Meet Cristy Road Carrera, The Cuban–American Artist Behind Elizabeth Warren’s “Mi Presidenta” Merch

Lead Photo: Art by Stephany Torres for Remezcla
Art by Stephany Torres for Remezcla
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For years, Cristy Road Carrera has created music, illustrations and more as a means of deeply personal expression that just happens to also be deeply relatable. Now, the Cuban-American artist is adding a more contentious platform to her résumé: the 2020 election.

On President’s Day, Elizabeth Warren and her team unveiled a campaign they’d been working on since late 2019. “Latinas Fight, Latinas Win” is an initiative aimed at addressing Latinas in the U.S. directly in hopes to garner support whilst inviting us to canvas. In an op-ed published by Univision, the Democratic candidate aims to present herself as being for us and like us, reminding readers that she is the first in her family to graduate from college and understand some of the issues that direct us more pointedly (e.g., student debt, gender pay gap, immigration). Warren, who Julián Castro endorsed in January, is the first candidate to directly acknowledge the particularly difficult struggle that Latinas face in this country and claim she has a plan (albeit vague) to make the system more fair and humane for Latinas and their families.

Road designed the illustration that was plastered on the campaign-specific merch released alongside the initiative. The print says “Mi Presidenta,” sculpted from cement with liberty green leaves and flowers in bright hues blooming from within.

In our interview below, Road explains why she took on this project, why she believes Warren is the candidate to stand behind and more.

If you could include a little personalized note to every person who receives the tee/merch, what would it say?

“I’d say thank you for opposing the current system, believing in humanity, women and the regeneration of nature.”

How did you get tapped for this project?

“The Warren art team hit me up! The director, Raquel [Breternitz] who first connected with me, said she discovered my work on the cover of the amazing Juliet Takes A Breath by Gabby Rivera and that other folks on the campaign were ;superfans’ — lots of good feelings!”

Why did you say yes to taking it on?

“I support a lot of what Warren’s campaign stands for, and I also have to work. I’ve worked for plenty of clients who, while always on the liberal spectrum, may not wholly represent me as a person (GQ, for example) — but they are still platforms who are willing to elevate my work and I’m grateful for that. As a queer Latina creator with an art + music catalog focused on subverting the system, healing the soul, and dealing with erasure, I want to take up the space that is being offered to me. My novels, paintings and songs are where I tell my personal story and exhibit my politics. I don’t always expect commissioned work to facilitate that; despite how much affinity we share.”

Were you at all hesitant to be a part of the campaign? If so, why?

“Yes, because my platform has always been smash it, rebuild it, and an entertainment magazine is very different than a presidential candidate. I’m personally desensitized and jaded when it comes to electoral politics. I will never forget when I received a letter from the state saying my affidavit vote for Bernie Sanders in the 2016 primary was not counted because my Democratic party affiliation was revoked. So mysterious! I registered Democratic to vote for Obama in the 2008 primaries after having been Green Party since I registered to vote in 2000. I was almost tempted to fill in ‘THE ACLU’ as my chosen candidate for the 2016 election (but with Trump on the ballot, it felt like too much of a gamble to not vote for Hillary). Despite that, I finally know how to hold my ground while existing anywhere — that’s always been a goal ever since I found that shaking the system outside of my punk rock scene was vital to revolution.”

Assuming you were already in Warren’s corner prior to taking on this project, what convinces you (policy/history-wise) that she is the worthy candidate? 

“As for current policy, she does not support the TPP or NAFTA, she believes in raising the minimum wage and legitimizing the work of self-employed [people] and small businesses, medicare for all, clean power plan and legitimizing climate change, free education and student loan forgiveness, the prevention of arms race, anti-war foreign policy, DACA, and the abolition of detention centers. I personally find Warren and [Bernie] Sanders to be the only candidates I regularly agree with… While I may not 100% agree with every policy made by Warren [throughout] her career — I believe another world can be possible given her current policies and potential presidency.”

Why do you think she should be the candidate to represent Democrats (and Latinos more specifically)?

“Because the Democratic party should not be a slightly lefty GOP with a cool band performing at the gala.

In 2015, Warren was one of 33 U.S. Senators who believed in DACA and signed a letter opposing state sanctioned immigration detention. She identifies Trump as anti-immigrant and I like to believe these present views are accurate. To be real; my affinity to Latinidad gets tested with the consistent protection of ‘abuela’s conservative values.’ I’m here for dismantling those tropes.

I’m a working class Cuban-American from Miami. I’m a young Gen X/old millennial and therefore got to witness the atrocities of romanticizing capitalism via classism, segregation and anti-blackness of the Reagan years. I’m queer and was raised by women who held multiple jobs and resisted so much of the assimilation and patriarchy that fueled the conservative Latinx landscape of Miami in the 80’s. I am grateful for that, but I come from an overall community where my work was not always welcome due to post-Castro trauma and my need to reclaim words like revolution, socialism and worker solidarity…. However; not all Cuban immigrants or self-identified exiles had money, let alone easy access to high profile work; and not all victims of the Cuban revolution were rich with white skin. The Mariel Boatlift was full of exiled proletariat political prisoners and queers and nobody talks about it. However, conservative values can be present in any class war… we’re all just looking for safety even if it’s an illusion. The trauma in my Cuban community is not just right wing and white. Its poor, queer, black, brown, women, children, men, elderly. How do I meet halfway with my hometown despite moving to NYC to be a loud queer anti-capitalist culture creator?

I find it necessary to educate myself and have a nuanced perspective despite my dreams of prison abolition and collective governments. I believe in collective consciousness; although it’s painful to admit that it takes trauma — fascism, totalitarianism, watching the world burn — for that consciousness to merge on the right side of history: the side which represents true justice.”