A Former Teen Moms Quest to Ensure Communities of Color Understand the Importance of Their Voice in Politics

I’m shining the spotlight on my friend and fellow entrepreneur, Chandra Brooks. I asked her if she could share her personal journey as an entrepreneur and political influence in today’s article. She agreed and wrote the content below. Chandra’s one amazing leader and is a featured expert in the Love Yourself First Series: 5 Incredible Days to Love Your Mind, Love Your Body, and Love Your Life! Thank you, Chandra!

I never understood the importance of politics until I was in my 30’s. Once I realized the impact of political decisions on my life and my community, I was angry at my upbringing and the educational system for not educating us adequately- and when I say us- I mean People of Color. I mean, I took Government but we only learned the very basic of the government structure and how it worked. Politics wasn’t a daily topic in my household, school or much less in my everyday life.

Now, let’s rewind around 12 years back to when I became a teen mom.

I’m sure it was not a surprise to my friends and family that I ended up pregnant. It was no secret that school and my future were definitely not a priority. Before becoming pregnant I had been kicked out of three schools for fighting instigated by others and walked across the graduation stage pregnant because I was so determined not to graduate in the summer. I took night and weekend classes in order to graduate.

Matter of fact, the same school district that expelled me from three schools during my senior year inducted me into their Hall of Fame in 2015 for my advocacy and activism work in the community. 

How Ironic! 

Since then, I’ve worked in community development, politics and social justice for over 17 years. If I knew back then what I know now, things for me would be much different. But we all say that don’t we? If I were to talk to the 16 year old Chandra I would tell her…

Politics has to do with everything! It has to do with your makeup, your birth control, your roads, your homes, the clothes on your back, your opportunities, your freedom, your religion....the list goes on and on. 

Who makes these decisions that effect our everyday lives? Do you know? Do they look like you and me? More than likely they don’t. In 2017 a report from www.diversityinc.com reported 78% of Congress is White and 90% of the Senate is white as well. If you see the picture in the article you can see a distinct image of who’s running one of the most diverse countries in the world. Yeah, you probably thought the President ran the country, right? No, not by himself- the President must work with  Congressional and Senate Representatives from every state. The President cannot make moves without the votes and consent of the house of representatives and the senate. 

My point is we must engage in politics at the local level. Know your School Board Members, City Council Members and Mayor, Board of Supervisors, Commissioners, State Senate and Assembly Members. These people are making decisions for you that effect your life everyday. We must take our seat at the table or risk being on the menu!

Do you get it?

If we are not at the decision making tables we will continue to be on the Menu of life as the leaders, that look nothing like you or been through the same life experiences as you, will be making decisions about your life. We’ve been letting this happen to us for centuries and it must change. Although the number of people of color running for office and engaged in politics are increasing, its not enough.

We cannot just leave it to organizations like Black Lives Matter, National Council of La Raza, NAACP and The Latino Victory Project or leaders like Maxine Waters, Jesse Jackson and Dolores Huerta to do all the fighting and advocacy for us. We must step up, have our voices heard, and get civically active in our communities NOW. We must prepare young leaders in our communities to run for political office and WE MUST SUPPORT THEM.

If we don’t do this now, we will continue to have the same policies, laws and grim circumstances like the housing crisis, insurmountable student loan debt, income inequality and opportunity left solely in the hands of the rich and privileged. 

When I figured this out, I quickly got civically active and involved. I got to know and connect with all my city, county and state representatives and their staff. I applied for, and was accepted into, the Emerge California program, an intense and comprehensive training program for Democratic women who want to run for political office.

I started to educate my community and recruited other women to apply for commissions, I held a training called “Sit at the Table or be on the Menu,” to teach communities of color how to apply for boards and commissions, and how to run for political office. In 2014 I was appointed to the Commission on the Status of Women and Girls for my county and in 2016 ran for California Democratic Party Delegate and won. 

My call to action to you is this...

  • Research who your local elected officials are in your city, county and state.
  • Find out what they stand for and what they are working on.
  • Attend a city council meeting or watch it online.
  • Schedule a meeting with your elected official that represents your area of the city.
  • Start paying attention to your local and state politics, they affect you more directly than politics at the Federal level do.

Our future, and the future of our children -and all children- depend on YOU getting involved! We need you! 

About Chandra:

Chandra Brooks, The SocialPreneur, is a Leadership Specialist coaching women in Community and Political Influence, How to Activate their Activism and How to Rise to the Top of Leadership. She is also the host and creator of The Future is Female Radio Podcast highlighting women across the country in Politics, Business, and Activism. Chandra was named one of the Most Influential Women in Silicon Valley from the Silicon Valley Business Journal, Women of the Year in Advocacy from 100 Black Women of Silicon Valley and The Latina with Vision Award from New York Life.

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