As voters head to the polls, the disparate impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are top of mind for many, as are the racial inequities baked into every aspect of American society. Teran Villa is employed at the Pueblo of Jemez Department of Education and is working toward his Masters degree in Public Administration at the University of New Mexico. He spoke with KUNM for our Voices Behind The Vote series.
“My name is Teran Villa, and I am an enrolled member of the Pueblo of Jemez, one of the 19 Pueblos here in the state of New Mexico. I'm 24 years old.
"I enjoy running, piñon picking, going to the fields as we practice our traditional agrarian life here in Jemez. I really appreciate having conversations and being amongst relatives, which – the access to my relatives and my family has been impacted by this pandemic.
"I've been in various efforts to secure food, materials needed by families, as our communities and the Pueblos have been some of the most infected [by COVID-19]. Income security, food insecurity, and housing insecurity have been some things that have been thinking about as I'm looking to who are the people I'm going to support.
"The races that I'm paying attention to are the CD 2, the congressional seat, CD 3, and the U.S. Senate race. Something that I wish that they would be talking about more is racial justice, not being afraid to take it head on from a historical perspective, from a minority, Indigenous, person of color lens. We've had genocide. We've had slavery. We've had Jim Crow laws. We've had so many different movements trying to address the original sins of this nation. And on the surface level, Congressional members do have the conversations about it. But when it comes to what are the policy steps that are going to be taken, those are things that have yet to be discussed at this time.
"I do know how important the judges are. In 2018, we've seen the decision from Judge Sarah Singleton in Yazzie-Martinez vs. the State of New Mexico, and how important it's been for Indigenous peoples and Hispanics, English language learners. So it is important that people are aware of what types of judges will be on the ballot, because if we're looking to address educational inequities, for instance, they can be an avenue toward beginning that conversation.”