Jim Crow laws may be gone, but voter suppression isn’t

Jim Crow laws were established in the 1960s to prevent Black Americans from exercising their right to vote.

These laws included:

  • Literacy tests administered by poll-workers to determine whether the voter could read. Black voters were often deemed ineligible.
  • Poll taxes disproportionately affected Black voters by requiring them to pay a fee, which many could not afford, at the polls.
  • Grandfather clauses were laws enacted that made first generation voters illegal; a person could not vote unless an older relative had done so in the past. It was virtually impossible for many Black people to be second or third generation voters because most of their ancestors had been enslaved.

Flash forward to 2020 and voter suppression is still alive and well. With early voting underway across the U.S., ways to prevent the public from voting still remain.

Strict voter ID laws, for example, require voters to have a government-issued ID. Without one, they cannot vote. These laws turn away potential voters, primarily people of color, from casting their votes.

Georgia’s “exact match” law, which requires a person’s signature perfectly match that of past records, also impacts a disproportionate number voters. In 2018, 80% of the those who faced the consequences of this law were not White. Although Georgia plans to abandon this law, the misjustice due to its enforcement in previous elections must not be ignored.

More common tactics of voter suppression include:

  • Voter confusion due to errors and misinformation.
  • Voter intimidation and harassment.
  • Limits on the number of polls and long lines.
  • Claims that absentee ballots cause voter fraud.

Many people find the process of voting already discouraging and intimidating. Mix these feelings with misinformation spread by the far right, and potential voters give up on the process altogether.

The most recent strategy to disenfranchise voters is spreading the rhetoric that absentee ballots lead to voter fraud. While states are working to make these ballots accessible, this notion attempts to limit the legitimacy of absentee voting.

The claim that voter fraud is happening all the time is FALSE, and is a detriment to the very principles our democracy thrives on.

In 2018, 120 million eligible Americans did not vote. Don’t let 2020 voter suppression take away from your right to vote!


Neighborhood FORWARD wants to put a stop to voter suppression happening throughout the country. Join us by lifting your voice with your vote and help educate others about their rights.

Black-on-Black Crime: A Racist Myth

With an uptick in protests and the Black Lives Matter movement this summer, some continue to ask the question, “What about Black-on-Black crime? Why is that not being protested instead?”

The idea that “Black-on-Black crime” is not being addressed is a myth. Furthermore, the idea that Black communities kill each other more than any other racial group is false. The Black-on-Black crime myth is another tool used to push the agenda of white supremacism on the American people. 

For years, the Black community has fought to end violence at the hands of law enforcement, but also in our own neighborhoods. The Black community does this through many methods, including movies, songs, community protests, and mediations between neighborhoods.

Using the phrase Black-on-Black crime reduces Black people to criminals, making it seem that they are more likely than a white person to commit a crime. On the other side of things, white people are mainly killed by white people. Have you ever heard the phrase “white-on-white crime?”

People are also more likely to commit a crime based on their level of poverty than their race. Because of systemic racism in America, poverty is twice as high among Black Americans than white Americans. This predisposition puts Black Americans in neighborhoods where crime is higher, which many people do not account for when looking at crime rates.

The phrase Black-on-Black crime also prevents us from focusing on what’s important to Black Americans right now — police brutality. A Black American is two and a half times more likely to be killed by law enforcement than a white person. This is horrendous and needs to be put to a stop. How many more Tamir Rices? Philando Castiles? Breonna Taylors? Why don’t their lives matter?

It’s time to push back on the myth of Black-on-Black crime. It is nothing more than a racist dog whistle spread in order to cover up police brutality and push the white supremacist agenda.

Rather than more policing and more prisons, it is imperative that we focus on the root causes of the disproportionate crime rates towards Black people. As Angela Davis once said, the prison system simply “relieves us of the responsibility of seriously engaging with the problems of our society, especially those produced by racism.” The way we address so-called “Black-on-Black crime” is by dismantling the racist systems that subject Black Americans to violence.

Neighborhood FORWARD believes it is beyond time to make real and lasting change to our policing systems and address the factors that put Black Americans in harm’s way. Are you with us?

No-knocks should be a thing of the past

With the use of no-knock warrants, police can enter homes without having to alert any of the residents. The use of no-knock warrants can lead to innocent people losing their lives.

