AOC’s parents — Her mom almost lost the family home after her dad died

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) is the firebrand U.S. representative for New York’s 14th congressional district. AOC’s Democratic primary victory over 10-term incumbent Joe Crowley sent shockwaves across the country. Just months before her victory, AOC worked as a bartender. In the general elections, she won an expected victory, and by then, she’d already attracted critics from conservatives. 

AOC is deeply unpopular on the conservative side of politics as she regularly gets under the opposition’s skin. In July 2020, a frustrated Republican Representative Ted Yoho referred to AOC as a fucking bitch. 

“My father, thankfully, is not alive to see how Mr. Yoho treated his daughter,” AOC responded. “I am here because I have to show my parents that I am their daughter and that they did not raise me to accept abuse from men.” Let’s take a look at AOC’s parents. 

AOC’s parents met in Puerto Rico and wed before settling in the Bronx

Alexandria Ocasio-cortez 's ParentsSergio Ocasio And Blanca Ocasio-Cortez(
Alexandria Ocasio-cortez, with her Parents and brother in Puerto Rico 1995 (Courtesy Of Ocasio-Cortez)

AOC’s mother, Blanca Ocasio-Cortez, lived in poverty in Puerto Rico: she raised her siblings as her mother worked. Blanca met AOC’s dad, Bronx-born Sergio Ocasio, in Puerto Rico. The pair wed before settling in the Bronx. 

AOC wrote on Instagram: “She [Blanca] met my father, a Bronx boy visiting isla family, at a young age. They married + moved to NYC – she didn’t even speak English. My parents started from scratch: new languages, new life, new everything.”

Sergio formed an architectural and landscaping company named Kirschenbaum Ocasio-Roman Pc. After AOC started schooling, Sergio and Blanca contemplated moving to offer her better opportunities. The family didn’t want to leave its community, but education outside the city offered AOC more incentives. 

“And so, given that set of incentives, my parents did move,” AOC said at a town hall event in Queens. “My parents moved. My father didn’t want to. Because my father was a Bronx boy, born and raised. And so I moved and my whole family, our whole family chipped in for a down payment about 30 or 40 minutes north in Westchester.”

The move required Sergio and Blanca to start over. The family moved into a two-bedroom house in a suburb in Westchester County. Whenever she could, AOC helped her mother work. AOC returned to the Bronx after graduating from Boston College. 

After AOC’s primary victory in 2018, conservative John Cardillo tweeted that AOC lied about her upbringing as she spent most of her life in Westchester. AOC responded by calling Yorktown Heights ’a good town for working people.’

“Your attempt to strip me of my family, my story, my home, and my identity is exemplary of how scared you are of the power of all four of those things,” AOC added

AOC is Puerto Rican, but she also has Jewish roots

(Photo by Tom Williams/AP)

In December 2018, AOC told a crowd at Jackson Heights synagogue in Queens that a long time ago, her family consisted of Sephardic Jews. 

AOC said she draws Jewish heritage from Jews who fled Europe during the Spanish Inquisition half a millennium ago. “Some of those people landed in Puerto Rico,” she said

“As is the story of Puerto Rico, we are a people that are an amalgamation,” AOC added. “We are no one thing. We are black; we are indigenous; we are Spanish; we are European.”

AOC delighted The Hanukkah-celebrating crowd with her revelation. She danced and helped light the menorah during celebrations. AOC later tweeted:

“But to be Puerto Rican is to be the descendant of: African Moors + slaves, Taino Indians, Spanish colonizers, Jewish refugees, and likely others. We are all of these things and something else all at once — we are Boricua.”

AOC’s family almost lost their home after her father’s death in 2008

Alexandria, with her mother, brother, and grandmother (Courtesy of Ocasio-Cortez)

When AOC was sixteen, her father was diagnosed with a rare form of lung cancer. He needed expensive experimental trials to stay alive. “My family almost lost our home in order to try and keep him alive,” AOC said at a hearing held by the House Oversight and Reform Committee. 

Sergio passed away in September 2008 as AOC prepared for her sophomore year at Boston University. AOC spent one week mourning her father before immersing herself in schoolwork. “She jumped from having good grades to being on the dean’s list,” Blanca told The New York Times

Blanca, however, faced tough times. Banks threatened to foreclose her property, forcing her to work multiple jobs to maintain payments: she became a bus driver and answered phones. AOC became a bartender and waitress in the Bronx to assist her mother. 

“Many people know that I was working in a restaurant when I got elected [last year], but they don’t know why,” AOC said at the hearing. “And the reason why was because we lost my father to a rare form of lung cancer. We couldn’t find treatment for him.”

Due to dire economic times, AOC’s mother and grandmother eventually moved to Florida. 

AOC remembers her father fondly. In September 2018, she tweeted: “10 years ago today, I lost my dad. He taught me so much + showed me how to be brave. He never got to see me graduate college, organize communities, or run for Congress. I carry him with me every day. I hope he’d be proud of the person I’m growing into. Love you, pa. Miss you.”

AOC’s mom predicted that she would be a politician

Alexandria Ocasio-cortez and her Mother Blanca Ocasio-Cortez
Blanca Ocasio-Cortez, with her daughter Alexandria (Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

Blanca told The New York Times that AOC was always passionate about politics. “There was nobody who could shut her up,” Blanca said. “I saw the political tendencies since she was very, very young.”

Per Blanca, AOC read tons of historical and political literature. Blanca joined AOC on the campaign trail, and despite believing that AOC would hold elected office, she didn’t think that it would happen that quickly. 

“It’s just incredible,” Blanca said. “I believed she would do it, but so soon – it was shocking.”

It was fitting that Blanca held the Bible for AOC during her swearing-in. After the ceremony, AOC posted the following message on Instagram

“Afterwards, the Speaker said to her ‘you must be so proud,’ and my mother began to cry. It was not long ago that our family’s hope was so dim it was barely an ember. Darkness taught me transformation cannot solely be an individual pursuit, but also a community trust.”

Blanca told New York Post that AOC aims for the top elective job in the land. “Her aspiration is to be the president,” Blanca said.