dominicana de nacimiento, miembro de su sindicato
September 7, 2019 12:47 PM   Subscribe

Even after Carmen Castillo won election to Providence City Council, she kept her job cleaning hotel rooms. The documentary Councilwoman looks at her first term in office, and how democracy (and public policy) could change when we elect a working-class immigrant. The film is available to watch for free until Oct 3.
Originally from the Dominican Republic, Castillo has worked as a hotel housekeeper in Providence (Rhode Island) for nearly 25 years. She helped organize her coworkers into a union, and then got involved in local politics in her ward. “I started working for my councilman, my best friend and my mentor, Miguel Luna,” she said. In 2011, Luna died one year into his term, and people in the community convinced her to run for his vacant seat.

“I said, ‘No way,’ ” she said. “I was scared because my English is not that good. I have an accent. Some people made a comment like, I’m a housekeeper, what can I do?” But she went ahead. She recalled long days, working at the hotel during the day, campaigning in the evening and taking English classes at a public library at night. (Source: Providence Journal)
posted by spamandkimchi (5 comments total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
Holy shit. I’m privileged as fuck. This woman has picked my jaw up off the floor and returned it to me in better condition than when I had it last.
I wish it didn’t take super-human drive to represent your fellow humans when you aren’t someone like me.
posted by mfu at 3:48 PM on September 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

I feel so spoiled sometimes living in Rhode Island. I feast on local politics when national politics gets overwhelming. Women all over the state are standing up to the notoriously corrupt boys' club of the state Democratic Party and I'm just glad I get to be a little part of it.
posted by Ruki at 5:31 PM on September 7, 2019 [8 favorites]

The film is available to watch for free until Oct 3.
There is no WORLD Channel station in your area. But you can watch your favorite shows and more online.
That's a drag. I will console myself with my functioning democracy, my socialized health care, my relatively sensible gun laws, and my legal cannabis.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:06 PM on September 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

I am completely in awe of her relentless motivation...I just recently moved to a new country for a graduate program where I don't speak the main language, and it's a struggle just to get through basic daily life and learn the language. I did this willingly, and with enough resources to not have to worry about working very challenging manual-labor jobs. I can hardly imagine working a job as physically (and likely mentally, in some ways) demanding as cleaning hotel rooms, and then deciding you are going to run for elected position as a woman of color in a country that you immigrated to and learned the language, while still trying to maintain your family relationships (trying to help her husband immigrate and integrate). As others have commented, this has really reminded me of my privilege and of the incredible strength some people have to take things into their own hands, even if it means facing an incredible uphill battle and sacrificing virtually every possible comfort in life (sleep, free time, friends/relationships, etc.).

Also, I really enjoyed that this was one of the few cases where the "good person" politician, who didn't play dirty and attack the other people running, won.
posted by unid41 at 2:01 AM on September 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

I just finished watching the documentary and loved it. Thank you for posting!
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 12:15 AM on September 9, 2019

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