Unknowing that the cops were entering, Breonna Taylor’s boyfriend Kenneth Walker shot at the police thinking it was an intruder. Breonna Taylor was then shot eight times and murdered. Neither of them had anything to do with the suspected deliver of drugs to Breonna Taylor’s address.

No-knock warrants take away from the privacy of people’s homes while also putting people in danger. The person often assumes it is an intruder leading to the death of innocent people such as Breonna Taylor. Overused and misused, no-knocks need to become a thing of the past to save lives today.

No-knocks were implemented at the federal level during the Nixon Administration in 1970, and ended up being repealed because of the number of botched drug raids and mistaken drug raids across the country. However, in the 1980s it made a widespread comeback to local police departments as a tactic for the war on drugs. No-knock warrants were controversial since its conception and still controversial now as we see innocent bystanders dying at the hands of police.

Neighborhood FORWARD stands for the Justice for Breonna Taylor Act or S. 3955. This act will ban no-knock warrants at a nationwide level, saving innocent lives such as Breonna Taylor’s.

Sponsored by Senator Rand Paul, the Justice for Breonna Taylor Act needs to be passed in its entirety.

We cannot stand while action is not being taken for Breonna Taylor and many others that have been affected by no-knock warrants.

Say Her Name. Breonna Taylor. Say Their Names.

Be Heard. Get Out and Vote.

The simplest act of civic duty Americans can participate in is casting their vote on Election Day.

In 2016, the Black voter turnout rate declined for the first time in 20 years during a presidential election. The turnout rate was at a record high in 2012 at 66.6 percent but fell to 59.6 percent in 2016.


According to The Collective PAC, If every Black and Brown person eligible to vote voted in 2020, we would see historic and winning outcomes for leaders committed to standing with our communities up and down the ballot.

Your voice matters and in order to be heard, you must turn out to vote. The power of voting is mighty and when Black and Brown voters show up, our voice is loud.

Do not let others speak for you. Things will not change if you stay at home on Election Day.

Register now!

Be a part of the change and help move our country forward. You get to have a say on who you want representing you and the issues that are important to you.

How does one vote? You can vote in person on Nov. 3 or vote early by mail. Voting by mail is safe and secure!

We fought for this right — don’t take it for granted. Be heard!

SLACO and Neighborhood FORWARD are looking for VOLUNTEERS to help out with GOTV initiatives. Join us as we work to make sure voters get to the polls by Election Day.

Learn more about the importance of voting and check your registration status.

A Black Mother’s Plea: Neighborhood Forward Stands With Gwen Carr

As yet another American city explodes with protests over the killing of an unarmed Black man, we must open our eyes to the reality of the unintended consequences of police interactions with people of color.

Neighborhood FORWARD stands with the mother of Eric Garner, who has released a video condemning legislation that will lead to more negative interactions with law enforcement and communities of color. Gwen Carr’s son was killed by a police officer in Staten Island, New York after the cop claimed Garner was selling illegal cigarettes. Sadly, her son’s last words were the same as George Floyd’s: “I Can’t Breathe.”

In a video released Saturday, Carr sends a heartfelt and courageous message to legislators and all those supporting policies that could lead to more senseless violence and murder. One such policy is California Senate Bill 793 (SB 793). Currently being decided by the California Legislature, this bill would make it illegal to possess or smoke menthol cigarettes.

“A new law would criminalize menthol cigarettes which Black people smoke almost exclusively, giving police officers another excuse to harass and harm any Black man, woman or child they choose. Our leaders should know better,” said Carr. “A bad law has consequences for mothers like me.”

SB 793 inexplicably provides exemptions for wealthy cigar and pipe smokers and other ethnic communities who smoke tobacco flavored hookah pipes— but not for Black smokers, nearly nine out of ten of whom prefer menthol. The inclusion of menthol has led groups like Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP) and the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement (NOBLE) to call the proposed law racist.

“Liberal white lawmakers are trying to push through a tobacco flavor ban that discriminates against black people. It’s shameful,” said Reverend Tulloss, president of the Baptist Ministers Conference of Los Angeles and co-founder of Neighborhood Forward. “Our collective primary interest is protecting the public, specifically communities of color, from abuse at the hands of both corporate influences and law enforcement. It is unjust to expect communities of color to choose between greater public health protections and basic civil rights.”

