Summer of Feminista: The Latina Vote – Neither Beast nor Savior

This week Summer of Feminista welcomes 
Maegan "la Mamita Mala" Oritz, 
of Mamita Mala: One Bad Mami Blog 
and owner of VivirLatino.

It's that time a year again. Time to revive stale metaphors of poking napping mythical creatures from their dens. Time to dust off the old book of stereotypes and pandering, the one that makes it logical to parade around a Cuban in order to win the votes of Mexicans all while playing reggaeton in the background. Time for non-profits to have their own race about who will register more people, hold more twitter chats, and out message with celebrity cameos. I'll see you an America Ferrara and raise you a Ricky Martin and Marc Anthony.

It's presidential election time, 2012 edition.

During the last presidential election it was easy to caught up in the excitement. There was a man of color running who actually stood a chance. People were desperate and ate up slogans and promises of hope and change and believed that yes we can except now 4 years later, regardless of who we voted for, we are ALL left asking, did we?

At a forum claiming to represent what women wanted out of the 2008 race, I told people not to vote, especially if that was all they were going to do. Don't vote if they didn't consider how they had that right to vote and especially not to vote if they didn't consider the people in this land of the free, home of the brave who had to live under its laws but couldn't vote themselves. I was thinking of the incarcerated. I was thinking of the people of Puerto Rico. I was thinking of the undocumented. I haven't been asked to make any speeches this presidential election cycle and in a way I'm glad because I may end up stopping my speech after saying don't vote.

I am completely uninspired by this election. Electoral politics have never been my favorite thing because as I have written numerous times on my blog, electoral politics is not going to save our lives. It sure as hell hasn't hasn't stemmed the rising deportation, unemployment, poverty, or school crowding numbers in our communities. Violence, at the hands of the state like in Anaheim, or at the hands of individuals like in Aurora, hasn't been lessened. I don't feel safer, secure or any other s word that is attached to policy I am supposed to rally around. I, like many other Latinos are just tired.

Here's the thing, while Sofia Vergara is on the cover of Forbes playing up her Latin Stereotype Woman to prove to other people that they should be fighting for the Latino dollar, no one is really fighting for the Latino vote in a meaningful way. Instead what we have are references to us as sleeping giants and statistical possibilities as if apathy in and of itself is not a political choice. And really how many choices do we really have. We are asked to choose from the lesser of two evils or else. Is that really the best this political system can offer us? While more of us struggle to put food on the table and figure out how to keep ourselves healthy – because many of us still aren't sure if and how health care reform will help us and many of us will not be able to access it because of immigration status or work status- we are expected to rally behind an option that will hurt us less? No wonder people aren't lining up if this is the extent of political imagination.

Let me be clear. I will vote in this presidential election. I was mentored by a Young Lord who exemplified using every tool at our disposal to get what we need for our communities. In his memory I vote. But I am not a beast that needs to poked with a stick, provoked into action. I am not a playground amusement to be swung around once every four years only to be left rusting in the in-between times. I will not engage in zero sum games because I know better and I trust that my vecinos know as well when they choose to vote or they stay home in November.

Summer of Feminista 2012 is a project where Latinas are sharing their thoughts about Election 2012. Viewpoints can be liberal, moderate or conservative. Academic statements. Personal stories. Learn more or how you can join the Summer of Feminista. This is a project of Viva la Feminista. Link and quote, but do not repost without written permission.