Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Impact of Latino Political Training

To begin this entry, I’d like to mention the National Association for the Deaf’s Youth Leadership Camp motto:

“Tell me, I’ll forget. Show me, I’ll remember. Involve me, I understand.”

Nothing could be truer for political participation. Yesterday was one of the best days of my whole life. I went to a Latino Political Training hosted by the National Council of La Raza. I had already mentioned about the types of political conferences, seminars, and the like in my Vlog “The New Media.” Going to the political training was a first for me, as I had attended seminars before but not training session. And the experience was so beneficial!

Through a series of presenters talking about fund raising, campaigning for public offices, organizational success, grassroots strategy, and even lobbying tips, so much resources was put into my mind that I could not contain it all and ended up taking over 15 pages of notes on my laptop!! I was bursting with so much ideas, bottled-up energy, ambition, and inspiration that I was ready to pop at the end of the day.

And I did – it just happened to be pure coincidence that I was slated to attend a Deaf Youth USA’s (DYUSA, for short) Inaugural Gala right after the political training ended at 5 pm. There, I talked incessantly about what I learned at the training and the amazing potential that DYUSA has for encouraging greater political participation, it being a youth organization for the deaf, full of bright and active young deaf people, and a grassroots organization at that, too. The reaction was positive and I was invited to the DYUSA board meeting the next day.

So today, I went to the DYUSA board meeting and implanted to them what I had learned from yesterday’s day at the National Council of La Raza. I gave them the resources. I transferred the power of knowledge. So, you see the direct impact that the political training of National Council of La Raza has had on the deaf community... not even 24 hours after-wards!!

I emphasized that it’s really vital to expand our mind-set and look for political allies with other communities. I view the Latino community as the perfect political ally for several reasons. One, our cultures are both separate, with separate languages, yet they are also unusually similar in many ways. The information I learned at the training was mostly for Latino community but it could all so easily apply to the deaf community as well. The Latino concerns are also similar to the deaf community - access to education, gaining a greater voice, and bilingualism. The Latino potential for a political ally is also something that I had already previously noted in this blog entry about Colorado Senator Ken Salazar (he is now working for Obama).

It’s always important for us in the deaf community to push and advocate for our issues and disability issues but when we expand our focus, we can really benefit from it. Here’s an excerpt from my training notes:

“It’s about actually working together. Where the power is. And how you use the power, too. All the minority groups think they’re divided. The answer is simple, work together. Roll up your sleeves and be creative.”