Each day since November 20th, 2016 has been exhausting. It is exhausting waking up in the morning constantly afraid of the imminent passing of new federal policies that will disproportionately affect my community. It was on a Saturday morning when I woke up early to take the LA Metro subway down to sunny Little Tokyo for the Voto Latino Pop-Up Summit. I went with no expectations, just possibly to meet new people.
I have attended many Latino-oriented conferences and summits before and often left unsatisfied. Conversations and topics often lack in substance and typically dance around the harsh realities of the current political climate. In an effort for political correctness, these conferences simply advise young people to vote, and to urge our friends to do the same. It can get monotonous. Although, I knew when I checked in that Saturday morning and immediately found myself bonding with the person who checked me in about intersectional feminism I knew today would be different.
That day I met current elected officials, future elected officials, directors of nonprofits, community leaders and advocates, social media celebrities, and artists from all around the country that lent their morning to talk about how our community is under attack. We all came together with the mutual consensus of feeling especially drained and anxious in the last few months, but ready to fight back.
I especially enjoyed the workshops because that is where I focused and further improved my abilities to be a better, more well-rounded future Latino leader. I learned that for Latinos to have a stronger voice in the political world, workshops like these must continue to happen throughout the country. It was an amazing experience to work with others that challenged my beliefs and sharpened my skills as a grass-roots community organizer. There I received an in-depth but quick lesson on what makes a good organizer and how to effectively mobilize. Although the moderator led the discussion, what truly kept it going was the passion and insight the other seasoned leaders had to share. Together we sat in a circle and discussed, planned, and strategized how to take charge, be inclusive, be bold, and to fight for a better world starting with our personal communities.
The Voto Latino Power Summit taught me how salient my role as a young Latina in this country. I must work towards social justice and equal rights for all in this country, and as America Ferrera said, “we can’t wait for someone to ask us, we must take the lead.” Voto Latino emphasized that as a collective it is our time to share our stories and put more political pressure on elected officials to go against this new administration’s anti-immigrant, anti-women, anti-black/brown, and anti-Muslim agenda.
It is very easy to get washed away with the hopeless feeling that Latinos as a community are under attack. Albeit, this summit gave me the tools and let me expand my network with like- minded people that will not stand for these injustices and will fight back. I will continue to apply what I learned that day and utilize it to my further work in my current work in public policy and community activism. The Voto Latino Power Summit was truly edifying and empowering. It gave me hope for a brighter future because the people in that room will be catalysts for positive change.