My name is Brittany Ramos DeBarros.
I'm a proud Afro-Latina Staten Islander, a community organizer, and an Army combat veteran running to fight for NY-11 in Congress.
I moved to Staten Island with my husband when I returned from war and immediately fell in love with this beautiful, quirky, and diverse island. It is the only home that we have known in our adult lives.
I’m running for Congress because at every turn of my life, I’ve seen broken promises from leaders and systems that fail my communities.
Growing up in a patriotic military family, my parents instilled in me a deep commitment to service and justice. I really believed in the values I was taught this country is supposed to be about: liberty and opportunity for all.
However, being biracial, I could see that the America my white family lived in was different from what my Black and Puerto Rican family experienced.
I believed in the great American “bootstraps” story -- work hard enough, and you can achieve anything. But my parents worked very hard, and we still struggled. We almost lost our home several times and church friends brought us groceries to help us get by. I knew then something was wrong with a system where people working multiple jobs can’t make ends meet. When the financial crisis hit, people I knew lost everything but not a single Wall Street banker who gambled with our livelihoods faced justice.
I got an Army scholarship when I was 18 that allowed me to attend the University of Miami. By the time I graduated and became an Army officer in 2011, I was already a platoon leader, responsible for 40 lives, and I had orders to deploy to war in Afghanistan.
When I deployed, I believed I was going to fight for freedom and protect vulnerable communities overseas, but as I got to know the Afghan people, I saw with my own eyes that wasn’t true. I watched some officers care more about role-playing Call of Duty and collecting medals than the needs of regular people or even the mission. I came home hurt and angry because it was clear that I had only caused more harm to the very people I wanted to protect. I felt betrayed by those who were entrusted with my life and who exploited my service, military leaders and politicians alike.
All my life I’ve seen the way our politics and our economy are rigged against us. I know what it’s like to be spoken for and spoken over; to not belong. I don't want to live in a world of lies, violence, and greed. Our truths matter, our lives matter, and fighting for our freedom and future matters.
I’m tired of other people treating our borough like the butt of their joke. I’m tired of people who stereotype us and try to tell us who we are. I believe in us and I know how powerful we can be when we come together. As a part of the community I’ve seen the way we're stigmatized, forgotten, and told to be grateful for the crumbs we're handed by a revolving door of leaders, loyal only to the rich. These leaders have continuously failed our most struggling communities. The truth is there is enough to go around if we have leaders with the courage and integrity to invest in real solutions.
I know how powerful we are when we come together. I know that we—the workers, the mothers, the vulnerable—are the majority, and if we fight together we can win the bold agenda our communities not only need, but deserve.
We deserve more, and I’m ready to fight for it. Let’s tell our own story and build our own future… together.