Things That Matter

Ritchie Torres Is Running For Congress To Give His Community The Representation It Deserves

Politics is getting particularly young, and we like it. From Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez to State Senator Alessandra Biaggi to Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou to legislator Caleb Hanna, all of these young politicians are bringing a breath of fresh air to their policies and to the political discourse. Now, there’s another name to include in the list that is breaking barriers in more ways than one.

Meet 31-year-old Bronx Council Member Ritchie Torres who is running for Congress. If he wins his next year, he will be the first openly gay black or Latino member of Congress.

Credit: ritchietorresny15 / Instagram

Do not think for a second that Torres, while young, is new to the game. Born and raised in the Bronx, Torress has been in the political world since 2013, bringing change on a local level but making a considerable impact. Currently, he is the chair of the Committee on Public Housing and is a deputy majority leader. He is also the chair of the Oversight and Investigations Committee. 

Next year, Torres and 12 others will seek to replace Rep. José Serrano in New York’s 15th Congressional District. His competition includes Assembly Member Michael Blake, Council Member Ydanis Rodríguez, former New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, and Tomas Ramos, among others, Buzzfeed reports. But he is a frontrunner in the campaign, and here’s why. 

While Torres is running against several other Latino politicians, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus has officially announced they are officially endorsing him and helping to fund his campaign.

Credit: ritchietorresny15 / Instagram

“In a crowded field, Torres has been able to build a strong and diverse coalition of support from labor groups, LGBTQ groups, and many of his own colleagues on the city council,” Rep. Tony Cárdenas, chair of BOLD PAC, told BuzzFeed News in a statement. “He knows the issues that keep Bronx families up at night — not just from his time as a city council member — but from growing up in the Bronx and being raised by a single mother. He’s proven to be the stand-out Latino candidate in this field, and BOLD PAC is proud to put our full support behind his campaign to bring home a victory next November.”

Of this endorsement, Torres tweeted, “Honored to earn the endorsement @BOLDDems which has been at the forefront of strengthening Latinx representation in Congress. The backing of @BOLDDems is a game-changer in the #SouthBronx, which is home to one of the highest Latinx populations in the US.”

The ambitious politician is half Puerto Rican and half Black.

Credit: ritchietorresny15 / Instagram

“I was raised by a single mother who had to raise three children on minimum wage, and I lived in conditions of mold and vermin, lead and leaks,” Torres said in his campaign video. “I remember asking myself, why would the city spend $100 million on a golf course, rather than on the homes of struggling New Yorkers like my mother. I knew at that moment that I had to fight for people like me.” 

Here he explains further why he chose to become a lawmaker and serve his community in the Bronx.

Credit: ritchietorresny15 / Instagram

“As a product of public housing, public schools, and public hospitals, I had a dream of fighting for my community in the hopes of building a better Bronx,” he said on his website. “At 25, against all odds, I became the youngest elected official in New York City, and the first openly LGBT elected official from the Bronx. I have represented Bronx communities on the New York City Council, and now I’m running to represent New York’s 15th Congressional District – because the Bronx needs one of our own to fight for us in Washington.”

His motto is: “If you do nothing, nothing will change.” 

Credit: ritchietorresny15 / Instagram

Torres is inspiring significant change already. Several of his staff employees are young people of color. One of the young Latinos that work for Torres said in a video published by the New Yorker that most kids that are from the Bronx work hard to leave the area. He said he remains there to give back to the community, which is why he works for Torres. 

Fun fact: he was named Ritchie after you guessed it: Ritchie Valens.

According to a 2015 interview in Newsweek, Torres said his mother wanted to name him Ritchie after she watched “La Bamba.” Well, that does it. He’s got our vote.

READ: This Is How Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Plans To Tackle Poverty In The US

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A Human Rights Attorney Is Being Accused Of Falsely Posing As A Latina During Her Career

Culture

A Human Rights Attorney Is Being Accused Of Falsely Posing As A Latina During Her Career

¡Voice Latina! / YouTube

Natasha Lycia Ora Bannan is the outgoing president of the National Lawyers Guild and her departure has taken a sudden turn. After years as an attorney, many are now accusing the attorney of posing as a Latina.

