A friend of mine who lives in Massachusetts sent me her friend's “food for thought” email Sunday morning, which I found quite nauseating. It was a push to not vote for the 3 proposal questions that will change the New York City Charter for the better. The 3 proposal questions, put forth by the New York Racial Justice Commission under Mayor Bill DeBlasio, came out of weeks of protests in June 2020, after the murders of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, and the murders of Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery a short time earlier.
A New York Times article published in March 2021, After Unrest and Protests N.Y.C. created Group to Dismantle Structural Racism, can help us recall the people power that got us to this point. We now have 3 proposal questions on the ballot that can change our city and our lives, if we flip the ballot, and vote.
The change, if New Yorkers participate by voting and not leaving these questions blank, will add a Preamble to the New York City Charter stating that New York City is a “mulitracial democracy and that our diversity is our strength,” and will add “racial justice infrastructure,” as well as “measure the true cost of living” in the city — if the change goes through it can set a trend that can have an impact on the entire country. Yes. I am an optimist. I think that it can help countless communities and people who are my kinfolk, who have been historically harmed and marginalized by systemic racism.
If you live in New York City, and care about racial and economic justice, I am counting on you to vote yes too. If you live anywhere in the country, or the world for that matter, and know someone who lives in New York City, pick up the phone. Call or text your friends and loved ones, and tell them to #flipyourballot and vote yes on all three proposal questions.
As a trend setting city, we can help set a bar. These efforts are simply another step in the right direction, forward, not backwards. If you care about racial justice, economic fairness and democracy this concerns you. You do not need to live in New York City. New York City is a trend setting city, from fashion to politics.
As a working class Black Puerto Rican I am voting yes on all 3 proposal questions to endorse the efforts that will amend the New York City Charter to make sure it has language that puts it on the table that we need a dedicated office to address racism. The fact of the matter is that racism exists in New York City. We live in a segregated city with a segregated school system. We need to have an Office of Racial Justice and Equity. This is the same city that spawned Trump and Trumpism. This is a city that is not as cosmopolitan as people would like to think, even if we have a Black mayor ( as the saying goes, not all skin folk are kinfolk). This is a city where the Don’t Tread on Me flag is flown in certain districts including the North East Bronx. In a recent public meeting, as reported in The Bronx Times, Chaos ensues as CB11 Just Home public hearing leaves little room for disagreement, so even though Ted Cruz got a bunch of boos at Yankee Stadium, reactionary sectors are alive and well and coming out of the woodwork. Liberal friends who are pushing against New York City’s 3 proposals by telling people to leave it blank ain't doin us any favors.
Lurie Daniel Favors, one of the ten Racial Justice Commissioners, explains how the 3 Ballot Proposals came about and why it is important for people to flip their ballot and vote on this charter, in the New York City election. “A few things became clear. #1, we can’t create just one good program to solve racism #2, we just create nice policies to solve racism. We have to deal with the way that racism permeates our governments. So that’s what we did. We have the power to change the New York City charter…Our city charter is hundreds and hundreds of pages long… There are literally hundreds and hundreds of provisions and we could literally spend the next ten years going through each one to figure out how racism shows up in sanitation, how does racism show up in [the] NYPD, and that would take forever — we don’t have that time, because our commission ends...at the end of election day. So what we did instead was, we came up with three ballot proposals… that will basically, fundamentally change the way that government deals with issues of racism in this city from now into perpetuity, if New Yorkers vote.”
Lurie Daniel Favors speaks on Hot 97 about the 3 Proposal Questions NYC Election 2022
Proposal Question # 2, would create a racial equity plan mandate. This means that if New Yorkers vote yes, every single agency in the city from sanitation, to the MTA, NYPD, the Mayor’s Office, and public hospitals — every single agency would have to create an annual baseline report to produce data “that looks back at how they’ve done and then every other year thereafter they’d have to create a plan for what they are going to do to address the racial disparities” Laurie Daniel Favors explains.
In essence, it would mandate an racial disparity audit.
It would also create a Racial Equity Officer. It would create accountability, something that we need to go beyond symbolic change, and performative gestures.
Manhattan Neighborhood Network aired a recent panel, “Latinos & Racial Justice Town Hall: 2022 General Elections Ballot Proposals” which also broke down why it matters that New Yorkers not leave the proposal blank. The panel featured Lucia Gomez, Political Director at New York City Central Labor Council discussing the importance of the three ballot proposals for the 2022 General Elections with Ana M. Bermúdez, Commissioner of NYC Department of Probation, Grace C. Bonilla, Esq. President and CEO of United Way of New York City (UWNYC), and Melissa Mark-Viverito, Former NYC City Council Speaker.
Latinos & Racial Justice Town Hall: 2022 General Elections Ballot Proposals
Back to what prompted this story, of course I am ignoring the friend who advised me to leave the questions blank. I am not wasting time thinking too hard about the doom and gloom. It is a no brainer. As a Black Puerto Rican, working class woman, I know how I am voting. I am voting YES on all three proposal questions. Who does it benefit to vote no or leave the questions blank? It definitely does not benefit BIPOC communities, women, queer and working class, low-income, rent-poor people and struggling families, facing gentrification and displacement.
I prefer to use my time and energy to ask you, if you live in New York City, to vote YES on the three proposal questions on the ballot. And if you do not live in New York City but have friends and family who do, please tell them to vote YES too!
Flip your ballot! Do not leave the questions blank.