America Ferrera on the Importance of the Hispanic Vote
Culture We asked the “Superstore” star about the power of the Latino community to affect change, and her efforts to mobilize every vote.
Why are you so passionate about encouraging Latinos to vote and be politically active?
America Ferrera: My first memory of an election is when I was ten years old and Proposition 187 was on the ballot. I remember my mom telling me that some people might ask me questions because I was Latina, and she wanted me to know that I hadn’t done anything wrong. While I didn’t fully grasp everything, I realized that my identity was political and understood that voting could affect my life, and other people’s lives. When I first campaigned in the 2008 presidential election, I was shocked to learn how many Latinos truly believed their votes didn’t matter. That’s when I really started thinking about the challenge of voter participation within the Latino community, because we will never be represented if people don’t engage.
“There are millions of Latinos in this country who rightly fear for themselves, their parents and children if the vote goes the wrong way.”
What is your greatest hope for the 2016 presidential election?
My greatest hope is that 100 percent of eligible voters show up and vote—especially within the Latino community. There is so much at stake for all Americans, but Latinos in particular have a lot to lose in this election. On the other hand, we have a lot to gain if we show up, because we have the numbers and power to define the direction the country will take.
What do you want to tell the more than three million young Latinos who will be voting in a presidential election for the first time this year?
I would say the consequences of this election are real and urgent for us. There are millions of Latinos in this country who rightly fear for themselves, their parents and children if the vote goes the wrong way. The next president will shape the Supreme Court, and that will determine the future of many things our community cares about like access to education, access to reproductive health and immigration reform. This is not a time to sit back—it’s a time to use your voice.