Natasha Lycia Ora Bannan is facing mounting scrutiny and backlash for her claims that she is Latina.

According to a post on Prism, Bannan has a history of claiming her Latinidad. The post points out several interviews the attorney has given over the years with different publications where she explicitly claims that she is part of the Latino community. In one YouTube video with ¡Voice Latina!, Bannan explicitly says that “as a woman, as an individual, as a Latina” she is inspired to do the work she does because of her hero Oscar López Rivera.

People are calling on others to do better about who they choose to represent various communities.

Representation matters, especially when it comes to the issues that are facing our various communities. It is important to make sure that the representation reflects those being represented. According to Prism, Bannan has been pushing a narrative that she is of Puerto Rican and Colombian heritage for over a decade. She has even spoken out as a Puerto Rican woman that is fighting for the island’s statehood.

There are multiple media moments when Bannan claimed Latino heritage, according to reports.

Prism points to an interview conducted in 2007 where she allegedly told “El Diario” that her heritage was “a little bit Spanish, a little bit Colombian, and a Sephardic Jew.”

“I am racially white, and have always said that. However my cultural identity was formed as a result of my family, both chosen and chosen for me, and that has always been Latinx,” Bannan wrote on Facebook Monday following the story. “My identity is my most authentic expression of who I am and how I pay honor to the people who have formed me since I was a child.”

The story is garnering so much attention because of Hilaria Baldwin and her claims of being Spanish.

Baldwin misled people into believing that she was of Spanish descent when she was a white woman born in Boston. Prism was able to decipher that Bannan is a white woman born in Georgia whose family immigrated from Ireland, Italy, and Russia.

READ: Why Do People Care If Hilaria Baldwin’s Spanish Accent Is Fake Or Not, Anyway?

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Ritchie Torres Makes History As First Gay Afro-Latino Elected To Congress

Things That Matter

Ritchie Torres Makes History As First Gay Afro-Latino Elected To Congress

Noam Galai / Getty Images

The 2020 election is far from over for the presidency. However, in the meantime, there have been some historic firsts in American politics. One of these firsts is Ritchie Torres, the first gay Afro-Latino elected to Congress.

Ritchie Torres made history as the first openly gay, Afro-Latino to be elected to Congress.

Torres won his race against Republican Patrick Delices by 77 points with 88 percent of the vote reported. Torres will represent the 15th district of New York, which includes the southern Bronx. Torres, who was a New York City Council member, is taking Rep. Jose Serrano’s seat. Rep. Serrano is retiring after 30 years.

Torres was eager to see a Blue Wave leading up to the election.

Torres has hopes of being part of a government where Democrats control the House, the Senate, and the White House. Torres told CNN that have that majority would be a chance for Democrats to boldly lead the U.S. into the 21st century.

“That to me is self-determination,” Torres told CNN. “That is decolonization. That is democracy.”

His election to Congress is an important part of the continued steps of representation in politics.

Torres has been making history in politics because of his sexual orientation. At 25, Torres became the first openly gay person to win a seat on the city council. Torres had to defeat a crowded primary race to get to the general election. This includes running against Democrat Ruben Diaz Sr. Diaz Sr, another city council member, is a Democrat who supports President Trump and has expressed anti-abortion and anti-marriage equality views.

New York doubled down on their history last night by also electing Mondaire Jones to the House of Representatives.

Jones understands the importance of his victory in national politics. Jones and Torres made history by breaking a barrier that has held steadfast for centuries. The two Congressmen-elects show that gay people of color can have a seat at the table in national politics.

“There’s never been an openly gay Black member of Congress in the 244-year history of the United States, and it was only in the past few years that I began to think that it was possible,” Jones said on The Mother Jones Podcast.

Congratulations on your victories!

READ: Ritchie Torres Is Poised To Become The First Out Gay Afro-Latino In Congress After Primary Win

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