A group of Black politically engaged Forest Hills residents looking for a way to come together and voice their concerns are launching a community alliance this week.
The group, Color of Justice (COJ), said they hoped to increase the political and civic engagement of the Black community in Forest Hills and surrounding neighborhoods by providing a forum to focus on issues specific to them.
“Forest Hills is a nice place to live,” said COJ president Titilayo Yasukawa. “But far too often Black concerns get overlooked or outright dismissed by other organizations. So we decided to create our own space that empowers its citizens to find solutions through political, civic and legislative engagement.”
The result of more than a year of informal gatherings, COJ is holding their first formal meeting on Thursday, May 13 at 7 p.m. on Zoom. The meeting is open to the public. Those interested in learning more about the group, can receive a link to the Zoom meeting by registering in advance.
Yasukawa said she moved to Forest Hills about 15 years ago with her husband from the Upper East Side of Manhattan. And while she loves the neighborhood, she said there’s always been a sense of isolation living as a Black woman in Forest Hills.
The Black community in Forest Hills is small. It makes up around Black residents in Forest Hills make up around 2% of the population, according to recent Census data.
Yasukawa said she’s been involved with other groups in the area but that none focused on issues specific to the Black community, a gap she is hoping COJ will fill.
“Sometimes there has to be specific topics that really affect black people that may not be a major priority for other groups,” she said.
Maternal mortality, profiling and harassment by police, and diversity in education are just some of the topics that Yasukawa has spoken out about previously that she said she hopes the group can tackle.
COJ is hoping to attract people interested in Black political advocacy and issues specific to Black daily life. The group is starting off small, but hopes to grow into a nonprofit someday, Yasukawa said.
Vice President Gideon Zvulon said that their first objectives are to build membership and to educate residents on the local political process. Engagement in local politics is one of the first steps towards making positive change for their community, he said.
“It is at this level where critical resources for our community are distributed,” he said. “We need to ensure that we have a seat at the table in those discussions.”