Shondaland: 2018 Is the Year of the Latina
By: Jess McIntosh
Do you find yourself grasping at bright spots in this, The Year of Our Perpetual Effed-Up News Cycle? Me, too. I move from glimmer to glimmer obsessively, spending as much time as I can in the light — kind of like a moth. And if you’ve read this column for any amount of time, you know that my favorite bright spot to land on — the one that’s like New Jersey Christmas lights on an especially competitive street — is elections.
They are coming. And they have the chance to be truly earth-shattering.
... OK, "earth-shattering" might be hyperbolic, but would you settle for "capable of shattering the oppressive twin structures of white supremacy and patriarchy"? Thought you would!
One reason this year is extra special: It’s the Year of the Latina. Two Latina congressional candidates, Sylvia Garcia and Veronica Escobar, have already won the Democratic nomination in safe Democratic districts, so unless something really weird happens, they’re going to Congress as the first and second Latinas elected from the Lone Star State. (If you ever think you don’t have to vote in primaries because you live in a safe blue district? Let Texas be a lesson to you. I’m looking at you, L.A. and NYC. How about a lady mayor already?)
And it’s not just Texas that’s promising: Latino Victory Project recently announced a new slate of five Latina candidates they've endorsed, including congressional candidates Debbie Mucarsel-Powell in Florida, Antoinette Sedillo Lopez and Xochitl Torres Small in New Mexico, and Virginia Madueño in California, as well as Arizona attorney general candidate January Contreras. In fact, out of the 16 candidates they’re backing in 2018, a full 10 are Latina — and there are even more Latinas running for office beyond that.
Currently, Latinas are one of the most underrepresented groups in Congress. There are only 10 of them there: one in the Senate, nine in the House. There are just as many dudes named Steve serving in Congress as there are Latinas. (Don’t look it up, it’ll only depress you.)
How in God’s green melting pot did this happen? Latinas have been one of the fastest growing demographics in our rapidly diversifying country! But when you consider the fact that Texas, home to the second largest Hispanic population in America, has never elected a Latina to Congress — it starts to make more sense.
This is important, because it means that if we all do our part, we could more than double that pitiful congressional number in a single year.
We know these elections turn into virtuous cycles. When girls see themselves represented in public office, they’re more likely to consider running for office themselves. Right now, you have to live in one of nine congressional districts or the state of Nevada to even see a Latina represent you in Congress. If we double that number, we exponentially increase the number of young Latinas looking up to their representatives and seeing a leader who looks like her.
There are a few ways you can help make that a reality. You can vote, no matter where you live, and you can help groups like Latino Victory meet their goals by donating your time or money, or by sharing their messages and graphics across your networks. You can also contribute just by talking about the need for Latina leadership. We still have to fight for the idea that the identities of our leaders matter — that a room full of Steves is actually going to be worse at making laws for America than a room full of, well, America.
So spread the word. This is the year.