Things That Matter

From New York To San Diego, These Candidates Are Standing Up For Their Latino Communities

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Seats in all level of government are up for grabs for the midterm elections and there are some new faces joining the world of politics. Candidates are out there running for state legislatures, seats in Congress and some governorships. However, before new candidates can compete to take these seats, they must first make it through the primary elections.

A primary election happens before the general to narrow down the field of candidates to two candidates, usually, who battle it out for the prize. Primary season began in March and will end in mid-September, depending on the state you live in.

As campaigning continues, we are beginning to see the candidates of color who are seeking change with progressive platforms. Let’s get to know the leaders of the next generation who represent the underrepresented.

Roza Calderon

Running for Congress to represent California’s 4th district, Roza Calderon, 32, wants to represent people’s needs over party interests. Hailing from Lincoln, California, Calderon is the daughter of a Salvadoran refugee and understands the importance of the American Dream. An activist for blue-collar families and geoscientist, Calderon’s platform includes combating climate change, promoting Medicare for All, and building an inclusive economy.

Part of her motivation stems from the lack of inclusive policies pushed by her opponents. In an interview with the Press Tribune, Calderon states, “I want to make sure that people have jobs. I want to make sure that people have the ability to negotiate fair wages and that’s really what I’m fighting for.” Calderon would become the first Latina representing California’s 4th district if elected.

Nelson Araujo

📷: @kellyfitzphoto

A post shared by Nelson Araujo (@nelsonaraujonv) on

Currently representing Nevada’s State Assembly District 3, Nelson Araujo, 31, is campaigning to be the next Nevada Secretary of State. His parents came to the U.S. from El Salvador to escape the Civil War in the 1980s. Araujo is motivated to run for Secretary of State because he believes Nevadans deserve a voting system that is just and protects the rights of every eligible voter. Araujo also states, “I believe an open government depends on fair elections and that will be my guiding principle in office.”

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 28, is running to represent New York’s 14th congressional district. Born to a Puerto Rican family in the Bronx, Ocasio-Cortez continues to work with families of the Bronx and Queens as an educator, organizer and service worker. This has allowed her to learn more about the experience of everyday people, which inspired her to run for Congress.

One of Ocasio-Cortez’s main platform issues is banning super PACS to end the financial corruption at the expense of her community. Additional platform issues include paid sick and family leave, federal aid for Puerto Rico, and infrastructure renewal. Ocasio-Cortez would become the first Latina representing New York’s 14th district, if elected.

Ammar Campa-Najjar

Hailing from East County, San Diego, Ammar Campa-Najjar, 29, is running for Congress to represent California’s 50th district. He lived in San Diego before his family moved to Gaza as a child. However, Campa-Najjar, his brother and mother relocated back to San Diego after the war broke out. His working-class upbringing motivated him to run and give back to working families. Additional congressional interests include election reform, gun safety, and universal healthcare. Born to a Mexican-American mother and Palestinian father, Campa-Najjar could be the first Latino-Arab American to be elected to Congress.

Juana Matias

Born in the Dominican Republic and currently residing in the U.S., Juana Matias, 30, is running for Congress to represent Massachusetts’ 3rd district. Matias states on her website that her family pushed her to go to college before she eventually pursued law school. She worked her way to becoming Massachusetts’s first Latina State Representative. Matias understands what communities face firsthand, especially at a time when the American Dream is under attack. Matias’s platform includes the fight for a better education, the protection of immigrant rights, and the creation of quality jobs. In a video posted on her Facebook account, Matias states, “To me, politics is personal because we’re talking about people’s lives.” She would become the first Latina and immigrant representing Massachusetts’ 3rd district if elected.

Sam Jammal

Sam Jammal, 36, is running for Congress to represent the 39th district of California. Raised by immigrant parents from South America and the Middle East, Jammal saw his parents sacrifice many things in order for him and his siblings to have a better life. Jammal has a message on his website that states, “We need leaders who can stand up and fight to make sure our government gets back to the basics and represents our best interest.” His platform issues include fighting for LGBTQ and women’s rights and honoring veterans. He could become the first Latino-Arab American in Congress or share the title with Ammar Campa-Najjar.

Amanda Renteria

California is searching for a new governor and Amanda Renteria, 43, intends to hold that elected position. She was born in the U.S. to a Mexican father and American-born mother, both former farmworkers. Renteria received her degrees from Stanford and Harvard. She was the first Latina Chief of Staff of the U.S. Senate and now she is ready to take on her opponents in the race for governor of California. Renteria’s gubernatorial platform includes access to clean air and water, freedom from harassment and discrimination, and preparing children for the 21st century economy. Her goal is to make politics about people again. Renteria would become the first woman and Latina as California governor.

What you need to know. And what you can do.

You can make a difference. The most crucial act you can take during the primary elections is to vote. Not only can it create diversity in politics, but it can also lead to more equitable policies for underrepresented communities. Learn more about all candidates running in your state and remember to vote during the primary elections!

