One of my earliest memories is from the late summer of 1996. My father called me into the living room, pointed at the television, and said, “Mijo, pay attention to what these people have to say.”
For the next 90 minutes, I watched my first ever presidential debate by his side.
It would take another 15 years for my father to vote. Our application for citizenship kept getting delayed: first, because we didn’t have the funds to pay the exorbitant fees; then because of bureaucratic errors that would have been solved if we had access to a lawyer who looked like us and talked like us. And even after everything we went through for this country to finally acknowledge our existence, my father still entered the voting booth for the very first time in 2012 with pride and purpose.
“There are people who don’t want us here, mijo. When you vote, you let them know they’re messing with the wrong chingones.”
For my father and myself – voting and participating in the political process are acts of resistance. When I vote:
1. I remind this country that Latinos are a force (or, as my father would say, chingones)
2. And I proudly assert my existence as a Queer Immigrant Latinx man, someone whose identity sits at the intersection of communities that face daily violence and hatred.
I love my people, and our next president will have the power to help or deeply harm my people. That is why in 2020, with a sense of pride and purpose, I will pay attention. I will resist. And I will vote.
Written by Carlos Aguilar, the Chief Content Director at ChangeLawyers℠, a foundation that funds the next generation of progressive lawyers of color. He is also a member of Latino Community Foundation’s LGBTQ+ Latinx Giving Circle.