Today we had the pleasure to chat with Denaee Amaya, one of the many proud Latinas who are fighting to make our community better. She is from Covina, CA and her Latin roots hail from Zacatecas, Mexico, where her grandmother and grandfather were born. Denaee currently serves the City of Covina as a Parks and Recreation Commissioner and Library Board Trustee. Aside from her efforts citywide, she was recently elected to a seat on the Los Angeles County Democratic Party’s (LACDP) County Central Committee for California’s 48th Assembly District.
What made you want to be a public servant? My passion for public service evolved in college as I studied the discrepancies of our nation’s criminal justice system and the injustices that occur within our communities of color. After graduation, I considered going to law school to study criminal law, but realized I was interested in many other human and civil rights issues. I wanted to choose a career that would not limit my passion for helping others and shortly discovered public service would give me that opportunity. My desire to be a public servant and one day run for public office was confirmed after I worked in the LA Mayor’s Office and for a council member on the LA City Council.
What has been your experience as a Latina working in politics/public service? When I worked in Los Angeles, it was more inclusive than what I was used to. In most rooms, I wasn’t the only Latina; however, that is not the case everywhere. I have definitely had my fair share of prejudice as a young woman of color.
What do you think the system needs to improve? I think we need more representation and diversity in our leadership positions at the local, state, and federal levels. Electing minority leaders into office gives communities of color a voice and representation to groups who have been dismissed for so long.
What are some of your goals for the Latin community? My goal for our Latinx community is that we get more involved in our local politics and vote for leaders who will fight for the needs of our families and workers. Our advocacy is especially important when the President of the United States is giving false narratives about our community and separating our brothers and sisters at the border.
How is COVID-19 affecting the Latin community? COVID-19 is affecting communities of color at an alarming rate. According to the Los Angeles Times, in California, African American and Latino/a patients between the ages of 18-49 are dying from COVID-19 more often than other racial groups in the population. Unfortunately, this is not surprising as many minority communities have little access to resources and healthcare. Many of these individuals do not have the financial means to stay home and have to work to support their families, further increasing their risk of exposure.
How is the situation at Covina? The City of Covina is abiding by the county and state orders, communicating important information to constituents, and adjusting normal operations to implement physical distancing practices. The city is also working on a COVID-19 recovery plan. I currently sit on the Covina COVID-19 Recovery Working Group for City Services. The COVID-19 situation is constantly evolving and we are doing our best to be proactive in order to ensure our community recovers from this crisis.
How will COVID-19 change the landscape of Parks and Recreation? COVID-19 has already changed the landscape of Parks and Recreation. It is requiring many Parks and Recreation Departments to cancel annual events, postpone outdoor youth activities, and future programming. The pandemic has also required some cities to close their parks and playground equipment to implement physical distancing practices and prevent large social gatherings. These are tough adjustments for children and families who don’t have access to green space at home and regularly visit parks for mental and physical wellness.
How can the community help to implement these changes?
Here are some ways communities can help during this pandemic :
– Staying home as much as possible
– Encouraging family, friends, and peers to stay home if they are non-essential workers
– Only visiting places that are essential (grocery store, etc.)
– Practicing physical distancing with those who do not live in the same household (at least 6 feet apart)
– Seeking accurate COVID-19 information from valid sources (LA County Public Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, etc.)
– Checking on friends, family, and neighbors via phone, video calls, and social media.
If you need more information, please visit the LA County Public Health page, and check out more on local government below!
Image courtesy of Denaee Amaya