New York gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon is catching heat this week after suggesting the creation of legalized marijuana businesses throughout the state could serve as a form of reparations in African-American communities.
Nixon’s controversial comments came during an interview with Forbes, where she criticized the failed war on drugs and stressed the need for racial equity in the booming pot industry. The former “Sex and the City” actress announced her bid for state governor last month and has since championed recreational pot legalization a primary part of her campaign.
Meanwhile, current Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is running for re-election, hasn’t thrown his support behind legalization in New York but instead called for further research into the hot-button issue.
“This is a racial justice issue because we’re incarcerating people of color in such staggering numbers,” Nixon told Forbes.
“Now that cannabis is exploding as an industry, we have to make sure that those communities that have been harmed and devastated by marijuana arrests get the first shot at this industry,” she added. “We [must] prioritize them in terms of licenses. It’s a form of reparations.”
Her remarks struck a nerve with several Black leaders, however, who considered such a suggestion “ignorant and offensive.”
I’m for legalizing marijuana and I like Cynthia Nixon but putting pot shops in our communities is not reparations. Health care, education !!
— Reverend Al Sharpton (@TheRevAl) May 7, 2018
Manhattan Democratic Party Chairman Keith Wright said Nixon’s remarks were nothing short of “ill-informed” and “lacked understanding of the greatest crime in history, and should cease and desist.”
“Ms. Nixon should relegate her comments to legalization, pro or con,” Wright told the New Yoke Daily News. “I believe social equity should be a part of licenses to sell marijuana, if and when legalization does occur … However, it’s insulting to my soul, that the free labor that my ancestors gave to this country would be equated with the selling of marijuana.”
Black Lives Matter of Greater New York argued the former actress’s comments “played into harmful stereotypes of African-Americans as drug dealers and users,” and demanded that she apologize for her comments.
“It does an even greater disservice to the enduring consequences of both slavery and Jim Crow and the inequities these systems of oppression perpetuated to claim that legalizing marijuana would somehow erase that experience,” the group wrote.
On the flip side, there were those like outspoken journalist Shaun King who felt Nixon’s comments were misinterpreted.
I have to be clear here. @CynthiaNixon did not say that guaranteeing marijuana businesses in Black communities is reparations for slavery.
She said reparations need to be made for modern day mass incarceration to right the wrongs of it.
I agree. https://t.co/NpvEBIxouV
— Shaun King (@shaunking) May 8, 2018
Nixon has yet to respond to the backlash.