Culture

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

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

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Texas High Schoolers Conducted a Mock ‘Slave Auction’ Of Black Students Over Snapchat

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Texas High Schoolers Conducted a Mock ‘Slave Auction’ Of Black Students Over Snapchat

Photo via Getty Images

Students at a high school in Aledo, Texas are being disciplined after the administration discovered they held a mock slave auction on Snapchat where they “traded” Black students.

Screenshots of the Snapchat group show that these unnamed students “bid” on students of color, ranging anywhere from $1 to $100.

One student in particular was priced at $1 because his hair was “bad”. The screenshot also shows that the group chat’s name changed regularly. The group’s name started as “Slave Trade” then changed to “N—-r Farm”, and finally to “N—– Auction”.

Upon learning of the mock slave auction, the Daniel Ninth Grade Campus’s principal wrote a note to parents explaining the situation. Principal Carolyn Ansley called the mock slave auction “an incident of cyberbullying and harassment” which “led to conversations about how inappropriate and hurtful language can have a profound and lasting impact” on people.

Many people felt that the school principal downplayed the gravity of the mock slave auction. Not once did she mention the word racism in the letter that she sent out to parents.

“Calling it cyberbullying rather than calling it racism… that is the piece that really gets under my skin,” said Mark Grubbs, father to three former Aledo ISD students, to NBC DFW. But Grubbs, along with many other Aledo parents and community members, say that the incident didn’t surprise them.

In fact, Grubbs said he had to take his children out of the Aledo ISD school system because of how much racist harassment his children were facing. “A lot of racism,” he said of his son’s experience at the school. “My son being called out of his name and what not and it got to the point he didn’t mind fighting and that didn’t sit right with me and my wife. My son was never a fighter.”

After the backlash to the initial statement, Superintendent Susan Bohn finally released a statement condemning the racism and “hatred” of the mock slave auction.

“There is no room for racism or hatred in the Aledo ISD, period,’ Bohn wrote. “Using inappropriate, offensive and racially charged language and conduct is completely unacceptable and is prohibited by district policy.”

The problem with “policies” like these is they fail to target the issue of racism at the root. Hate speech may be “prohibited”, but if a child is displaying racist behavior for whatever reason, the bigger problem is the way that they have been educated and indoctrinated. Slave auctions have no place in 2021.

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Texas Republicans Are Recruiting An ‘Army’ of Poll-Watchers To Go Into Black and Brown Precincts To ‘Fight Voter Fraud’

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Texas Republicans Are Recruiting An ‘Army’ of Poll-Watchers To Go Into Black and Brown Precincts To ‘Fight Voter Fraud’

Photo via Getty Images

The GOP’S voter-suppression tactics in Georgia have been gripping the nation. But now, the media is also turning its attention to other voter-suppression tactics in the rest of the country. Now, Texas Republicans are taking the heat.

According to Common Cause Texas, Texas Republicans are planning on recruiting thousands of volunteers create an “election integrity brigade”. They want the “brigade” to go into Black and brown neighborhoods in Houston and “fight voter fraud”.

A Texas GOP presentation was leaked that outlined plans to send an “army” of poll-watchers to Black and brown precincts.

“I’m trying to encourage and recruit, as a precinct chair, about 30 people in my precinct who will have the confidence and courage to come down in here…,” said an unnamed GOP official, pointing to majority non-white urban areas, “…in these areas where we really need poll-workers. Because this is where the problem is occuring.”

“So me finding poll-watchers out here, it helps, but it’s a pretty safe precinct”. He said this while pointing to majority-white Houston neighborhoods.

The video inspired outrage among people who saw these tactics as blatant attempts to suppress the voting rights of POC.

“The impetus for releasing [the video] right now is there are some bills in the legislature that seek to empower poll watchers in some really scary ways,” said executive director of Common Cause Texas, Anthony Gutierrez, to NBC News. “And also at the same time, take away the power of the presiding judge at the poll site from being able to remove a disruptive poll watcher.”

“It’s very clear that we’re talking about recruiting people from the predominantly Anglo parts of town to go to Black and Brown neighborhoods,” said Gutierrez to The Washington Post.

“This is a role that’s supposed to do nothing but stand at a poll site and observe,” he added. Why is he suggesting someone needs to be ‘courageous’?”

This “election integrity brigade” comes on the heels of a problematic election bill the Texas Senate just passed.

According to NBC News, the bill “bans overnight early voting and drive-thru early voting” and also “empowers partisan poll watchers.”

“It’s part of the intimidation, the confusion, the antics that (the Republican Party) has engaged in for so many generations that culminated in President Trump asking people to overturn the election,” said Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo to CNN.

“What they’re doing is filing bills that are essentially a poll tax that weaponize the election system against our own voters,” she continued. “And what they’re proposing is absolutely tragic and reminiscent of the worst of what we’ve seen in Texas and across the South since Reconstruction.”

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