Knowing Our Neighbors: Jessica

“I like to empower women. That’s my whole point. Do what you feel like doing. You’re put on this earth to make a difference, so why not take advantage of it?

“The simple fact is that women are still 77 cents to 100 on the dollar. And that’s if you’re white. If you’re a woman of color, it’s even less. There’s so much gender inequality, and when you go into communities of color, it’s even more difficult. I try to get that voice out.

“I have a lot of women that call me up when their kids get taken away, or they get beat – my number is always on. They ask me, ‘What’s the direction? What should I do?’

“They trust me because after getting out of the army, I was homeless with my three year old daughter.

“I apply my information to other women. How to drive. How to get a resume. I want women to be independent. And sometimes they could be independent in their home country, but because of the language barrier or whatever is happening in their lives, they might not be here.”

jessica-b

(phone rings.)

“Sorry that’s one of my colleagues. On Sunday it is the birthday of the Prophet Mohammed – and he’s is doing a video. He wants to know what he should say to say happy holidays and Happy Mawlid. He wants a YouTube video stating everybody happy holidays to everyone.

“I’m a leader. I try to create and build these bridges that we need in different communities (and especially in the Muslim community). I connect different departments, different directors, to try to take that backlash off.

“I have a 13 year old, a 4 year old, and a 3 year old. They drive me crazy. They’re Spanish and Arab. Those kids are really hyper.

“Prior to the preschool program, I was a stay at home mom. I was gardening – I do bone broth, herbs… I do medicinal herbs. I do cupping. I believe a lot in homeschooling. I have books and posters all over.

“My children speak Spanish, English and Arabic. I also speak Italian and Portuguese. My dad was always speaking to me in Portuguese.

“My mom is strong. She speaks only Spanish. She’s emotionally very distanced. She’s strong in that you have to just “deal with it” in life, and my grandma is the same way, my father’s mother. And my dad too. Tough cookies. It is what it is. There is no way of ‘Come here, don’t worry, let’s figure out how to solve this.’ It’s like ‘Figure it out and let me know.’ And I’m the same way with my kids.

chess

“Women are built to be strong. If not, we would not be able to give birth. That’s how I put it in the simplest way. Yeah, you can have breakdowns now and then… But don’t give me those crocodile tears. Take those tears of crocodiles off.

“My dad taught me how to play chess. You always need to have a move ahead, a move ahead, a move ahead. Otherwise check-mate. Don’t put yourself in a checkmate position. I used to hate playing chess.

“I’m the building of that bridge. The men in my community don’t like it but they have to embrace it. There’s men in general who don’t – it’s the women who come to me more. Some men do but very discreetly and quietly. They don’t want it known that I’m helping them. But I don’t do it to show off. I would be in the feed for everybody if I was posting everything I do. I don’t even have time for that. I have too many things going on.”

More Neighbors and Friends:

Posted by

Mel Kozakiewicz a professor, editor, writer, and mother of two.

6 thoughts on “Knowing Our Neighbors: Jessica

  1. Jessica!!❤️ I love you you been there for me nd my family through ups and downs 🙏🏼 Ur an amazing older sister ! So lucky to have u in my life ✨ your always here for us when we need u !! Always looking for a way to help !😫❤️

  2. Jessica’s story is really powerful. I can’t imagine how I would deal with a situation such as hers, “They trust me because after getting out of the army, I was homeless with my three year old daughter.” This takes a lot. I hope the men in the community understand the amount of courage Jessica puts towards not only their success, but all those around her. Thank you for being a hero Jessica, and for your service! -Yoel

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