My name is Vanessa Reyes. I am 19 years old. I am Latina, born in Monterrey, Nuevo León. I’ve lived in Winson, Salem for 13 years. I’ve lived here since I was 6 years old and I struggled to see myself for a long time. I didn’t have any family members in North Carolina and I didn’t see a lot of people who looked like me. I wasn’t White or Black and felt there was no space for me.
Growing up in North Carolina
I’ve been volunteering in community spaces since I was 16 years old. My parents were scared at first when I went to my first event - a canvassing event to register voters. I told them, “mama papa alguien tiene que hacer esto para nosotros. Yo lo voy a hacer. Can you take me, mom?” Door knocking for the first time was scary and new. I didn't know what it was going to be because I used to have trouble talking to complete strangers. But afterwards, I felt complete. I felt amazed by the people I met. I got to knock doors with a mother and a daughter that i still keep in contact with to this day. I canvassed with them and they were so nice, willing to help. I had never seen mi gente in this position, wanting to go out and make some change. And then i saw my people chanting and dancing and saying ‘we’re going to make some change, just wait for it.’ It was like, wow. This is where I belong.
But let me tell you about North Carolina and my town. We get all four seasons here. I drive around and you will see trees before you see a building. Especially down the highways you will see forests before factories. The scenery, the natural life. Also, the food is amazing. It's fattening and full of butter and sugar, but amazing. There is a good amount of nice people, southern hospitality is a real thing. And yet there is not enough Latinx culture. Not in our cities, in our government, in our schools, or anything like that. We have to learn it on our own, organize it on our own. We do have one ‘hispanic festival’ ever year. That's the only thing we get.
We’re not playing around
I’m a person who likes to meet someone before judging them. When Trump was running I didn't know much about him. And before he opened his mouth, I thought he was just another presidential hopeful. I would say, “Lets see what he has to say. Lets not judge him.” And then he opened his mouth. He showed himself really quickly. And it became clear that there is no reason for any of us to go easy on him. This November is time to go big or go home to get him out of the White House.
I think Latinos want to vote against Trump but II think there is confusion about who is the best option. It is my hope that our people in the end can see that getting Trump out of the presidency is the right strategy for us at this moment. The reality is that there is more than one Trump out there, and we need to show everyone that we can get this one out. We need to show that there are powerful voices strong enough to take this powerful man out. If we do this, there is no one who can stop us when we need to take out the next one and bring about the next change for everyone.
I see a new era of possibilities for our people if Trump is not president, and I think Latinos can make a good contribution to making that happen. This is the time for our people, nuestra gente, to show up in this country, show that we are not playing around, and stop being background noise. We are no longer the people that they use and ignore, we are the people that can kick you out of the Presidency.