racial profiling

Neighborhood FORWARD’s Statement on Insurrection at the U.S. Capitol

We’ve known there are two Americas for some time now.

All summer, we watched as the country marched against police brutality, trying to get the point across that Black Lives Matter. In response, law enforcement rolled through our cities in tanks, sporting weapons of war trained on the very people they swore to protect. When Black America protested, our institutions responded violently and rapidly.

Last week, the rage of those who have felt left behind by progress was on full display. Emboldened by a refusal of their “leader” to condemn white supremacy, whether in Charlottesville or during the Presidential debates, domestic terrorists sought to interfere with a free election and murder high government officials. Bearing nooses and the flag of traitors, they attacked our country.

We’ve known the deck was stacked against people of color for decades. We didn’t, however, know how willing some in government would be to invite this plague into our house.

Between law enforcement spurring terrorists past the barricades and defiant Republican politicians applauding their presence, this was not a display of white privilege, this was a display of white power. It’s a power that is reinforced by our institutions and evident throughout our history. For the last four years, that power has been wielded and weaponized by a significant group of our elected officials.

We deserve better.

Neighborhood FORWARD denounces these actions in the strongest possible terms. The fact that domestic terrorists, encouraged by vicious lies from their authority figures, were allowed to take the house of the people is unacceptable. The fact that they took pictures bragging about their insurrection is unacceptable. The fact that they were encouraged to do this is unacceptable.

No, we don’t want to hear that our leaders are standing in solidarity with us. No, we don’t want to see them kneel while wearing kente cloth. No, we don’t want to hold hands and sing “Kumbaya” with a group seeking the erasure of our neighborhoods and safety.

We want real change, right now. Bold, common-sense reforms are needed to rectify the issues facing us. Providing affordable housing to combat historic redlining can help marginalized groups generate wealth. Prioritizing rehabilitation instead of punishment can end the cycle of recidivism. Making elections simpler for all can erase the legacy of decades of voter suppression.

These reforms can help solve the greatest issues of our time.

The rise of far-right extremism is but one of the many challenges facing our country. It permeates our institutions, communities, and relationships. To combat it, we need structural changes that reinforce the rights of people of color and move our communities forward.

Neighborhood FORWARD calls on every federal elected official to condemn last week’s insurrection. We dually call on Congress and the Biden administration to prioritize efforts to reform, reinvest, and reimagine communities of color across the country.

Moving forward is only possible by looking backwards. As such, let us never forget the events of January 6. May they inspire us to forego empty rhetoric and pursue genuine change.

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:
Scroll to top