Andrea Jenkins is a triple-threat: a poet, performance artist and politician, and now she’s become a trailblazer as the first Black Trans person to run a city council in the United States.
“Poetry and politics have had a very close connection,” Jenkins said to the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “As one of my favourite poets and mentors, Amiri Baraka, said, ‘Poets are the legislators of the world.’”
Born into what she has described as a “low-income, working-class community”, Jenkins was inspired by her circumstances to take great steps forward on behalf of the Trans and Black communities. Thus began her career in local government almost thirty years ago.
Time to meet Andrea Jenkins ?
As if her accolades weren’t enough already, she also holds a master’s degree in Community Development from SNHU, a MFA in Creative Writing from Hamline University and a Bachelor’s Degrees in Human Services from Metropolitan State University. pic.twitter.com/K1AMLnwh6Z
— PWHPA (@PWHPA) February 11, 2022
Jenkins studied at the University of Minnesota before becoming an aide to Robert Lilligren, a gay Native American Minneapolis City Council member, for 13 years. From there, in an effort to take bigger steps and implement bigger change, she pursued a degree from graduate school which taught her to “build community through policymaking”.
In 2017, Jenkins was elected to the city council, three years before the murder of George Floyd.
“(I was) so crushingly, emotionally wounded,” Jenkins recalled. “Four hundred years of racism flooded my mind and imagination: lynchings, the wholesale murders of entire communities, unjust Jim Crow laws that impacted America. Some people think racism (is) just calling you the ‘n-word’. No, it has been legally injected into our politics.”
The Minneapolis City Council declared racism a public health crisis in response, Gay Times reports, and she felt it was time for her to aim higher.
Andrea Jenkins is is the first Black Transgender woman elected to public office, now President of Minneapolis City Council. She is a writer, poet, performance artist and activist.@shesgotgame1⁰#BlackHistoryMonth #BHM #BlackLivesMatter #BlackTransLivesMatter #DC #BlackQueer pic.twitter.com/hMVEpwnXS7
— Capital Pride (@CapitalPrideDC) February 10, 2022
“Because (racism) literally impacts each and every one of us; it brings down our national gross domestic product,” she said. “Racism is literally impacting people’s physical health.”
She went on to say, “I really hope that my (role in) public life provides some inspiration for others to see Trans and gender-non-conforming people in a more positive light.”
“Every poem is a love poem,” Jenkins added, ever the poet. “And I think we have to inject more love and poetry into our public discourse.”
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