matter of where the boat dropped us off,” Jackson says. Now, one in four Latinos in the U.S. identifies as Afro-Latino according to the Pew Research Center, amounting to roughly 15 million people.

But while there are millions of Afro-Latinos around the world, they are chronically misunderstood and underrepresented. Across Latin America, they are marginalized and discriminated against. In the U.S., they are less likely to go to college and are more likely to have a lower family income than other Latinos. In terms of representation, almost all of the biggest Latina entertainment stars—including Jennifer Lopez, Sofia Vergara and Salma Hayek—are fair-skinned, as gatekeepers perpetuate a narrow image of what it means to “look Latina.” Afro-Latino actors are consistently shut out of roles because they don’t match that image—and when they are cast, it’s even rarer that they get to play Afro-Latino characters, instead playing characters who are Black or mixed race but not Latino.

Last year saw a rare bright spot for representation when Jharrel Jerome became the first Afro-Latino to win an Emmy for acting, for his gutting portrayal of Korey Wise on Ava DuVernay’s When They See Us. But this year, the Emmys have become a focal point for a contentious conversation around Afro-Latino erasure after an L.A. Times article, originally titled “Emmys 2020: Black nominees gain ground, Latino representation still abysmal,” was perceived to pit the groups against each other while ignoring their intersection.

In September, TIME convened a roundtable of Afro-Latino performers—Gina Torres, Dascha Polanco, Laz Alonso, Amara La Negra and Sarunas Jackson—to talk about their fraught experiences in the industry, and their efforts for increased authentic representation going forward.

Latin American colorism

While the term “Afro-Latino” only came into consistent use within the last two decades, Afro-Latinos have been “hiding in plain sight since time,” Gina Torres, an actor best known for her roles on Suits and Firefly, said during the roundtable. During the transatlantic slave trade, well over 90% of the more than 12 million Africans enslaved by Europeans were forcibly brought to the Caribbean and South America.

Many of the slaves who landed south of Florida died due to the brutal conditions, but a lineage of African descendants began to spread across Central and South America, mixing the cultures of their homeland, indigenous populations and their European colonizers. Now, according to the Pew Research Center, there are more than 130 million “Afro-descendants” living in Latin America, three times the number of African Americans in the U.S.

Despite their outsize presence in countries like Brazil, Haiti, Cuba and the Dominican Republic, colorism runs rampant in those societies—and Afro-Latinos “are 2.5 times more likely to live in chronic poverty than whites or mestizos,” according to a World Bank report. “The gut punch of it for us is understanding that our lighter-skinned brothers and sisters drank the same Kool-Aid of colonization that everybody else did,” Torres says.

Read More: ‘Latinx’ Is Gaining Popularity. But New Research Says Only 3% of U.S. Hispanics Use the Gender-Neutral Term

The actor and singer Amara La Negra experienced this type of behavior firsthand. As a child, she was cast in Sábado Gigante, the enormously popular variety show that was the longest-running show in Univision’s history. But she was almost always the only dark-skinned face among the performers, and says she was subject to constant colorism behind the scenes. “They never knew how to place me. It was like, ‘Your look is messing up the choreography,’” La Negra recalls.

La Negra later auditioned for a major telenovela, only to be rebuffed by the casting director: “‘No, there’s nothing you did bad,’” she recalls hearing. “‘You’re beautiful! It’s just that we’re looking for someone more, como que, Latina.’”

Laz Alonso, the veteran Hollywood actor known for his roles in Fast & Furious and Avatar, says he hasn’t been able to get any jobs in Latin America: “The doors are shut,” he says. “It really bewilders me how Latinos are not as aware of our Black history as we are in the states.”

American marginalization

While the Latin-American market has proved itself frequently hostile to Black performers, Afro-Latinos often experience double marginalization in the U.S.: not only are Black and Latino people underrepresented in most arenas of public life, but Afro-Latinos often feel shunned within each community. “When I was in the African-American environment, it was like, ‘Oh, there goes that Spanish girl,’” La Negra says. “And then when I’m in the Latin environment, it’s like, ‘You’re too Black to be here. You should be with them.’”

