Voting is a movement action. It is movement towards justice which weaves the seemingly disparate, sometimes competing threads of issues, policies, and politicians together into an act of collective power. Though we assert that voting is not the only means for participation in the longstanding movement towards our intersecting liberations, Racial Justice BK (RJBK) recognizes that voting has implications for so many aspects of our lives. Issues of health, reproductive rights, sexual orientation, gender identity, women’s empowerment, art, culture, recreation, education, social services, policing, prosecution, incarceration, environment, climate, energy, homelessness, gentrification, housing, economic development, privacy and digital justice—none of these are safe from the hostile assaults of institutionalized racism. Therefore, we have chosen to weigh-in this election cycle; choosing candidates for endorsement based on their commitment to actively engage and combat a system hostile to racial equity.
We see our endorsement as a vital action towards building community agency. It is also critical to our vision of relationship-building. Whether it is the relationship between a constituency and its electeds, organizers and the communities served, or political advocates and policymakers, Racial Justice BK insists that at minimum, these must be peer-to-peer, mutual power relationships. Furthermore, we insist on solutions that spring from and are grounded in the collective wisdom of those most impacted. Some parts of democracy cannot be delegated. Beyond participation, community leadership is required. Therefore, we have chosen candidates we think will exercise the needed leadership by being humble enough to be led by the people.
In order to achieve our complex aspirations, we chose a simple process.
We prioritized the individual candidates and their communities, not their party affiliations. Our goal was to ensure their trajectory was on track to the racial justice future we imagine and work to manifest.
We considered their vested interest in the political power status quo; and/or their willingness to “shake things up.” Our goal was candidate accessibility and accountability to community stakeholders.
We did not choose based on district or specific electoral contest. Our goal was to proactively choose candidates who modeled what matters; not merely to be against candidates we don't want to win.
Now we’d like to invite you into this electoral process. Consider supporting the candidates we have chosen. And perhaps equally important, consider the criteria that we have used in order to arrive at this short list. However you arrived at your own choices, we would like you to actively apply a racial justice lens when making the decision to lend your political support. Think we missed something? Let us know. Further,
Share our endorsed candidates with your family, friends, and extended personal and community networks, especially those that live in-district.
Work with us in being a community resource to educate candidates about needs and solutions, and deepen their accountability to community stakeholders.
Jabari Brisport D25, State Senate
A son of Prospect Heights, Jabari Brisport has spent his life as an activist and union public school educator in Brooklyn. He is passionate about a criminal justice transformation, workers rights and environmental justice. His detailed and thorough platform shows a thoughtful dedication to public power and he supports many of the campaigns, such as HALT and bail reform, on which RJBK has worked.
Diana Richardson D43, State Assembly
Born and raised in Brooklyn, Diana Richardson has listened to and served the Crown Heights community by advocating for housing rights, funding for education, police and criminal justice reform and many other causes impacting the district she represents. RJBK has successfully worked in community with her and hopes to continue that relationship in the future.
Marcela Mitaynes D51, State Assembly
A longtime resident of Sunset Park, Marcela Mitaynes has been a tenant’s rights advocate, working to pass the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019, and is fighting big developers and the city to retain community focus and input in the development of the Sunset Park waterfront. Her commitment to reinvest in her community extends to her criminal justice, environmental justice, immigration and health care platforms, as well, where she intends to challenge real estate developers and large corporations for the rights and needs of her district.
Justin Cohen D56, State Assembly
As a member of RJBK, we have worked closely and successfully with Justin for years. His community centered campaign and strong relationships with the grassroots organizations in his district builds upon the values RJBK holds dear. He has a strong racial justice lens and brings issues of equity to every part of his platform. His background in organizing, racial justice and education help him to understand the complicated and intertwining issues facing his district and advocate for truly creative and progressive changes for this community.
Phara Souffrant Forrest D57, State Assembly
A life-long Crown Heights resident, union nurse and tenant activist, Phara Souffrant Forrest supports community driven change at every opportunity. Working tirelessly for housing justice, supporting healthcare (NYHA) and other patient-focused reforms, an advocate for workers rights and proponent for serious criminal justice reforms, Phara is a strong supporter of so many of the creative, constituent focused changes RJBK would like to see brought to Albany.
Note on Voting
This year, there are more ways to vote than before. If you applied for, and received, your absentee ballot, be sure to mail it back by June 23rd. If you are planning on voting in-person, early voting has already started at a limited number of polling places. Find your early-voting polling place here– it may, or may not, be your election day polling place. Make sure you check first. And if you are a traditionalist and want to vote on election day, Tuesday, June 23rd, you can find your polling place here. Lastly, check here to verify your voter registration and location.
Remember, you're not just voting, you're voting in a movement moment.