If you google the name Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, you’ll encounter countless articles about the 28-year-old Democratic Socialist’s victory over Democratic Representative Joe Crowley, who ran for the 14th Congressional District in New York. In a roaring upset, the-28-year-old, Puerto Rican from the Bronx and “political newcomer” defeated her opponent in the primaries.
In her campaign video, she began with the phrase, “Women like me aren’t supposed to run for office. I wasn’t born to a wealthy family or powerful family — mother from Puerto Rico, dad from the South Bronx. I was born in a place where your ZIP code determines your destiny.” Hearing these words and watching this video sent chills down my spine. With the latest barrage of horrendous newslines, Ocasio-Cortez’s victory is a breath of fresh air, and provides the much needed inspiration for communities being targeted by our government right now.
During my time in college, I was involved in community organizing and loved the thrill and motivation that came with being immersed in the political arena. I enjoyed connecting with people about issues that mattered to me and the community I represented with every phone call or knock on doors. My own daughter was three years old at the time and would attend phone banking and canvassing parties with me on the weekends, and she would spend her Wednesday afternoons at school board meetings. It was important for me that she take part in the movements I was also a part of, so that she understood from a young age, the power of her voice and the power of the people. It’s important that all our young people have a platform to voice their concerns and expertise about their needs, in particular, through community organizing. In the Bay Area, organizations like Youth Together and the RYSE Center, are providing training and support for high school students looking to make their voices heard. As students and constituents, they are directly impacted by the decisions adult politicians make, and they deserve the right to use their voices in the political arena. Ocasio-Cortez’s victory is proof of this power. I want my daughter and all our young people to have role models like Ocasio-Cortez, so that they can understand the deep power of their communities and the change that they can bring with their voices.
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