Jaslin Kaur

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Jaslin Kaur

Netroots Nation 2021


In recent years, Jewish grassroots organizations (Bend the Arc, Jews for Racial & Economic Justice, Jews United for Justice, Jewish Voice for Peace, IfNotNow) have created c4s and PACs to engage Jews in targeted electoral fights. We’ll explore lessons from using primaries in heavily Jewish districts to elect strong progressives, such as The Jewish Vote’s growth from a base of Jewish seniors active on long-term care to a key partner in Jamaal Bowman’s win over Eliot Engel. We’ll discuss the role this organizing can play in a broad progressive coalition; disrupting conventional assumptions around Jewish priorities and leadership; and how we build alongside campaigns to respond to anti-Semitism, its weaponization, and white nationalism.

Led by: Katie Unger

Panelists: Isi Baehr-Breen, Carlyn Cowan, Jaslin Kaur, Sochie Nnaemeka

QUIP endorsement


Socialist Caucus?

According to Annie Levin, in Jan­u­ary 9 2020, ten­ant orga­niz­er Michael Hollingsworth joined a human chain block­ing bull­doz­ers from enter­ing a work­site in Brooklyn’s rapid­ly gen­tri­fy­ing Crown Heights neigh­bor­hood. The pre­vi­ous spring, a judge in a rezon­ing suit issued a tem­po­rary restrain­ing order on con­struc­tion, but real estate devel­op­ers had ignored it. New York City police offi­cers present at the site also refused to rec­og­nize the judge’s order and arrest­ed sev­er­al of the orga­niz­ers who formed the blockade.

On Novem­ber 14, the New York City chap­ter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) endorsed Hollingsworth and five oth­er social­ists run­ning for City Coun­cil: Adolfo Abreu, Alexa Aviles, Tiffany Caban, Brandon West and Jaslin Kaur.

All of NYC-DSA’s endorsed can­di­dates will be run­ning for open seats, with the pri­ma­ry elec­tion slat­ed for June 22, 2021. This will also mark the first elec­tion to use ranked-choice vot­ing since the demo­c­ra­t­ic reform was adopt­ed as a bal­lot mea­sure in 2019.

Should the DSA slate be vot­ed in, can­di­dates have sig­naled they intend to form a social­ist cau­cus on the City Coun­cil. Accord­ing to DSA orga­niz­ers, this cau­cus could work in coali­tion with oth­er pro­gres­sives to form a large enough bloc to bring sig­nif­i­cant changes to the body, from choos­ing the next Speak­er of the Coun­cil to pass­ing a bud­get that pri­or­i­tizes work­ing people.

NYC-DSA, with a mem­ber­ship cur­rent­ly num­ber­ing over 5,800, has made sig­nif­i­cant inroads into local gov­ern­ment since Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez won her his­toric pri­ma­ry in 2018.

As local New York pol­i­tics have moved left in recent years, many can­di­dates now run on pro­gres­sive plat­forms, but only a select few earn access to DSA’s resources. Leanna Ballester, a for­mer DSA orga­niz­er who was involved in can­di­date selec­tion for the 2021 races and now serves as cam­paign man­ag­er for DSA-endorsed City Coun­cil can­di­date Brandon West , says the process includ­ed in-depth can­di­date inter­views, ques­tion­naires and research on dis­trict demo­graph­ics. After weeks of assess­ment, can­di­dates were select­ed and pre­sent­ed at can­di­date forums and then, in Octo­ber, vot­ed on by the mem­ber­ship at geo­graph­ic branch loca­tions. Final­ly, this demo­c­ra­t­ic process was rat­i­fied by an elect­ed rep­re­sen­ta­tive body known as the City­wide Lead­er­ship Com­mit­tee. Out of over 50 indi­vid­u­als who sought the group’s endorse­ment, just six received it. This ​“long demo­c­ra­t­ic process gets us to can­di­dates that the mem­ber­ship has bought into and is real­ly excit­ed about,” Ballester says.

With meet­ings moved to Zoom dur­ing the pan­dem­ic, hun­dreds of mem­bers were able to attend the DSA can­di­date forums. Atten­dees were giv­en the oppor­tu­ni­ty to speak and to ques­tion poten­tial can­di­dates, with more well-known DSA mem­bers such as for­mer New York guber­na­to­r­i­al can­di­date Cynthia Nixon and Women’s March co-chair Linda Sarsour, as well as cur­rent elect­ed office hold­ers, wait­ing their turn to speak along­side rank-and-file members.

