This past Saturday, my roommate and I, along with several hundred Tallahassee residents and college students, went out and marched in protest of the Muslim ban, a recent executive order signed by President Trump that bans the entry into the U.S. from several predominately Muslim countries and the wall that Trump has proposed to build. The event was led by the Women’s March Florida Tallahassee/Panhandle Chapter who partnered with FSU’s Students for Justice in Palestine.

It was my first time actively participating in a protest and it was an exhilarating experience. We all met up in the Free Speech Zone on the Florida State campus where we were given directions, guidelines, and warnings (specifically those that were more at risk for targeted hate-crimes like people in the LGBT community or Muslims participating) in case someone from outside the protest wanted to get violent with us.

The march ran all the way from FSU to the Florida Capitol building where we had guest speakers share personal stories about how the ban affects them and/or their loved ones. It was inspiring to hear their stories because they were fighting for something they believe in which was that we should be helping those in need, not shutting our doors (or building walls) on them.

Some of the phrases we shouted while marching were humorous and others were very truthful so I thought I’d share them:

“Donald Trump, you orange clown, build a wall? We’ll tear it down.”

“Say it loud, say it clear: Refugees are welcome here.”

“Power to the people. No one is illegal”

“When Trump threatens Muslim lives, resistance is justified.”

“Do not shut U.S. doors on people hurt by U.S. wars.”


While we were protesting in front of the Capitol, people in cars flicked us off and shouted while others honked in support. It saddens me to know that people agree with the hateful rhetoric Trump spews but also seeing hundreds of others in solidarity gave me hope. Here are some pictures of the march:


Body Awareness

“Without a bit of mindfulness every day, it’s easy to forget ourselves below the neck, to go through life like floating heads…”

boy with a hat

woman on a chair beach painting

How aware of your body are you as you read this? When we are not preoccupied with the external world, the world of the senses, we tend to live in our head, among our thoughts. Unless we exercise, make love, shower, or experience physical pain, we can go about our business every day without being much aware of our body.

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I’m really grateful to have you as a friend, Elizabeth. Lots of love to you! ❤

The World at Large

Last Tuesday, I decided to host our friendsgiving. Amongst the millions of things I have to be thankful for, I am especially grateful for whatever supernatural, metaphysical, strange star alignment yet wonderful phenomenon that allowed for me to have the friends that I do.

Here’s to the yummiest food, and the best of company.

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The 43rd Annual FSPA Journalism Day: The Harbinger Wins Awards & Learns A Whole Lot More

This was my last Journalism Day. Definitely bittersweet!

The Harbinger

By Maria Vasquez

This past Saturday, October 17th, the Florida Scholastic Press Association held their 43rd Annual South Florida Journalism Day at Florida International University. Every year they have a different theme and this year’s theme was Star Wars. “The Media Awakens” included several seminars with titles that were a play on words to the movie.

IMG_20151020_215920 Daylin Delgado (left) and Carolina Espinal (right) ask Mr. DeFede questions about his journey as a journalist.

“Help Me iPhone, You’re My Only Hope” was one of the creative classes featured. Yearbook representatives spoke about how to advance a publication with a smart phone. Other classes taught student journalists about how to become a marketing “yoda” to sell yearbooks or how to “bring the galaxy home” and write stories about the local community.

Several Harbinger reporters attended Journalism Day. Our staff writers, Carolina Espinal and Daylin Delgado, wrote about the Keynote Speaker, Jim DeFede and a struggle he…

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Existentialism: What It Means To Me…

In my AP Literature class, we are reading Grendel. Before we began, my teacher, Mrs. Borges, gave us a lesson on Existentialism & Nihilism.

Existentialism: The belief that there is no real purpose in life except the one you make for it. Humans define their own meaning of life.

Nihilism: The rejection of all religious & moral principles. The belief that life is meaningless and to make a purpose out of it is pointless.

For now, I just want to focus on Existentialism. This lesson really got me thinking. There is no real reason, that I am aware of, as to why I am here. As of right now, all I know is that I have to (because it has been engrained into my mind and my beliefs by society) graduate high school, to get into college, to get a good job, and then to what? I can start a family & then what? I hit my mid-life crisis, start dressing like a teenager again, and then what? I’m not so sure that’s what I want out of life. Yes, I want to graduate high school and get into a wonderful university where I will continue to experience life, gain knowledge, and go through all the right of passages that is expected from a teenager/young adult. I want to do things that I can look back on with happiness once I’m older! But at the end of the day, whatever I decide to do will not matter. 

To some, this won’t make sense. To most, this can be depressing. To others, “eh, whatever.”

To me, this is pretty liberating. I can do as I please with my life. And all I want is to be HAPPY. The purpose I have set for myself in my life is to simply and purely be happy. I want to be surrounded by people with good energy. I want to do things that will make me a better person and help me experience life more. I want a career that I can enjoy doing for a long time. I don’t want to settle for whatever I get, I want to go out and make the most of things.

