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Lily Eskelsen's picture

Soy la hija de una inmigrante. I am the proud daughter of an immigrant. My mother is from Panama and became a citizen when I was three.

Sometimes she used to let us stay up past the late, late, late show when TV used to actually go off the air. (Lordy, am I dating myself?). At the End of Our Broadcasting Day, they played the Star Spangled Banner. My little mamá would make us get our sleepy little butts up off the sofa and put our droopy little hands over our hearts.

Lily Eskelsen congratulates Bridget Gonzales who sang the national anthem at a rally to encourage Latinos in Las Vegas to vote

Some of the most patriotic Americas I know are those who loved this country so much, they chose to become Americans. They do not take our country or our responsibilities for granted.

I don’t think Mom has ever missed an election. My mother would consider it una vergüenza - a shameful thing - to not vote when there are so many immigrants who love this country and dream about someday becoming citizens and being given that incredible responsibility.

I saw a commercial that I consider not only Unpatriotic, but an insult to my mother. It was a slick commercial by people who are not friends of the Latino community telling us: Show Congress that you’re angry! Show your power! Stay Home. Don’t Vote.

My mom is looking for them. When I told her about this campaign to suppress the Latino vote in some states, she was as angry as I’ve ever seen her. She said, “Do they think we’re stupid?”

Now, personally, I’m a little crazy, but no Ma, no soy estúpida. I know who wants me to stay home. They’re the same people who told Latino high school students who questioned the use of tough-looking Hispanic men in campaign commercials obviously meant to frighten white voters, that they weren’t actually sure they were Hispanic. One candidate told the kids that some of them actually looked Asian to her.

When the kids asked her about her stance on constructing an impossible fence the entire length of Mexico, she explained that she was really talking about the border with…Canada.

No one’s fooling those high school students. They’re not fooling anyone. We’re not stupid. They are targeting Americans of Hispanic descent and trying all manner of dirty tricks to keep them – including my mom and me - from the voting booth. Their methods are crude and unsophisticated and insulting.

Look. We can tell who’s stupid.

There is only one way to show them that we are smart. We are patriotic. We are absolutely aware of what we stand to gain and what we stand to lose.

I am a teacher. I want the Dream Act now! We want more people in Congress who are supporting the Dream Act – not fewer. I want an end to the testing mania that is so unfair and frustrating to immigrant students learning English.

I want more Latino students in a pipeline for STEM careers – Science Technology Engineering and Math. Of all ethnic and racial groups, Latino students are the most seriously underrepresented in this pipeline to the best paying, fastest growing careers. I want more Latino kids to graduate from high school ready for college and I want their families to be able to afford college. I want all kids to have the skills and knowledge they will need to do whatever they want with their lives.

Lily joins other Latino leaders to urge the 10,000 newly-registered Hispanic citizens in Las Vegas to turn out to vote

And I’m smart. I know that just because I want it won’t make it so. I’ve got to put the right people in office and I do that with the power of my vote. I will not waste that power. I will use it. Even if I can’t find the perfect candidate.

It is not a perfect world. But, I don’t Stay Home and pout because I don’t live in a perfect world. It’s a world of choices. I will vote for the best candidate I can find, and there are some very good people out there. I will vote for someone who respects me, even when they don’t agree with me on every issue. I will vote for someone with common sense. I will vote for someone who wants a better world for the people I love and care about.

But I will vote. Voy a votar… o mi madre va a matarme. (or my mom’s going to kill me.)

The American vote is a privilege beyond words. It changes the world – for better or for worse, but it changes the world. When hundreds and thousands and tens of thousands and millions of us vote, powerful people pay attention.

Sometimes they’ll pay attention and put on commercials to try and distract some people from using their vote. That’s because they are afraid of them and what their collective power can do to politicians who run on a platform of intolerance and disrespect.

They think they can confuse us and manipulate us. Which only shows that they don’t know Americans. When Americans are under attack, they don’t run. They come together and fight for what makes them proud Americans.

Porque Juntos podemos hacer lo que no podemos hacer solos.

Together we can do what we cannot do alone. Together, all of us, - black, white, brown, old young, poor, rich – together those who take their responsibility to vote and who demand respect for that vote, will be a force in this election. Together we will show our power and our patriotism.

Visit Education Votes to take action today!

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