culture

Some Texas Teens Are About To Get Very Political At Their Quinces and Here’s Why

Credit: @Quinceanera.Photography / Instagram

There is nothing more quintessential and omnipresent in Latino culture quite like quinceañeras. These traditional celebrations are typically marked by a mass followed by food and drink, music, and choreographed dances – and soon, in Texas, voter registration.

No matter where you live, what your family is like, or who your friends are, quinceañeras are opportunities for everyone to come to together and celebrate. So, one organization is using the celebration as a way to get Latinos registered to vote.

Texas non-profit Jolt Initiative is looking to take advantage of quinces to increase civic participation of Latinos across Texas.

They’ve made it their mission to reach as many Latinos as possible and get them registered to vote. Obviously, this means that would take a look at quinceañeras because of how important they are to the community.

Jolt estimates that nearly 50,000 quinceañeras take place across Texas each year.

We all know how many people show up to quinceañeras, so this campaign has the potential to reach tens of thousands of Latinos. In addition to getting Latinos registered to vote, Jolt will also inform them about potential candidates and policies that are affecting the community.

“For us, this is about community, not just politics,” Cristina Tzintzún Ramírez , founder and executive director of Jolt, told NBC News. “We want to defend and honor the community and what better way than to lift up the power of our vote in the community, particularly with half of all those turning 18 in our state (being) Latino?”

People are all about this new initiative to register voters.

Credit: @VillescazAngela / Twitter

The campaign by Jolt is called Poder Quince and they’re looking to partner with hundreds of young Latina women so that their quinceañeras can be fun and impactful.

Historically, the Latino community has been underrepresented and even victim of voter suppression campaigns. We witnessed this last year in Kansas when officials moved the only polling station outside of the city of Dodge. The move made it almost impossible for the largely-Latino city to cast their votes.

However, since the quince is supposed to be all about the birthday girl, what does a civic-minded quinceañera look like exactly?

“Poder Quince participants will receive a free photo booth at their event, free Snapchat filters geotagged to their venue and – for one lucky winner – a celebrity guest appearance,” and of course, voter registration cards, reads a statement about the initiative.

The group is fighting for the dignity and respect the Latino community deserves.

In a press release, Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez, Jolt’s founder and executive director, said: “When we use the power of Latino culture, we can shape the narrative, reach millions of Latinos and build long-term voting power to win our community the dignity and respect we deserve.”

The Jolt Initiative goes on to say, “In Texas, where Latinos make up 40% of the state’s population and by 2030 will be the majority, quinceañeras are not an underground cultural tradition, they are part of the mainstream that touches the lives of millions of Texans.”

The slogan for the initiative: Brown, beautiful, and unstoppable.

Jolt Initiative has ambitious goals to register 5,000 new voters. The group is betting that it will have better luck by linking voting to the quinceañera tradition, one part cultural institution, one part rite of passage, and one big fiesta.

It’s one place where those trying to enlist new voters can find all the generations, from children to grandparents. The parties are a particularly good spot to find young voters, who have traditionally lagged their elders in terms of turnout.

According to the group, they plan to attend 15 quinceañeras per week across Texas (including the cities of Austin, Dallas, and Houston) and have set a target to register 5,000 new voters in the first eight months of their campaign.

All of this has people wondering when the group will come to their state.

Credit: @Carmen50 / Twitter

Quinceañeras are a beautiful tradition and it’s so exciting for them to be used as a platform to help the community. Most young Latinas have a quince party and even more Latinos have attended a friend’s quinces. Seems like a good place to start registering young Latino voters.

READ: 20 Quinceañera Themes To Copy And Paste

This Afro-Latina Has Gone Viral After Dedicating This Over-The-Top Graduation Photoshoot To Her Culture

Culture

This Afro-Latina Has Gone Viral After Dedicating This Over-The-Top Graduation Photoshoot To Her Culture

@s4mlita / Twitter

We love graduation season. It gives us a chance to applaud the next generation of high school and college graduates, and also be amazed at how they honor their family and Latino heritage. There is nothing better than giving your own culture a chance to shine on such a special day. That’s exactly what Samantha Sheppard did with a beautiful and culturally relevant graduation photo shoot.

Samantha Sheppard, 21, is the first to graduate from college in her family and celebrated by having a gorgeous photoshoot.

Twitter/@s4mlita 

“First one in my family with a degree,” she tweeted on April 20. “Finally telling my parents that everything they did is paying off…had to show out for the first gens for my grad shoot. 100% Panameña, living the American dream.”

Her tweet went viral and has been liked almost 40,000 times.

Twitter/@s4mlita

“I love the fact that my culture is being spread everywhere because we deserve it!! as a biracial female at a PWI, it means sooooo much,” she tweeted.

PWI is an acronym for predominately white institution.

Sheppard said she was happy her tweet went viral so people could learn more about Panamanian culture.

Twitter/@s4mlita

“Holy sh*t this sh*t really went f*cking viral… like whatttttt. not too many people know about Panamanian culture or how hard we really work so out of all the things that could’ve gotten this big, I’m glad it’s this.”

Here’s more about Sheppard, her family, and how she helps them any way she can.

Sheppard graduated with a degree in psychology and philosophy. She said that she is also currently working at a center for autism and related disorders.

“I have a very knowledgeable background in behavioral therapy and ABA and I’ve done extensive cognitive and neuropsych and neuroscience research with two profs at LSU,” Samantha tweeted.

People on social media were so moved by her incredible photoshoot.

Her dress was definitely a showstopper. Her headdress is worth another photoshoot on its own.

Panama is getting so much love, thanks to Sheppard’s tweet.

We wonder if her family back home found out about her viral tweet. It must be a really nice feeling to know that you are helping people learn about your culture and your people.

Her parents must be beyond proud of their daughter.

We can’t wait to see what is next for this inspiring young woman.

Congrats, Samantha!

READ: Here’s What This Undocumented College Grad Has To Say About The Haters Threatening Her With ICE For Celebrating Her Graduation

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