“Latino Power” by Deborah Gonzalez, 2022 Power Breakfast Keynote Speech

Latino Power

by Deborah Gonzalez

2022 Power Breakfast, Keynote Speech

Good morning. Buenos dias.
Thank you, Jerry, and thank you GALEO for inviting me here today to share a few words as your keynote speaker.
I would like to start my keynote today with two quotes that I believe will help put the rest of my words in context:
All things are subject to interpretation whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth.
Friedrich Nietzsche
The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.
Alice Walker
Poder – power – such an interesting word. Full of many meanings and connotations – some positive, some negative. But what exactly is it?
The dictionary states that power is: authority, jurisdiction, control, command, sway, dominion mean the right to govern or rule or determine. power implies possession of ability to wield force, authority, or influence.
Today as we gather, I look around me and I can call out some names – and you will agree with me that the person I call has power – at various degrees – because power is relative to a person’s role. Gigi Pedrasda – Misty Fernandez – Ana Maria Martinez – Brenda Lopez – Zulma Lopez You recognize these names – women who are in leadership positions – some elected, some not, but all would agree they hold power in some way. But for each Gigi and Misty there are tens of Jennifer Zentenos, Ginny Castillos, Maria de Palacios, Isabel Ortizes. For every Brenda and Zulma there are tens of Yvette Moises, Lizeth Gomezes, Nury Crawfords and Daniela Rodriguezes. And I can go on and on.
Yes, these names are all Latinas – women. For you see the power we seek is wrapped up in the power of gender. At a time where the assault on women’s reproductive and health rights is at an all-time high with not just the overturning of Supreme Court precedent of Roe, but the potential it signals to the end of rights many of us were born into a world that had them – including same sex and biracial marriage – which if taken away would then make my marriage illegal – we face a world where the very personal and private decisions over our bodies, our lives, our familias are no longer our own. We would be returned to a world where oppression of black, brown, and poor is the norm.
But as I say those words are we not in that world now? I work in a system designed to do that very thing. As district attorney I work in a system that seeks justice, but so many of the laws it is meant to enforce to keep the community safe usually have their origins in the idea of power – maintaining power of the status quo and those who already had power. Overrepresentation of black, brown, and poor people impacted by this system has destroyed families, futures, and communities. Wrapped up in this are the processes of marginalization, deportation, and exclusion that have led to suffering, hardship, helplessness, and despair. Worse than being not seen, is being seen only to be exploited.
Self-determination. Our rights lead us to this power of self-determination. We each strive to be able to have power over our own lives – to be able to make decisions on who we love, on what we do with our bodies, in where we work and how we want to be treated. But how do we get that power and then how do we use it?
Today we are in a room filled with elected officials and candidates who want to be in elected office. Today they are here to say Latino community we are with you. Today the Latino community is saying back – so what? You are here – what does that mean? Does it mean that after we give you our votes, we become invisible to you again? Taken for granted and pushed to the side as you select others to leadership positions on your teams? Relegated to Latino outreach coordinator positions, instead of positions that advise and stand side by side with you in power to effect change?
Latinos today are here to say enough with the scraps. You want our vote; we want your commitment to not “address” the issues that affect our Latino community but to do actions that are solutions to these issues – we want results. We are tired of being seen and exploited. We understand our value – the 2020 elections proved our strength and how we deliver. And now, the reckoning has come. For today I have a message for our people – claim the power you have and use it. The vote, the knowledge, the skills, the positions. There is a new sense in our value. A new realization that we as Latinos, are a voice to be listened to.
But we as Latinos must stake this power. Our children are watching. Yesterday I was honored with the gift of stories of our young people and their struggles because of being involved in the juvenile justice system. Their challenges started way before the first court date – I listened as they shared the abuse, the neglect, the substance addiction that took away their parents, and left only despair and a sense of inevitability of gangs and guns and death. But these young Latino men and women had survived. And they were saving others like them because they had been given the power of hope. They still believed the world was good, and they still believed that people in power could make things better. They also believed in me. For you see, the Director of their program, said at the end, that my title – District Attorney – was triggering for them – after all it was a DA who prosecuted and sentenced them and so for them the DA had power over their very lives. But yesterday I showed them a DA who cared, who wanted the best for them, who could be an ally in their journey through recovery and a better future. And in return, I learned yesterday that they believed in me. They gave me their hope. What a gift – what a responsibility.
And so, I tell you this to let you know that we dare not let their beliefs be in vain – that their hope that things can be better should not be trampled on. That they are not alone but in fact part of a bigger familia that grows with each one we bring within our loving arms. For if we do not do this, shame on us.
So, what is power? What is Latino power? Latino poder?
The acknowledgement that we can do something and the responsibility that we must do something – so vote for those candidates who not only say they commit to us but who actually do for us. Use your vote. Your vote is your voice. El Encanto del sueno, the song of the dream of a new world. It is on us. It is our power.
Gracias. Thank you.
For images and memories of our 2022 Power Breakfast, visit: https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjzRmpX
Read more