The marginalization of Black Latinos in African-American communities is part of something that Henry Louis Gates Jr. refers to as “African-American exceptionalism”: the idea that the Black experience is the Black American experience. “When we’re celebrating Blackness, if you think about that umbrella of Black, there’s obviously different cultures and different nationalities,” Jackson says.

In Hollywood, the Afro-Latino perspective is all but invisible. Alonso began his film career in the early 2000s, and was put up for almost exclusively African-American roles. When he auditioned for Latino roles, he got similar feedback as La Negra did: “‘Well, he did a good job, but he doesn’t look Latin.’ They thought a Latino had to look Mexican,” Alonso says.

Torres, too, was asked to play mostly African-American characters, and says that many of her peers changed their Latin-sounding last names rather than deal with the confusion. When Torres did pass the audition stage, she would find that her characters lacked depth. “I have been the eunuch in pretty much every show,” she says. “I’m always the ball-buster, the assassin, or the cop that doesn’t have a life—because to have a life means that you have to humanize me. It’s so much easier for them to fit you into that slot and check off that box. And they got a lot of boxes with me: female, mature, person of color.”

Jackson is of a younger generation, having broken into Hollywood just as the industry was starting to grapple with #OscarsSoWhite. But he faced some of the same misconceptions that his peers initially faced decades earlier. “Every time, I just had to be a light-skinned Black guy or a biracial Black guy who was just Black and white,” he says. “But you know, it is what it is. You’re going to take a role.” Meanwhile, rising shows centered on Latino Americans, like Vida and Jane the Virgin, mostly excluded Afro-Latinos as well.

When Jackson was cast on Insecure, his character, Dro, was initially supposed to be Black and Mexican. But when Jackson pushed for Dro to be Afro-Latino by way of Panama, the showrunners agreed to make the change. “That was the first time I was ever allowed to be an Afro-Latino character,” he says.

Fighting for change

Within the past decade, a movement for representation has allowed different types of stories to emerge, and a trickle of Afro-Latino stories has come to the screen. FX’s Pose features two prominent Afro-Latina actors: Indya Moore and MJ Rodriguez. The hit Netflix show On My Block features an Afro-Latina lead character, Monse (although the actor who plays her, Sierra Capri, is not Afro-Latina), while writers of Netflix’s Gentefied created the character Yessika with Afro-Latina actors in mind. “We really wanted to explore those issues of anti-Blackness and colorism within the Latinx community,” co-creator Marvin Lemus told Remezcla earlier this year.

Last year, Torres became the first Afro-Latina to create, produce and star in her own show, with Pearson on the USA Network. “I finally got into a position of power, and said, ‘We’re going to write this character as Afro-Latina. I’m going to use my Spanish as often as possible,” she says. “That was sort of my way of educating the people around me, and what I was doing was absolutely being 100% myself.”

Of course, the U.S. entertainment world has a long way to go to in terms of representation. According to a study by USC’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, across the 100 top-grossing movies from 2007-2018, only 3% of films featured leads or co-leads with Latino actors—and Afro-Latinos make up an even smaller slice still. The contentious dialogue around the Emmy nominations showed how Afro-Latino viewpoints are erased and how African Americans and Latino Americans can be pitted against one another. Torres’ Pearson was canceled after just one season. “They’re having us fight over crumbs,” she says.

To forge ahead, Torres talks about “creating channels for sustainable access”: mentorship, education, collaboration, creation of authentic stories. One of those channels is Orange Is the New Black star Dascha Polanco’s Brown Love podcast for Netflix, in which she delves into these issues. “It is the responsibility of those that are in positions of power to push forward diversity in a way that is not a trend,” Polanco says. “This is the Afro-diaspora. This is the normalcy of life.”

Contact us at letters@time.com.

Entertainment

What Makes a Good Online Casino?

