When I was 10 years old, I immigrated to the United States and experienced the challenges and benefits of integrating into a new culture. Coming into a completely new culture, language, and way of living in California at such a young age was very traumatic for me. I had few friends and struggled my way through elementary, middle, and high school. As I got older, I wondered how much I could conform to American culture without losing my own. Figuring out my place in my community was a major challenge that took me a long time to overcome.
My parents made many sacrifices for me to be here. I witnessed my father study every day, for over two years to be able to complete his citizenship test in English, he wanted the right to vote! My father became a US Citizen during my senior year of high school. Watching him study and accomplish this goal motivated me to pursue a career and life of service. What resonated most with me about watching my father become a US citizen, was the importance of voting and civic engagement.
*My father Justo Ochoa Tamayo,
studying for his citizenship exam in the early
Did you know that in 2016, the year Donald Trump was elected, 52% of eligible Hispanic voters and 40% of eligible black voters chose not to vote? From 2016 to 2020, the number of minority eligible voters has expanded rapidly and they have the opportunity to make a significant difference in the upcoming November elections all across the United States. If you want to make a difference in 2020, then make sure you are registered and VOTE! California voter registration is available online through October 19th, but you can register in person on the day of the election, November 3rd if you miss the online deadline.
I share this very personal experience, ALL to encourage you to engage in our community. I am asking friends and family alike to exercise their voting rights and raise their voices so that representatives hear and understand our needs. Activism builds a better life for us all! Communities that are more engaged receive more resources are represented better have better school systems, they have better streets, and their problems get fixed. We have to show legislators that we have a voice and that we have power so that we can take our seat at the table, so we can change policies that matter to our community.
To anyone reading this post, YOUR vote matters! Go to RegisterToVote.ca.gov for online registration and request an absentee ballot, or go to sos.ca.gov/elections/polling-place to find your local polling place. Please register and VOTE! Your opinion matters more than ever this year. It can change our communities for the better, giving our children a brighter future where their voice is listened to.