Contact Governor Newsom to Stop SB 793

Governor Gavin Newsom
1303 10th Street, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 445-2841
Fax: (916) 558-3160


The Hookah Hypocrisy… STOP SB793

Right now, the California State Assembly is considering a ban on flavored tobacco products to keep kids from smoking. We can all agree that banning flavors like “cotton candy” and “bubble gum” make a lot of sense. Sweet, fruity flavors are intended to do one thing and one thing only—hook kids on tobacco. But, that’s not true with all flavors. Take menthol, for example. Kids aren’t being seduced into smoking or vaping because of the flavor menthol. They don’t even know what that word means. But, 88% of Black adults who smoke, prefer menthol flavored tobacco products. So banning that flavor doesn’t stop kids from smoking, it could turn Black smokers, law-abiding adult Californians into criminals. It’s clear that a menthol ban would unfairly target California’s Black community and should be exempted from any proposed ban.

Tell speaker Anthony Rendon to STOP SB793:

Banning menthol is especially outrageous when you consider that the State of California recently exempted hookah bars and retailers from their flavor ban to avoid upsetting the Armenian community. Originally, the state bill aimed to curtail teen tobacco use by banning all flavored products, including hookah. However, after widespread outrage in the Armenian community and considerable pushback from a coalition of local businesses called the ‘Hookah Chamber’, the legislature granted an exemption. They successfully argued that banning hookah flavor would unfairly target a specific ethnic group, undercut a longstanding tradition and criminalize respectable, law-abiding businesses.

This exact argument can be applied to adult Black menthol smokers. Why is one racial group receiving preferential treatment over another? Why aren’t Black people receiving the same privileges as Armenians? While we all support measures to reduce vaping and smoking among young people, studies prove that menthol is not one of the flavors that “hook” kids. Moreover, anyone under the age of 21 is already banned from purchasing any tobacco products. Prohibiting menthol is a racially discriminatory public policy and will lead to racial profiling amongst other things.

We stand with members of the civil rights, faith, social justice, and law enforcement community in saying that menthol should be removed from S.B. 793 and a diverse working group must be created to answer all questions posed regarding impact.

We need to focus our attention on EDUCATION AND PREVENTION, NOT A HOOKAH EXEMPTION. 

Tell speaker Anthony Rendon to STOP SB793:

Focus on What Matters: Homelessness in California is on the rise

It is time to focus on the bigger issues that are currently at hand in California. During this global pandemic and one of the biggest protest movements against racial injustice, elected officials need to do their part to address issues that are directly impacting their constituents currently: homelessness.

In California, 72 percent of people experiencing homelessness are unsheltered, which is the highest share of unsheltered homelessness of any state. How did it get to this point? Homelessness in California has increased more than 22 percent over the last decade and is looking to increase by over 16 percent. These are predictions made before the global pandemic took place. Now due to employment challenges and people not being able to pay rent, Californians may be looking at eviction, which could increase the population of homeless California residents. While eviction has been halted ordered by the governor, what will happen when that expires? We need to make sure that Californians will be able to live and address these issues now before they become a bigger problem that is not easily controlled.

Homelessness also affects populations of color disproportionally to their white counterparts. Black people are experiencing overrepresentation in the criminal justice system, housing segregation, and employment discrimination, which has led to their disproportionate representation in the homeless population.

However, our elected officials are too busy focusing on S.B. 793 which bans flavored tobacco, or A.B. 2074’s mandate over the definition of California olive oil. The main priority should be providing aid to Californians who are currently homeless and those that may become homeless as evictions will be on the rise once the state lifts the moratorium.

It’s time to focus on how we can get our neighborhoods, city, and state moving forward, and on becoming productive on issues that directly affect Californians and hold our elected officials accountable.

Join the movement. Be the change.

Moving forward in the era of Covid-19: The pursuit of fair and equitable Criminal Justice Policy

Neighborhood Forward is hosting faith leaders and civil rights activists from Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago for a discussion about the challenges facing Black and Brown communities during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Discussion will focus on recently introduced policy and the unintended consequences associated with it, specifically California Senate Bill 793.