GALEO Celebrates The Largest Cohort to Ever Graduate ​Their Leadership Program

April 19, 2022


Erik Medina

Director of Communications




GALEO Celebrates The Largest Cohort to Ever Graduate ​Their Leadership Program


ATLANTA, GA — Last week, GALEO celebrated the largest Georgia State University cohort that has ever graduated from the GALEO Institute for Leadership program. The class had 42 students, adding to the total of 821 graduates from the GIL program.

The GSU cohort received workshops from experienced facilitators like Juliana Henao, Diana Vela, Leri Argueta, Dr. Christian Bello Escobar, and Jaime Rangel. Additionally, the students participated in canvassing opportunities with GALEO’s field team and they participated in a Capitol Tour provided by Larry Pellegrini.

The graduates were: Yaneri Abreu, Yovany Bartolome, Miguel Bibiano-Baltazar, Alexandra Bocanegra, Daena Brink, Nancy Criollo Urquilla, Eduardo Enrique Frausto, Christian Freites, Tanya Garcia, Keyla Gomez, Melvin Gonzalez-Deleon, Emely Herrera-Petatan, Brayan Maldonado, Jennifer Navarrete, Damariz Ortiz, Milagros Maria Parrilla, Felipe Plaza-Alvarez, Guillermo Ramirez-Sanchez, Alexandra N. Rey, Solanlly Rijo Lake, Eduardo Santos, Emma Sullivan, Bryan Torres-Quiroz, Daime Alvarez, Tania Arevalo, Isabella Brown, Paula Sofia Cardozo, Ariana Esmeralda Castro, Evelin Castro Lozano, Omar Dimas Biviano, Shirley Flores, Elizabeth Galvan Jerez, Breanna Hernandez, Irene Leon del Rello, Alejandra León, Arlette Munguia Benitez, Shirley Desiree Ortega, Isamar Peña, Ashley Ruiz Figureroa, Beatriz Salvioli, Emely Velez and Domingo Gonzalez.

“We are excited to celebrate this GSU cohort and their graduation! These talented Latinx leaders heard from Jason Cuevas, Vice-President of Georgia Power East Region, Rainer Pacheco, Graduate Assistant at LASSO, and Jerry Gonzalez, CEO of GALEO. I am excited to see how their bright future will create change for our communities in our state,” expressed Elizabeth Silva,  Program Manager for Leadership Development.


For pictures of the graduation, please visit: https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjzLgmq






Read more

Congresswoman Nikema Williams, Colleagues, Introduce the Time Off to Vote Act

Congresswoman Nikema Williams, Colleagues, Introduce the Time Off to Vote Act

April 11, 2022

WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Nikema Williams (GA-05) helped introduce the Time Off to Vote Act, legislation that would require employers to give their workers paid time off to vote in federal elections. In Georgia, employers are only required to give a maximum of two hours of time off to vote, but none if polls are open two consecutive hours before or after a worker’s shift.

Congresswoman Williams is joined in leading the Time Off to Vote Act by Congressman Matt Cartwright (PA-08), Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17), and Congressman Andy Levin (MI-09). 

Click here to read the text of the Time Off to Vote Act.

Congresswoman Williams, Co-Chair of the Congressional Voting Rights Caucus said:

“No one should be forced to choose between earning their full paycheck or participating in our democracy. As a working mom, I know how tough it is to carve out time to vote between the demands of work, family, and life. This November, Georgia will once again be the center of the political universe. In the last two elections, countless Georgians waited in line for hours to vote. Many waited all day. The Time off to Vote Act will make it easier for working people to exercise their sacred right to vote. Everyone deserves free and fair access to the ballot box, regardless of where they work or their flexibility while on the clock.”

Congressman Cartwright said:

“Voting should not be a luxury that only the well-off can afford. This bill, which ensures that American workers can cast their ballots without risking their paychecks, is an important addition to the critical voting rights legislation passed by the House earlier this year.”

