We’ve seen time and time again how those who uphold the status quo have gone to great lengths to ensure not only that it’s more difficult to vote, but that it’s harder for every day Americans to run for office. Politics have always seemed like a dirty game only the rich and powerful could play. And there are countless barriers that BIPOC have to overcome and special hoops they need to jump through in order to put their names on a ballot.
What seemed impossible in 2015 became a reality in 2018, as the fury and outrage caused by Trumpism outweighed the scrutiny and pressures of living a life in the public eye. Today, instead of accepting being overlooked and underserved, many Latinas are stepping up and Yasmin Ferrada is one of them.
Born and raised in Whittier, California, Ferrada knows all too well what happens to the community when a politician is out of touch. Whittier is known for being an affluent Latinx Los Angeles city, but in 2016 the city was sued for not having city council districts. Meaning prior to 2016 a small group of white elites were making all of the decisions for a city that is 67% Latinx. Ferrada hopes to represent District 3, which would make her the first and only Latina on city council.
Ferrada hopes to unseat Cathy Warner, a notoriously conservative city council member who she says does not represent her young, entrepreneurial district. “We’ve had the same councilwoman for over 20 years, she ran uncontested back in 2016 so she really hasn’t had to run an election in 15 years,” Ferrada tells HipLatina. “So when you’re appointed you don’t really need to gauge the needs of your community or where your community is at. Because you’re not seeking their approval rating and you’re not seeking their vote. And so that has produced a very stagnant District 3, a District 3 that’s not really reflective of who the demographics are. I felt like I’m politically inclined, so why not run? Somebody’s got to do it.”
As a co-host of the popular podcast Cafe Con Chisme, she’s been speaking out on racism, LGBTQ issues, self-care, and a variety of social justice issues. She’s also a program coordinator at Cal-State University, Los Angeles by day. It might seem totally out of the blue to go into local politics. But Ferrada says that her socially conscious, Chilean-Mexican upbringing gave her the strength and tools to make the jump.
“I’m grateful to have been raised by a family that always centered activism. My dad comes from Chile and he grew up during the dictatorship and the US led coup. So he taught us the importance of civic engagement,” she says. Her mother is an educator and has worked with mostly first generation students for the last 47 years. “There was a lot of racism happening [in the school district] so [my mom] was instrumental in making sure justice was served to the children of South Whittier… So for me things like stepping in when you see there is a gap has always been second nature.”
Although Ferrada and her brother Sebastian plan to continue recording Cafe Con Chisme, she says things will have to change. “[The podcast] is going to be very different now, the way we do the podcast will have to change during this election and campaigning. That’s already been a point of counter-attack. I’m very proud of everything I’ve said and everything I stand for but when people are doing opposition research on you, they’ll be quick to twist what you’ve said and make you sound like you hate everyone,” she adds.
So far the opposition has come for her the way wealthy elites do when they’re threatened. They’ve been attacking Ferrada’s age, gender, and ethnicity. They’ve fixated on sexualizing her appearance. They’ve called her a “socialist girl,” and accused her of taking illegal money. “[They make it sound] like I’m taking illegal money which is incorrect and the fact that [Warner] is calling me an outsider has undertones of racism, because I’ve been born and raised in this city,” she says.
Just this year, in only the second redistricted election, the current city council raised the fee to run for office from $975 for mayoral candidates and $475 for council candidates, to $2,450 and $1,200. A huge increase under the pretext of “balancing the city budget.” Totally not as an extra financial barrier for potential young Latinx candidates, right?
Fortunately, the opposition has only strengthened Ferrada’s belief that young women of color belong in office and deserve to fight for their communities. “When we win this we’ll be able to set the tone and example for other local cities and let young women of color know that this is something that is for them,” she concluded. We couldn’t agree more! You can check out Yasmin’s platform here.