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A quick search for an online casino will reveal hundreds of results. However, these casinos are not created equally. Some are better than others in many ways. That’s why you cannot settle for the first option that catches your eye. You need to do thorough research to ensure you settle for a casino that will give you a better experience – and some good money in the process.

So, what makes a good online casino?

The truth is that there are many reputable casinos online – and new ones keep popping up with each passing day. But the few bad ones spoil the name for the others. These casinos scam people. They are eager to make deposits but not keen to give players their money back, pay their affiliates, or even stick to their terms and conditions. These casinos – scam or rogue casinos – are exactly the types you want to avoid.

Unfortunately, most of these rogue casinos disguise as good ones. You might have a hard time telling them apart, especially if you are just getting started. To help you make an informed decision, here are some qualities that make a good online casino.

It does not feature in the blacklist

One of the easiest ways to tell a good casino from the bad ones is by looking at different online casino blacklists. Different reputable platforms always release yearly blacklists to protect casino players from gambling scams online. They put bad casinos on a list for everyone to see and ensure no one signs up to any of those casinos in the future. Since these sites differ, chances are you won’t find the same casinos on every blacklist. But the fact that a casino makes the list means they have one or more of these problems:

  • Change terms
  • Predatory terms
  • Slow pay
  • Unfair games
  • Nonpayment
  • Marketing spam
  • Licensing and regulation

Choice of games

As a player, you’ll appreciate the choice of picking whichever game pleases you. That’s why you need a casino that offers more games. Browse around to find the casino games that the provider offers to see if it’s a good fit.

It’s fair, secure, and serious

As you may have noticed from above, many casinos end up on the blacklist for many reasons, including unfairness and security issues. Good online casinos use random number generator that determines the chances of winning. On top of that, they work with third parties to check the fairness of games. What’s more, these casinos display various certificates on their platforms, giving you further assurance that things are conducted fairly.

Has good customer service

You can tell a good casino by how their customer support team treats you when you send a request or inquire about something. They will be willing and happy to serve you. they will also have adequate knowledge to address your concerns and be available 24/7.

Accept your payment methods

A good casino accepts a wide range of payment options, ranging from online payment options to instant bank transfers and even credit card solutions. This allows you to use your preferred payment method and not feel locked out. Stay away from sites that provide limited payment options. Some of them fail to get approved by payment platforms, which by itself is a red flag.

Has a bonus offer

It’s easy to assume bonus offers and other incentives, especially if you are new to the game. However, you should work with a casino that provides a consistent bonus offer and not just a good welcome offer. You’ll need these bonuses even as an existing client. Moreover, the site should provide promotions without deposit, reload offers, and many free spins. Don’t feel limited. Many casino sites offer these bonuses, and if the one in question doesn’t, you might as well keep looking.

Free games and easy registration

As a newbie, the last thing you want is to sign up with a casino that doesn’t provide free games. You need to practice without having to deposit money or fear that you’ll lose money. Free games allow you to practice and be good before playing real money. Additionally, the casino should have a simple registration and easy account opening process. If it’s too complicated, then maybe it’s not the right casino for you.

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How Las Vegas became the world’s casino capital

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These days, it’s impossible to think of Las Vegas without the image of the lights on the strip and glamorous casinos coming to mind. But the Vegas we know of 2020 wasn’t always that way; and it took a long, long time to get its reputation for being the world’s casino capital. Let’s take a trip down memory lane and get to the root of how Las Vegas became the city that never sleeps.

A historical journey

It’s hard to believe these days, but the Las Vegas region was once an abundant marshland stock full of rich vegetation. That is, until the marsh receded, and the waters disappeared, transforming the landscape into a desert, with the trapped water underground sprouting life and forming an oasis.

It was during the 19th century that the explorer Antonio Armijo from Mexico foraged the way from New Mexico to California on the first commercial caravan. It was a member of the group, Rafael Rivera who rode west to find water and venture through the desert, setting his eyes upon Las Vegas Springs. Las Vegas was therefore named ‘the meadows’ after the grasses found growing there.

