Some of best work we can do right now is building and deepening our sense of community. That, to me, is what organizing is all about: community-making. . It’s how we create bonds that add meaning to our lives, how we educate one other compassionately, and how we create real, sustainable power that serves the people, the environment, and our future. . Community is how we uplift one another and keep each other safe. It’s how we welcome, love, and transform. And I’m so thankful to be a part of our NY-14 community ✨ . 📸: @coreytorpiephotography
Hope is contagious. . “I know so many people who feel hopeless, and they ask me, “What should I do?” And I say: “Act.” . It was such an honor to share this conversation with you, @gretathunberg.
🚨ACTION ITEM: When it comes to locking people up over marijuana or because they can’t afford ridiculous cash bail, we are OVER IT. If you‘re a Queens resident that can vote, we need you to make a calendar event for this TUESDAY on when you plan to VOTE for Tiffany Caban ( @cabanforqueens) as your new DA. (Hint: right before work is best if you can swing it) . Tiffany is taking on powerful real estate interests in this race, whose big idea for “cleaning up neighborhoods” is locking them up so they can build empty luxury condos that serve as bank accounts or playgrounds for the rich. No more. Our city is for living in, not displacing people so shady people can hide their shady money. . Moreover, Tiffany believes that the role of the DA is about COMMUNITY SAFETY. I endorse her because we share the same values, and to us safety means freedom from fear. That means we should be just as free from the fear of ICE trying to knock on our neighbor’s door without a warrant as we should be free from the fear that domestic abuse will reoccur in a household. She gets it because she was a public defender for years - and has spent YEARS seeing how this system fails to provide safety to our neighborhoods. There are a million other reasons, so just hit up her site to learn more and queue up your calendar reminder to VOTE on Tuesday (preferably in the morning so you can lock it in early, give yourself enough time, & get it out of the way). . 📸: @nicole_millman_photo
Que Bonita Bandera 🇵🇷
From the Tree of Life Synagogue Shooting to the Emanuel Baptist Church massacre, it increasingly seems as though Neo-Nazis keep escaping domestic terrorism charges. . Even worse, the evidence is starting to stack up that violent crimes by Muslims are almost automatically treated as terrorist incidents, while the same crimes committed by White Supremacists are charged differently. . It’s getting harder and harder for officials to explain this away. . Video via @nowthisnews
According to ROC, 1 in 10 NYCers work in the restaurant industry. 1 in 2 Americans will work in hospitality at some point in their lives. . I’ve always found the detractors who say they’re going to “send me back to bartending” fascinating - after all, what is so wrong with making an honest living? Service workers of all stripes - nail salon, restaurant, car wash workers & more - are some of the hardest working people in the country; and these industries are only growing. . It’s time to #RaiseTheWage to $15 an hour nationally, no exceptions, #TipsOnTop. It’s far too easy to exploit tipped workers otherwise - which is why sexual harassment and labor violations run rampant in an industry that is up to 70% women and 40% single mothers. . #RaiseTheWage will help countless people and families worry a little less and live more dignified lives. Let’s get it done.
Time to read those receipts 🧾🍵 When companies like Toys R’ Us & Sears go down & lay off thousands of workers and steal their promised severance pay, people think it’s “internet kills brick + mortar.” . That’s not the full story. . CEOs+boards load these co’s w/ debt to enrich themselves, tank them, & leave workers in the cold w/o promised severance. . If that’s not bad enough, it looks like Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin did exactly this with his old college roommate (literally) - he served went on the Sears board as his roomie served as CEO. . Together, they fired a *quarter million people* in a debt scheme that looks awfully self-dealing. . We want to get to the bottom of it. 🧾
I looked down at my grocery basket today and couldn’t help but feel a pang of guilt. I’m still paying my student loans, and while I try to make my own meals; I also quite often will resort to a frozen dinner or take out. These are luxuries I never had growing up, and as I looked down at my basket today, I couldn’t help but think of all the times as a child that I complained about eating rice & beans for what felt then like the 10,000th time. Rice and beans was our staple meal, and we ate it the vast majority of days. As a kid I eventually complained about it. I got tired of eating the same thing all the time, and I wanted to have the elaborate meals I saw children eating on TV. . Now, being an adult with bills and having had to scrimp and calculate everything for years, I feel terrible about it. My parents were young and trying to raise two kids on a dime. Eating rice and beans every day is what allowed me to go on school trips and play soccer. I didn’t get it then - my parents didn’t want me to feel limited - but I really feel guilty for it now. . When I graduated college, my first job paid $45k. It was more than my mother made in her entire life. There is a lot of guilt and strange emotions that comes with that, but now when I think about those moments - those dinners where I whined because I didn’t understand the sacrifice my parents were making - all I can do is try to take that guilt and turn it into everyday gratitude. . I’m thankful. Half the time I don’t feel deserving of how my life has turned out over the last year. It brings a lot of stress and complications, but I’m not afraid for my own survival the way I used to be when I didn’t have insurance or when the restaurant was dead for weeks in a row and I wasn’t making the tips I needed to pay rent. All I can do is be thankful. I thank my creator and every well-wisher, supporter, organizer, family, and friend. And dedicate my life now to working as hard as I can so that everyone in this country can have the opportunities needed to be blessed with a basket like the one I have today. . (Also sorry to be posting pics of food in the middle of Ramadan! 😬 When inspiration strikes ya gotta do what ya gotta do)
