Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortéz took off her mask in an honest interview with Latino USA and spoke directly to the elephant in the room: trauma.
In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, the New York representative proved she is flesh and blood, after three years in Congress, a global pandemic, and having survived the Trump Era.
In an intimate conversation with host Maria Hinojosa, AOC discussed the Jan. 6 riots on Capitol Hill and the need to acknowledge and process trauma.
“I’m doing therapy, but also I’ve just slowed down. I think the Trump administration had a lot of us, especially Latino communities, in a very reactive mode. So I’ve been putting myself in a more proactive space,” she said.
The representative of New York’s 14th district focused especially on the particular trauma experienced by Latinos during Donald Trump’s time in the White House.
Specifically, Ocasio-Cortez championed the need for everyone impacted to “recognize trauma.”
AOC referenced the taboo that exists in the Latino community around mental health, the reluctance to seek help, and the need to address the issues in order not only to overcome what was experienced but to ensure a better future for all.
Speaking from personal experience, the representative shared her personal knowledge of the price of not seeking the necessary professional help.
After her father died at a young age, she repressed the trauma due to what she describes as the unique burdens that firstborns and only daughters in Latino families often face.
“I learned my lesson, then,” she said, going on to describe how she’s applying them now by prioritizing her mental health. “I’ve had to take a beat. Because if I take a couple months now, and just be really good, then I don’t have to live with this thing festering and lingering with me like a roommate in my apartment for years.”
As Mashable explained, by revealing that he’s been in therapy, AOC “counters many of the unique barriers and stigmas Latinx people can experience when seeking mental health help.”
That’s especially true in districts like the one she represents, where 50% of the population is Latino but where only 34% of them receive treatment.
Regarding the Trump era and attacks on the Latino community, AOC has a sharp analysis:
“There’s a direct throughline through imperialism and the attitudes and power structures there—to anti-Asian violence, to what’s happening at the border, to anti-Black racism. All of it,” she said, positioning this trauma as always ongoing, no matter which administration is in power. “People want to think that this stuff is disconnected because they want to believe in this mythology of America or the United States that we were fed as children.”