2020 Is About Taking Action for Equal Opportunity
In the spring of this year, on the same day she took the oath of allegiance to become a U.S. citizen at her naturalization ceremony in Anaheim, California, my mother decided she would not wait another day to go by before registering to vote. It sounds simple enough for some, but it was monumental for our family. Since migrating to southern California from her hometown in Mexico nearly 35 years ago, she will be able to cast a ballot for the first time in the upcoming primary election on March 3, 2020.
Although I grew up with the privileges of American citizenship, my parents’ struggles and triumphs navigating American life as immigrants had a profound impact on my activism and career. Their message to my sister, brother, and I was clear: because we were living in an unequal society, we were to use our privileges not for self-gain but to help and uplift our family and community.
From my early days as an organizer knocking on doors to encourage my neighbors to sign petitions urging city council to invest in affordable housing, to my years working for a coalition of national groups advocating for immigrant rights in the U.S. congress—my family’s message influenced my personal mission to use my career and education to advance equal opportunity.
In 2020, my mother will be in good company when she goes to the voting booth. In the upcoming year, an estimated 32 million Latinos will be eligible to vote nationwide, cementing Latinos as the largest racial or ethnic minority group in the American electorate. The potential to mobilize their civic participation will be enormous, and the stakes have never felt higher.
That’s why I’m so excited to be joining the Latino Community Foundation as their newest Civic Engagement Fellow. We have a real opportunity to engage young people and new voters and uplift their voices on the issues that most impact their lives.
Over the next year, I’ll help lead the foundation’s 2020 Presidential Election work to ensure that Latinos in California are informed, engaged, and ready to vote. About every 3 in 4 registered Latino voters in the state are certain they will vote in the presidential primary on March 3rd. Although they are concerned about the historic levels of racism against them, our community is not letting ourselves be intimidated—they’re reacting to these threats with increased political engagement.
2020 is also a census year. That means I will be working with LCF’s philanthropic, business, and nonprofit partners to ensure every member of the Latino community is counted. The final census count will determine our community’s political representation and access to vital public resources, like education, housing, and nutrition and food access.
Language barriers and misinformation about the census have historically put Latinos at a higher risk of not being fully counted. With culturally relevant outreach strategies, we can mitigate these barriers.
I know that families like mine continue to struggle to make it in California—and it’s not for lack of hard work or dedication to their families and communities. From Sacramento to Washington, DC, in 2020, we can make great strides to ensure we are closer to achieving equal opportunity for Latinos.
It can, and must, start with our voices and actions in 2020.
Written by: Eduardo García is the Civic Engagement Fellow at the Latino Community Foundation.