A year ago I was waitressing in a restaurant while organizing my community. In a time and place where we had been burned by so many politicians, and had grown deservedly cynical of the sad, familiar cycle of campaign promises and governance excuses, I was asking them, just once, to believe. . It was really hard, because how do you make that case? How to ask someone whose trust has been violated over and over to believe you? To believe in the movement for justice and economic dignity? . You show up. You give unconditionally. You show up when no one is looking and the cameras are off. You offer support when it’s risky, but necessary. You do it over and over again, without a need for recognition or expectation that you are “owed” something for doing the right thing. You just... engage in the act of loving your community. . Never in my wildest dreams did I think that those late nights on the 6 & 7 trains would lead to this. All this attention gives me a lot of anxiety (my staff fought to get me to agree to this cover, as I was arguing against it), and still doesn’t feel quite real, which maybe is why I remain comfortable taking risks, which maybe is a good thing. . I believe in an America where all things are possible. Where a basic, dignified life isn’t a dream, but a norm. . That’s why I got up then, and it’s why I get up now. Because my story shouldn’t be a rare one. Because our collective potential as a nation can be unlocked when we’re not so consumed with worry about how we’re going to secure our most basic needs, like a doctor’s visit or an affordable place to live.
Little ones in the family visited me at work today & broke in the new whiteboard wall 💜
I am a public servant - that means my job is to put other people’s needs before my own, not the other way around. . And while it’s hard for special interests to understand that concept, they know it’s powerful enough to try to undermine: (see: dark money conservative groups filing totally bogus ethics complaints so they can report on “alleged,” untrue things). . The truth is, the reason they’re throwing the kitchen sink at us is because they know deep down that the system wasn’t meant for working people to win. And now that one has, others will follow - and together we will make this nation better for all. . “Anyone can be great, because anyone can serve.” - MLK
🎶What would you do if I sang out of tune, would you stand up and walk out on me?/ Lend me your ears and I'll sing you a song/ and I'll try not to sing out of key. / Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends / mm, gonna try with a little help from my friends 🎶 . This was one of my papa’s favorite songs. Before he passed away, he built a trellis for my mother by hand in our backyard. He wanted to inscribe this lyric around the edges, but never got the chance. I have always felt that this is a love song, but a love song for friendship. . This #internationalwomensday, I’m thinking about (and grateful for) sisterhood. At the heart of sisterhood, like so many meaningful relationships, is love. And to me, loving people isn’t about who you’re trying to be a “rockstar” in front of. Love is about who you’re unafraid to let see you sing out of tune. 🎤 . 📸: @rashidatlaib + @azizthefrenchie
Happy St. Pat’s for All Parade Day from Sunnyside, Queens! ☘️ . The St. Pat’s for All parade began as a demonstration for LGBTQ+ inclusion in St. Patrick’s Day festivities, when people originally tried to keep the LGBT community out of the parade (unfortunately, some NYC parades still do - which speaks to the work still left to be done). The Queens community wasn’t going to stand for that, and 20 years ago the community launched St. Pat’s for All, to celebrate Irish values of welcoming and inclusion to all people - no matter who you love or whatever your station in life may be. . Launched by Councilman Danny Dromm +activist Brendan Fay, St. Pat’s for All is a core tradition in NY14, and happens a bit before the citywide St. Patrick’s Day Parade. . 📸: @josealvarado
I announced that no one who works for me full-time will make less than $52k and Fox News called it communism 🤣 . In my office, we do our best to practice what we preach, and pay a living wage to all: $52k minimum for all full-time staff. To be honest, I wish our budgets allowed us to make it higher. . It’s a very unusual move on the Hill and likely one of the highest entry-level salaries in Congress. I do it because I was outraged at how many staffers I saw on the Hill work FULL-TIME leave their day job for a second shift as a barista or elsewhere afterwards **just to afford the basics** - not even to get ahead or save up for something big. It’s totally wrong. . Low pay is also a big reason for lack of socioeconomic diversity in DC, aka why many spaces in government can feel like a silver spoon club: only people who work 80+hr weeks w/ multiple jobs without an outside life, or whose parents can supplement their pay can have the opportunity to work in the nation’s capital. That has real consequences for government being out of touch w/ the people we serve on all levels. There’s a TON of work that needs to be done when it comes to the workplace (parental leave, hiring practices, living wage, healthcare as a right and not a perk, etc), but it starts with paying people enough to live as a minimum requirement, and not a luxury (and I guess that gets you called a communist these days 😂).
