From a young age I was aware, from personal experience, of issues of inequality within communities. My first civic engagement action happened in middle school. At church, our priest spoke about a group of families that had recently arrived from Oaxaca without knowing anyone. They were living in tents by the river with their children. The next day at school, I organized a food and clothing drive for these families. I had my parents driving me around from business to business to ask for donations. I had my classmates join me in asking their parents and neighbors as well.
However, it wasn’t until I was older that I began to understand how essential it was to be involved in more formal civic engagement to have a greater impact. I helped start a program in our district to help bridge the gap between first-generation, Spanish-speaking middle school students and high schools, so the transition to a new environment would be easier, and would, hopefully, have a positive effect on academics.
I joined the School Board as a student trustee so there would be a student voice at the board level. I staged a student walk-out and protest against H.R. 4437, which tried to classify undocumented immigrants, and anyone who helped them, as felons.
It was thanks to these experiences, and the involvement of some fantastic educators and my supportive parents, that I started seeing how much you leave at the table if you don’t get involved. If you care about your community, getting involved in nonprofits, volunteering, or local politics is one of the most effective ways to bring about change.
This election is particularly important because I can’t think of another in my lifetime where more was at stake for Latino communities and many other communities.
That’s why this Election Day, I am voting.
I am voting because if I don’t, someone else will be voting against my interest.
I am voting because the presidential candidates won’t be the only thing on the ballot this November—there will also be education, tax, health care, and campaign reform measures that affect the community.
I am voting in this election because unless our communities get out to vote on November 8th we are giving up and letting others dictate what kind of policy and culture we have in the U.S. for the next 4 years.
I am voting because the next president will get the choose the next Supreme Court Justice. We risk losing the progress we’ve made as a country in Women’s Rights, Immigration Rights, Voting Rights, and many, many more issues.
California will always be my home. California is much more than LA and San Francisco. California is dozens of small hard-working communities that feed half the nation. California is beaches, redwood forests, deserts, snow-covered mountains, vineyards, all within driving distance. California is progressive and innovative, it evolves quickly, and isn’t afraid of change. It is a driving force of this nation, and I will make sure I am part of moving it forward this November 8.
To join Diana in voting this election, register to vote online by going to www.latinos-vote.com or text LATINOS to 384-387 to register! It only takes a few minutes.
Diana Marquez-De La Torre was born and raised in Watsonville, CA. She is a first-generation American and the first in her family to graduate from college, receiving her BA in Communication from Stanford University. After graduating, she worked as an organizer and eventually as a Senior Field Director for a political consulting firm. However, her passion remained in education and technology, so she changed careers and is currently a software engineer for an EdTech company, Kickboard, that focuses on creating safe and happy schools through positive school cultures.