politics

9 Things A Latina Political Expert Recommends You Do If You Want To Run For Office

We know women are running for office at record-breaking numbers, but as primaries come and go throughout the country, we are also seeing them win. In New York, first-time candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez ousted one of the most powerful Democrats in Congress. In Texas, Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia are on their way to becoming their state’s first Latinas in Congress. In Florida, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell could flip her district from red to blue. And they’re not alone in their triumph. Stories of women of color running successful political campaigns are becoming more popular across the U.S., and their visibility is allowing a younger generation of Latinas to envision themselves in public office as well.

With Latinas constituting less than 2 percent of total elected offices across Congress, statewide elected executive offices and state legislatures, this surge in interest isn’t just newsworthy — it’s necessary. But just because more young women of color are considering careers in government doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll pursue it. Running for office is tough, time-consuming and expensive, and without vital tools, resources and support, it could be debilitating — but it doesn’t have to be.  

FIERCE chatted with Vanessa Cardenas, senior director of national outreach at EMILY’s List, a political action committee that supports and trains Democratic women for elected office, on the steps they can take to help them run successful campaigns in the future.

1. Ask yourself guiding questions.

(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

As an elected official, you have the incredible opportunity to have a seat at the table and help make decisions on issues that concern your community. It’s an impactful and powerful position, but before you get there, you’re going to have a lot of long, demanding and dreary days and nights campaigning. The remedy: reminding yourself of the reason you are running. That’s why Cardenas recommends Latinas who are considering throwing their hat in the ring to first identify their passions. “You need to be clear on the reason you want to take this step, that’s first,” she said. “What are your passions, what are the issues you care about, what are the problems you want to fix, what is keeping you up at night? You have to answer those questions.”

2. Do the work before you’re in office.

(Photo Credit: Twitter / Veronica Escobar)

If you want to be an elected official, it’s likely you want to make change — for yourself, for your loved ones and for your community. But you don’t need to be in public office to make an impact — and, according to Cardenas, you really shouldn’t wait till then. “You need to show up. If you care about climate change, join an environmental task force in your community or participate in cleanups on the weekends. If you care about immigrant rights, volunteer for organizations that help this community on weekends. Take part in marches. The first part is figuring out your passion, and the second is acting on them,” Cardenas said, also encouraging that people be allies and support other issues that don’t impact you personally. This, she tells me, will offer you leadership skills, increase your understanding of the issues and help give you name recognition in your community.

3. Gain campaigning experience.

(Image Credit: José A. Alvarado)

Want to learn the ins and outs of running a campaign? Cardenas says to volunteer for someone else’s. “First, you will know how to run a campaign because you have an insider’s view. Second, the people in those spaces might help you in your campaign down the line. You are building valuable relationships,” she added.

4. Overcome your self-doubt.

(Photo Credit: Instagram/@catalinacruzny)

In trainings, Cardenas often hears women express concerns about their past: they’ve foreclosed on a house, they were late to pay their student loans or maybe their sibling had a run-in with the law. “We all have missteps,” Cardenas stresses. “Don’t let them discourage you from running. Instead, anticipate those questions, but also know that voters understand no one is perfect, so you don’t have to be.”

5. Build your tribe.

(Photo Credit:  Twitter / Sylvia R. Garcia)

You’ve identified your key issues — the passion that will keep you energized throughout your race — and have gained the experience. You feel confident and ready to start putting in the work to run for office. Before you do, Cardenas says it’s crucially important to build your tribe — but she doesn’t mean your campaign team. “Running for office is a team sport, not a one-person show. Every successful candidate needs a network of support, including family and friends. You might need someone for childcare. You might need someone to care for your parent. Your internal house needs to be in order before taking this step,” Cardenas said, emphasizing the need for Latinas to get comfortable asking for help.

6. Identify the office where you can have the impact you’re looking for.

(Image Credit: Facebook / Debbie Mucarsel-Powell)

Cardenas wants first-time candidates to be realistic about the office they’re vying for, taking into account the cost of running as well as the impact they could have in the position. “It’s very hard for first-time candidates to win congressional seats, and that’s why we encourage them to look at local offices: city or state,” she said. “You have more of an impact on your community, because they make decisions for their community.” Once you decide which level of government, Cardenas suggests that hopefuls visit their state’s election office website to get informed on the seats opening up. From here, she says, let the issues drive them. “If there’s a board of education seat up, but you care about immigration, it might not seem relevant, but in this office you’ll be able to make decisions on how to treat immigrants in school,” she continued.

7. Learn the rules and requirements in your city and state.

(Photo Credit: Juana Matias for Congress)

Just because you volunteered on another candidate’s campaign doesn’t mean you know all there is to know about running one — especially if you are going for a seat in a different city or state. Rules and regulations for running for office are not universal, so Cardenas encourages women to visit their state’s election office website to get informed.

8. Think digital.

(Photo Credit: Lynn Debree Al)

As you check off all your requirements and prepare to embark on this new journey, Cardenas wants you to think digital, and that means being conscious and intentional about your presence online and ensuring that it aligns with your values and issues as well as locking down your domain name. “I tell trainees to buy a domain because it’s an easy tool to put their positions on issues on the page for voters to search,” she said. Cardenas says it’s important to purchase the domain even before you enter the race, because it’s just as easy for a future opponent to buy it as it is for you. “This just happened to our candidate. She’s running for office, and her opponent bought her domain name, so now there’s this website with her name that has all this negative information about her,” Cardenas said.