  • California – June 5, 2018
  • Nevada – June 12, 2018
  • New York –  June 26, 2018
  • Massachusetts – September 4, 2018

READ: We Spoke With Ammar Campa-Najjar, The First Latino-Arab Running For Congress

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Latinos Could Totally Own The Democratic Primary And The Candidates Know It

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Latinos Could Totally Own The Democratic Primary And The Candidates Know It

We are less than a year and a half away from the 2020 presidential election, and while the  incumbent President of the United States, real estate mogul and media personality turned politician Donald J. Trump is already tocando los tambores de guerra by attacking the  leading Democratic contenders, his potential opponents are still attacking each other. All around the country campaign offices are trying to come up with the best strategies, and have realizes that one key demographic for 2020 will be the Latino vote. 

As Jonathan Allen argues in NBC News : “Depending on how the race unfolds, Latinos might even end up being the key to the contest. That’s a function mostly of heavily Hispanic states, including California and Texas, moving up on the primary calendar at the same time that the chances for a protracted, delegate-by-delegate fight among several candidates appear to be more likely than ever. The possibility of African American voters splitting among several candidates for the first time in several presidential primary cycles also raises the stakes for candidates in trying to get an edge with Latino voters”. 

The candidates better start brushing up on their Spanish! (but please, no terrible gringo accents, porfavorcito). As Aida Chavez states in The Intercept after the debates a few weeks ago: “The desire to connect with Latinx voters was apparent in this week’s presidential debates, when several contenders made a direct appeal to the growing electorate by answering questions in Spanish on the national stage”. 

Latinos are a big, strong, decisive voting force for 2020: there will be 2 million more eligible Latino voters than African-American voters.

Credit: @abcfamily / Giphy

Just think about this: about 32 million Latinos will be eligible to vote in the 2020 presidential election, which is about 13 percent of the electorate, according to the Pew Research Center. By contrast, African-American voters will have 30 million eligible voters. Just let that sink in for a minute. 

According to a poll released by Univision after the debates, Kamala Harris seems to be getting her message across to Latino voters.

Credit: Univision

The message to take away from this poll is that Harris was perceived as the winner of the debates over the only candidate with a recognizably Latino name, Julian Castro. Her identity as a powerful, independent, woman of color might be seeping into the Latino preference. This is an election about ideas rather than looks, and also an election about who seems better prepared to take on Trump, and if Latino voters start imagining Harris debating Trump and holding her ground, well, things might get interesting. 

And yes, the race among Democratic candidates is tight and getting tighter, with at least three clear frontrunners.

Credit: RealClearPolitics

Unless something really dramatic happens, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren or Kamala Harris will be the candidate. They are the ones polling the highest in the race for the nomination and whom Trump has directed his attacks against. 

It is clear that immigration will be the main issue in this election and Elzabeth Warren took the first step by announcing an ambitious and humane immigration plan.

Credit: Giphy

Unless a major international conflict arises before the election, immigration policies, including how undocumented migrants are treated after being detained at the border, will be the main issue. Elizabeth Warren took the first step by announcing her sweeping immigration plan.  She wrote in a post on Medium when announcing what immigration policy would look like under a Warren administration: “We must address the humanitarian mess at the border and reverse this president’s discriminatory policies. But that won’t be nearly enough to fix our immigration system. We need expanded legal immigration that will grow our economy, reunite families, and meet our labor market demands.” 

As we reported at the time: “This is a very intelligent approach to immigration, as it appeals to both those worried about the economy and how the United States can respond to the competition of global markets, and to the voters who consider current zero-tolerance policies, including ICE raids, inadmissible”. 

But others are falling far behind: enter Bernie Sanders and his big “socialist” problem among Latinos.

One of the big mistakes that many politicians make while trying to woo the Latino vote is assuming that all Latinos fall on the same end of the political spectrum. Bernie Sanders has certainly been guilty of this by failing to recognize that many Latinos, particularly powerful pockets of influence in places like Florida, actually despise left-wing politicians. As NF News argued: “Declaring yourself left-wing may be attractive among an American youth who have never lived under a socialist regime. But among Latino voters who have been exiled from left-wing regimes, this has consequences. This was demonstrated by the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, who is the co-chair of the campaign by presidential pre-candidate Bernie Sanders, Carmen Yulín Cruz, when she refused to acknowledge that she and Sanders are socialists. Both Cruz and Sanders have refused to condemn the dictatorships of Cuba and Venezuela. Instead, Cruz chose to compare the humanitarian crisis facing Venezuela with poverty in Puerto Rico”. 

This is a big misstep, as Florida in particular is a key state for this and any other election, and Democratic voters are wary of candidates who might perform poorly in the state (remember Bush-Gore anyone?). 

There are some voices of reason in Sander’s campaign, as reported by The Intercept in an interview with Chuck Rocha, a senior Sanders adviser. “: “We know that we’re going to communicate with young Latinos in English, we know we’re going to communicate with young Latinos in Spanish. We also understand the cultural differences between Latinos in Des Moines, Iowa, and Latinos in the East Side of Las Vegas.”

The no-show: Joe Biden?