Life is seriously too short. Too short to deal with people who don’t care about you, aren’t worth your time, and are just plain mean. Too short to not actually live it for yourself. You don’t get an unlimited number of days so enjoy them. Even when you have bad days, weeks, months, maybe even years, look at the bright side of how it made you grow as a person.

This is all a new philosophy for me; A new way of life I’ve decided to start living. It might not make sense, it probably has a lot of flaws in it, and it’s not what most people may want out of their life but #YOLO.

Disclaimer: This is something that I have created based on my personal experiences and circumstances. I am not encouraging anyone to live life this way, I am simply sharing my current personal views.

New Goodwill! #Thrifting

Not too long ago, I was driving home & I spotted a Goodwill Super Store I had not seen before. Turns out it is new & opened this past Saturday. My mom & I decided to check it out.

I feel like there is much more room for improvement at this Goodwill. The “juniors” section was full of clothes I’d typically see at the mall. There is nothing wrong with that but I tend to go to Goodwill for the difference in the types of clothes you can find there, not only the difference in price. I found a lot of nice dresses but most of them were from common stores– Forever 21, Agaci, Charlotte Russe, etc. It’s as though Goodwill is just trying to be a cheaper & used mall. I appreciate their efforts but stay unique Goodwill! It’s what I enjoy about you the most.

The Color Nude: Neutral, Racist, Or Undecided?

Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of things about the color “nude” on Twitter after BuzzFeed posted an articlevideo on the topic. This color controversy is something that I once debated about and I wrote a story on it:

When Michelle Obama wore a sleeveless dress to a state dinner in 2010 and Naeem Khan, the designer of the dress, described it as a “sterling-silver sequin, abstract floral, nude strapless gown,” controversy on the color/word “nude” began.

Nude is defined as naked. It doesn’t necessarily mean invisible but it’s supposed to blend into a person’s skin color in order to make them appear “nude” without them actually being fully naked.

Screen-shotted from Google Images, "Define Nude."

The lingerie, fashion, and make up industry each have their own definition of “nude.”

“Nude is a neutral color,” said Elizabeth Rivera, the category manager at the Victoria Secret store in Main Street, Miami Lakes. “It goes well with everything and it’s not meant to match anyone’s skin tone.”

In the lingerie world, nude isn’t supposed to be a color to match or blend with anyone’s skin tone. It’s meant to be a neutral color that won’t show through clothes, such as a white t-shirt.

However, in fashion, nude isn’t neutral. It’s a shade of color meant to be a fashion statement. “Nude heels,” “nude flats,” and “nude tops” all resemble a champagne/beige color.

“Based off of what I’ve seen in the fashion industry, nude is typically flesh-toned but of a very fair person. It’s not dark or ‘olive’ or ‘pale’,” said Lily Bencome from Bebe at Pembroke Gardens, who majored in Fashion Design at the Miami International University of Art & Design.

Make-up companies name the color of their products (foundations, concealers, liquid powders, etc.) using the spectrum of skin tones. But, when it comes to the actual definition of the color, they consider it to be more like beige/champagne and they describe it as “nude beige” and “creamy natural.”

Why is that specific color labeled “natural” or “nude” if all skin colors are natural?

“The definition is interpretive,” said Kiki Robinson, a sales consultant at Sephora, a beauty shop in Pembroke Gardens. “It depends on who you’re asking. It can range from something that’s really brown to something that’s really fair. You have to compliment it to your skin tone.”

Although make up brands label nude and natural as one specific shade, make-up artists see it as the color that is most natural to their clients skin tone.

“Nude is only nude if you’re white, not black,” said Paula Cocozza, a fashion writer for The Guardian.

If racism is brought into the discussion, it makes sense as to why certain people tend to tie nude with a lighter color instead of a darker. To this day, it’s hard for a person of a darker skin tone to become a model as opposed to a person with fair skin.

“I don’t really think about the racist aspect of it. It doesn’t make me pause to say ‘Oh that really bothers me [how they interpret] it,” said Robinson. “A lot of these companies aren’t U.S. based. Most of them are European. So, they’re not appealing to our masses but to the people in their area,” said Robinson, “The labels apply to them more than they do to us.”

To an extent, that may be true but companies in the make-up, fashion, and lingerie industry, regardless of location, know what they mean when they say “nude” or describe one color more natural than the other. They don’t seem to be trying to give nude its true neutral and naked meaning. Labeling those terms to one shade can give off an offensive approach.

One example of a store that takes all skin colors into consideration when using the label “nude” is-Nordstrom but that doesn’t excuse all the other places that don’t. Maybe one day we’ll look at the word “nude” as a color for everyone but, as of right now, the answer still remains in the situation of inequality in these industries.

For more, check out this article from BuzzFeed.

*Note: I wrote this my first year of my journalism classes (December 2014).