YEEERRRRRR 🙅🏿♂️🙅🏽♀️🙅🏽♂️ 🔥 Had a blast & honored to be the first guest on @shodesusandmero today! They also visited me in DC and gave a few housewarming gifts from home 🎁 just aired - check it out!
Losar Tashi Delek! Spent this morning with our NY-14 Tibetan community to celebrate Lunar New Year ✨ This little one and I were playing with giving each other Tibetan white scarves, or Khatas, which are auspicious tokens given to honor others on holidays and special occasions. We had so much fun! 💜
This week we had our 1st-ever Committee meetings and our 1st-ever Hearings of the 116th Congress (the Oversight hearing was on the skyrocketing costs of prescription drugs). . It’s always intimidating to speak up in a new setting. In Congress, we abide by strict rules of communication, particularly in committee. For example, you’re supposed to address the chair, and speak in the third person when referring to your colleagues. Breaking these rules can have consequences small and large: not knowing how means you could lose precious speaking time, or miss an opportunity to make a point. Opposing party members are always looking for the slightest slip-up to gum up process or make an example of you. . So yes, speaking up for the first time in this environment can be scary. Here’s my trick: for a long time, I’ve used fear as a guiding light 💡 instead of a reason to turn off. Emotions are information and data too, and fear is telling us something. For me, fear isn’t saying “go away,” fear tells me “this is new, and it *could* be dangerous. There are are stakes here.” But I’ve very frequently interpreted fear as a growth cusp. Aside from some concrete fears, we often don’t know what we’re afraid of until we get there, and feel it. Fear tells us how to grow. Fear, like a lot of discomfort, forces us to choose: “Do I do this, or not?” Without fear, there is no courage. Without fear, we don’t have the opportunity to prove ourselves in ways we never thought possible. . So while we often think of fear as a signal to retreat, it can also be the opportunity to leap. And I am so grateful to have had the good fortune of winding up as seat buddies with not one but TWO courageous sisters and friends so we can encourage each another along the way. (Committee seat assignments are not random or self-selected, so I’m thankful for the blessing of having @ayannapressley and @rashidatlaib right there with me on Oversight!) . 📸: House Oversight Dems
We open doors so others can walk through them.
What can I possibly say except thank you? So many people sacrificed so much for this to happen - my mother most of all. . My mamá was born + raised in Puerto Rico. She practically raised her siblings in poverty while her own mother worked nonstop to provide food and shelter. She 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. Then came me, and they moved to start over again so I could have an education. Mami mopped floors, drove school buses, + answered phones. She did whatever she needed to do, for me. When my father died, she was left a single mother of 2, and again she had to start over. After he passed we almost lost our home, so we sold it and started over. & over. & over. . It wasn’t long ago that we felt our lives were over; that there were only so many do-overs until it was just too late, or too much to take, or we were too spiritually spent. I was scrubbing tables + scooping candle wax after restaurant shifts & falling asleep on the subway ride home. I once got pickpocketed, & everything I earned that day was stolen. That day I locked myself in a room and cried deep: I had nothing left to give, or to be. And that’s when I started over. I honestly thought as a 28 year old waitress I was too late; that the train of my fulfilled potential had left the station. . This week I was sworn in as the youngest woman in American history to serve in the United States Congress. I hope that record is broken again soon. As I raised my hand for the oath, my mother held the holy book & looked into @SpeakerPelosi’s eyes. 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. We must lean on others to strive on our own. . Thank you all. Whether it was late nights, hard days, pocket change, emotional investment, hard & soft skills, door knocking in the heat or petitioning in the bitter cold - we did this together.
Transition time. It’s the little things that make it feel real. Everything for the Bronx and Queens. NY-14.
And just like that, GOP discovers $5.7 billion for a wall. $5.7 billion. What if we instead added $5.7B in teacher pay? Or replacing water pipes? Or college tuition/prescription refill subsidies? Or green jobs? But notice how no one’s asking the GOP how they’re paying for it.
