In a nonstop breaking news cycle, most Americans exercise their option to ignore mainstream stories to simply maintain sanity. They may scroll past the hours—long back-and-forth internet turned real-life beef between Nicki Minaj and Cardi B (although, they’ve admittedly made it extra hard to avert your eyes) or completely disregard the First Lady’s headline-making fashion. As media and social media publishers compete for viewers’ attention constantly, indifference and apathy to the daily happenings might be lazy at worst and self-preservation at best.
For people of color in America, many times those rules do not apply. The surmounting impact that most breaking news stories have on people of color—and disproportionately women of color— makes current events a necessary evil. Many times, tuning in is a critical precaution to knowing where one stands in a rapidly changing society.
As Latinas continue to earn basically half of what men do, petty rap battles between two Caribbean women over who secured more endorsement deals becomes largely misdirected frustration about how much women of color are ultimately making in a world where they work twice as hard as the boys. And fashion statements that suggest leadership’s privilege to not have to care about the plight of struggling Latin American immigrants becomes more than fashion; it’s deeply personal and important to families and mothers who are living that struggle.
In short, Latinas specifically can no longer look the other way, turn the channel, or decide it’s someone else’s problem. The 2018 midterm elections present the perfect opportunity for women to not only care but also to act.
We spoke with Katie Hill, a millennial woman running for Congress in the 25th Congressional District of California, where Latinx voters make up nearly 40% of the population, to provide perspective on why this election really matters for Latinx people especially, and how Latinas can be more engaged in government. According to her website, Katie plans to “fiercely defend the rights and dignity of workers, women, seniors, LGBTQ people, immigrants, and the disabled.” If Katie’s perspective reinforces one point, it’s that Latinx citizens have agency in this country, and by thoughtfully selecting their leaders, real change will come.
HL: What are some key issues that will affect POC as they head to the polls?
KH: When talking with Latinx voters in our community, I hear about the same issues over and over. They are the same issues I am fighting for, like expanding the middle class and ensuring everyone has access to affordable health care and housing.
HL: In what areas will the Latinx vote have a major impact? Why? What’s at stake?
KH: Right here in the 25th Congressional District, Latinx voters make up nearly 40% of the population. If Latinx voters turn out for issues that affect us all, like health care and affordable housing, we will be victorious on November 6 and can go to Washington to fight for this community.
HL: Why is it critical that young women not only participate in government by voting but also by running?
KH: Right now, only 19% of Congress is made up of women, and only 1% is made up of millennials. If we’re going to have a voice, we don’t only need women to vote, but we need them to run–gender parity is the only way to assure we have real representation.
HL: With so much talk about taking back the House or red waves, how can middle of the road voters make informed, balanced decisions going into this election?
KH: It is vital that we restore checks and balances to our government and elect people, regardless of party, who are committed to getting things done and working for people, not special interest groups and not corporations. If we vote on behalf of our values, then we are able to make balanced decisions and elect real representatives who will actually fight for us.
HL: What can Latina voters realistically expect from the new wave of young, Millennial women who are running for seats?
KH: First and foremost, Latina voters can expect young Millennial women to advocate for them and ensure they have an actual voice in Congress. I am running because it’s time we roll up our sleeves and get to work on issues like ensuring we pass a clean Dream Act and keep families together at the border.