Lana Rigsby | Essays

Are Taco Trucks Awakening the “Sleeping Giant”?

Editor’s Note: When faced with issues of racism and Latino voter registration, many designers might use the typographic vernacular of taco trucks to design a GOTV poster. Lana Rigsby, from Rigsby Hull, took the next step with a fleet of taco trucks throughout Houston. — S.A.

Responding to racist statements from Latinos for Trump, Rigsby Hull initiated a “Taco Trucks on Every Corner” movement in Texas. The project, partnered with Mi Familia Vota, went viral, grabbing attention in local, national and international news (see more here, here, here, here, here).

It’s a communications story.
With immigration issues dominating the presidential election, the Hispanic community has much at stake—yet Latinos are woefully underrepresented at the polls. Texas ranks dead last in US voter turnout, and fewer than a quarter of eligible Texas Latinos even register. Communication is the problem: Texas voter registration rules are notoriously confusing and guidance is hard to find, especially for those not proficient in English. NYTimes documents Texas election results that are skewed “…due entirely to a misunderstanding or general lack of information…”. Many believe the confusion is designed to keep some people out: “Texas has a long ugly history of blocking blacks and Latinos from voting through [things like] English-only ballots” and targeted restrictions, says The Nation. With 27 million eligible but mostly disengaged voters, the Latino community has long been called a political “sleeping giant”

Houston taco trucks are working to shake the giant awake. On-site volunteers have helped register record numbers of voters, and trucks have been serving up information alongside tacos: Tens of thousands of bilingual Voter Guides clarifying voting requirements are being passed around (in a user-friendly paper format) in the neighborhoods that need information most.

Has it worked?
During the campaign’s first week, NYTimes reported a surge in Google searches for registration information from Hispanic parts of Texas and other states. Crediting the taco trucks, Harris County officials predicted an increase of 175,000 registered voters, but ultimately nearly 325,000 voters signed up, with Spanish surnames leading the increase by wide margins.

Will this change anything?
Will taco trucks ultimately help shape the 2016 election? “Maybe”, says organizer Lana Rigsby. "For now, it helps a lot that they're adding hundreds of thousands of voices to the conversation."

Posted in: Arts + Culture, Politics

Jobs | May 19