The former Vice President has sent conflicting messages on how important the Latino vote is for his campaign. On one hand, as reported by NBC News, “Biden’s outreach has included a fully bilingual website, bilingual advertising and the first candidate meeting with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus”. On the other, he has missed key appearances at events where he could reach to Latino Democrats. As reported by The Boston Globe, he was a no-show at  “an important forum hosted by the Spanish-language network Telemundo and the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials that drew more than 800 of the nation’s top Latino policy makers and strategists”. Sanders and Warren attended. This lack of engagement could cost him dearly, as noted by the same publication: 

Denise Diaz, a 32-year-old city councilwoman from South Gate, Calif., said this was the second time Biden had disappointed her. The first was when he skipped California’s Democratic convention three weeks earlier.

“I have really changed my opinion in supporting him,” she said. “I am looking for someone who is relatable, has boots on the ground, and is accessible.”

You know what they say: camarón que se duerme se lo lleva la corriente. 

This Twitter User Pointed Out That the X-Men Is An Allegory For the Hate and Violence Minorities Experience In Our Society

Things That Matter

This Twitter User Pointed Out That the X-Men Is An Allegory For the Hate and Violence Minorities Experience In Our Society

With the wrap-up of Comic-Con 2019, we’ve still got comics and all things fandom on our minds. We’re, of course, big fans of comic giant Marvel. The company has long been the innovator in its industry and artists like Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Sana Amanat, and Scott Lobdell have created art and stories that push their narratives towards real-life issues. Racism, sexism, ableism and general bigotry have been addressed in the pages of their comics. They’ve made readers stop and look at the similarities between these fictional worlds and our real one.

“The X-Men,” especially, is one title that explores these concepts. At its core, “X-Men” is about taking the outcasts of society and making them superheroes via what makes them different. Still, despite their roles as heroes, the mutants of X-Men are seen as dangerous outsiders who need to hide who they are or risk being targeted by radicalized and violent bigots. Sound familiar?

This Twitter user noticed the similarities in themes between old “X-Men” cartoons from 25 years ago and our current society.

Twitter / @tyewang

Twitter user Tye Wang noticed these signs while watching “X-men: The Animated Series.” They read “Go Home!” and “Mutant Go Back To Where You Came From.” He pointed out that the observations from the cartoon — especially concerning race relations — reflect our current world.

Wang shared the dialogue that went along with the images:

“The assassin was Gambit, but ALL mutants get blamed. People are afraid, they want action, they want to protect, they want revenge.”

The scene goes on to discuss mutant laws being passed to “protect” non-mutants from “dangerous and criminal mutants.” It’s clearly an allegory for how society reacts to both migrants looking for sanctuary in our country and those who have immigrated here legally and have become citizens.

We’ve recently seen this racist trope used by the American president.

Twitter / @nowthisnews

On July 14, 2019, Donald Trump went on a racially charged Twitter rant aimed at Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her fellow congresswomen. In the rant, the president asked of the women, “Why don’t they go back.” Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, Rep. Tlaib, Rep. Pressley and Rep. Omar are all women of color and are American citizens. However, since they have been vocal on many social issues that they hope to see changed, the president attacked the group — quickly latching on to a phrase that racists have long used against Black and Brown people.

During the major immigration period of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, America had open borders.

In this time, migrants came from Europe in mass quantities. The president’s own mother and father are members of this major immigration. Some of these migrants were persecuted for their mother country. Some received the same threats that today’s migrants face.

However, the focus for racist hate soon turned towards Latinx people, Black people and other brown members of society. Despite their own exodus, white Americans told Black and brown folks to go back home. Never mind that the border crossed over into native land. Never mind that Black people were brought over in chains. It was just another excuse to accuse “outsiders” for the world’s problems.

These issues are the same ones that members of the X-Men faced in their adventures.

Twitter / @SlimJim2123

It wasn’t just fighting Magneto and the Evil Brotherhood of Mutants. The X-Men also took on societal issues. Creator Stan Lee imagined the mutants to be a stand-in for minorities so it was natural that the heroes faced issues that marginalized groups experience.

Raised in Harlem and Cairo, weather-themed superhero, Storm, experienced the intersections of social injustice as a Black mutant woman. She faced prejudice from those who saw her as a dangerous mutant as well as those who saw her as someone who didn’t belong in America.

She also faced discrimination as a woman. The topic of wage equality came into the original ’70s and ’80s run of “The X-Men.” Forty or so years later and wage equality between the sexes and the races continues to be an issue; proving that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

The hate that we see in today’s anti-immigrant mentality is the same that the X-men experienced back in their origins.

Twitter / @tertiarymap

During the original run of “X-Men: The Animated Series,” the mutant Jubilee faced an unfortunately familiar sentiment. While trapped by anti-mutant extremists, the hero asked, “Why do you hate us? What did we ever do to you?” The response she got was that she was hated for being born a mutant, something she has no control over.

This is the same hate that racists aim at Black and brown people. They are not judged by their character or their actions, but on the fact that they were born different. Whether born in a different place or born a different race, just like the bigots in “X-Men,” racists only care about what makes us different. Some things never change.

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