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Op-Ed: How do we find the courage to rewrite our story? By empowering the many

Felicia Singh

BY FELICIA SINGH

What do communities become when they’ve been sold a single story of their existence?

I didn’t grow up learning whether or not my community was red or blue. My perception of freedom and capability stretched the length of my block and school hallway. My father, a taxi driver, and my mother, who worked several different jobs to help support our family, did not have room to think about politics as they navigated our systems as working-class. This intersectional representation in politics was difficult to find back then. Now, politicians tokenize our communities by trying to satisfy our calls for more representation through shallow and surface level culture so that we don’t need to fight for more.  

New York City Council District 32 has been sold the single story of conservative values. We’re the red dot you see on maps all the way at the bottom of Queens. This is not who we are. Rather, we’re a district that has been underfunded and unsupported by establishments who benefit off of the silence of a strong voting block of Black, brown and white community members striving for justice. 

After discovering our district consists of at least 52,000 registered Democrats and only 16,000 registered Republicans, I knew there had to be more to the story of the ‘little red dot.’ So, we studied the data from past elections and it overwhelmingly shows that our district is blue. We have suffered the misrepresentation of Republican leadership, and we’ve been neglected by a Democratic party that has failed to reach out to our immigrant communities. In 2016, Hillary Clinton got 10,000 more votes than Trump. In the 2020 election, more than 70 percent of Biden’s votes in-district came from majority Black and brown communities. 

In comparison, for the 2017 City Council election, only 5,313 people cast their ballots for the Democratic nominee for City Council. In a district where Democrats outnumber Republicans 3-to-1, it’s unthinkable that our Democratic candidate would perform so badly.  All of our communities came to the polls in 2016 and 2020 when everything was on the line, but in 2017, we were unmotivated, uninspired, and ignored. When there is no outreach to the most powerful base in our district, when we aren’t given a vision for how politics can change lives, we stay at home.  

Flipping the seat from red to blue will take work–and the right work is centered in equity and justice. Our Black, Latinx and Asian community members need to believe that their liberation is the center of our legislation, policy making, and future. Then, we can earn their votes. This is how we’ll flip the district. This is how we’ll all win. 

Felicia Singh is a teacher and Democratic and Working Families Party-endorsed candidate for New York City Council in District 32. To learn more go to www.felicia2021.com.

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