Years went on and both Mormon and Mexican settlers began to filter through. In 1890 it was decided by railroad developers that Las Vegas would serve as a spot along the San Pedro, Salt Lake City and Los Angeles railroad route as well as connecting to major cities along the Pacific Coast. From there on, Vegas boomed with stores, boarding houses and saloons popping up around the area. This was the beginning of the Las Vegas as we know it — with railroad workers and ranchers enjoying the gambling and drinking through illegal speakeasies and bootleg casinos operating despite the ban on gambling in Nevada in 1910.

In 1931 gambling once again became legal in the state, with new casinos and showgirl venues opening up along Fremont Street to entertain the thousands of workers who flocked the city during the construction of the Hoover Dam. The first hotel, El Rancho Vegas, opened up in 1941 along Highway 91. Its success inspired others to open up their own hotels along the highway which would one day become the strip. Tourists began to flock to the city over the next few decades to enjoy the casino scene and see incredible artists like Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra perform.

The birth of the mega resort

It was in 1966 the businessman Howard Hughes purchased the Desert Inn hotel; this was followed by over a dozen more hotel purchases, pushing out the mobster-owned hotels that had previously dominated Las Vegas. The concept of the mega hotel came about in 1989 when Steve Wynn opened the Mirage as the first hotel resort in the city. By 1994, Las Vegas was the home of more than 86,000 hotel and motel rooms with 13 of the 20 largest mega resort hotels in the world. It was during this era that the Strip became populated with more hotels and casinos, with developments inspired by the iconic cities and countries of the globe including Egypt, Paris, New York and Rome.

Las Vegas in the 21st century

The Las Vegas of today is well and truly established as a home for entertainment and casinos — which remain the biggest source of income for the city. However, there’s no doubt that Vegas faces more competition than ever before from the virtual world, with more people than ever before opting to play at an online casino, rather than play in the old fashioned way, but Vegas will always have the advantage. For many, it’s a once in a lifetime trip that an online casino can’t replicate, but do the online equivalents help to increase interest in Vegas?

The bright lights of Vegas is attracting billions of dollars in investment as many try and get a slice of the revenue that the sector has to offer. During 2019 over 42.52 million people came to visit Las Vegas from all around the world. Domestically, it was shown to be the second most popular destination for U.S. traveller’s dream spots after New York.

These days, Las Vegas continues to thrive and be a source of entertainment for millions of visitors from around the world looking to experience what the city has to offer. With new generations becoming interested in casino games — and some incredible musical residencies continuing to be announced — Las Vegas surely will continue to be one best places to go for a unforgettable dream destination for many.

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Land-Based Casinos

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What can people find at some of the biggest land-based casinos in Canada? From Niagara Falls to Toronto, there is something for everyone at casinos in Canada, including table games, slots, roulette, blackjack, and other games. There are also many poker and blackjack tournaments held throughout the year and it is easy to find jackpots or slots with free spins at the casinos. Many casinos also have hotels, bars, and numerous restaurants which are perfect for players seeking some comfort. A relaxing casino experience for all ages can be found in many different places in Canada. Choose one from below.

Choosing a casino depends on your tastes and location within Canada. Do you want to experience the grandeur and splendour of nature while placing a bet? Then head to Niagara Falls. Do you want to see a show? Choose a casino with a show that will be perfect for you. If you are looking for pure relaxation, then check out some of the casinos with spas and world-class dining. Entertainment is also a large part of the casino experience in Canada. Musicians, bands, comedians, and other types of entertainment continue to be found at all of the biggest casinos.

Some Big Casinos Near Nature

Casino Niagara is located in one of the most beautiful places in Canada and the world. People from all around the globe come to experience the best of both worlds at Casino Niagara. Players have access to beauty and scenery while spending time at one of the biggest casinos in Canada. The casino has two floors with over 1200 slot machines, poker, and other table games. There are also many different restaurants and even a comedy club. The sports bar and casino was refurbished back in 2017, meaning that it has not lost any of its charm and shine.

