Gay, Black, and Vegan: Meet New York’s Newest State Senator
Jabari Brisport declared victory in Brooklyn’s 25th Senate District Democratic primary.
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Kat has been writing about veganism, environment, and sustainability for five years. Their interests include over-analyzing the various socioeconomic forms of oppression, how that overlaps with veganism, and how the media in all of its forms reflects the current culture.

Jabari Brisport, a Democratic Socialist, social justice activist, and vegan, has declared victory in Brooklyn’s 25th Senate District Democratic primary. The politician defeated Assemblymember Tremaine Wright by over 10,000 votes.

The 32-year-old Brooklyn native is expected to make history as the openly gay, Black member of the State Senate. He would replace Democrat Velmanette Montgomery, who held the State Senate seat for the 25th district since 1984. The district includes the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Prospect Heights, Clinton Hill, Fort Greene, Bedford-Stuyvesant as well as parts of Red Hook, Gowanus, and Sunset Park.

“This victory is about the movement to build a New York that works for the working class and for people of color,” Brisport said last Thursday. “It was built by over 1,000 volunteers who donated their time and energy to this fight in the midst of an unprecedented crisis, and small donors who contributed in record-breaking numbers.”

A Progressive Animal Rights Platform

Brisport’s progressive platform champions animal rights. It includes a ban on the sale of new fur apparel, an end to dairy subsidies, restricting the sale of cats, dogs, and rabbits in pet stores, and a ban on wildlife killing contests and traveling rodeos.

Schools would be required to teach humane education and end egg-hatching projects. Restaurants would have to disclose the source and treatment of animals served as food.

The vegan politician also aims to ban “cruel farming practices,” such as the castration of pigs without anesthesia, debeaking poultry without painkillers, battery cages for hens, veal crates for calves, and gestation crates for pigs.

“I not only look forward to redefining & expanding our current conception of human rights in NY (alongside the rest of the DSA slate!), but am also getting ready to make real change when it comes to animal rights,” Brisport tweeted earlier this week. “It’s time to bring animal protections into the 21st century.”

‘It’s So Intertwined’

In an interview with Their Turn, Brisport explained that he went vegan while he was in college: “I did this on animals in performance and there was one day where they just showed us slaughterhouse videos.

At first, he cut out meat and fish. He went vegan five years later. “I realized that the dairy industry is just the beef industry and the egg industry is just the chicken industry. It’s so intertwined,” he said.

In 2016 Brisport began attending animal rights protests. He started with Canada Goose’s newly-opened flagship store in Soho. “It was so invigorating fighting against a store that was participating in so much cruelty. It really awoke me to the further steps I could take to protect animals,” he said.

Brisport, a third-generation Caribbean American drew comparisons to an experience he had as a freshman at New York University. “I was walking arm-in-arm with my Black boyfriend in the West Village and these frat bros were following us just shouting the ‘f-bomb’—’f-ggot, f-ggot, f-ggot. We weren’t letting them get a rise out of us, so we heard a pause. And then they just started going ‘n-gger,'” he said.

He continued, “I think anyone who has felt some sort of victimization or felt like they have been ‘othered’ or they had been made to feel ‘less than’ can then empathize when someone else is being victimized, whether that someone is a human-animal or a non-human animal.

This Gay Black Vegan Hopes to Be New York State's Next Senator
Jabari Brisport’s campaign platform advocates for compassion for humans and animals. | @jabariforstatesenate

Compassion for All

As well as standing up for animals, Brisport is an advocate for human rights. The middle school math teacher promises to fight for the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) to redirect public subsidies from for-profit to non-profit housing authorities.

He has spent years fighting for tenants’ rights. Brisport was arrested for protesting a public meeting for luxury condominiums in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, in October 2017. He was running for NYC Council for District 25 at the time.

“I want to be able to make some change, especially protecting people on housing, and education and transportation. We desperately need a government that works for all the people,” Brisport told The New York Post last October.

The vegan politician’s platform calls for an end to solitary confinement in prison. It also includes the legalization of recreational marijuana, the decriminalization of sex work, and restrictions on facial recognition software. He aims to pass the New York Health Act to abolish private health insurance. It would ensure that all New Yorkers have quality care.

Brisport spent much of 2016 canvassing for Sanders’ Democratic presidential campaign.

“I was thinking about the Bernie Sanders campaign and Democratic Socialism and it dawned on me that slavery was an example of capitalism,” Brisport said. “You’re putting a price tag on things which shouldn’t have a price and that’s people in the case of slavery or health care which people need to live. It’s monetizing things which should not be monetized.”