ZORA and The Blackness present Moonrakers 2020

The Squad Is On The Frontlines of Our Current Political Battle

These freshman congresswomen have made their voices heard — and changed the political conversation

Jose Antonio Vargas
ZORA
Published in
4 min readOct 8, 2019

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Illustration: Ashley Woods

TThe year 2020 will be unprecedented in American history. It’s not only a presidential election year — arguably the most important in modern times — it’s also the year of the 24th United States Census. Our government is tasked with calculating its ever-changing population at a time when President Donald Trump has challenged, through his racist rhetoric and White nationalist policies, who counts as an American. If this feels like a recipe for unmitigated disaster, that’s because it is.

We are living through the early stages of what must be called Civil War 2.0, one for which immigration is the catalyst. This war is being fought over who gets to define what an American is and who represents America at a time of seismic demographic shifts caused by a variety of political, economic, and environmental factors — be it farm workers from Mexico finding work in the South, tech workers from India and China coming to work in Silicon Valley, or climate change causing extreme weather in the Bahamas. And on the frontline of this battleground is The Squad.

EEverything that members of The Squad are being attacked for — by the highest office and most powerful man in the world — is just a variation on the theme of who gets called an outsider and what brand of nativist fear motivates it.

“Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came,” Trump tweets about The Squad. Three of The Squad’s four members — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, and Rashida Tlaib — were born in America. The fourth, Ilhan Omar, is a naturalized citizen. America is their home; they are Americans.

But as Toni Morrison said, in “the master narrative” of our country, “American means White — everybody else has to hyphenate.” As our country’s white majority declines in numbers…

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Jose Antonio Vargas
ZORA
Writer for

Founder of @DefineAmerican. Author of “DEAR AMERICA: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen.” Journalist. Filmmaker. Theatre producer. Entrepreneur.