Jineaa Butler is the Republican candidate for the 13th Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives, which includes Harlem, Washington Heights, Inwood, Marble Hill and Western Bronx. A member of those communities for more than 25 years, she is running on a platform of community activism, business renewal through existing human capital, education and prison reform and public services parity with other parts of the city. An experienced social worker in the community, Butler has served as a case manager for AIDS/ HIV patients in the Bronx, drug counselor at the Rikers Island Correctional Facility, and as both clinical coordinator and career development ofﬁcer at two New York City homeless service agencies. With that combined experience, she went on to create the “Social Services for Hip Hop” designed campaign to motivate and engage citizens in urban communities. Her efforts brought her to the attention of the New York City Department of Education, where she started customized programs for its schools, including a popular professional development seminar called “Teach Hip Hop NYC.” In 2008, Butler began collaborating with Reverend Jesse Jackson Sr. and Rainbow Push Coalition to create the Hip Hop Union in 2009, whose purpose is to to secure universal rights and respect for the hip hop community. Through her popular "Business of Hip Hop" workshop, she has helped promote and enhance the culture and perception of the music form throughout the New York community. She is currently the Editor-in-Chief of "The New American Newspaper for Black Press USA" and is also the author of I PLEDGE!, a compilation of her views and solutions to what she has coined the “Hip Hop Dilemma.”
She delivered her official candidacy address on July 11th at the Manhattan Neighborhood Network gathering in Harlem. Here is her speech:
"My name is Jineea Butler and I want to represent you in NY's 13th Congressional District.
Though small, this is one of most diverse communities in the country, and we deserve a representative with not just a bold agenda, but someone who can execute those ideas.
I’m running for Congress because I want to bring choice and power back to our community and help redefine the American dream for families. For too long, our votes have been taken for granted. The blind loyalty we have shown our leaders hasn’t improved our lives, streets or wallets. In fact, you could argue it’s made it more challenging.
I want to make sure we have a seat at the table, and people not just hear our voices, but listen to what we’re saying … what we need … what will make a difference and have the most impact. We don’t have time for politics, there’s too much at stake. We need allies on both sides of the aisle. And I’m not afraid to work it.
Fifty years ago, the first African-American woman elected to Congress, Shirley Chisholm, said we, as a community, have to demand stature and size in our national leadership. It has to be fresh. It has to be open. And it has to be receptive to the issues facing all Americans. If you don’t get a seat at the table, then bring a folding chair.
In her honor, and as a symbol of the dedication, resolve and spirit I vow to our community, I’ve brought mine. But I’m not going to do a lot of sitting. Because District 13 shouldn’t be a place where we just talk about our future. We have to create our future.
The onus is on us to shape our own destiny.
Don’t just give our children an education, make them globally competitive.
Don’t just put a band aid on poverty, heal the wound.
Don’t just clean our streets, make them shine.
Don’t just give people options, let them create new ones.
Redefining the American Dream is something we can all take part in.
But it needs someone to lead the charge, and that someone is me.
I have been in the trenches for 20 years and know the value of hard work. I’ve worked with the homeless, in youth services, with prisoners, those battling HIV/ AIDS. My experience is deep and varied, and effective. I’m a community advocate and entrepreneur. Those ideas are not mutually exclusive. They go hand in hand.
In the relay race that has advanced our community, MLK proudly proclaimed “I am a Man.”
Years later, advancing that torch, Reverend Jackson rallied our community with “I am somebody”.
I am here to announce and declare that “I am a citizen.” Of Harlem. Of New York. And of the United States.
It’s not a gift, it’s a role. And it doesn’t work unless we all play.