Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, commonly known as AOC, became the youngest woman ever elected into Congress in 2018 and since then she has taken the country by a storm. Recently, she secured her reelection as U.S. Representative for New York’s 14th Congressional District for a second term at the New York Primary on July 23rd, winning over 70% of the votes from her district.
AOC had a high profile election back in 2018 when she challenged and beat 10-term incumbent Joe Crowly. Since then, she has been one of the most talked-about politicians in America. With a platform based on progressive policies such as Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, and the abolition of ICE, among many other things, she is a known advocate for the people as a Democratic Socialist. She even runs on grassroots campaigns, raising over $10.5 billion in her 2020 election campaign and refusing to take any money from big corporations.
Also, as a Bronx-born Puerto-Rican woman, AOC is vocal about and doesn’t shy away from her background, being that she grew up in a working-class family and experienced first hand the needs of her community. AOC is not only a social justice warrior, but she embodies so many of the more important values of justice, equity, and bringing the needs of her community to the forefront of policymaking.
I have been continuously inspired by AOC and the work that she does, as well as the representation she brings into politics. I will never forget when she got sworn into Congress wearing her signature red lipstick and hoops. When met with praises from young women for her boldness she tweeted, “Next time someone tells Bronx girls to take off their hoops, they can just say they’re dressing like a Congresswoman.” As a young Latina from the Bronx myself, AOC has taught me that professional success should never come at the cost of my identity.
By using social media to her advantage, AOC has been able to win over many young people throughout the years. She takes to Twitter to engage her constituents and is even known for her Instagram Live sessions where she will perform regular tasks at home while talking with her followers. She is my definition of a modern-day politician and someone who is not afraid to use her platform or her voice to stand up for issues that are deeply impacting her community.
Most notably, AOC believes that every American should have a decent living wage on the basis that no person should be simply too poor to live. She states, “I was born in a place where your ZIP code determines your destiny.” In America, this statement is very real, with the Bronx being home to some of the poorest districts in the country. That is why she fights for low-income New Yorkers every day.
Just like her, I have not only faced many adversities throughout my upbringing in the Bronx, but also throughout my professional career, many of these rooted in the fact that young Latinas from the Bronx are rarely accepted in places of privilege. As someone who is pursuing a career in the public sector, I have learned a lot about the hardship that women of color face in these spaces. From having to code-switch in different environments to having all eyes on me when I enter a room with my big curly hair, I have experienced first-hand judgment based on my identity.
AOC’s high-profile career means that those afflictions are most likely, and inevitably, multiplied.
Though she has many fans, AOC is also met with a lot of haters, critics, and even death threats. One of her more famous trolls is President Donald Trump, who often takes to Twitter to publicly bash and criticize the young congresswoman on her background, policy proposals, and values, recently calling her an “embarrassing, barely literate moron” for a comment she made about billionaires being made in a corrupt system. Which, by the way, she isn’t wrong about and Donald Trump is just being a hater of anything far-left or remotely progressive, as always.
However, despite all that has been stacked up against her she’s regarded every situation with much grace. Not to mention that she has maintained wisdom, poise, and morality along the way, knocking out each hardship with prosperity. AOC continues to show me that representation matters in politics as she advocates for her constituents in a way that only someone with lived experiences of the community could.
The New York Primaries were packed with new candidates for almost every district, many of which were on the ballot for the first time challenging incumbents. In the Bronx, AOC had rivals who certainly did not believe in and even critiqued the work she currently does.
As we all know and have learned through the current political climate, it’s OK to not agree with your favored politicians all the time. Even I don’t always agree with some of the things AOC says or some of the decisions she makes, but I do know that she has good intentions and keeps the overall needs of her constituents at the forefront of mind when doing her job.
As a young Latina from the Bronx, seeing someone like AOC as a high profile politician gives me hope that more people like us can go on to serve our communities. As she recently tweeted, her victory in the New York primaries on June 23rd shows that “the people’s movement in NY isn’t an accident. It’s a mandate.” As we move forward in this unprecedented and highly political circumstance, I expect her to be nothing less than a key player. AOC is a change-maker that continues to inspire the masses of young public service leaders, in addition to young Latinas like myself, all over New York City.