I’m a woman of color. Mexicana. A student, sister and daughter. I would say that I’m spiritual but not religious.
My biggest concerns are about family separation - about kids going to school worrying whether or not they’ll see their parents at the end of the day.
I work with a lot of youth here at Neighborhood Ministries, and they come to the programs every night telling me about things that happened at school - negative things being said to them that they’re believing. They are being affected dramatically by stuff that’s said to them, or just how society views them. It’s really heartbreaking.
One of my Latina students wore a Black Lives Matter t-shirt to her class and her substitute teacher said terrible things to her - started using the N word – saying things like, ‘You’re not even black. You’re not supposed to worry about those people - you should be worried about yourself.’
And she was really disappointed. She thought she was standing up for something that no one else was standing up but then had an authority figure kept telling her that she was wrong.
On election night - after the count was in - I came home from an election watch party very upset. I didn’t want to see my parents because I knew I would cry - afraid for their future. But when I saw them, their response shocked me. “It’s just another fight,” they said. “We’re going to keep on fighting for our families again, and again, and again.”
And if they can keep going, then I can too. I won’t leave their sacrifice unnoticed.
So it’s my family that gives me hope every day. Along with the people here at Neighborhood Ministries. Sitting surrounded by my family but also this community has been very hopeful.
If I could create the future, I would want all people to feel included and safe. Really, just the opposite of whatever is going on right now.
I want everyone to understand what it’s like to be someone else. I don’t want people to judge others – where even if we don’t agree, we at least try to learn about what is different. Because I think that’s the issue – that if we don’t know something, we don’t take the time to learn about it. And then we miss out on new things we may wind up liking or learning from.
I want a community where everyone is connected with each other and everyone takes the time to understand one another. A community full of love good vibes... good energy... something good. I don’t see much good today… So the future I work to build will be something good.
ON WORKING FOR CHANGE
I work for change in my community in a lot of ways. I work with youth, doing a lot of political education stuff with them so that our community knows when they’re being attacked, what their rights are, and how to respond to politicians and terrible laws. Making sure the community understands the whole structure and what the political landscape looks like is incredibly important.
We are also providing resources for folks who can’t afford clothes and furniture – a place where they can work for a few hours and get the things they need.
Were also doing a lot of voter registration – getting ready for next year. Our biggest project right now is teaching the youth about the political landscape and making sure they’re registered to vote. Last year we registered more than 150,000 people to vote. We had to change our goal three different times because we kept reaching it!
Our youngest canvasser was eight years old she would go to houses and share her story – she would say, “I can’t vote, my mom can’t vote, but I live in this area and our school’s budget is being brought up... Will you vote for my future?” When someone brings a story like that to you, how can you not vote?