ST Eugene Golf Resort: Casino of the Rockies is a golf and nature lovers’ paradise. The location could not be any more splendid. People can find the casino between the Rockies and Purcell Mountains. Furthermore, the casino has an interesting history after it was converted from an Indian Residential School. It was then opened in the early 2000s. St Eugene has table games, electronic roulette, baccarat, and blackjack. There is also a golf course, restaurant, bar, spa, and hotel that is highly rated in Canada. Overall games are limited so most people come for golfing and betting fun.

Caesars Windsor is famously located on the riverbank in Windsor, Ontario. Visitors from both Canada and the States frequent the casino and hotel. Players can see the Detroit and Michigan skyline from the area. There are two floors of slots, table games, and plenty of poker tables. Blackjack, baccarat, and roulette are also available at the casino. It has beautiful restaurants, a gym, bars, slots, and live sports. Check out the Titan 360™, a 10-foot tall slot machine with 5800 pounds of wins at the click of a button. It’s the largest slot machine in the world and great fun.

  • Enjoy the size of Casino de Montreal and Hard Rock Casino
  • Enjoy the big and beautiful Casino Niagara or ST Eugene Golf Resort
  • Enjoy High Culture at Elements Casino Brantford

River Rock Casino Resort – In Transit

Are you passing through Vancouver Airport and have a long transit? Hire a cab and spend some time enjoying slot machines at River Rock Casino Resort. There are slots galore and the different themes make it an enjoyable visit for all. There is even a Dungeons and Dragons slot for gamers. A fourteen-table game room can be found at the casino and international poker tournaments are held regularly. Other features include a VIP area, spa, live music, 24-hour food and drink, as well as other entertainment. Richmond is also worth a quick visit, especially for some delicious seafood.

Casino de Montreal – The Big Gun

Casino de Montreal is 526,488 square feet of casino excitement. The casino has around 20 thousand visitors each day and is one of the biggest casinos on the globe. If you are still unconvinced about the size of the place, then imagine five floors of slots and table games. 3,000 machines and 111 table games make the casino seem even more mammoth. Casino de Montreal games can be played in a smoke-free environment and many players comment on the user-friendly games and helpful staff. Complimentary drinks and top-rated gourmet food is all part of the experience at Casino de Montreal.

Hard Rock Casino – Another Big One

Hard Rock Casino is another large casino located in Vancouver, British Columbia. The casino is over 80,000 square feet, making it a big one in Canada. Hard Rock has gaming tables, slots, baccarat and a poker room. The casino includes 70 casino tables and 1,000 slots. Private rooms and high roller areas are also available. However, the Hard Rock name is known for excellent food and this is what people love about this casino. Many players comment on the quality of the food here. It even has a 1,000 seat theatre, making it great for dining and a show.

Elements Casino Brantford – Enjoy High Culture

Elements Casino Brantford is a historical gem for culture in Ontario. It is a charity casino that was established last century. It includes the Sanderson Centre for the Performing Arts, which is a high society entertainment venue in Ontario. The centre is well known to performing arts enthusiasts in Ontario and Canada. Players come to see a show, enjoy some gourmet food and a game. The casino also has plenty of slots, table games, blackjack, baccarat, sic bo, three card poker, roulette, and other games. There is also a 14-table Texas Hold ‘Em poker room. Enjoy all the excitement.

River Cree Resort and Casino – Sports Lovers

River Cree Resort and Casino is a sport and gaming venue located in Edmonton that should not be overlooked. It has 39 tables of various money limits and over 1,000 slots. There are also a few different places to dine while enjoying a bet and other things to experience. There is a fitness centre, spa and a 200 room resort. However, the most interesting feature of this casino is the two hockey rinks, which are often used by the Edmonton Oilers for practice. It is possible to watch the team practice and go for a meal and some gaming fun.

For the ones who fancy playing online we recomend visiting canadiancasino.org!

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