Tell us about yourself. Include where you’re from, what you do, how you’re thriving and anything else everyone should know about you.
I’m originally from Ohio. I moved to Austin more than 10 years ago and I just launched Jolt, a statewide movement to lift up the voices and issues impacting Latinxs across Texas.
How do you identify culturally?
I’m a Xicana. Latinx. My mother is an immigrant from Michoacán, Mexico.
How does your cultural background inform your thinking and sense of being in the world? How has it informed past decisions, successes, failures?
I am inspired by los que han vivido la injusticia en carne propia, y siguen luchando. By the immigrant moms like my own who have sacrificed everything to give their children a better future. By the thousands of undocumented immigrants that are continuing to organize to win our community the respect and dignity we deserve—even in the face of a Trump administration that wants to foment hate and tear our communities apart. I am also inspired by and look up to leaders from the Civil Rights and black power movements, from Martin Luther King Jr., to Stokely Carmichael, and Angela Davis.
What inspires you and who do you look up to?
I grew up between Mexico and Ohio—one white community and one brown—and realized early on that I only felt comfortable and fully myself when I was working with the Latinx immigrant community. My Latinx background made me everything I am and it is what I am dedicated to today. I have committed my life to organizing and advocating for the Latinx community since I was 15 years old. I don’t feel at home or at peace unless I am rooted and organizing in my community. I find love and hope in those in our community who are seen as the least powerless, who have everything stacked against them, and how they continue to organize and struggle to improve their lives and that of their children. It is what led me to give the last decade of my life to organizing immigrant construction workers. At 24 I co-founded Workers Defense Project (WDP), and built the organization from a small volunteer project into a statewide organization that was named “one of the most creative organization’s for immigrant workers in the country” by The New York Times. Last year I left WDP to found Jolt and launch a statewide movement to lift up the voices and issues impacting the broader Latino community across the state.
What is your best piece of advice to anyone who may be struggling?
Be patient with yourself. Self-help books are incredible and journaling lets you process your feelings and challenges.
What are your future goals and aspirations?
I just launched a new Latinx civic engagement organization. My goal is to grow the organization so that we can register Latinxs to vote and increase voter turnout, so that Latinxs in Texas win the dignity and respect we deserve. I’m tired of seeing our community depicted as “rapists” and “criminals” on the media and by our politicians. My mom and my family members aren’t criminals or rapists. They are hard working people who made huge sacrifices so that I can have the opportunities they never did.
Share one thing people should know about the Latinx community?
That our families matter to us above all else. Politicians who have tried to use ICE to break up our families will soon learn that we won’t sit idly by, that we will organize, mobilize and vote them out of office. In Texas there are almost 11 million Latinxs and together we have the power to transform our state and country.
What is your favorite Latinx driven project and why is it your favorite?
My favorite Latinx owned business is El Milagro Tortilleria—delicious, warm and fresh tortillas.
Where can people find you on the internet?
They can learn more about Jolt at www.jolttx.organd follow us on our social media channels: