The Future of Politics is Female – and Latina
“Every moment is an organizing opportunity, every person a potential activist, every minute a chance to change the world.” Dolores Huerta.
In a record breaking political season, 185 women were nominated for House seats in 2018 on Tuesday, August 8. The prior record was 167 nominees in 2016, according to the Center for Women and Politics at Rutgers University.
The mid-term elections in November are shaping up to be historic, and Latinas are charging ahead, as 32 are in the running, proving we are vital to our changing political climate.
“The glimmers of Latina political success emerge against the backdrop of a dire political climate for immigrants and women, and demonstrate the strength and resiliency of these communities as they organize, demonstrate, vote, and run for office,” notes Christina Bejarano, author of The Latina Advantage: Gender, Race, and Political Success and The Latino Gender Gap in U.S. Politics.
Most notably, the example of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s congressional primary win in New York is a reassuring example. Ocasio-Cortez is a Latina first-time political candidate, who at 28 years old was able to defeat a 10-term congressman.
Two more Latinas are poised to join the freshman class of the 116th Congress in January 2019: Veronica Escobar (TX-16) and Sylvia Garcia (TX-29) are Democratic nominees in safely blue districts. Together, they will be the first Latinas ever elected to Congress from Texas.
Two other notable primary wins for Latinas come at the gubernatorial level, where Democratic nominees Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) in New Mexico and Lupe Valdez (D) in Texas are running to become the first Democratic Latina governor in the United States.
For a full report, check out Measuring Success for Latina Politics in 2018.
But even as we start seeing some promise to the state of gender equality and demographic representation in Politics, there’s still a long way to go.
Today, only 38 of the 107 women serving in Congress, are women of color; in addition, a Black woman, a Latina, an Asian Pacific Islander, and a Caribbean American woman serve as Delegates to the House from Washington, DC, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, and the Virgin Islands, respectively. Women of color constitute only 7.1% of the total 535 members of Congress, with Latinas only representing less than 2% of the total elected officials across Congress, statewide elected executive offices, and state legislatures, even tho we make up about 17% of the U.S. population.
As of now, Latina women make up 26.3% of all Latinos in Congress, and the 2018 election is a good opportunity to see this number increase.
Political parties and organizations need to acknowledge that women of color are viable candidates, fearless leaders, and pivotal voters.
And we need to show these phenomenal women our support. Because the future is Latina.