9. Find an organization that offers training.

(Photo Credit: Twitter / @XochforCongress)

There’s more to running for office than getting your name on a ballot. You need to build a team, connect with voters, gain press and, of course, fundraise. It’s overwhelming, but luckily there are organizations that exist to help train women and Latinxs on how to run successful campaigns. EMILY’s List offers trainings that assist women before they run, while they’re launching their campaigns and the steps they’ll need to take to be successful. They’re not alone. Cardenas also recommends national groups like Latino Victory, The New American Leaders Project and Emerge America.

Read: 6 Reasons Why You — Yes, Hermana, You — Should Run For Office

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The Spanish ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ Is Being Shared To Honor Hispanic Workers Fighting COVID-19

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The Spanish ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ Is Being Shared To Honor Hispanic Workers Fighting COVID-19

There’s no denying that the world looks a lot different now than it did in 1947. And while the list of all of the positive changes that the decades stretching between now and then have done for the world and minorities, a recent campaign is also highlighting the ways in which our current president could take some notes on certain values the United States held dear during this time. Particularly ones that had been pressed for by one of our former presidents.

As part of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “Good Neighbor Policy” effort, he worked to promote positive and healthy relations between the United States in Latin American countries.

At the time Rooseveltaimed to ensure that the North, Central and South American countries avoided breaking under the influence of Axis countries during World War II. As part of this campaign, Roosevelt comissioned a Spanish and a Portuguese version of the U.S. national anthem. According to Time Magazine he also “recruited Hollywood to participate in this Good Neighbor Policy; Walt Disney went on goodwill tour of South America, hoping to find a new market for his films, and ended up producing two movies inspired by the trip: Saludos Amigos (1942) and The Three Caballeros (1944). The Brazilian star Carmen Miranda also got a boost, and her role in The Gang’s All Here made her even more famous in the U.S. And alongside these cross-cultural exchanges, the U.S. government decided it needed an anthem that could reach Spanish speakers.”

According to NPR, Clotilde Arias, wrote wrote the translation at the end of World War II, was born in the small Peruvian city, Iquitos in 1901 and moved to New York City to become a composer when she was 22-years-old. Her version of the anthem is now part of an exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

Now in an effort to support Latino communities affected by the coronavirus, the non-profit We Are All Human Foundation’s Hispanic Star campaign commissioned the a remake of the song.

Hoping to raise awareness of its Hispanic Recovery Plan and efforts to help to connect Hispanic small businesses and workers with resources during the pandemic, the campaign brought the old recording from obscurity.

For the song, the 2019 winner of the singing competition La Voz,  Jeidimar Rijos, performed “El Pendón Estrellado.” Or, “The Star-Spangled Banner.” 

The song has already received quite a bit of comments and support on Youtube.

Hang in there, fam. We can only get through this together.

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A 9-Year-Old Girl Was Detained By Border Patrol On Her Way To School

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A 9-Year-Old Girl Was Detained By Border Patrol On Her Way To School

A 9-year-old U.S. citizen was separated from her mother for 36 hours after agents at the border accused her of lying about her citizenship.

Like thousands of students in our country, Julia Isabel Amparo Medina’s daily commute requires her to cross the U.S. border.

The fourth-grade student attends Nicoloff Elementary School in San Ysidro, California and was in a carpool to school from her home in Tijuana when she ran into traffic. Medina, was commuting to school in a car driven by her mother’s friend Michelle Cardena, Cardena’s two children and her own older 14-year-old brother, Oscar. When the long line to get into the U.S. seemed to be jampacked upon their 4 a.m arrival, Cardenas instructed the kids in her car to walk to the border. She assured them that when they reached it, she would call them an Uber to get them the rest of the way to their school.

But Medina and her never made it across the border or to school that day.

According to the New York Times who talked to a Customs and Border Protection spokesman, two Amparo and her brother arrived at one of the San Ysidro port of entry facilities for pedestrians at 10:15 a.m. last Monday.

Upon their arrival, Amparo and her brother presented their U.S. passports to a CBP officer who soon accused her of being someone else. Note: Amparo’s passport image which was taken years before so she did not look exactly like herself. They also accused her brother of smuggling.

A CBP spokesperson has said that Amparo “provided inconsistent information during her inspection, and CBP officers took the 9-year-old into custody to perform due diligence in confirming her identity and citizenship.”

After CBP officers the confirmed that her brother was a U.S. citizen, he was permitted to enter the U.S while his sister stayed behind. It wasn’t until 6:30 pm on Tuesday, that Amparo was confirmed to be a U.S. citizen as well and was released and admitted to the U.S. to her mother.

Speaking to NBC7, Amparo said she was “scared” of her detention and that she was “sad because I didn’t have my mom or my brother. I was completely by myself.”

According to Amparo’s mother Thelma Galaxia, her daughter claims that she was told by an officer that she and her brother would be released if she admitted to being her cousin. Galaxia claims that officers also convinced her son Oscar to sign a document that Amparo was his cousin and not his sister.

When Galaxia was alerted that her children had been detained she contacted the Mexican consulate.

After being notified by the consulate that her daughter would be released at the San Ysidro Port of Entry. While the family felt relieved to be grateful to be reunited with their daughter, Galaxia says the separation should never have happened.

Over the weekend, Twitter was swift to express their outrage over the incident.

Some even expressed their dismay of having a similar situation happen to them.

Many are using the incident as an example of the racial issues plaguing so many U.S. citizens like Amparo.

So many of the comments included outside opinions from those who have yet to experience the direct targetting of ICE.

Over all, nearly everyone was quick to point out the saddest aspect of Amparo’s experience.

Read: Preschool Students Are Doing Active Shooter Drills And I Guess This Is The New Normal Now

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