I met Sylvester through another Los Angeles progressive running for Congress, Shervin Aazami. He told me Sylvester is a committed Sunrise Movement activist and gave me his contact info. Sylvester is running in a deep blue (D+17) seat in CA-38-- Linda Sanchez's compact southeast L.A. County district that goes from South El Monte and Montebello in the north down through Pico Rivera, Whittier, La Mirada, Norwalk and Bellflower and nudges into Orange County just north of Buena Park.
Sylvester was born in Inglewood-- his parents having immigrated from Nigeria in 1980-- and has lived in Cerritos for over 2 decades. He told me his decision to run for office is focused on his strong sense of community in an area lacking in solid healthcare and exasperated with wealth inequalities. "Community," he said, "is one of the strongest forces and it always starts with one helping another. Three years ago he founded a nonprofit organization, The Love We Don’t See, with a mission to uplift marginalized communities through education that promotes upward economic mobility based on financial literacy, entrepreneurship, multicultural psychology... "Together, we were able to support families struggling with rent during the pandemic and raise awareness about the growing need for recurring checks." He later went on to join Sunrise Movement Los Angeles and worked with them on Project No New Slaves-- a project focused on completely eradicating slavery from the United States and California constitutions.
Please watch the video above and read Sylvester's guest post below and consider contributing to his grass roots campaign here.
Where Do We Go From Here-- Chaos Or Community?
-by Sylvester Ani, Jr.
The era of partisanship is dead. Corporate Democrats and Republicans present the same impediments to progress with different talking points. As they preserve upper class interests, they put the nation in a deadlock with no hope for future generations to experience the “American Dream” they grew up in. Our incumbent represents establishment class interests, while our campaign represents class interests aligned with the masses that are in desperate search of an alternative to the status quo.
The alternative solution we present is coalition building amongst the classes to expand our electorate and forge our own social, economic, educational, agricultural, and emergency response infrastructure that transcends the tribalism we see in politics today. For too long, incumbents have favored low-turnout districts because they sustained low expectations and preserved their stagnancy in non-deliverance. At the root of low turnout districts are people being left out of the conversation, and left believing that they can’t improve the quality of their lives.
The need for this alternative couldn’t have been more evident than when our government lacked the urgency to provide monthly checks to citizens who were forced to stay home during a pandemic. My response to this inaction was to partner with the Income Movement and launch a six month Guaranteed Income Pilot Program to make it clear that poverty is a policy choice. California also recently announced a statewide pilot because of initiatives taken on movement builders all over the country. The need for an alternative couldn't have been more evident during a summer of uprisings spurred by police violence and our elected officials failed to provide a solution for structural change in our criminal justice system. Watching these events unfold, I felt compelled into action and shortly after joined a coalition of organizations fighting to get to root causes of our systemic issues in policing. This coalition recently introduced legislation to remove slavery and involuntary servitude from California’s state constitution. This legislation was also recently presented on the federal level by Senator Jeff Merkely.
Kwame Ture once said “Our grandfathers had to run, run, run. My generation’s out of breath. We ain’t running no more.” We aren’t running anymore and we aren’t waiting for change to happen. We’re organizing everyday to provide the solutions our current elected officials have failed to provide. As the current establishment sustains the system, keeping families from securing their homes and providing for their loved ones, we present an alternative that centers their voices and addresses their immediate needs. It’s time we put power back in the hands of the people and make Congress work for us.