  • Hon. Congressman Kendrick Meek, (FL-17) *Moderator
  • Dr. Amos Brown, Pastor, Third Baptist Church of San Francisco
  • Dr. Jody Armour, Professor of Law, University of Southern California *Invited guest
  • Elder, Joe Paul, City of Refuge UCC
  • Rev. K.W. Tulloss, Weller Street Missionary Baptist Church, President of Baptist Ministers Conference Southern California, and Co-Founder of Neighborhood Forward
  • Rev. William Smart, President and CEO, Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Southern California
  • Rev. Walter Amir Jones, Executive Director, Westside Community Stakeholders
  • Lt. Corey Pegues, NYPD (Retired)
  • Gio Galarza, Executive Director, I Love Homeless LA
  • Thea Williams, President, L.A. Black Pride
  • Roz Renfro, Vice President, L.A. Black Pride


The pace of change in the United States has reached levels that are nearly unprecedented. While the visibility around issues related to social, economic, and political justice has been steadily expanding over the past several years, recent events in Minneapolis and elsewhere in the country have transformed the viewpoints of millions of Americans. In many respects, this trend has already begun to reshape mainstream values in significant ways as corporations, governmental agencies, and elected officials reconsider long-held practices that have produced discriminatory outcomes.

Join Black and Brown leaders from across the country for a conversation discussing the pursuit of fair and equitable criminal justice policy and more.

Media is invited to cover the event. Interviews can be arranged with panelists ahead of or following the event. Questions for the Q&A portion of the discussion can be sent to

Vote “NO” on SB 793

Tell Your Assembly member to VOTE NO on SB 793.

Neighborhood Forward is concerned with California Senate Bill 793, the proposed legislation to ban the sale of menthol cigarettes. In the course of the debate, many pressing and critical issues have been raised concerning both the public health, as well as the criminal justice implications of a ban on cigarettes whose major consumers are people of color.

Although we have taken a different position concerning this legislation than others, we all share the same belief that we can have a robust and productive debate that prioritizes both the public health, as well as the criminal justice concerns. Our collective primary interests are protect the public and communities of color, specifically, from both corporate, as well as law enforcement abuses.

To that end we are requesting that any proposed ban on menthol cigarettes be withdrawn at this time and a working group convened, with the set mission to offer recommendations for new legislation. That working group must take into account all of our collective concerns and address the need for greater public health protections that do not compromise our constitutional and civil rights.

It is unjust to expect communities of color to choose between greater public health protections and basic civil rights. We do not accept the premise that we must choose between the two, that these interests are mutually exclusive nor that this debate is zero sum. A working group consisting of social justice and law enforcement along with other organizations is the best solution available to bridge the current divides.



To find your local district representative, click HERE.


Let us be your voice. Sign the petition to stop SB 793

….Trust Black Voices…We know…

With the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement has come the rise of the white ally. While the fight for racial justice needs all the supporters it can get, this mass wave of freshly radicalized activists doesn’t come without its share of issues. They mean well, but what many don’t realize is that trying so hard not to be racist can actually lead directly to you being racist, or, at a minimum, may make you a barrier to progress.

The issue lies in paternalism, or when those in power make decisions that are allegedly in the best interest of those who don’t look like them, live next to them, share a degree from their Ivy League alma mater… you get the idea.

Take, for example, San Francisco Mayor London Breed’s recent interview in Vogue magazine. Mayor Breed has been in the crosshairs of progressive “allies” who view her stance on defunding the police as too reserved. Mayor Breed’s thoughts on paternalistic allies co-opting the movement reflect the feelings of many Black activists.

“I have a real problem with the takeover of the movement by white people. I want people to respect the opinions and feelings of Black people and allow us to decide what is in our best interest. I talk about the plan to reduce the police budget and reallocate those resources to the African American community, and a large number of non-Blacks reached out to tell me what I should do for the Black community. Then, they say what their community deserves because of their challenges as well. That really bothered me. The Black community [of San Francisco] is capable of speaking for ourselves and deciding what’s in our best interest.”

Are we not capable of deciding what’s offensive to us? Why do others get to decide what’s best for us? And why don’t they listen when we tell them? Have some allies not learned from the rallying cry “trust Black women”?

So, if you want to be “ally,” stop trying to steer the movement. Let Black people decide what is best for them. Sit back and listen. Unpack why you believe that we are not capable of making our own decisions. Sit with that for a while.

Your job as an ally is to use your privilege to uplift the movement, not direct it. Only by dispelling the savior complex that lives inside of you and trusting Black people to provide their own solutions can anti-racist work truly begin.

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