Tell us about the work you do.
We are currently engaged in a battle to end corruption in politics; I am a Licensed Social Worker who, in 2016, ran a record-breaking campaign for Congress in New Jersey’s 7th District, receiving the most votes for a Democrat in the history of the District. We see another run as viable in 2018.
What issue inspired you to pursue your current path? Is this what you envisioned to do when you were younger?
The corrupting role of big money in politics is what inspired me to run for public office. For far too long we’ve seen special interests put over the public’s interest. If we wish to address income inequality, healthcare, climate change, war, immigration – issues I’ve personally tackled as an activist and social worker – we need to address the fact that politicians are bought by the wealthiest individuals and corporations.
How did you get over your initial fears or barriers and take your first step?
I realized that for every second I did not face my fears, there was a mother who could not feed her baby, a veteran suffering from PTSD who could not afford treatment, an elderly person who had to choose between eating or getting their medication because of a greedy health insurance industry. It was the motivation to help others that allowed me to take my first step.
In nearly every election, it feels like we’re forced to choose between the “lesser of two evils.” Why is that?
That it is impossible for someone like me – a brown skinned, bearded, millennial, social worker, Progressive Democrat – to win. In fact, people like myself are not expected to run. Establishment politics, media, and industries often suppress the noise we make. However, in 2016, we proved that our District can reflect the values we fought for. Our campaign received nearly 45% of the vote and has become an inspiration for people throughout the nation. Knowing that we can restore confidence in our democracy by speaking truth to power. After all, the stakes are high and the time is limited to settle for sitting on the sidelines hoping for the best.
What is the most common form of resistance you face, and how do you overcome it?
In today’s political climate it is even harder for us to do the work we are doing. When the man who holds the highest power in the land openly shows hatred, makes overtly racist and discriminatory comments then fuels others to do the same, our fight becomes incredibly difficult. But that does not mean we give up. In fact, now more than ever, we need to resist and stay resilient.
In our work, there is a misconception that focusing on women of color means that we do not want all women to succeed. This is incorrect. Our work by no means discounts the challenges that other women are facing. We are choosing to focus on women of color specifically because it is a part of our identity and we want to bring more light to the conversation regarding the intersecting issues of race and gender.
We also face the challenge of navigating and dismantling the structural inequalities that exist in the workplace. We combat this by remaining honest, vulnerable, authentic and making a conscious effort to bridge the divide through open dialogue and discourse.
What keeps you going?
The protester who stops me at a rally to tell me they voted for me last time and hopes to see me run again, the college student who gets inspired by the campaign, and the disenfranchised that I mentioned before; the people who are trying to build a better life keep me going.
How can people support the work you’re doing?
Democracy is not a noun, it is a verb. We would love your help; you can visit Jacob2018.com and sign-up to learn more about how to volunteer, contribute, and learn more about us. Please be sure to follow us on social media as well: Twitter- @PeterJacobNJ Facebook: @PeterJacobNJ
I’m called the Batman of Social Impact. What would be your superhero name?
You can call me the Defender of Democracy