“I don’t have to vote against someone. I get to vote for someone,” says activist and actress Rosario Dawson. At this year’s Hispanicize conference, the New York native and activist took home the Latinovator prize for her work promoting empowerment and civic participation.
Dawson is an all-around activist: knowledgeable, confident, and vocal about her ideas for solving national and international challenges. “If you get someone to vote three times in their life, they will vote for life,” says Dawson, who cofounded Voto Latino to promote citizen participation through voting by using the latest technologies, media, social networks and high-profile artists.
The actress isn’t afraid to voice her opinion on the issues, from her up-front support for presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders, to her controversial op-ed letter to fellow activist and Hillary Clinton supporter Dolores Huerta. For her, it’s clear that this an important time for Latinos in America to spread the word, engage the community, and vote. “There will be approximately 27.3 million eligible Latino voters in 2016.”
“The Internet is like another dimension that we live in, and it’s a beautiful thing.”
In a press conference at Hispanicize, Dawson spoke about the most important issues that directly affect the Latino community in the United States, but also the role of technology in our lives. “The Internet is like another dimension that we live in, and it’s a beautiful thing. You know we all were around the circle, around the fire, and then we went into more of a pyramid, and we all separated, made our own homes and started working in this other tier system,” she says, comparing the communal lives of our ancestors to the more isolated way we live today. “Now we go home into our individual apartments, but we open up this portal and we connect to the world. It’s like we’re in that circle again,” Dawson said.
While the dynamics of interacting online are complex, Dawson sees real advantages to the medium. “There is an equality there. There are some negative people. There are some positive people. But it’s very diverse, more so than it being just negative and positive. There is every part of the spectrum. The creativity that I see and the humor that I see, is just really beautiful,” she says. “It really inspires me to see the level of interest and passion that people have, no matter what side they’re coming from. Even when they’re really negative, of course people have bad days, but they really do care.”
As for the immediacy of the Internet, she explains, “I just think it’s really fascinating to see, and it’s not just stuff you have to read in the history books, because it’s happening in real time.”
Digital Trends Español asked Dawson how decisive the Latino community’s participation in the upcoming election will be. “There is a huge pocket of all Latinos, and that means encompassing them as women, and as young people, and all of that. [If they] do not show up and vote, then yes, there is going to be a significant impact, because we are such a large minority in this country.”
But in Dawson’s opinion, the youth vote is really the key to this election, not any one race. “You can’t look at sort of any demographic, to a degree, without looking at another … You need to have a very diverse setting, so having the youth vote is very important. And that covers everybody of all different races.”
Whether you agree or disagree where she stands politically, it’s obvious that Dawson is a well-versed activist and professional. Nothing about her is improvised. Whatever she says, her ideals and values are something to be respected and promoted in the United States.
“Make what you love, do what you love and what you’re passionate about. Encourage people to be part of the conversation,” she says.