Congresswoman Bustos said:

“The freedom to vote is sacred, and the foundation of our nation’s democracy. I’m proud to join Congressman Cartwright today to introduce the Time Off to Vote Act, critical legislation to ensure that every American worker has the ability to exercise their constitutional right to vote. Especially as states move to restrict access to the ballot box, we must take action to protect our democracy and the voters who make it strong.”

Congressman Levin said:

“It’s incredibly important that America’s workers have an unbridled ability to vote in any local, state or federal election. By mandating paid leave on election days, this bill would ensure no worker has to sacrifice their wages or jeopardize their job security to exercise their sacred right to vote. We need to be doing all that we can to make it easy for American workers to exercise their civic duty, and I am proud to partner with my colleagues to do just that.”

Ai-jen Poo, Senior Advisor to Care in Action said:

“For too long, women of color have faced barriers that threaten to shut us out of the electoral process. So many women of color workers, like domestic workers — the nannies, house cleaners, and home care workers who work in their employers’ homes — face the challenge of working in jobs where they don’t have paid time off, job security or flexible hours. The Time Off to Vote Act would ensure that this important segment of the electorate can fully take part in our democracy, have their voices heard and votes counted. No one should have to choose between a paycheck and their voting rights, and nothing should make it difficult for us to vote, including our jobs.”

Adam Lioz, Senior Policy Counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. said:

“As another important federal election fast approaches, Black and Brown Americans face the greatest assault on the freedom to vote since Jim Crow. The Time Off to Vote Act is a strong addition to critical voting rights legislation the House has already passed this year. Congress must stay laser focused on delivering essential protections voters need and deserve, and must pass the full package without delay.”

David Garcia, Director of Policy and Advocacy of Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials (GALEO) & GALEO Impact Fund said:

“Latino voters are much more likely to experience polling locations with long lines, extended waiting times, malfunctioning voting equipment, and unexpected closings. Legislation that requires employers to grant employees time off for voting is a step in the right direction to ensuring that Latino voters are not disenfranchised at the voting booth.”

Organizations that support The Time Off to Vote Act include: American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE); Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC; Brennan Center for Justice; Common Cause; End Citizens United/Let America Vote Action Fund; Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights; League of Conservation Voters (LCV); Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF); NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.; National Association of Social Workers(NASW); National Education Association (NEA); Service Employees International Union (SEIU); UNITE HERE; and Vote.org.

CONTACT: PressGA05@mail.house.gov

Congresswoman Nikema Williams proudly serves Georgia’s Fifth Congressional District. Congresswoman Williams serves on the exclusive Financial Services Committee where she is Vice-Chair of the Oversight and Investigations subcommittee, the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and the Select Committee for the Modernization of Congress. She is Freshman Class President and Co-Chairs the Congressional Voting Rights Caucus. Congresswoman Williams builds on the Fifth District’s legacy as the cradle of the civil rights movement as a champion of voting rights, closing the racial wealth gap, and ensuring the promise of America for all–regardless of their ZIP code or bank account.


Read more

Who is Cesar Chavez?

By Tania Ramirez 

Farm workers play an essential role in today’s agriculture. However, it took a while before people could understand their importance and treat them fairly. During the Great Depression, migrant farm workers made around 40 cents a day and were barely able to provide for their families. In addition, they were forced to work under difficult conditions without receiving employment benefits. It was not until Cesar Chavez that migrant workers were seen and treated as essential workers.

Cesar Chavez was a Mexican-American labor leader and civil rights activist. Chavez witnessed first-hand the struggles and poverty of migrant workers. Chavez was born in Yuma, Arizona on March 31st, 1927. Once Chavez reached the 8th grade, his family moved to California and dropped out of school to work in the fields with his dad to help meet their family’s needs. At the age of 19, Chavez joined the Navy in which he served for two years. Once his service was over, he moved back to California and returned to work in the fields.

In 1952, Chavez began working with the Community Service Organization (CSO), a Latino civil rights group, to help register Latino voters and fight racial discrimination. After ten years, Chavez realized not much was being done for farm workers. He was determined to advocate for better working and living conditions for them, so he used his life’s savings to create an organization. Chavez, along with Dolores Huerta, founded the National Farm Workers Association, now known as the United Farm Workers (History.com Editors, 2009).

