By Andrea Monzón, Operations & Governance Coordinator, YWCA USA
My father arrived as an asylum seeker from Cuba when he was 6 years old. My mother was 21 when she left Peru in pursuit of romance. Their first meeting happened in a south Florida office. I grew up with mixed feelings about speaking a language none of my classmates understood or appreciated. I had a name nobody could pronounce correctly, so like a lot of children of immigrants, I introduced myself with a gringo-friendly alternative: “awhn-drei-uh.”
This Hispanic Heritage Month, I’m reflecting on the complicated identities of Latinos born or living in America. Whether you were raised by parents who thought that disavowing the Spanish language would be enough to for you to be seen as fully American. Whether you are a dreamer, citizen, or exist in that other liminal space called “undocumented.” Our identities are as multi-faceted as the cultures we came from. It took me a long time to untangle all the dissonant pieces of my identity, and like a lot of us, I’m still looking at those pieces.
It can be hard to coalesce around a common cause when you are part of such a diverse group. But above all, Latinas do share common worries: safety and healthcare. Latinas are more likely to worry about affording our rent or mortgage, having access to paid leave so we can take care of ourselves or our loved ones, and having a job with good benefits. We all face discrimination based on the different facets of our identities: gender, race, and immigration/citizenship status.
The Hispanic population in the United States reached 60.6 million in 2019. A record 32 million Latinos will be eligible to vote in the 2020 presidential election—that means we are 13% of the electorate. The election will have significant consequences for everyone affected by US policies, but 81% of Latinas are worried about how the outcome will impact them and their families. Together, we have an opportunity to make Latina voices so loud that they cannot be ignored. When we vote, we can help to create the equitable and prosperous America that our parents dreamed about. Together, we can change the future of this country for the better.