Occasionally it seems there‘s an unspoken rule that you’re not supposed to point out double standards... that you’re somehow supposed to wait for a magic champion to drop out of the sky and advocate on your behalf. It’s a quiet suggestion that it’s rude, or crass, to point out double standards and advocate for yourself; and that doing so focuses on making YOU a victim, but conveniently allows the inefficiency, injustice, or mistake to perpetuate, unaddressed and off the hook from correction - even when everyone knows it’s wrong. . So, how do we fix it? We start by making the comfortable - the decisionmakers and benefiters resisting change - uncomfortable. Do it by pointing out the obvious. Say out loud what everyone is thinking quietly. Be brave. Shake the table. And MOST importantly, stick up for yourself - it’s a service to all who will come after you. . Sitting pretty has never gotten us a better world. Never has, never will. So buckle up and resolve yourself for good trouble. . And if you’re a news editor, understand and accept that you are subconsciously biased - everyone is - and ask yourself how you’ve perpetuated that bias and what you will do to correct it.
Tonight we celebrated #Chanukah in community with @jfrejnyc & many others. It was a blast, and Rabbi Mia extended to me the honor of helping her light the Shamash - the servant candle that sparks the others. I’m so inspired by that idea, that each and every one of us can be a ‘shamash’ for our friends, family, and community. Let’s take that energy and light into the start of this coming week!
In the community, we give out bubbles. No big, complex reason for it - they just make the block a little more beautiful and fun. . One of my favorite parts of this is when a child blows a stream of bubbles and they float in front of a person running around the neighborhood. We are so often rushing around from one place to another. You’re running out of the subway, thinking of your next destination, or your brain is fixated on some person who was rude to you on the train, when - boop! A bubble floats in front of your nose. It makes people smile every time. Even the crankiest people have to wrestle down the good humor of it. And really, what good is any of this fight if it isn’t accompanied with an effort to be joyful along the way? . 📸: @nikolai_aerosmith
So #CallMeRadical. (Posted this to my IG story, but some of you wanted to keep it - so here it is.)
Last night was a full-circle moment for me. Take politics out of it for a moment (which I know is almost impossible with my job, but bear with me). . I first considered running for Congress from Standing Rock, where thousands of Native people gathered in an effort to honor our treaties and protect the US water supply. . Just a few months prior to that, after years of discomfort with electoral politics, it was Sen. @berniesanders that inspired me to dive back in as a field organizer. . It was @vanjones68 that I watched on television the night of the general election who was the only one who seemed to channel truth and make sense while everyone else was grasping for straws. . And it was thousands of organizers, educators, and everyday people that have carried the candles of hope in the entirety of this dark time. . I know everything gets examined through the lenses of election cycles, but last night’s Climate Town Hall was so much bigger than that. We have a world to save. A moonshot to make. And it’s going to take all of us working together to make it happen. It’s time for a #GreenNewDeal.
Serving in Congress is the privilege of a lifetime. Getting healthcare shouldn’t be. It’s well past time for #MedicareForAll.
"No one puts a scarf on my head but me. It’s my choice — one protected by the first amendment." - @ilhanmn, badass-elect, MN . Ilhan is my homie! 👯♀️ I’m so proud of her AND proud to support her as we bust down the doors to overturn the 181-year old House rule that says headscarves aren’t allowed in Congress. . This year, and with Ilhan’s leadership, we’re gonna flip the script and tell hijabi girls all over the world that they can run the board, fight for Medicare for All, and rock a nice headscarf if they please. . To learn more about the journey to change House rules, check today’s IG story where I link to @teenvogue’s article about it. . 📸: @shutterstock
Progress > polite society. This week our good trouble with @sunrisemvmt got us from ZERO to EIGHT Democrats signed onto the Select Committee resolution for a Green New Deal. . I got a lot of heat when I joined these amazing activists on Tuesday. “Go protest Republicans,” we were told. “You’re being disruptive and unhelpful,” we were admonished. But the thing about protesting Republicans is that none of them listen. We learned that w/ the Kavanaugh fight and so many before that. Democrats, on the other hand, DO listen. So when everyday people show up in numbers and ask for change with commitment and consistency, we can get somewhere. And we are. . Today I’m thankful for gutsy leaders like @reprokhanna (CA), @repjohnlewis (GA), @repblumenauer (OR), sisters @deb4congressnm (NM) & @rashidatlaib (MI), NY fam @repmaloney & Rep. Serrano for signing on. Now call your local Dem Rep and let’s get a win in before we’re even sworn in. 💪🏽💜
Fox News discovered our vast conspiracy to take care of children and save the planet 😂
Words will never be enough to express my gratitude. Thank you to the people of the Bronx and Queens for choosing to make history and sending me to Congress. Thank to every organizer, supporter, and small-dollar donor who made this happen.
