Rosario Dawson had an incredibly busy weekend.
On Friday, the actress/political activist was in Washington D.C., for the Voto Latino On Series event. Then on Saturday, the "Sin City" star attended the White House Correspondents Dinner. And on Sunday, Dawson hopped on a train from D.C. to New York and spent the entire trip snapping photos of her journey as part of the "See More On A Train Online Contest," that encourages people to submit their train journeys via photos as part of Amtrak's 5th Annual National Train Day."
When she landed in New York on Sunday night, Rosario invited The Huffington Post over for a chat at New York’s Penn Station. We spoke to the talented actress about her work with the non-profit organization Voto Latino (which she co-founded in 2005 with Maria Teresa Kumar), why you wont be reading about her slamming any presidential candidates in the news, and why she isn’t endorsing any candidate for president.
The Huffington Post: There are more than 9 million young Latinos in the United States, but not all of them are voting. Why do you think that is?
Well, it's a lot of things. From the things that we're told from them it's because people don't ask them -- that's the first thing they say as to why they haven't voted for the first time. And the second is because they don't feel like they necessarily have enough information on the issues. They're paying attention to student loans, they have opinions on healthcare, they're angered by the conversation around immigration, they're feeling the backlash of violence that's going more and more towards Latinos, because of all of the sort of hate speech that's been used in so many peoples' politics.
The more I talk to young people, the more I see how incredibly just full on activists they are. Just because they're not necessarily voting, it doesn't mean they're not doing stuff. They're organizing. They're marching and they're using social media to get their points across. [But] getting engaged as a voter really makes you powerful. If you're at occupy movements or you're walking in protests, then you need to march to the polls -- you need to occupy the voting booth and that's really going to make sure that you're voice and your issues are heard.
That's very interesting. Often times the media just says: "Young people don't show up to vote" and they leave it at that.
That's it, yeah! One of the things we're really excited about with Voto Latino is that we connect. We have been really great with our messaging and the reason that our organization has grown over all of these years -- especially in this economy and with a lot of organizations shutting down -- it has been a really amazing thing to see how people have been connecting with our messaging and understanding that when we're saying 'it's your country, represent!' that we really mean it. We're really talking to them like they're Americans and I think that's the most crucial part -- because that's what they feel like. That's who they are -- including the DREAMers.
They're like, 'I'm American, that's who I am. Why would you want to deport me? I didn't choose to do this, I was a kid and I've been here my whole life. I've never been to this other country.' A lot of the time they don't even speak the language from the country they came from. We've made things about numbers and we've really dehumanized and objectified Latinos a lot in our conversations about them. Latino issues are American issues. You go to China, Brazil or India, and they understand that their population is their power. We have the largest and fastest growing demographic in this country and it represents over a trillion dollars worth of money. Why would we want to ostracize that and put that away? There's nothing to be worried about. If we start working together, this country is going to be in really great shape.
There are some Hollywood actors who have spoken out against presidential candidates. We never hear you doing that. Is that a conscious decision on your part?
Yeah. I remember it was actually really great going to both the Democratic and Republication conventions in the last election. You have all of this stuff that's said in the media, but when you actually get there and you're around people, you recognize that there are different ways to think about the American dream, and there are different ways to think about our history and our past. People wanting to fly a confederate flag doesn't necessarily mean that they're totally racist -- it [may] mean that they recognize their family and where they come from and they don't want to feel bad about it. They want to be able to say, 'I'm a good person, I'm willing to move forward, and I don't want to feel like I have to deny my history to do so.' Then there are other people going 'Well, I don't want to go back to that America, because in that America I didn't have a voice as a woman or as a person of color.' And so it's understandable on their side. We need more diversity of conversation.
A lot of celebs endorse candidates for president. Have you thought about doing that?
No. I'll vote the way I'm going to vote, but if I'm actually saying I'm serious about your voice being important, then what's the point of me walking around and knocking on someone's door and going, 'OK, I really care about your opinion, but only if it's exactly like mine?' That doesn't really make sense. You know what I mean? And I want to learn and I want to understand where people are coming from, because eventually -- that standing president, whoever I'm behind -- is not going to be there. Does that mean the next election I'm not going to be interested? I'm not going to vote or not going to care? I've already witnessed several presidents in my lifetime and I know I'm going to see several more. And I don't want to always feel like I have to be behind one person. I'm behind the people.
What is the most important issue for you as a voter?
There are so many right now. I mean, I'm a woman of color in 2012. We're talking about issues from everything from the war on women's reproductive health and the economy, which is obviously such a major thing, to access to food, people getting paid fair wages, and the environment is obviously such an alarming situation that we're not paying the proper attention to. And getting onto wind and solar technology would be so amazing and getting us off this idea of having to have this XL pipeline coming through, or digging for natural gas and destroying our beautiful country -- that's our greatest resource -- our people and our land. That's what we should be investing in.
The people and the land are the biggest things I care about. We should be investing in infrastructure -- that's why I'm doing National Train Day. Why do we not have more high speed train rails? Why are we not paying attention to one of the greenest ways to travel? We could be making incredible railways that could be connecting people and communities, and allowing access to people to be able to do that "staycation" that is so popular right now because the economy is rough. We had 30 million people use the train last year and we can up that. I fly a lot but it’s a really different experience when you're flying and everything is like a tiny little ant. When you’re actually going through these communities on a train, you really see them. You see the differences in them, you see the areas that are more run down or areas that are more like big cities. And you get to see all of the untouched raw land -- like on the train ride over here I saw a deer. You get to see the landscape of the country that you live in. And those are the things that help us be able to connect all of our different kinds of immigration stories.
Check out this slideshow below of the most beautiful Latinos in Hollywood!