Black Californians have grown tired and weary of White people imposing their ideas upon us. The notion is that White people know what’s best for Black people and we’re sick of it. Their latest move is to take away our right to smoke with a ban on menthol and flavored tobacco products under Senate Bill 793.
2UrbanGirls agrees that children should not be smoking and adults should not enable their consumption. On any given day, you can see adults hanging in front of the neighborhood convenience and/or liquor store, willing to purchase these products on behalf of any random youth that asks them to.
“The road to hell is paid in good intentions,” said Jody Armour, the highly respected Roy P. Crocker Professor of Law at the University of Southern California. “We can’t criminalize our way out of social problems.”
Armour regularly speaks out against the criminalization of social problems as a means to address a particular issue.
Black people also understand that any so called “ban” on a particular product is the gateway to an at times unpleasant encounter with law enforcement.
A recent independent review of thousands of traffic stops, by the the Los Angeles Times found continued racial disparities by the Los Angeles Police Department.
The bottom line is law enforcement used failed strategies to use traffic and other minor violations “as a pretext to identify or suppress more serious crimes.”
Those strategies subjected Black and Latino drivers to far more stops than white drivers, even though Black and Latino people were less likely to be caught with contraband, and were “of limited effectiveness in identifying evidence of illegal firearms or other serious crimes,” the report by the LAPD Inspector General Mark Smith’s office found.
The review also found that units specifically assigned to suppress crime made more stops in high-crime areas in communities of color, and were more likely to subject the people they stopped to extensive questioning — about their backgrounds, their parole or probation status and their criminal records — and to other tactics, such as handcuffing, forcing them to face a wall or checking tattoos.
Case in point the death of South LA native Dijon Kizzee.
Kizzee was riding his bicycle in the Westmont area of South LA and was stopped by Sheriff’s deputies for allegedly riding his bike on the wrong side of the road. It is unknown if Kizzee was a documented member of a gang, however, social media posts depicted Kizzee with multiple tattoos on his upper torso. Despite the stop uncovering Kizzee was in possession of a stolen gun, he was dead moments later.
The community rallied together to protest the continued deaths of Black men in South LA at the hands of law enforcement over something as minor as a vehicle code violation.
“If Kizzee were White, he would have never been pulled over for such a minor offense,” said community activist Najee Ali.
New York police officers killed Eric Garner for selling loose cigarettes.
Officers approached Garner outside of a convenience store under the guise of him selling loose cigarettes which is illegal. By the end of the encounter Garner was dead from an unconstitutional chokehold.
Social justice advocates point to the disparity in the selection of banning tobacco products favored by Black’s as opposed to a ban across the board.
“Statistics show 45,000 people die from menthol cigarettes while 450,000 die from smoking, so why are only menthol products being targeted?” asked Pastor KW Tullos, president of the Baptist Ministers Conference.
“Don’t deny one group the right to smoke while allowing another group their right to choose,” said Pastor William Smart President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
SB 793 specifically targets Black consumers of tobacco products while intentionally ignoring tobacco products favored by Whites and those who enjoy Hookah.
SB 793 needs to be overturned and if you enjoy your right to choose, 2UrbanGirls urges you to sign the petition asking that this racist bill be overturned and placed before the voters to decide.