Angelica Erazo: Utilizing technology to help communities mobilize
Angelica Erazo began advocating for environmental awareness when she was a student at Huston-Tillotson University, an HBCU in Austin, Texas. She co-founded the student organization “Green Is the New Black” and was integral in transforming a dumpster into a livable home, known as The Dumpster Project. Both of Erazo’s endeavors brought recognition to this HBCU and have been accredited with showing the intersectionality between environmental and social justice concerns. Erazo took an active role in these projects because she believes that conventionally, certain demographics are isolated from the green movement. She thinks that the traditional green marketing and jargon does not work for low-income communities and should be simplified to be more inclusive. GITNB and The Dumpster Project were atypical yet innovative approaches to raise environmental awareness—and were just the beginning for Erazo’s advocacy efforts.
After a late night of studying on campus, Erazo headed home to recharge. She idly forgot to turn on her headlights and was pulled over by a police officer. She was subsequently beaten. His reasoning? —He thought she was a gang member. Evidently, this was a pivotal moment for Erazo. She currently speaks out against police abuse and was part of a community group that audited the Austin Police Department’s training materials for racial and gender biases. Erazo often calls on the Latino community to make more of an effort to denounce police violence, especially following the tragic death of George Floyd last year. The panel reviewed over 100 of APD’s training videos and made recommendations to ensure future cadets are taught equitable justice and align with Austin’s initiative of reimagining public safety. Erazo considers being part of this review as one of her greatest accomplishments to date.
Erazo has been a victim of discrimination all her life. In her words, “it’s gotten to the point where I don’t even know what I’m being discriminated for. I’m gay, a woman, Latin, and I look masculine. As long as I’m not being physically harmed, I ignore it.” Erazo strives for change in two ways. First, by challenging people’s thought process to eliminate bias. Second, by targeting the legislature. Erazo has worked on the Hill assisting on technology policy and communications logistics. She is also the vice chair for the Hispanic Quality of Life Commission, and sits on the boards of The New Philanthropists, Earth Day Austin, and the Austin Chapter of Cyber Security Nonprofit. In addition, Erazo is the senior diversity and inclusion consultant for Oracle Corporation. With a background in technology and a desire to make a difference in the political sphere, she simply combined the two.
Most admirably, Erazo integrated her technical skills to her social missions and has helped many in the process. When Hurricane Harvey struck in 2017 and devastated the Texas Coast, she organized over $100k from mutual-aid resources, and utilized Facebook live and other social media outlets, to provide for the victims. She found individuals willing to lend their yachts and literally pulled victims from their flooded homes and brought them to a church stocked with food and live music. She received local and national recognition for saving over 400 lives. In 2020, she created the website coronavirusaustin.org to help low-income communities navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic. The website provides simplified information about COVID-19 and instructions on how to obtain food, shelter, household products, or financial assistance if needed. Most recently, Erazo created AustinCold.com to serve as an online resource with news, available resources, and volunteer opportunities to help Texans whose power and electricity were wiped out due to the winter storm.
Like many others, Erazo identified society’s paradigm shift to technology. But Erazo took it a step further. To reach a tech-driven society, Erazo created simplified websites and utilized social media platforms. Erazo’s methods have been largely successful in our modern society, which has helped communities mobilize more efficiently than ever before. When asking Erazo for advice to give women+ interested in pursing politics, she said the best advice she was given was from Will Hurd, a former member of the US House of Representatives. He told her two things while working on the Hill that have stuck with her, “to get your message out there, you must be able to effectively communicate...and you also have to know how to raise money.” If Erazo has proven anything over the last four years in politics, it’s that she can do both.