December 16, 2019/Blog, Media

Turning My Passion Into My Line of Work | Our Movement Monday

Kassandra Aleman is the Deputy Organizing Director with the Texas Democratic Party, where her main responsibility is to build out the statewide organizing program. It’s the first time in over 20 years that the Texas Democratic Party has an in-house organizing program. Recently, the Texas Democrats hired on its AAPI, Latinx, and People With Disabilities Constituency Organizers and she is looking forward to building a lasting organizing infrastructure that will “reflect Texas in all of its beautiful diversity.”

Where did your love of politics stem from?

A state law, SB 1403, allowed me the opportunity to pursue an education and sparked my interest in policy and politics. I joined Student Government and the Pre-Law Society my freshman year of college, which furthered my interest in politics so I decided that I wanted to intern in congress to get some first hand experience in the legislative process. I spent a summer in DC thanks to a paid internship with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI) and it confirmed that it was the career path I wanted to pursue.

This is something that we always like to ask: Did you enter the political ecosystem with goal in mind that you wanted to focus on organizing?

I did not, but over the years I learned that I owed a lot to organizers and knew that life would forever change after the November 2016 election and I needed to be on the ground. So, last cycle, I managed the South Texas region for the Beto for Texas campaign and was able to help build organizing infrastructure in my home. It feels great to see people whose doors we knocked on and brought on as volunteers or staff being out there in their communities organizing for change long after the campaign has ended.

“When you empower people to use their voice for good, they will go out and empower others to do so too.”

What do you find is the most rewarding aspect of your job with Texas Democrats? What about the most challenging?

The most rewarding part of my job is definitely the amazing changemakers I’ve met along the way. From the people attending their first political events, to people who’ve been doing this for decades, I love learning from them and hearing their stories. The biggest challenge I’ve faced yet is knowing how much is at stake and that this election is life or death for many of us. The only option we have is to leave it all on the field, and it’s scary when I think about how much work there is to do.

Do you think it’s important now more than ever for people to get out the vote?

Absolutely! I mean the planet is dying, reproductive rights are under attack, we still don’t have universal healthcare, rent is pretty expensive. The list goes on and on. Voting can be the first step in defining what kind of society we want to build.

We have a lot of work to do. There are people who sit out of the process because they don’t know how to navigate the ballot, where to register to vote, or where they can vote. It may seem simple to start here, but how can we not when it’s keeping people away? Making sure information is available in languages other than english is also crucial.

Because you are a DACA recipient, you are not able to vote. How would you encourage those who can’t vote to still get politically involved?

Not being able to vote is one of the reasons that drives me to organize. I want to make sure that those who are eligible to vote are doing so and that they’re casting an educated vote. If like me, you cannot vote, for whatever reason it may be, know that you can knock on doors, make calls, and send texts. You can certainly make your voice heard like that.

I know that you have a passion for younger people to empower themselves to get involved, especially among the Latinx and Muslim communities. Why these communities?

Both of my communities are constantly being thrown under the bus. There’s an active ban on my religion and children are being put in cages. I sincerely believe that becoming more politically engaged will help us have a voice where we currently don’t have one and use that voice to speak up against injustices and causes that affect our community and people in general. There’s a verse in the Quran that I love and try my best to act upon, “Oh you who have believed, be persistently standing firm for Allah, witnesses in justice, and do not let the hatred of a people prevent you from being just. Be just, that is nearer to righteousness.” Quran 5:08.

Why do you do this work?

In short, basic human rights should not be seen as a luxury. I want to live in a society that treats people with dignity and respect and I’m truly lucky to be able to work in a field that represents my values.