The National Farm Workers Association and Chavez were able to accomplish many significant breakthroughs for farm workers. They were able to establish minimum wage standards, wage contracts, safer working conditions, child labor reform, and advancements in civil rights for Chicanos and other farm workers. His passion and commitment to fight for migrant farm workers has created an impact in today’s agricultural industries. In 2014, President Barack Obama declared March 31st as Cesar Chavez Day to commemorate his legacy. Since then, many continue to remember and celebrate Cesar Chavez for everything he was able to accomplish for migrant farm workers (Clark). 

Works Cited

History.com Editors. “Cesar Chavez.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 27 Oct. 2009, https://www.history.com/topics/mexico/cesar-chavez.

Clark, Amelia E. “Chávez, César.” Chávez, César | Learning to Give, https://www.learningtogive.org/resources/ch%C3%A1vez-c%C3%A9sar.

Read more

El Refugio Spotlight

By Jennifer Silva 

El Refugio is a non-profit organization that began its roots with the Georgia Detention Watch, in which members began leading groups to visit immigrants and asylum seekers detained at Stewart Detention Center in 2008. After witnessing the challenges shared by those visiting loved ones at Stewart — traveling long distances, the trauma of family separation, and the lack of resources such as hotels and restaurants in the remote town of Lumpkin —  a group of friends established El Refugio. The idea was to open a hospitality house offering meals and lodging at no cost to those traveling to Stewart Detention Center. 

El Refugio hosts families in which they offer lodging, meals, and support to those visiting loved ones detained at Stewart Detention Center. They take individuals and groups to visit immigrants detained at Stewart Detention Center. Most importantly, they help with post-release support in which they support people coming out of SDC with plane and bus tickets, information, and referrals.

El Refugio can help those who may have a loved one detained at Stewart Detention Center by sending a loved one a book to alleviate boredom, putting a small amount of money on a loved one’s commissary and phone accounts, sending grocery store gift cards, arranging for a bag of clothing for a loved one, in case they are deported. They can also provide post-release support for a loved one, if they are released on bond or parole, or because they won their case.

Not only does El Refugio provide support, but they provide educational materials to those wanting to learn more. They educate the community by giving presentations to schools, churches, and community groups to increase awareness of immigration detention and advocate for justice for immigrants. 

To help support El Refugio and their efforts to educate/support those dealing with the Stewart Detention Center, you can donate on their website where the money offers meals, lodging, and additional assistance to our guests free of charge. 

El Refugio provides ways to volunteer such as visiting individuals detained at Stewart Detention Center, spending a weekend at the Hospitality House hosting families and visitation groups, writing letters to detained individuals, inviting them to share immigration detention and organization with your faith community, community group, or friends, answering our hotline (Bilingual Spanish required), holding a drive for clothing, toiletries, or gift cards (Contact patti@elrefugioministry.org), becoming a pen-pal via letters, the phone, or video-conference (Speakers of a language other than English needed), and serving on a committee such as letter-writing, advocacy, or fundraising.

If you’re interested in learning more, you can contact them on their website, https://www.elrefugiostewart.org/

Read more

The Importance of In-State Tuition for Refugees

By Tania Ramirez

The Georgia General Assembly has had a busy session in 2022. Aside from all the legislation being proposed, tuition equity has been crucial during the 2022 session. House Bill 932 (HB 932) is a bipartisan bill that proposes for noncitizen students with certain refugee, special immigrant (SIV holders), or humanitarian parole status under federal laws to be classified as in-state for tuition purposes. 

Currently, all personnel that classify as refugees must abide by a one-year waiting period after settling in Georgia to qualify for an in-state tuition rate. With this bill, refugees would not be required to wait for the one-year waiting period and would be allowed to be eligible for in-state tuition upon settling in Georgia. The difference between in-state tuition and out-of-state tuition rates can be as high as three times more than regular in-state tuition. 

As refugees settle in Georgia, they are forced to start over and begin a new life. Despite the obstacles of starting over, they realize that they have finally found a place they can call home. However, they are set back due to the expenses of attending college. Although it may sound easy to wait a year to attend college and be granted an in-state tuition rate, many lose hope of returning to college because they feel it is now too late. With the passing of HB 932, refugees can rapidly invest in their futures and essentially create more career opportunities in Georgia. Rep. Wes Cantrell states that there are currently more jobs available than people to fill them. Granting in-state tuition for refugees will allow them to pursue higher education and fill open job positions.

