Candidate JP Johnson’s Essay

“My Commitment to Black Lives Matter” by JP Johnson, Candidate for 79th District State Representative

In deciding to run for State Representative, I had to ask myself a fundamental question: who am I fighting for?

The answer has always been clear, but being comforted in the notion that it’s ok to speak one’s mind unequivocally & unapologetically about issues that disproportionately affect historically oppressed & economically distressed people has been a challenge for many candidates, especially Black.  We are treated as the bane of America’s existence, when we never asked to be brought here. We were three-fifths of human-beings as a negotiation for this Nation’s constitutional founding, commodified bondage for its economy, the battered spouse of a domineering patriarch, and the useful foil for problems that patriarchy never wishes to account for.  Our experience has been that Black lives matter, but only when servile to a reality constructed beyond our control. This is a reality I reject.

We shy away from speaking of the lived experience of Black people, because we’d have to acknowledge difficult truths.  But what’s more, we’d have to address how we finally make Black lives matter, too. State Representatives may not have executive authority, but they do have vested responsibility, and if fortunate enough to be elected, there are several things I plan to accomplish.  The aforementioned context will be the basis of our actions. I will author legislation that goes beyond indexing minimum wage increases, but establishes groundwork for universal basic income so that the economic playing field can level, and equality of opportunity actually has value.  I will author legislation that caps property taxes on historically oppressed and economically distressed communities prior to gentrification so that we may prevent displacement. I will author legislation that enumerates the creation of social service courts so we don’t perpetuate a system of criminalizing poverty.  I will author legislation that eliminates draconian charges and sentences in the criminal code. I will author legislation that requires punitive damages be paid out for discriminatory practices that deleteriously impact the autonomy of equally free people under our constitution, and I will continue authoring legislation in this vein so long as I am fortunate to be State Representative of HD-79

Affirming Black lives isn’t just about public policy, but also a public commitment to ensuring free people are accepted as such.  To be accepted as such, we have to demand we be treated with the respect and decency required of a Nation that purports itself to be great, regardless of the inexplicable backlash that comes when doing what’s just.  A President once told me, “It is that fundamental belief — I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sister’s keeper — that makes this country work. It’s what allows us to pursue our individual dreams, yet still come together as a single American family: “E pluribus unum,” out of many, one.”

I still believe in that place called hope, and I run for office as a Black man who believes in more for our people, because black people aren’t this Nation’s burden, but its conscience.