Somos Poderos@s and our voices matter. They matter even if we are Latin@s. They matter even if we have had an abortion(s). They matter even if we are LGBTQ. They matter even if we are undocumented. They matter even if we are disabled. Our voices matter regardless of any identity or socioeconomic standing. Our voices matter in, out and beyond election day.
For the past two months leading to election day our activists around the country were making sure their voices, beliefs, values, and the issues they cared about were being heard while reaching others.
In New York, we worked with young moms around the lack of resources for them and their babies. The highlight of all our work was when we made it to DC. The young mothers spoke for themselves on a panel. They shared their stories and the struggle of finding child care, health resources, food and even obtaining a higher education. Young mothers have a voice and it needs to be heard.
The DC-Maryland-Virginia (DMV) Latinas Organizing for Leadership and Advocacy (LOLA) group, otherwise known as DMV LOLA which was only recently created out of our Southern Regional LOLA Training, held a voter registration event in their community in front of a supermarket (how cool is that!). They also held a meet and greet where a group of five fierce poderosas got together to enjoy some delicious pasta and fabulous drinks. Kimberly Inez-McGuire, senior policy analyst with NLIRH, joined in solidarity and gave helpful background information on NLIRH and shared ideas for future events. Unfortunately, one of their events had to be cancelled because of Hurricane Sandy. Nonetheless, DMV LOLA Latinas are fierce and we cannot wait to see what changes they bring to the community. Margie, one of the DMV LOLA co-founders said, “it was awesome being able to get together, from the supermarket to the meet and greet. We are growing”.
In Florida, the poderosas of Mi LOLA held Reproductive Justice Loteria with Gloria Steinem, an American feminist, journalist and political activist. They played Mexican bingo while advocating for women’s right to choose. Someone even won a pink vibrator!
One of the amazing activists we met during our Southern Regional LOLA went on to create a school club called Alabama Alliance for Sexual and Reproductive Justice. They hit Alabama hard with voter registration events almost every week, following with phone banking and door knocking. We are grateful that spaces like these are being created in Alabama.
In Illinois, one of our activists who is also part of the Latin@ Youth Action League, held a cafecito where many shared their own stories and why reproductive justice is important to them.
Texas poderosas from the Rio Grande Valley took over their state by hosting health fairs almost every day. They were even tabling inside of the Sheriff’s headquarters! These health fairs were filled with children, adults, and youth. They registered dozens of new voters and even collected signatures to push for the inclusion of undocumented youth, who are granted Deferred Action, in the Affordable Care Act. Our Texas poderosas swept through their community like a storm, shouting into megaphones, no matter the time of day, making sure everyone was invited to the events they were having. Lucy Felix, one of our activists and a main leader in Texas shared a story with us about older community members getting together to collect signatures for undocumented youth. One of the community members who participated in these health fairs shared her testimony with us, she says, “the my voice matters campaign taught me a lot. It was a great experience, being able to teach other women and families the importance of using our voice, and that their voices deserve being listened to. We met many new women who joined our group”.
And on November 6th all these stories and all our hard work won the election. Women, Latinas, and people of color were leading in the polls and our bodies couldn’t be happier since healthcare access is here to stay under the Obama administration. Change really is here when men who try to decide what we can do with our bodies lose seats in office. Change really is here because Todd Akin and his, legitimate rape body shut down comments made him lose. Change is here when Wisconsin elects the first openly gay senator. Join us while we continue to have our voices heard.
In the words of Gloria Steinem “…we’re taking our vaginas back!”
It is time to hold these politicians accountable. We cannot continue to move forward when folks in our community are being pushed back. Now is the time to roll up our sleeves and get to work, Manos a la obra, Poderosas!