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Friday, December 28, 2018

December 28, 2018: The Year in Review: Electing America

[2018 feels like it’s been about ten years in one, but it’s almost done, so this week I’ll AmericanStudy a handful of the biggest stories from the year that was. I’d love to hear your year in review thoughts as well!]
On three of the many newly elected Americans who embody the best of our community and identity.
1)      Veronica Escobar: Escobar and Sylvia Garcia were both elected in November, becoming the first two Latinx Congresswomen from Texas (one of the nation’s most Latinx states, of course). They’re equally inspiring and impressive, but I wanted to highlight Escobar for a somewhat selfish but pretty cool reason: she is a former college English professor, having taught Chicano literature at both the University of Texas El Paso (UTEP) and El Paso Community College. She also defines herself as a voice from the border and an heir to one of my favorite American writers, Gloria Anzaldúa. If that’s not one of the coolest sentences I could write about a newly elected Congresswoman, I don’t know what is!
2)      Jahana Hayes: Escobar was one of a number of teachers elected as part of the 2018 blue wave (you’re damn right I’m calling it a blue wave still), including, in one of the most ironic political results in American history, Tony Evers, the school superintendent who defeated Scott Walker to become Wisconsin’s new governor. But only one of those newly elected teachers was the 2016 National Teacher of the Year: Jahana Hayes, who became the first African American woman from Connecticut elected to Congress. That Hayes was a social studies teacher at John F. Kennedy High School (in Waterbury, CT), and one who was awarded her teacher of the year recognition by none other than President Barack Obama, are only symbolic layers of icing on this very real, and very American, cake.
3)      Deb Haaland: The first two Native American women elected to Congress were elected this year, and understandably a lot of the attention has been directed to Sharice Davids, a lesbian MMA fighter from Wisconsin’s Ho-Chunk nation elected to the House of Representatives in Kansas (another one of those very American sentences). But I’m a particularly big fan of Deb Haaland, elected to Congress from New Mexico—she’s a member of the Laguna Pueblo tribe, the same community that produced the author and protagonists of one of my two favorite American novels, Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony (1977); and she’s an incredibly impressive and, as she puts it in this piece’s title, fierce voice. That phrase could be used to describe all three of these newly elected officials, and many others as well who helped make this one of the inspiringly American elections I’ve ever experienced.
December Recap this weekend,
PS. What do you think? 2018 reflections you’d share?

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