• Jelani Williams

Open Letter to AOC Rep.

Updated: Aug 24, 2019

By Tahlya Valcourt

Good evening,

My name is Tahlya Valcourt and I am a junior at City College Academy of the Arts, and the Editor-in-Chief of the school's newspaper, The Claw Weekly. During this critical political time, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez has served as a beacon of hope and possibility for the youth at my school. We viewed her win over District 14 with respect to the bigger picture, it was the first step toward the change we so desperately need. Her being hispanic and a woman was especially inspiring to my schoolmates and I, where the minority is the majority.

It has recently come to my attention, much to my dismay, that Representative Ocasio-Cortez has declined the offer proposed by my teacher, Dennis Mihalsky to come and speak to the junior class/school newspaper. Personally, when Mr. Mihalsky introduced the idea to me, I was ecstatic.

I am actively engaged in politics and I want to become a lawyer when I grow up. This past summer, I got the opportunity to work for the former Assistant District Attorney of New York State (now immigration lawyer), Marisel Rodriguez through SYEP. I learned many of the inner workings of the government and how President Trump actually has a greater impact on immigration and the lives of those in my own neighborhood than anyone my age would realize. Being a young Puerto Rican woman living in Washington Heights, I don't find many hispanic representatives in the government, let alone Puerto Rican women, so seeing former DA Marisel Rodriguez, Justice Sotomayor and Representative Ocasio-Cortez rise up against a system designed to oppress is extremely crucial to me. It gives me hope that I, too, one day can be just as successful. They show me that factors such as my heritage or where I live can not stop me and I will use what they have taught me to become the best lawyer I can be.

Beyond that, I do understand that Representative Ocasio-Cortez is busy in view of the fact that it is important for her to expand her notability for her campaign, and I agree as she is someone I would choose to represent me any day. However, I also believe that it is mutually beneficial that Representative Ocasio-Cortez donates her time to the students here for multiple reasons.

Our school is located in Inwood, meaning that most of our students (and parents) are constituents in Representative Ocasio-Cortez's district. Also, this would be a great opportunity for her to help shape some of the young minds of our generation and show us the benefits of having descriptive representation. We need to know that someone is willing to represent and fight for us!

Young progressive representatives like Ocasio-Cortez are why many of us are becoming more politically active at such a young age (we've even created our own student government in an attempt to protest against oppression of student rights) and for those of us who choose to vote in the 2020 Presidential Election, it will be our first time. The guidance from Representative Ocasio-Cortez would be much appreciated to lift our country up and establish a government which we can proudly call ours.

Finally, let's not forget that the growing youth are some of the most important people in this country. As Whitney Houston once said, "The children are our future." \

I hope you and the AOC team take some time to reconsider our offer. The benefits can and will outlast any of us.

Thank you.

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