By Angel Lara, NextGen Research Manager
Hello. I’m Angel, one of the many first-generation Latinx people working at NextGen getting out the youth vote in this year’s momentous election. This week kicked off the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month, a celebration of the culture and contributions of Latinx people in our country. I’m writing to tell you the story of my family… and to ask you something very important.
My parents immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico in the ’90s. They left Mexico not knowing what to expect across the border. My dad is a tow trucker, and my mom is a field worker. They became citizens more than 10 years ago, and the first time they cast their ballot was for Barack Obama during the 2008 presidential election. I have four younger brothers, ages: 22, 21, 14, and 10. I am the first person in my family to graduate from a four-year university and one of less than 10 percent of Latinx men who obtain a bachelor’s degree.
My parents never spoke to me about voting and politics. They didn’t know what to say. My parents worked long days, and their time outside of work was spent with my brothers and me. They didn’t have time or energy to invest in politics, and truly they saw no reason to be involved. I had the opportunity to work in the U.S. Senate in the fall of 2017. It wasn’t until then that I realized the importance of politics and how elected officials impact my communities.
Latinx voters are the largest non-white voting bloc in this election. The Latinx community is often overlooked by campaigns and not incorporated into political dialogue. To me, having pride in being Latinx means reflecting on my lived experiences and intersectionalities to fuel my drive to elect younger, more diverse, and more progressive leaders. To my community, having pride in being Latinx means showing up for our community as poll workers and political activists to educate and engage misinformed voters.
Being a voter means speaking up and taking action when I see injustices happening. Being a voter means teaching my family and friends how to be civically engaged. Being a voter means actively working to close the voter registration gap within the Latinx community. Being a voter means voting for those who cannot. Voting is one tool in a toolkit that will liberate us from oppression.
Today, I am actively speaking to my family about this general election. I wasn’t civically engaged during the 2016 presidential election, and I feel guilty about the result. I made sure to be politically engaged in this election cycle. I recall creating voter guides for my family to use while they filled out their midterm election ballots; now, as a political researcher for NextGen America, I make voter guides for millions of young voters.
Election Days are holidays in my family — and I urge you to speak to your loved ones about the importance of voting this year. My community depends on it.
Juntos votamos y juntos ganamos,