What Does a Socialist Look Like?

Kristin Richardson Jordan (KRJ)
6 min readOct 15, 2020


I, Kristin Richardson Jordan (KRJ) aka Kristin for H.A.R.L.E.M. am a creative, Black, lesbian, activist, author, teacher, Brown University graduate, spiritual warrior, and 3rd-generation Harlemite on a mission to disrupt district 9 with radical love and my Kristin for H.A.R.L.E.M. policy platform. I am a democratic socialist and abolitionist. My abolitionist beliefs and work are rooted in what Angela Davis calls “radical self-care” that opposes capitalist oppression. Our movement centers radical love in our campaign, and turns self-care into community-care that works towards collective abolition from capitalism and white supremacy. My beliefs and work are also shaped by my experience surviving sexual assault and domestic violence, understanding the nature of violence, and wanting a truly non-violent world.

I know who I am and what I am about. Part of a leaderful movement committed to building socialist power in Harlem.

Our movement knows what we’ve built. A grassroots movement with over 200 in-district donors, over 800 donors generally, and almost 100 volunteers. This is the foundation that we want to collectively build on with DSA. A multiracial working class movement in Harlem — filled with workers, tenants, students and seniors. United. Organized. Mobilized. Ready to take on the capitalist machine of the City and beyond.

Our hope is comrades will consider the following regarding my application for DSA endorsement and our hope, regardless of endorsement, is that people will consider the following in deciding whether or not to support our campaign:

What’s the connection between accountability and abolition?

This letter is an act of accountability. People want to hold me accountable for a mistake in my — very brief — association with Craig Schley. He misrepresented who he was. I should’ve vetted him more thoroughly. I accept the critique and am willing to learn.

However, I do not accept the insinuation that this mistake defines my work and the collective work of our movement up until this point. The same way that my abolitionist stance calls me to believe in restorative rather than punitive justice. What I’ve experienced by some political competitors (even members of DSA, dare I say, comrades) acting in bad faith and even committing libel, exhibits the punitive model. We are missing something, the big picture, something that is not vindictive, something that is not erasure, something that is not jail, but is restorative justice. Something that is rooted in radical love, fairness, equity, inclusion, acceptance, true democracy and abundance.

Read More About My Stance on Abolition:

What does a multi-racial people power movement look like?

It’s interesting that there has been criticism re: “gentrifier support of this campaign” when I have also been criticized for the opposite i.e. for being “exclusionary” because of my all BIPOC cabinet team of 9 members, more than half of whom are Black + Brown women. Which is it? What is it? To me we are a multiracial multiethnic coalition of folks on a mission to disrupt district 9 with radical love which OF COURSE includes the involvement of white allies and OF COURSE also requires centering the voices, political power, and leadership of our Black and Brown community members, particularly women. These criticisms (on both sides) lack integrity.

Can an abundance of solidarity overcome a fear of scarcity?

The concern around limited branch capacity has led comrades to advocate for endorsements in only two races in our branch. If we are not careful this fear of scarce capacity can lead us to mirror a zero-sum mentality that reflects the basis of capitalism itself. As an abolitionist, I encourage my comrades to operate out of an abundance of solidarity. Let a thousand flowers bloom. Now is the time for bold action to disrupt every district. If there is at some point a DSA slate and I am on the slate, I will support the entire DSA slate in every district.

What does community connection look like?

Supporters of my competitors claim that I am not connected to the community. Their evidence? I’m not part of a democratic club or the community board. This is a community movement. Never mind that I’m not on the “community board” which is not even of the community but which represents real estate. Serving on the community board is not a form of community care. I am plugged in to the block hence this campaign’s growing volunteer base and the 200+ grassroots in-district donors (outside the district we have over 800 donors, we have more grassroots donors even just in district than all other candidates [including the incumbent] currently have in number of donors total).

Why are we using the standards of our oppressors to assess candidates meant to disrupt the status quo? Frankly it’s infuriating. Why are “new wave” socialist candidates touting membership on boards and in clubs that are closer to the machine? When I and other tenants of Lenox Terrace lobbied the local community board to vote no with no conditions on an Olnick expansion that was an ode to gentrification, the community board voted no with conditions to placate real estate and establishment politicians. Not to vilify the few who try to do the hard work of actually serving people in these deeply corrupt spaces but as far as candidates who want to make meaningful change go, your being connected enough to be part of the problem is definitely not a flex.

What does radical love for community look like?

Again, the arguments made about capacity are rooted in zero-sum. As Ruth Gilmore has said, “Abolition is about presence, not absence.” I am a Black woman and survivor of trauma whose presence of community care is felt by Harlemites. Our movement is on a radical-love mission in pursuit of democratic socialism and abolition.

Read About More of My Policies and Political Stances:

In Service and Radical Love,

KRJ - Kristin for H.A.R.L.E.M.

Kristin Richardson Jordan (KRJ), Candidate for New York City Council District 9 Kristin is a poet, local activist, speaker, teacher, DSA member, Black queer woman, and third-generation Harlemite on a mission to disrupt District 9 (Central Harlem) with radical love. Started almost a year and a half before the murder of George Floyd, her Kristin for H.A.R.L.E.M. political platform includes advocacy for police accountability, abolition, affordable housing, redistribution of resources, senior care, gun control, education, and environmental justice. She is interested in making change both through her grassroots campaign and through a community-based participatory democracy once elected and has drafted policy on each of her HARLEM platform points. Find out more and get involved at KristinForHarlem.com.



Kristin Richardson Jordan (KRJ)

New York City Councilwoman for District 9 (Central Harlem)