In addition, HB 932 could play a crucial role in covering Afghan nationals that supported the U.S. and were evacuated this past summer and granted humanitarian parole. Georgia has accepted more than 1,700 Afghan humanitarian parolees and hundreds of other refugees and SIV holders, most of which are college-ready. Also, many Afghans being evacuated and brought to Georgia risked their lives for the U.S. by providing security and translation for U.S. soldiers. 

In a recent hearing at the Higher Education Committee on February 23, 2022, more than a dozen Georgia leaders favored this bill and expressed their support for it. Because the bill is highly supported, our state legislature needs to vote on it and allow it to go into effect. The quicker it goes into effect, the faster refugees can further expand their education.

Works Cited

“Georgia HB932: 2021-2022: Regular Session.” LegiScan, https://legiscan.com/GA/bill/HB932/2021

Grinspan, Lautaro. “Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Help Refugees Attend Georgia Colleges.” Ajc, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 31 Jan. 2022, https://www.ajc.com/news/georgia-news/lawmakers-introduce-bill-to-help-refugees-attend-georgia-colleges/6OLIASZ6OFHRJMLEBPRIRDVW5I/?outputType=amp.

Read more

Latinx Podcasts on the Rise

By Rafael Vargas

As technology keeps on evolving, so have our forms of entertainment. Although late night talk shows and radio broadcasts are still around, podcasts are rapidly increasing in popularity as the new form of media where audiences can listen to hosts talk for hours over a variety of fascinating topics. In recent years, podcasts created by Latinxs have been on the rise with shows ranging from daily news stories to even shows regarding mysterious folk legends.

Erick Galindo is one of the many Latinx hosts that have gained a following due to his fascinating podcast “Idolo: the Ballad of Chalino Sanchez”. It tells the story of Mexican singer and songwriter Chalino Sanchez who pioneered the “prohibited ballad”, songs that told tales of drug smugglers and violent criminals. Galindo’s main goal when starting his career was to create content that could be enjoyed by both English and Spanish speakers alike. The popularity of Erick Galindo’s podcast can also be attributed with the ever rising Latinx population in the U.S., which “[…] reached 62.1 million in 2020.” (Exposito 2022). Which is all the more reason why Latinx podcasts have been gaining traction as of recently. As a result, popular streaming services have started providing platforms for these creators to share their projects. Audible, for example, is planning to release the Latin series “Punk in Translation: Latinx Origins”, an audio documentary that tells the origins of Latin Punk Rock (Exposito 2022). 

Latinx podcasts are growing in popularity due to the vast variety of interesting topics created by the Latinx community. Because of this, there is hope that other forms of entertainment will begin commissioning shows from the many Latinx content creators across the world. 


Works Cited 

Exposito, Suzy. “Podcasts made by and for Latinos Finally make Mainstream Inroads.” Los Angeles Times, 15 February 2022, https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/music/story/2022-02-15/latino-podcast-chalino-sanchez-sonoro-futuro-spotify

Read more

ProGeorgia Hiring: Membership Manager


ProGeorgia is a bold, trusted, and diverse collaborative that champions an equitable and inclusive democracy, for and with traditionally underrepresented communities. ProGeorgia supports and coordinates the civic engagement programs of our diverse partner organizations. ProGeorgia develops the infrastructure, executes the joint strategies, and employs new tools and technology to assure a government that is more responsive to the needs of our constituencies.

At ProGeorgia we believe that every citizen should be able to vote without undue obstacles, road blocks, restrictions, confusion or intimidation and that

  • Our democracy is stronger when all people participate
  • Our government has a responsibility to work for all of its citizens
  • We, as members of the progressive community, are stronger when we work together


ProGeorgia is seeking a Membership Manager who will strengthen the organization’s infrastructure and establish a strategy to refine our existing coalition structure. The membership manager will work closely with a table of partner organizations to support and advance coordinated civic and voter engagement work. This person will operate with a commitment to lifting up the voices of overlooked communities. They will also advance ProGeorgia’s mission and vision for an equitable civic engagement ecosystem. The ideal candidate thrives in a supportive work environment and works well within a team-based culture.


