“No Wonder You Were Afraid to Ask #43 – Emily Provencio – The Solution for Ignorance is Education.

My name is Emily Provencio, I’m 17 years old, currently residing in Spokane Valley, Washington. I’m a full-time college student at Eastern Washington University, who will also be graduating High School this upcoming June. I plan to major in Political Science, with a minor in Communication studies, and hope to continue working on campaigns after I graduate. Political activism, mobilization, and change are what I’m passionate about, it’s what I’m studying, doing, organizing, and creating.

I began my political involvement last year in August when I first learned of a certain Senator from Vermont who was running for president. There was a small grassroots movement in Spokane to get the word out about him before the national campaign established their headquarters here. At this time, I was one of the quietest, most introverted people you would ever meet. Campaigning was difficult for me at first, I had to get over the anxiety I had for talking with people. I occasionally still struggle with this, but I kept pushing myself and it eventually became a lot easier. I went on to phone bank and canvass for Bernie, and during the caucuses, I helped organize, direct, and count ballots.

After Bernie conceded, I switched gears to work on local campaigns in Spokane, Pakootas for Congress and Andrew Biviano for Spokane County Commissioner, to name a couple.

While I volunteered my time with various campaigns, I put the most time into the Initiative 1433 campaign, where I worked over 100 hours as an intern. Now that it has successfully passed, the Initiative will raise the minimum wage in Washington State from our current $9.47/hour to $13.50/hour by the year 2020, it also allows workers across the state to earn paid sick and safe leave. Almost all of my experience in training, recruiting and organizing volunteers was gained from this internship, thanks to the field organizer for the campaign, Jesse Doran.

In October of this year, I founded the Young Democrats of Eastern Washington University, with my friend, Sean Comfort. A club which I now serve as the president of. Within 3 weeks of becoming chartered, we hosted Governor Jay Inslee on campus for a meet & greet and canvass kickoff.

After the election, it was time to start planning for the Democratic Party’s reorganization meetings. With the spirit of the #DemEnter movement, we are seeing strong, new, progressive leaders elected into positions within the party all over the state.

Fifteen days before my district’s reorganization meeting, I announced my candidacy for State Committeewoman in the 4th Legislative District. However, between the time I announced my candidacy and the date of the reorganization meeting, more and more factors pushed me towards running for a higher position within the 4th District. At the meeting, I was nominated for Chair of the 4th Legislative District Democrats. I lost to the incumbent Chair, Rick Lloyd, by 4 votes, 17:13. Immediately after, I nominated myself and was elected by acclamation, Vice Chair of the 4th Legislative District Democrats of Washington State. A few days later, I found out from our state party chair, Jaxon Ravens, that I’m the youngest person to hold this position in Washington State Democratic Party history.

I have already started working with Rick and the rest of the executive board to enact the changes I spoke about in my candidacy speech, and look forward to continuing this work over the course of my two-year term and for many years after.

If I could promote one thing right now, I would just encourage Spokanites and Washingtonians to attend their local Democratic Party’s reorganization meetings. (http://www.wa-democrats.org/page/2016-17-reorganization-meetings) Run for a position if you’re qualified. You’d be surprised at how many people are ready for a change in the party, but no one is stepping up to BE the change in their district.

Reach out to me if you have questions. (https://www.facebook.com/emily.provencio, Email me at: emrose0419@gmail.com)

One person living or dead you would love to hang out with for a day? What would you do?

Frederick Douglass, one of the most brilliant political organizers and revolutionaries of all time in my eyes. I’d talk to him about his experiences with organizing, and how he filtered the rage of injustice (both his own and others) into political action. I read a journal article on this once, I was fascinating.

How do you think we can fix the racial divide in the United States?

We must first identify the primary sources of prejudice and discrimination, then work to fix those. Dr. Scott Finnie, a professor I had last quarter, calls these the “5 Pillars”. These sources are Fear, Ignorance, Insecurity, Myopia, and Selfishness. The “antidote” for fear, is exposure. I relate this to making sure we are continuing efforts of visibility in the media and pop culture. The solution for ignorance is education, whether it is formal or informal, cultural competency and racial inclusion is extremely important in education. It starts with the educators and the curriculum we teach our children. The answer to insecurity is giving everyone a sense of dignity and self-worth, unique, but equal. When you grow up in a place like Spokane, it’s easy to develop racial myopia, the solution to this is immersion and travel. And finally, the antidote to selfishness is a sacrifice. In order to achieve racial equality, people who benefit from racial inequality (the people in power) will have to make sacrifices, and we must get used to that.

Do you prefer to vacation with the locals or all-inclusive resort?

With the locals, what’s the point of traveling if you aren’t learning things about the culture? Rent a room on AirBnB and experience the life of the city you’re visiting.

What has been your favorite age, so far?

17. I feel like I’ve accomplished so much this year. I’m the happiest I’ve ever been, due to discovering what I love to do.

What do you think is the key to a healthy relationship?

Open-mindedness, you have to be accepting of change.

Two sentences to describe what the world would be like now without Facebook?

I use Facebook for everything, so it’d be impossible to live without. I would be unable to contact the people I work with, as I don’t typically use phone numbers or emails if I can help it.

What sense would you give up first, smell, sight, hearing, touch or taste?

Touch, it’s the most trivial. Sight and hearing (more specifically, listening) are crucial, and I value taste and smell too much.

What one subject would you add to high school curriculums?

Civics classes, it’s the most effective way to get young people involved.

Do you love your job? Why?

While I’m only about a week into my term as Vice Chair, I love it so much. My responsibilities include volunteer management, education, and event coordination, which some of my favorite things. It makes me feel like I have a voice, which I often felt like I didn’t have as a young person in politics before this. I’m so grateful for this position.

I also have an on-campus job as a peer tutor where I tutor EWU students in Math, Political Science, and Spanish classes. I love all of those subjects, so it’s a pretty enjoyable job as well.

Do you enjoy hugs?

Yes, I’m a pretty loving person.

One word to describe politics?

My life.

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