Vanessa Ybarra is excited about the prospect of voting for the first time this November. Photo by Vanessa Ybarra
Vanessa Ybarra is excited about the prospect of voting for the first time this November.

Albion college freshman Vanessa Ybarra will be voting in November for herself, for her heritage, for her community.

ALBION, MI—Albion College freshman Vanessa Ybarra, 18, is proud.

She’s proud of her Hispanic American heritage and the fact that she grew up in southwest Detroit, also known as Mexicantown. Proud that she attended a multicultural school where Latinos make up about 50 percent of the population. And proud of her community and culture –  major factors of influence for the bubbly, bright teenager who will be voting for the first time in the November general election.

The decision to vote didn’t come lightly to Ybarra, who said that improving policies, the lives of those coming after her, and making her voice heard are reasons why she wants to vote.

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Un Movimiento En Crecimiento (A Growing Movement)

This new election cycle marks the first time that Hispanic Americans will be the largest ethnic minority group among eligible voters, just ahead of Black voters, according to a PBS article. This increase in voter participation, the article said, can account for some factors like newly registered U.S. citizens, among other according to statistics.  

“I think it is really great,” Ybarra said of a new wave of people voting, adding that she feels that a lot of injustices are taken against Hispanic Americans, and minorities overall, and it’s important for the voters to be accounted for.

Ybarra said that a lot of the issues brown and black people in her community who looked like her face are being brought to the forefront. These issues are “being taken a lot more seriously” she said of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainment camps and other racial injustices.

“People see that we’re just tired of kind of standing back and accepting what’s being done to us the way things have been for so long — we’re not ready to do that anymore and we’re ready to be treated as complete equals,” Ybarra said. “(What’s happening at the ICE) immigration camps … are completely terrible but we’re just accepting it and not seeing how this is a complete violation of human rights.”

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Un voto por ella (A Vote For Her)

Ybarra said that one of her young nieces is “speaking out about Trump” and is very concerned about politics.

“She’s kind of a little too young to be worried so much about politics and she is so worried about whether this guy is going to be elected back into office,” Ybarra said, adding that her niece encapsulates the signs of the times America is in right now. “I think that kind of speaks to the mentality where we are right now as a country and how other people may feel about Trump.”

She said that is why she is symbolically voting for future generations to, hopefully, ease her niece’s fears when she votes.

Ybarra said some issues she cares about includes the Black Lives Matter social justice movement because she feels that everyone should be given equal human rights. 

“I want to help bring more life to that,” she said.

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