By Viridiana Sanchez and Maggie Juarez
Editor’s note: Latino Rebels received this blog post from Jolt and we agreed to proudly publish it.
Viridiana Sanchez: I’m a rising high school junior and I go to school in Del Valle, Texas. When I graduate high school, I want to do all that I can to help my community. I’m not sure what shape that will take, but I sometimes think about opening up a free health clinic. In my free time, I love to read and go running (even in Texas summer heat!). This summer I’ve been working as a Youth Organizer for Jolt. It’s so cool to spend every day doing something I love: fighting for Latinos and all people of color. Just a few days ago I helped plan Quinceañera at the Capitol to protest the anti-Latino and anti-immigrant law SB 4. I am fighting against SB 4 and all attacks on the Latino community because I refuse to see my people live in fear and in pain. We deserve so much more than that, and I want to do all I can to build power for my community.
Maggie Juarez: I’m a rising senior in high school, and I love books and all things artistic: drawing, painting, and photography. When I finish high school, I want to help people by working in the medical field. I also always want to be fighting and advocating for my community. I joined Jolt because I saw my friends and family fear for their lives and their freedom because of immigration raids. In February I organized my classmates to walk out of class for “A Day Without Immigrants,” and ever since then, I’ve been helping Jolt resist racist legislation. I love doing this work: not only am I lifting up Latino voices, but I also get to do it in creative ways. Last week, I choreographed the dances in our Quinceañera at the Capitol action.
We’re both proud Latinas. We love our communities and our families, and value all of the hard work our parents have done to give us the opportunities that they didn’t have.
But lately we’ve realized that many politicians in Texas don’t value our families or our communities. Earlier this summer Governor Greg Abbott signed SB 4, a law that makes being undocumented and brown a crime in Texas. His administration is also trying to stop the DACA program, which would cause the deportation of thousands of young immigrants.
And the reality is that all Latinos and people of color face disproportionate challenges in Texas. Latino kids in Texas are more likely to attend low performing schools, and our parents earn less than other groups—the median household income for Latinos is $37,000, compared to $64,000 for whites. And almost one third of Latinos don’t have health insurance. But our governor and too many of our elected leaders don’t want to talk about these issues or work to change them. Instead, they want to pass hateful bills like SB 4 and police people’s bathroom use. Instead of unifying Texans and making our lives better, they want to discriminate against immigrants, Latinos, LGBTQ+ individuals and all people of color.
We organized the Quinceañera at the Capitol to respond to fear and hate by standing proud and by celebrating our culture. After our dance performance. we visited the legislators who fought against SB 4 to thank them. We also tried to meet with Governor Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and the authors of SB 4, but none of them would talk with us.
The Quinceañera at the Capitol generated incredible energy and power. We have to build on that momentum and continue to fight for the dignity and respect that we deserve. And we want all Latinos to be part of the fight.
On September 1 —the day SB 4 is supposed to go into effect— we are calling for a statewide strike. Please don’t buy anything, don’t go to school and don’t go to work. We need to show our legislators that we are a powerful force in this state, and that if they mess with our communities there will be repercussions. That day we will also be organizing a Youth Rally Against Hate in Austin. We’ll have art and cultural workshops for all of those walking out of school or work.
And on September 2, we will host the Latino is Powerful Concert & March, featuring the band Voz de Mando. That day, thousands of Latinos and allies from across the state will come together at the Texas Capitol for a free concert to celebrate our culture and then a march that will show legislators that we are powerful, that we are united, and that we will fight for our community.
We need you to stand with us on September 1 and 2… but don’t wait until then to exercise your voice and power! Join the movement today at bastatexas.org.
Together, we’re going to show the country that we are Texas and that we won’t back down.