The Organizer Who Thinks Activism Ought to Be Half Of


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“Hey, I’m Jess (@jesslivmo) and I’m a trained organizer. I treat organizing like improvisation or jazz – I want to try new things, experiment and get people to add and shuffle things in addition to what I’ve done. Because it’s cyclical work, I’ve worked for Hillary for America, Obama for America, the Democratic National Committee, and the AFL-CIO American Unions. Now, I am co-founder of Supermajority, director of civic engagement for the National Domestic Workers Alliance, executive director of Care In Action, co-chair of Families Belong Together, and co-founder of She Se Puede.

I grew up in a super religious, catholic family. In 2016, my own mother was my number one voter persuasion project. My mother in particular is very conservative politically and has been all my life. I remember watching the presidential debate between Al Gore and George W. Bush, and because I chose Al Gore, my mother sent me to my room. I figured if I could convince my mother to vote for Hillary Clinton, I could really convince everyone. I went into election day not sure who my mother was voting, and it wasn’t until later that I found out she had voted for Clinton. It took a whole year to convince them.

People see political talks as confrontations, but I think they are a way to gain understanding. Most people are not political experts, but they have strong convictions. Often times, these beliefs come either from something deeply personal or from some kind of misinformation. I have really strong beliefs too, and I’m passionate about this stuff too, but when I come to the conversation with an open mind and an open heart it invites others to do the same. Misinformation, in particular, occurs frequently on controversial topics that are my specialty. When people have misinformation that they believe is absolutely true, the most important thing to ask questions is. When I ask questions, the thought process falls apart like a house of cards. A lot happens with immigration in particular – for example, people say things like, “Immigrants cross the border with drugs”. Most people’s instinct is to say this is not true, but who will magically agree? Instead, I say something like, “Oh, why do you think that’s the case?” Or: “How does that happen?” Or: “How do you know that?” Usually the answer is that people aren’t sure what gives me an opportunity to share my opinion. When I share personal stories about visiting the border and talking to hundreds of immigrant families, I find that this is what has the greatest impact.

Like all self-respecting millennials, I like Korean skincare. I’m obsessed with Charlotte Cho – I love how enterprising she is, I like the way she talks about skin care, and I love how she recently started talking about politics. At night I do a double cleaning with her. Then I met you balm and a random soap that my mother got me. My number one holy grail is my essence, the May Coop Raw Sauce. These people should give me shares. I have really oily skin and if I put too much stuff on my face it will be acne central, but this essence makes my skin feel amazing and look plump. The price is right too. When it’s morning, I put on sunscreen afterwards. I use the Korean Etude House sunscreen which is really great. My moisturizer is the Belif Aqua Bomb. I can add some Whole Foods oil, depending on how my skin looks.

At the beginning of my career, I felt like I had to get dressed to be taken seriously. At the same time, politics is a very serious environment and for a long time I had the feeling that I couldn’t show the part of myself that was interested in beauty. I’m Latina and we wear big earrings and light lipstick. The more I hugged, the more people took me seriously. In everyday life, I mix Pat McGrath’s foundation with the foundation to thin it out. I really try to think about how I use my dollars to support my values, so I try to pick brands that have a wide range of colors or are black owned. And a few years ago I made a conscious decision to watch more makeup videos from black influencers, especially dark skinned black influencers. Nyma Tang, Jackie Aina, Alissa Ashley and Michele Wang are my contact points. That being said, I swear by this one Maybelline concealer – I traveled a lot to work before COVID and that was my go-to place because I could get it anywhere. You need to expand your range of colors, but if it comes in your hue, you should get it. I use the Benefit forehead product and the Smashbox mascara – I have such short, light eyelashes and this mascara makes me look like I am blessed. Sweet Street Cosmetics Wing Queen is the best black eyeliner. And for the rest of my face, I am heavily drawn to pinks and corals. I have the Live Tinted Huestick in every shade but if I do a red lip it is probably Chanel. I recently joined Inspire by Rare Beauty and I love that too.

I went through a method for curly girls many years ago, and when it popped up recently, I got back to it. But these products really messed up my hair. Now I wash with shampoo but only at the roots – at the moment I use Kristin Ess Curl Shampoo and before that I used Davines which I like, but it’s expensive. Finding the perfect curly shampoo is a never-ending journey. After I rinse that out, I turn my head, untangle it with conditioner, twist my hair into eight to ten curls, and start squashing it to rinse out the conditioner. When I get out of the shower and my hair is still soaking wet, I pick up a small amount of curling cream and press it into my hair. I use either Bumble and Bumble Curl Cream or Rizos, a brand in Latina that started in a basement and is now sold all over the world. Then I do the same process with gel I get from the beauty store and let my hair air dry. I think it’s important to hug a little frizz – the more I get my hair done, the better it looks.

I think about organizing in the same way as I think about eating healthy or exercising. I don’t always want to get on my Peloton bike, but when I’m done I always know it was the right choice. Organizing has to be part of your life. It could look like going to a protest on Saturday, donating on Sunday, posting on Facebook on Monday, calling your congressman on Tuesday, and going to a meeting on Wednesday. I always ask people what they really, really care about: is it clean air and clean water? Schools? For me it’s women’s rights and immigration. No matter who wins next week, we still need to organize to get what we want to do for the things that matter to us. It’s the job of having a really good life. If your care about your skin care routine, this is it! You take care of yourself and you take care of your community. “

– as ITG said

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