Why Vote? Ask Dolores Arredondo ’95
“What I want to share with young people or new voters is that America doesn’t belong to one party. America doesn’t belong to one candidate. America belongs to the people,” said Dolores Arredondo ’95, a founding board member of the Wellesley Latina Alumnae Network.
Arredondo also sits on the advisory board of Hispanas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE), a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization focused on strengthening Latinx communities and offering leadership and advocacy training to make sure there is a queue of Latinas prepared to serve in any capacity they choose. One of its primary initiatives is voting outreach to Hispanic communities, which is especially important to Arredondo as the daughter of immigrants who later became naturalized citizens.
She voted for the first time when she was at Wellesley, and back then she felt quite hopeful about the future. But Arredondo acknowledges that the last four years have been difficult, particularly for students who are tuned in to social justice, equality, and fairness. “We teach values; we teach empowerment of marginalized people; we teach empowerment of women,” she said. “And here you have an administration that doesn’t necessarily feel like it represents those qualities—not that it just doesn’t represent those qualities, but it encourages a different America.”
“Don’t just stand on the sidelines if you don’t like it. Get in the game … Change the machine. Change the game.”Dolores Arredondo ’95
Arredondo encourages students who are disenchanted with the system to take control of it, rather than opt out of voting. “Don’t just stand on the sidelines if you don’t like it,” she said. “Get in the game … Change the machine. Change the game.” At all levels, she said, more women are needed in the decision-making process. “It’s not just the presidential election, it’s the local elections, it’s, you know, the propositions that can have a daily impact on people’s lives,” she said.
Arredondo recalled a moment a few days after the November 2016 election, when she met Kamala Harris, then a newly elected California senator. They were both attending a reception in L.A. for La Opinión, one of the oldest Spanish daily newspapers in the country. Arredondo meant to offer her congratulations, but when she greeted Harris, she broke down in tears. “I was so disappointed in America,” she said. Harris comforted her by offering a quote from Coretta Scott King: “Freedom is never really won. You earn it and win it in every generation.”
This year, Arredondo’s daughter is voting for the first time. Arredondo is proud that she understands the significance of casting a ballot, of not staying silent. Her daughter, a college student in Oregon, wrote an essay for the Luz Collective called “As a Black and Latinx Voter, I Won’t Take This Election for Granted.” In it she writes, “I come from two beautiful cultures that worked immensely hard for their right to vote in this country—for the right to be represented.” That representation—having her voice heard—is important to Arredondo: “For me, as a person of color, as a woman of color, I don’t have the privilege, or the benefits of staying silent. When I am silent, I’m silencing my parents’ voices, my children’s voices. This is no time to be silent.”