This Summer I felt glory in the knowledge that there is a young man named Jesus running for office in Brooklyn. His name is Jesus Gonzales and he is running for State Assembly in New York State’s 54th Assembly District (AD). The 54th AD is made up of a handful of diverse, mostly working class neighborhoods. I first met Jesus as a member of Make the Road By Walking (now merged under the name Make the Road http://www.maketheroad.org), a grassroots, community organization that focused on economic protection and empowerment of Bushwick, Brooklyn’s growing immigrant population. Young Jesus, pronounced with a hard “J” by the unilingual kids he grew up with, was a leader in a powerful youth contingent that shaped pre-and-post September 11th hip-hop generation activism.
I reconnected with Jesus earlier this year through my wife, Julia’s project, East WillyB. In addition to being a visionary, Julia, aka Jetsetter Jewels is also a go-getter. East WillyB includes a documentary series called “The Real Bushwick” as complimentary content to the six-episode series centered around a bar in Bushwick, Brooklyn. You can visit the East WillyB (www.eastwillyb) website to see a glimpse into Jesus’ vision of community empowerment, and then stay and watch an episode from the series - a well-rounded, yummy media snack for the day.
Many people don’t know that I have a long history of electoral politics dating back to a three-year internship for my local city councilmember. I didn’t just make photocopies and stuff envelopes either. I picked up the mail in City Hall everyday (a legitimate intern task). I sat through many a boring council meeting (somebody had to do it). I even wrote the first draft of a resolution that eventually became a law against redlining, the practice of drawing red lines on a map to unfairly delineate populations. In the last presidential election, I wore my Barack Obama T-shirt. I also helped organize a youth contingent (only one followed through, Shout Out to Allan) to participate in pivotal campaigning during the presidential election. I voted too: for my homey Rosa Clemente, a hip-hop generation political pioneer, in her candidacy for Vice President for the Green Party along with Cynthia McKinney. (I figured Brobama had the Queens church-folk on smash, plus, how often do you get to vote for someone you believe in?)
When I found out Jesus was running for office, my first thought was, “Damn, I got to step up.” For my story, I could imagine no better beginning than the tale of a young man in Brooklyn named Jesus who sparked a wave of young political candidates campaigning locally, block-by-block, and hood-by-hood, while being connected and powered nationally and internationally by the rhythms and reasons of hip-hop. With BusForce I in motion (BusForce I is president Obama’s pre-campaign campaign bus tour across the country), the race for the future has begun, and the hip-hop generation will undoubtedly need to step it up. This summer, Jesus’ campaign stepped up the game seriously with major endorsements across sectors, a clear and consistent message and vision communicated through a clean, well-designed website and social media campaign, and a multi-faceted fundraising strategy to support a boots-to-pavement Get Out the Vote effort.
Help me write the end of this summer’s story. Make an online donation at www.gonzalezforassembly.com. Even the smallest donation could support an in-the-streets campaign to engage people with real issues. Attend the “Get Out the Vote Fundraiser” tonight Tuesday, August 23, 2011, at Sutra Lounge on the Lower East Side, 7-10pm or another upcoming fundraising event. Donate time by volunteering to walk through Brooklyn neighborhoods alongside other hardworking, progressive-minded individuals. Interact with Jesus through Facebook or Twitter and take it as an opportunity to gain an understanding of the way digital media can mobilize people and impact the political process. Let’s write the end of this story together and make it the summer that Jesus won Brooklyn.