I was born the son of two working-class parents. My father was a day laborer who immigrated to Brooklyn from the island of Jamaica. My mother was born in rural Mississippi, growing up in a sharecropping town at the height of racial segregation. My parents instilled in me a profound sense of determination and perseverance — but more importantly, a sense of unyielding responsibility to fight for what I believe in — values I carry with me to this day.
I’m familiar with the struggles of working-class families because I’ve lived it, watching my parents work — day in and day out, to provide for me and my ten siblings. And though they surrounded us with an abundance of love, my parents often struggled - - facing the rising costs of groceries, housing and transportation - they still managed to send us to decent public schools and equip us with an education.
From an early age I was aware that opportunities for Americans like me and my family were often limited, not because of a lack of potential or work ethic, but because of a broken system that extracted labor and resources from communities like mine, but seldom provided pathways to a better life.
After graduating high school at the height of the Iraq War, I enlisted in the Army. I wanted the opportunity to serve my country in uniform - and like so many working class Americans, to gain access to education, housing and healthcare.
I deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan - our nation’s longest running military conflicts, seeing first hand the toll of war and sacrifice. In 2009, I was nearly killed by a roadside bomb in Kirkuk, Iraq. The injuries i sustained cut my military career short. I suffered from severe depression wondering what my life would become as a disabled veteran - and like too many of our servicemembers - I even thought of taking my own life. But I pushed forward, deciding to move back to the place where my family’s American journey began - Brooklyn.
I attended Brooklyn College, where I studied Political Science. I began organizing for tenants rights and access to affordable housing and mentored returning veterans in the thick of struggling with making the transition to civilian life. After graduation, I enrolled in graduate school at Baruch College.
I married the love of my life, Damaris, in September, 2017. Shortly after, our lives took a drastic turn. She was hospitalized with a life-changing diagnosis. We witnessed first-hand how our nation’s for-profit healthcare system forces working class patients into debt, withholding life-saving treatment for those without the resources to pay.
As a community organizer, I worked to push elected officials toward taking action on issues like criminal justice, jobs, and healthcare. These issues aren’t merely political talking points, they’re lived experience - experiences shared by thousands of families across our borough and this country.
Our district (NY-9) is one of the most storied congressional districts in the country. Shirley Chisolm, whose motto was unbossed and unbought, knew all too well how easy it is for politicians to forget who they were elected to serve -- the people.
Our current representative has taken millions in corporate donations from companies with a vested interest in pushing poor people out of our district and ensuring that healthcare remains a for-profit enterprise. She takes money from the largest banks on Wall Street, while the most vulnerable families across central Brooklyn see their homes ripped away by predatory banks. In her 12 years in office, she’s sponsored ZERO legislation to fight for things like criminal justice reform, fair housing, and universal healthcare.
It’s time to get central Brooklyn back to being unbought. It’s time we have someone in office who fights for the working class. It’s time we reject the notion that there is little we can do to change things or that the plight of working class people cannot be made better.
Central Brooklyn deserves a fighter. Like so many of you, I’ve fought my entire life. And I’m ready to earn your support and take the fight to Washington.