“This [current] demographic shift provides a basis to transform the country, provided that we can become capable of the kind of struggle that is necessary for transformation. In order to overcome historic structures of domination and control, organized communities of color and low-wealth must become architects of policy and build a true majority capable of building and exercising power to bring about real change. This will require not only a clear and strategic analysis of structural racism, but also new forms of collaboration that can build accountable leadership…” 

Building Bridges to Empower a True Majority: The South by Southwest Experiment, 2012

This campaign season, Southwest Workers Union (SWU) is talking with South Texas residents and asking them to pledge to vote. This Get Out The Vote work is the next step in our comprehensive civic engagement campaign that organizes community members to fill out their census forms, participate in redistricting efforts, and hold public officials accountable–and not just on election day. Going beyond traditional civic engagement work, SWU, and South by Southwest Experiment partners, seek to raise broader questions about how power is exercised and how this process can be transformed. 

Here in South Texas, SWU is engaging community members on the issues–public education funding and curriculum, fair paying jobs, community health and wellness–and sharing the issues that drive us to the polls. We’re lifting up the stories (from the media and our own creation) that tackle systemic barriers to voting and we’re highlighting the less publicized but highly impactful races, such as the State Board of Education, school board, and congressional races. And SWU hopes to reengage these community members when it’s time for candidate forums, city council and school board meetings, or direct actions. 

During this campaign season SWU is laying the groundwork for bringing the issues of South Texas communities of color and low-wealth to the polls at an unprecedented scale. However, we realize it takes a sustained engagement and organizing process that usually chips before it tears away at the status quo. Nonetheless as a “minority-majority” state and also as a testing ground for exclusionary legislation, the 2012 election is another step in process of building up leaders that are accountable to the demands of our community and ultimately becoming architects rather than objects of policy.           

Laura Muraida is Mass Base Political Organizer at Southwest Workers Union


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