The Membership Manager, reports to the Chief of Staff and is responsible for the following:

Relationship & Capacity Building

  • Hold and cultivate deep relationships with partner organizations, grassroots leaders, and fellow staff
  • Manage and implement the membership structure, including new member application process and adherence to membership requirements
  • Support partner organizations through the development and implementation of skill-building trainings
  • Support collaboration between partner organizations by making connections and (when desired) facilitating conversations for partner organizations to co-create joint goals, strategy, and analysis
  • Navigates conflict between partner organizations and assists with reaching a collaborative and mutually beneficial resolution
  • Evaluates program and organizational impact and creates reports to highlight yearly landscape trends, description, analysis, and projections to inform further civic engagement
  • Develop and maintain a comprehensive administrative process to manage a partner database
  • Assess interests/skills of partner organizations and match with appropriate opportunities

Partner Engagement

  • Engage with existing partners on an on-going basis, provide guidance as needed
  • Develop and conduct educational/training opportunities for partner organizations
  • Manage comprehensive resource databases for partner organizations; update partner manuals and website content as necessary
  • Maintain ongoing communications with partners through MailChimp email news blasts, newsletters and print materials; provide accurate and timely information on events and partner related activities
  • Serve as liaison between partner organizations and department leadership
  • In coordination with the operations manager, plan and execute partner appreciation activities
  • Develop and administer partner feedback surveys; compile and report results to Chief of Staff
  • The Membership Manager works closely with the operations department to coordinate special visitor groups, support special events, and assist with other projects as needed


Personal attributes and professional qualifications:

Self-Directed: Aptitude for being self-directed to manage multiple projects concurrently and prioritize tasks and work effectively. Also, be accountable to, and be part of, a team working towards common goals

Adaptive Leadership Style: Proven ability to problem solve, navigate complex situations and/or relationships while taking advantage of strategic opportunities

People Centered Power: Understanding of people centered power and the ability to work with diverse populations

Teamwork: Ability to work with a small team of passionate and dedicated individuals

Community Engagement: Knowledge of and experience utilizing community engagement skills to promote collaboration among diverse groups

Relationship Management: Experience building and maintaining relationships

Vision and Energy: Ability to be both inspirational and collaborative

Values: Accountability, adaptability and integrity

Creative and strategic thinker: Ability to think outside the box in developing new engagement methods

Highly organized: A thoughtful, focused approach with superior follow-through and attention to detail

Preferred skills:

  • Experience building relationships with non-profits and grassroots organizations and expertise in developing and nurturing coalitions
  • Three (3) or more years working in the fields of civic engagement, community organizing and/or issue advocacy
  • Knowledge of the Georgia civic engagement / voting landscape
  • Experience building relationships of trust with historically marginalized communities
  • Proficient with Google Suite (gmail, docs, slides), Asana
  • Fluency in Spanish a plus
  • Travel as needed


  • Send a cover letter and resume in PDF format to jobs@progeorgia.org with the subject line: Membership Manager Application
  • Applications will be held confidentially

●      Application deadline is February 28, 2022

Location: Atlanta, Georgia

Reports: Chief of Staff

Compensation: Competitive salary based on experience, plus a competitive benefits package including health and dental insurance, retirement matching, generous paid time off, paid family leave, and leadership development package

ProGeorgia State Table is an equal opportunity employer and having a diverse staff is a fundamental principle at ProGeorgia, where employment, development and promotion opportunities are based upon individual capabilities and qualifications without regard to race, color, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, pregnancy, sexual orientation, age, national origin, marital status, citizenship, disability, veteran status or any other protected characteristic as established under law.

Read more

“Encanto” and the Importance of Representation in Media

By Rafael Vargas

Ever since its release, Disney’s “Encanto” has won the world over with its spectacular animation and beautiful music performances from an all-star cast. One of the strongest points of the movie is that this is one of Disney’s first times showing representation of Latinx individuals and their culture. This is further highlighted by the popular posts that are appearing on social media that show Latinx children brimming with joy at the sight of cartoon characters that look just like them. The movie “”Encanto””’s great success, and overwhelming popularity shows how important positive representation in media truly is for millions of movie fanatics across the world.

Throughout all of Disney’s filmography, the primary culture that most of their projects are focused on is European culture, especially with their ways of storytelling. This usually involves settings with grand castles from an older time, princesses in distress, and evil witches and their magical concoctions. Recently, Disney has started to show a wider variety of different cultures found worldwide, and “Encanto” is an excellent example of this. It shows Colombian culture in all its beauty, from traditional clothing, various tasty platters,  and amazing architecture. These aspects of the movie are key to opening the world to a culture that is often not portrayed on the silver screen. In general, these kinds of movies educate society to welcome different kinds of people, especially to the youth. Too often have different forms of media portrayed cultures that “look different” as criminals, having aggressive attitudes, or as exaggerated caricatures. And in doing so, it results in people resenting others that simply don’t look like them, since sometimes this content is the only form of representation that they are exposed to.

