Immigrants, Diversity, and the Electoral System: A call to action from a brown girl from Richmond

On a flight home, after spending time with family for the holidays, I decided to watch Selma, which led me to reflect on 2023, and the last eight years. On what is going on in the world, and in my own backyard in Texas. I moved to Texas after spending eight years in Washington, DC.  

I grew up in Richmond, CA, the City of Pride and Purpose, to be exact. The city’s politics are, and have always been, complicated, but the community is who I’ve always been in love with.

It was in Richmond where I learned about my first (s)heroes, but also about this country’s history. About its inequalities. Its adversaries. Its struggles and successes. It’s where I learned to appreciate who came before me, and who made what I had yet to live, possible. It’s where I learned to dream that a better world is possible. 

In Richmond, I learned to stand up for myself, at home and in society.  

I grew up in a home where generational machismo was instilled. Where I had to learn to speak up for myself, and where I had my first taste of what speaking for women’s rights was.  

Richmond is where I learned that I was undocumented. But where I learned to never be ashamed of it. I don’t know how many second graders share their border-crossing stories, be it by land, water, or air, but we did. We listened to each other’s stories, quietly and respectfully. It was my second-grade classmates who taught me tolerance and respect, while sitting in the coat closet during free time.  

It was in Richmond where I first experienced diversity. Where I first dyed a boiled egg and hung it on my door frame for Mien New Year’s. Where I learned about Black History month and the Civil Rights. Where the surnames Kaur and Singh were as common as Hernandez and Mendoza in our school’s yearbooks. Where I participated in my first boycott in support of farm workers, not realizing that the actual boycott had occurred long before I was born. Where I learned the meaning of the phrase, insang bagsak, one down. 

It was also in Richmond where I learned about the electoral system; the voter registration system and how important the immigrant contribution to this system can be. I later learned the importance of the legislative system and became involved, but that’s another story.  

In 2019, nearly 30 years after I arrived in this country, I gained permanent residency. Along with my residency, I gained the opportunity to participate in the electoral system by more than influence. I became eligible to donate to electoral campaigns. 

Yes, the vote is important. But in order for a vote to happen for our preferred candidate, law, measure, initiative, etc., these need to actually reach the ballot. And in order for these to reach the ballot, funds are needed. That’s where us [immigrants], not yet citizens, come in. We are an important piece of the puzzle that has yet to be delved in for, but we are definitely here, and we are definitely MANY.  

Us immigrants may not have the wallet capacity of the large corporations or Public Affairs Committees (PACs), but our numbers are important, and as my community says, de poco a poquito, se va llenando el jarrito, little by little, the jar fills up. 

We are in a time when the rights of women, immigrants, Black people, and people of color in general, and the country as a whole, are being severed. In a time when those in positions of power have called time and again for violence toward our communities. In a time when the rights gained not even a lifetime ago, are being threatened each and every day. In a time when our tax dollars are being used to wipe out an entire population from existence, and with that, our very own futures.  

For these reasons, I make a call to action for everyone with voting power to vote, everyone with permanent residency to donate, and anyone willing to become involved in elections, to volunteer for local campaigns, which have far reaching effects. Volunteering has no immigration status limitations. 

It’s difficult to say that these are trying times, because when we really think about it, when has it ever not been a trying time for our communities? But, if history has taught us anything, it is that it should not repeat itself. History has also taught us that if we stand together, we are that much stronger.   

I will forever thank my parents for raising me in Richmond, but for now, Texas is estimated to receive not just my campaign donations, but soon enough, my vote.  

Voter Registration: 

If eligible to vote, be sure to register and verify that your voter registration is up to date, including registration deadlines. Visit Note that many states allow for same-day voter registration and absentee ballots, which in some places can also be used to vote at a polling location if your ballot never reached you.

Contribution Rules

The requirements to donate to any campaign are below, as an individual, are the same for all state and federal elections.  

  1. I am a U.S. citizen or lawfully admitted permanent resident (i.e., green card holder).
  2. This contribution is made from my own funds, and funds are not being provided to me by another person or entity for the purpose of making this contribution.
  3. I am at least eighteen years old.
  4. I am not a federal contractor.
  5. I am making this contribution with my own personal credit card and not with a corporate or business credit card or a card issued to another person.

Local campaigns

I am sure most people have social media where many candidates and local campaigns have long ago begun fundraising. Research those people. Research those campaigns. Do they align with your beliefs? If so, there’s power in our money, our vote, and our time. 

We’ve got work to do!  


Tejidos blogger Blanca Hernandez is a former activist currently working in the area of immigration policy. Blanca has lived in various states across the U.S. and currently resides in Texas.

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One thought on “Immigrants, Diversity, and the Electoral System: A call to action from a brown girl from Richmond

  • Maria Alegria

    ‘de poco a poquito, se va llenando el jarrito,’little by little, the jar fills up. I love this dicho/saying. Latinos are generous gente. We give what we can, money, food or our time if we believe in our candidate or cause. Let’s hold our elected officials accountable, they are responsible to us, La comunidad. Gracias!