The can­di­dates select­ed from this process run the gamut of left-wing orga­niz­ing in New York City. Like Michael Hollingsworth, Alexa Aviles in Brook­lyn and Adolfo Abreu in the Bronx have back­grounds in hous­ing jus­tice orga­niz­ing — a high pri­or­i­ty for the slate giv­en the high rents and hous­ing short­age in New York City. Jaslin Kaur, 24, is an orga­niz­er in Queens who has advo­cat­ed against gen­der dis­crim­i­na­tion in schools. Brandon West is a cam­paign man­ag­er at the Center for Popular Democracy and an orga­niz­er in DSA’s Afroso­cial­ist Cau­cus. Tiffany Caban, prob­a­bly the most well-known mem­ber of the slate, was a pub­lic defend­er who ran for Queens Dis­trict Attor­ney in 2019 on a decarcer­al plat­form and came with­in a hair’s breadth of victory.

Can­di­dates from such dif­fer­ent cor­ners of left-wing orga­niz­ing could poten­tial­ly bring large coali­tions togeth­er around their plat­forms. For Jaslin Kaur, this coali­tion devel­op­ment will be a vital part of her work on the Coun­cil if she wins her race in East Queens. In her juris­dic­tion, she plans on using her campaign’s ​“rela­tion­al orga­niz­ing” — which facil­i­tates out­reach between friends and neigh­bors — to con­tin­ue cam­paign­ing, she says, ​“beyond just the bal­lot.” In order to build demo­c­ra­t­ic social­ism through the City Coun­cil, Kaur says the slate ​“will need to expand the elec­torate, build out a DSA mem­ber­ship, and build out social­ism with­in our respec­tive dis­tricts so we can con­tin­ue build­ing this orga­niz­ing mod­el and bring­ing peo­ple into these pol­i­cy issues.”

A can­di­date like West, who has both worked in May­or de Blasio’s Office of Man­age­ment and Bud­get and helped orga­nize the June occu­pa­tion of New York City Hall to defund the NYPD, could help bring togeth­er orga­ni­za­tions and com­mu­ni­ty groups that would not oth­er­wise be in the same spaces. A num­ber of the DSA-endorsed can­di­dates boast this mul­ti­plic­i­ty of expe­ri­ences in which they have one foot in gov­er­nance or pro­gres­sive non­prof­its and the oth­er in local grass­roots organizing.

Bianca Cunningham — a for­mer NYC-DSA Co-Chair who also helped orga­nize the June occu­pa­tion of City Hall — attend­ed Bran­don West’s forum and encour­aged the mem­ber­ship to vote for him because of his DSA bona fides. ​“Bran­don is cadre,” she said, describ­ing him as an active orga­niz­er who had been with her on the front lines of the protests.

Sean Reilly, a DSA mem­ber and orga­niz­er in Brook­lyn, attend­ed Hollingsworth’s endorse­ment forum and sup­port­ed his can­di­da­cy, impressed with his work with the Crown Heights Ten­ant Union — an orga­ni­za­tion that had helped Reil­ly orga­nize a ten­ant asso­ci­a­tion in his own building.

One of Hollingsworth’s most vocal sup­port­ers at his forum was DSA-endorsed Assem­bly Mem­ber-elect Phara Souffrant Forrest. Liv­ing in the same build­ing in Brook­lyn, they helped orga­nize their ten­ant asso­ci­a­tion together.

Should the NYC-DSA City Coun­cil can­di­dates suc­ceed in their races, the slate will fol­low in the foot­steps of the six DSA-endorsed can­di­dates elect­ed to the Chica­go City Coun­cil in 2019. As in Chica­go, the New York social­ists’ capa­bil­i­ties in office will be a mea­sure of how well they can build bot­tom-up coali­tions that will come out in sup­port of their poli­cies, even in the face of entrenched cor­po­rate pow­er in the city.]</ref>

DSA Council team


The New York City Democratic Socialists of America endorsed team running for New Yrk City Council in 2021 was Michael Hollingsworth D35 Brooklyn, Jaslin Kaur D23 Queens, Adolfo Abreu D14 Bronx, Brandon West D39 Brooklyn, Tiffany Caban D22 Queens and Alexa Aviles D38 Brooklyn.

DSA Socialist Feminists Call on Joe Biden to Drop Out

DSA Socialist Feminists Call on Joe Biden to Drop Out was a May 2020 letter to Joe Biden.

Presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden stands accused of sexual assault. Members of the Democratic Socialists of America demand that he leave the race.

As socialists, we believe that the lessons of the #MeToo movement must not be forgotten. This movement challenged rape culture and upended myths about sexual violence and the credibility of survivors. For a short period, these issues were even embraced by many liberal politicians and commentators, as evidenced by the widespread support for Dr. Christine Blasey-Ford when she bravely spoke out about incumbent Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. #MeToo made previously tolerated behavior intolerable, and powerful men in numerous industries faced consequences for their misconduct....

We, the undersigned, call on Joe Biden to leave the race. We also call on elected officials endorsed by the Democratic Socialists of America to rescind any endorsements of Joe Biden.

Signatories included Jaslin Kaur.New York City Democratic Socialists of America.