With the grand success of films such as “Encanto”, there is great hope that things are changing for the better in the world of film and television. It shows that people are excited to see media that portray different lifestyles than their own, and that they are open to learning about various cultures.

Read more

Tuition Equity for DACA Recipients

By Tania Ramirez 

The expansion for tuition equity has been a topic discussed in Georgia for the past three years. In 2021, Rep. Kasey Carpenter (R. 4th District, Dalton) proposed the Georgia Resident In-State Tuition Act, also known as House Bill 120 (HB 120). HB 120 is a bipartisan bill that will allow those under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy (DACA) to pay in-state tuition if they meet certain requirements. DACA is a policy that President Barack Obama signed on June 12, 2012. This policy protects over 800,000 young people, also known as Dreamers, who entered the United States unlawfully as children. Although the program does not grant them a path towards citizenship, it does allow them to apply for a driver’s license, social security number, and work permit (Boundless).

Initially, the bill proposed to offer in-state tuition to DACA recipients with the intent that students would be paying the same as other in-state students; however, it was changed by the Higher Education Committee. The change was intended to allow universities to charge them the same but no more than 10% of the regular in-state tuition. In addition, universities would be required to prioritize qualified in-state students not applying under the HB 120 law. Lastly, it would allow universities to defer the application of DACA recipients. Because the Georgia General Assembly operates in a two-year biannual session, the bill was last heard by the Higher Education Committee. In 2022, HB 120 will be picked up where it left off during last year’s General Assembly session. 

For many Dreamers, Georgia is the only place they call home. During an interview with our intern Tania Ramirez, DACA recipient, and FWD.us’s Georgia State Director Jaime Rangel  says that “when it was time for [him] to go to college [at] Dalton State, one class would be $1,500, not including books.” Due to the extensive out-of-state tuition for DACA recipients, many Dreamers decide to postpone receiving a higher education.

 Tania, also a DACA recipient, mentions, “as a DACA recipient, it is extremely challenging to pursue my education due to the expenses of attending college.”

According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, there are about 21,000 DACA recipients in Georgia as of 2020. As the number grows, tuition equity becomes more of a necessity for Georgians. Tuition equity for Dreamers would not only benefit DACA recipients, but it would also benefit the economy, as it would allow thousands of students to continue their education and expand the future labor force. Dreamers are eligible to invest in their future with higher education, making Georgia a more robust state. According to FWD.us, reports indicate that in-state tuition for undocumented students could add as much as $10 million to the economy each year. 

Currently, “[DACA Recipients] contribute $92.5 million annually to the state and local taxes. [They] also have a strong spending power of $747.5 million in Georgia,” says Jaime during the interview.

Dreamers have continuously contributed to the economy without receiving anything in return. In Georgia, Dreamers cannot qualify for in-state tuition; they cannot ask for federal help such as FAFSA, nor access health care programs. It is time for DACA recipients to receive in-state tuition and invest in their future. Currently, 21 states have already extended in-state tuition to undocumented students who meet specific residency requirements. Unfortunately, Georgia is not one of them. Tuition equity is both a Republican and Democratic issue. This issue is one that lawmakers need to come together to solve. It is an investment for all Georgians, not just Dreamers. In addition, the passing of HB 120 could continue to set a precedent for more U.S. states that currently do not expand in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants or those under the DACA policy. As more U.S. states expand tuition equity, the chance of pushing forward a path towards citizenship grows. 


Works Cited

“Nearly 30,000 Undocumented Young Adults in Georgia Could Immediately Benefit from Tuition Equity.” FWD.us, 22 Oct. 2021, https://www.fwd.us/news/georgia-tuition-equity/. 

Georgia General Assembly, https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/58988. 

Williams, Ross. “State House Committee Hears Pitch to Give Georgia DACA Students in-State Tuition.” Georgia Public Broadcasting, 22 Oct. 2021, https://www.gpb.org/news/2021/10/22/state-house-committee-hears-pitch-give-georgia-daca-students-in-state-tuition. 

“What Is Daca? Everything You Need to Know.” Boundless, https://www.boundless.com/immigration-resources/what-is-daca/. 


Read more