Politics aside, each day Americans are faced with mounting moral crises—presented in the form of a new hashtag or unsettling photo shared rapidly across social media platforms. It seems as though just yesterday we were saying #BringBackOurGirls in reference to the kidnapping of young women in Nigeria by terrorist forces. Once upon a time, these injustices seemed to happen oceans away from the U.S. Today, they’re happening right on our soil.
In the past few days, the internet has spilled over with the latest disheartening news—photos of children as young as two-years-old being traumatized and ultimately ripped away from their parents at the south U.S. borders.
It’s no secret that the good ol’ U.S. of A. is not so good to immigrant families, and has not been for a while, Trump’s latest “zero tolerance” policy has set the stage for children to be taken away from their families at the border if they are found entering the country. And the outcomes have been devastating, with some children losing their parents permanently and indefinitely as a result of this new policy.
There are countless ways to help support the families who have been callously separated—many of which have been demonstrated by celebrities such as Chrissy Teigen, who donated more than $72,000 to the ACLU in the wake of these tragic, historical circumstances.
One of the most overlooked ways to have an impact on policies like these is by voting.
HipLatina spoke with Debra Cleaver, Founder of Vote.org, to learn more about how Latinas can have a longer-term impact on the future of policy in our country. Specifically, we looked at how Latinas can have a greater impact in 2018—an election year.
“Midterm elections are more important than presidential elections,” Cleaver told us. “The average voter in the midterm elections is a white person over 50—deeply problematic, as that is not reflective of the population.”
The Vote.org team highlighted how 40 million people who voted in 2016 won’t vote again in 2018 without intervention—80% of that drop-off comes from voters who are young and/or people of color. If those same people decided to turnout for the midterm elections, the results would be game-changing.
We’ve seen just how powerful voters of color—particularly women voters of color have been historically. The December 2017 election of Doug Jones—the first Democratic Senator to hold the seat in 25 years—was arguably decided by Black women who came out in great numbers with a sweeping 98% vote in favor of Jones.
“We women are the most affected by policy,” Cleaver reflects on the high stakes of voting for women. So what’s stopping Latinas from voting? Cleaver and her organization operate on the assumption that most people want to vote but are simply blocked from voting for various reasons, including lack of childcare, lost wages from taking time off to vote, and lack of knowledge about the midterm elections.
“We literally assume the best of voters—it’s not that they need to be convinced the vote, they often just don’t know,” she adds. Another key issue blocking voters of color includes discriminatory policies and practices to keep people from the polls—including mail delivery to voters that often gets lost in busy apartment buildings with multiple residents who hold the same name.
Despite these issues, Cleaver suggests communities should come together and fight to help get one another out to the polls to affect real change. “Individuals should know they have power in their own circles,” she suggests. “If each person who is going to vote brings one more person that doubles voter turnout…When you recognize your power, it just becomes that much easier to talk to your friends about voting.”
Among a very complicated web of issues affecting communities of color and Latinx communities, this may be the most viable solution to creating long-term and real change in the lives of those affected by these heartbreaking times.