Today’s the day. To the countless supporters, door-knockers, organizers, small-dollar donors, and everyone in between - thank you. . This journey has been one of the most challenging and rewarding collective efforts I’ve ever been a part of. We haven’t just run a campaign - we created a movement in our own backyard. We built community. We centered issues that no one wanted to talk about. We uplifted our neighbors and discovered a level courage + friendship we never thought possible. . Thank you to everyone who has been a part of this journey and followed us along to this moment. No matter what happens, this is just a beginning. Let’s continue walking shoulder-to-shoulder in the advancement of economic, social, + racial justice in the United States of America.
Don’t boo 👻, vote 🗳! Happy Halloween everyone! Special thanks to all the NY-14 families who came out to celebrate our first-ever community Halloween party. As a Parkchester resident, I’ve always seen children trick-or-treating at local businesses year after year, since sometimes its hard to trick or treat in apartment buildings. I wanted to create a place for them to cap off their travels, and that’s where we came up with the idea for our first-ever neighborhood Halloween party! It was a smashing success, all thanks to local community organizations like @lovingthebronx who came together and brought games + activities for children to enjoy. It was great, we made a lot of pumpkins and candy apples, and reminded everyone to VOTE this Tuesday to boot! . 📸: @coreytorpiephotography
This is what organizing looks like. It’s how we started organizing from day 1, and how we continue to do it to this day. Talk to a member of the community, have them invite their neighbors over to talk about issues and ask questions in a comfortable environment centered on true conversation - not combativeness. It doesn’t mean everyone has the same thoughts on everything, but it does mean we can come together, gather in the same space, and put our community first. . 📸: @thewhelming
This is not a game. Let’s make it plain: . On Nov. 6th, if you are an elected official that minimizes, covers for, or ignores sexual assault, then we will replace you by electing survivors to office. #MeToo #CancelKavanaugh
Sometimes people ask me how this feels. To be honest, at least in part, I feel scared. Anxious. Overwhelmed. And that’s okay. It is a surreal experience to go from being virtually anonymous to having an enormous amount of attention overnight. Things went from feeling like folks going out of their way NOT to cover our campaign to feeling like there’s a microscope on my every word, joke, meal, outfit, or makeup decision. Every time a media event like this happens I get NERVOUS. But I also think about how I never got to see anyone like me on any magazines growing up. I never saw a version myself in leadership, or on TV, or anywhere really and think, “That could be me.” . I think of that saying, ‘be who you needed when you were younger.’ When I was younger, I needed to see myself in others. I needed mentorship. I needed an example. I needed to believe that I could. Knowing that gives me the courage to overcome the doubt, the fear, and anxiety: the idea that if I do this, then maybe it will help someone else. . The whole time I campaigned for Congress up to the primary, I didn’t even have health insurance. I was uninsured until not long ago. I STILL feel squeezed w/ healthcare. So to suddenly be on the cover of a magazine despite all that is enough to make my head spin. I try hard to keep my life as normal as possible, with just a few changes to accommodate the whirlwind. I still live in my 1br BX apartment, but I may move 2 blocks to get a little more space for all the boxes. I go to my same bodega, have the same mailman, play in the same parks with my nieces and nephews. . The hardest part has been feeling like my full, human, 3-dimensional self gets flattened into a 2 dimensional character for mass consumption or critique. It’s weird. I stumble like everyone else. It’s hard feeling like I have a whole movement on my shoulders. But I also know that’s not true - movement means we’re ALL in this together. I happen to have one mic to amplify the work and causes of others, but it’s not the only mic. . The goal is to keep pushing so that LOTS 👏🏽MORE👏🏽 champions get the shine they so deeply deserve. That means to everyone out there - your cover is next. 📸: @cassblackbird
Sharing love + strength with sister @ayannapressley as we rallied in support of survivors and urged @jeffflake to #cancelkavanaugh on behalf of all women. . To all survivors: thank you for your tremendous strength and grace during the pain of this week. I try to remind our community that it’s always darkest before dawn. Right now, we are working to elect a cadre of survivors and allies to bring forth a better world that fights for justice for all. . 📸: @jacktemp of @masslive
Last week with Nobel Prize-winning economist Dr. Joseph Stiglitz discussing the midterm elections, Justice for Puerto Rico, and how economic issues intersect with race, gender, & social justice. We were packed to capacity at Riverside Church (!) with an audience mostly of young people from across NYC and the country.