You are reading

Forest Hills Residents Form Group to Increase Black Political Advocacy, Inaugural Meeting Thursday

Titilayo Yasukawa, president of the new group (Photo: Courtesy of Color of Justice)

May 12, 2021 By Ryan Songalia

A group of Black residents in Forest Hills have formed a political group that aims to address issues pertaining to the minority community in the district.

The organization, called the Color of Justice, aims is to educate its members on how to get involved in the political process, while confronting issues specific to the experiences of Black people in the community.

The group will be holding its first meeting via Zoom on Thursday at 7 p.m., and will meet every second Thursday of the month. People of all backgrounds are welcome to be part of the meeting.

The group’s president, Titilayo Yasukawa, says the organization was formed by a number of members of the Queens Central Democratic Club.

She said that after George Floyd was murdered, she only found true comfort speaking about racial issues with the members of the COJ group she has helped found.

“I was just thinking, a lot of these institutions and things were not created with us in mind. So I wanted a space that was created with us in mind,” Yasukawa said.

Though Black people only account for about 3 percent of the population in the area, there are a number of issues in the district that have a direct impact on the Black community there, Yasukawa says.

Some members are concerned that police officers at the NYPD’s 112th Precinct may be racial profiling.

There has been racial tension regarding the city’s plan to integrate School District 28, Yasukawa says. The plan involves providing children in low-income areas of the school district—such as Black children from Jamaica– with an opportunity to go to better schools in the district that are primarily white and Asian in Forest Hills.

The group has seven founders,Titilayo Yasukawa, President, Gideon Zvulon, Vice-President, Natalie Dauphin, Communications Director, Travelle Barksdale, Community Engagement Director, and Executive Board Founding Members Melanie Rudolfo, Rosa Hall, and Tania Padgett.

The founding board consists of local activists and organizers, executives and entrepreneurs, some of whom are community board members and parent association leaders.

Yasukawa says she doesn’t have an estimate as to how many people will participate in Thursday’s meeting, but she says she has seen a number of people registering for the event.

She said that it is important that the members get to know the political process.

Yasukawa says that she didn’t know the function of community boards and the city council, prior to Donald Trump being elected president in 2016. Now she doesn’t miss a community board meeting, and finds that understanding the functions of institutions like that is key to empowerment.

“I think that that’s where a lot of power comes from, from being able to have your voice represented by being at the table of this level of local government and civic engagement,” said Yasukawa.

The first objective is to build membership and to educate about the local political process, says the group’s Vice President Gideon Zvulon. Larger goals include addressing social justice, plus inequities in education, housing, public health and business.

Yasukawa says she has seen some glimmers of hope. Community Board 6, which covers Forest Hills and Rego Park, recently added more Black representation to its members. She hopes to see more voices speaking up to advocate for issues that are vital to Black people.

Those interest in registering for the meeting should click here

email the author: [email protected]
No comments yet

Leave a Comment
Reply to this Comment

All comments are subject to moderation before being posted.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Recent News

BP launches new advisory panel for youth to become civically engaged in the future of Queens

In an effort to get more young people involved in civics, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards has created a new advisory panel known as the Youth and Young Adult Council to introduce the “youngest and fiercest” community advocates to both community service and organization.

Members of the advisory body will advocate concerns through means of community engagement by participating in one of two cohorts. The first will be made up of high school representatives between the ages of 13 and 17, while the second cohort will be comprised of young adults between the ages of 18 and 25.

‘Where do we go now?’ Michaels set to close its doors in Fresh Meadows next month

The Michaels located at 187-04 Horace Harding Expwy. in Fresh Meadows will be permanently closing its doors on Feb. 23. The announcement that Michaels will be leaving the Fresh Meadows Shopping Center has led to an outpouring of reactions from many community members.

“We know this is disappointing to our customers in Queens, but we hope to continue to serve them at our other locations in New York City or online at Michaels.com,” a spokesperson for Michaels said in a statement to Patch.com.

Queens senator holds Lunar New Year celebration at Tangram in Flushing

Hundreds of revelers joined state Senator John Liu for a Lunar New Year celebration Friday night at Tangram in Downtown Flushing. The event featured free food from 25 local restaurants, as well as musical and cultural performances and giveaways.

Liu was joined at the event by several local leaders, including Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz, Assemblyman Edward Braunstein, Councilwomen Sandra Ung and Linda Lee and many more. Many of the leaders spoke about the importance of this celebration to the Queens community as they celebrated the start of the Year of the Rabbit.

These Queens eateries are participating in the upcoming NYC Restaurant Week

NYC Restaurant Week is underway, so nix that skillet and bring family and friends to your favorite neighborhood spot, or get inspired and break bread somewhere new and different. During this special citywide culinary event, food-lovers will enjoy curated menus and prix-fixe prices that are easy on the wallet.

Bookings began on Jan. 17 and are available until Feb. 12, and you can reserve a table at 30 participating Queens restaurants, along with hundreds more across the five boroughs.

Flushing BID launches free online raffle to support local businesses in the community

The Flushing Business Improvement District (BID), on Friday, Jan. 20, announced the launch of Lucky7, a free online raffle to celebrate the Lunar New Year, promote local businesses, and bring shoppers from other regions to downtown Flushing. 

“This event is to celebrate the culture in Downtown Flushing. The food culture, shopping culture, but most importantly to celebrate the Lunar New Year culture in Downtown Flushing,” said Dian Yu, executive director of the Flushing BID. “This is a unique opportunity for people not familiar with Downtown Flushing to truly experience the food and fun that’s only available in Flushing.”

Queens lawmaker reintroduces legislation to make Lunar New Year a federal holiday

As the Asian American community prepares to begin celebrating Lunar New Year on Sunday, Jan. 22, Queens Congresswoman Grace Meng on Friday reintroduced a package of legislation to commemorate the holiday. 

Meng’s legislative Lunar New Year package includes the Lunar New Year Day Act, which would establish Lunar New Year as the 12th federal holiday recognized across the United States. It also includes a resolution, “Recognizing the cultural and historical significance of Lunar New Year,” that commemorates the long history and explains the cultural importance of the holiday. 

Lunar New Year ‘special celebration’ held at Queensborough Community College in Bayside

Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz joined Councilwomen Sandra Ung and Linda Lee on Wednesday, Jan. 18, for a special celebration in honor of the Lunar New Year at the Student Union Building at Queensborough Community College in Bayside.

Ung escaped the Cambodian genocide as a child, and her family emigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old. Now she represents Flushing with its enormous Asian American population. She said she is proud to see how many Lunar New Year celebrations she sees around the city compared to when she first arrived in Queens.

BP Richards, local leaders speak with small business owners in Flushing in effort to improve the neighborhood

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards joined several Queens leaders Wednesday morning for a walking tour through Flushing to get input from the community on how to improve the neighborhood.

The Jan. 18 tour comes in the wake of public safety concerns in downtown Flushing. While crime was a main concern among the business owners Richards spoke with Wednesday, there were other areas they wished to see improvements in across the area, including traffic and sanitation issues.