This election season The Seattle Globalist is featuring the stories of first-time U.S. voters, asking them why this year has inspired them to register to vote.
“Fear? Is that what motivates you?” I ask 27-year-old Pablo Garcia Martinez.
“Fear and discrimination,” he responds solemnly.
For Garcia Martinez (and most of the United States), this election season has been a whirlwind. From the long-played out Hillary Clinton email scandals to the recent video of Donald Trump disrespecting women, 2016 has been ripe with dramatic turn of events.
Citizens of color however are also experiencing the very tangible effects of a nation divided. With topics like immigration spurring WSU’s College Republicans to build a wall on campus to an interracial couple being physically attacked in Olympia, communities of color are feeling the impacts of the prejudiced rhetoric in the presidential race.
Garcia Martinez tells me of a recent experience he had while interviewing for a position that would advance his career as a construction laborer. Despite having what felt like a good interview, he was later told there were “no current openings available.”
As he reflects on the experience, Garcia Martinez remembers seeing only one person of color in that workplace.
“I don’t know if its discrimination but obviously doors don’t open for us quite the same way.”
The Latino vote has become increasingly important on a national scale. A recent NBC/Telemundo/Wall Street Journal poll shows that Trump has 17 percent of the Latino vote. History also reminds us that past candidates who failed to entice Latino voters like Mitt Romney and John McCain also failed to secure the presidency.
“It’s about time that we wake up, get it together,” Garcia Martinez says.
“You may be born here, you may feel very American, very patriotic, but in the Republicans’ eyes, they will always see you as less, they will never see you as the same,” he says.
“It’s time that everyone contributes their little grain of sand. I’m deciding that my vote is needed.”