Forum Brings Community Together to Discuss Concerns
Royce W. Esters, CEO, National Association for Equal Justice in America, (NAEJA) and Khalif Rashaan curator, African American Museum of Beginings.
By Naomi Bonman
IVN Staff Wrtiter
Upland, CA- The Inland Valley News recently held a community forum where community stakeholders and leaders came to discuss ‘Injustice in the Black Community.’ The Injustice included the removal of the Inland Valley News newspapers from the Upland VONS and Pomona Walmart stores. After Walmart ignored phone calls and requests to get the issue resolved, the community felt the need to come together. This forum was very informative and strategic solutions were brought forth.
Tommy Morrow, Publisher of the Inland Valley News, welcomed everyone to the forum and then turned the program over to Attorney Charrisse Artry, moderator of the forum, who introduced the panel for evening. Royce Esters, President of National Association for Equal Justice in America, and Khalif Rashaam, Curator of African American Museum of Beginnings, led the community in the evening’s discussion.
President of The National Association for Equal Justice in America (NAEJA) Royce Esters has been a prominent businessman in Compton, California since 1964. He noticed that there was a need for an on-hands and one-on-one civil rights organization helping the most common individuals with their human and civil rights issues. NAEJA believes in helping all races in America, and works to cripple the idea of limited rights, to remove the ideas of creating institutions that demean, dehumanize, threaten and violate humans with unjustifiable means.
“We need to start working together by supporting our community,” Esters said.
The second panelist was Khalif Rashaam, Curator of The African American Museuem of Beginnings. The museum is a permanent exhibit reflecting African and African-American history, life and civilization. It is a commemoration of a great people from the artistic expressions of Pomona preschool students to professional exhibits illustrating the life and achievements of classical Africa.
“Racism is a system of government. It’s the feeling that a group is superior to another; the only functional racism is white supremacy. We need to focus on ourselves so that we can make changes to the government,” Rashaam said on what racism is and how we can control it.
After the introductions of the panel, Attorney Artry addressed the issues involving the Upland Vons and Pomona Walmart before opening the floor up for the community to address their experiences and concerns, “People have been affected. We want to know if there are other incidents that have occurred that we are not aware of,” Artry said.
Upon reading and hearing about the Pomona Walmart incident, Rich Wallace, President of the Southern California Black Chamber of Commerce; stated that he had called the corporate office in Dallas, “I called the corporate office of Walmart in Dallas and was informed that they are removing all free publications from all stores. If we form a letter writing campaign opposed to a phone campaign, Walmart’s response will be faster.”
Racism is not just occurring within the retail, but it is happening in other areas of the community as well. Arlene Jackson, CEO and Founder of Restoring Hope Community Services Inc., mentioned that racism occurs in the Real Estate business by non-minorities closing the deal before minorities or receiving higher stocks.
Robert Burks, Community Activist, mentioned racism occurring within government and politics, “President Obama’s colleagues have been refusing to follow some of his orders. Some do not respect President Obama because they do not call him President,” he said.
Juanita Dawson, Senior Manager at Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems listed the strategies on a board. She provides the vision and leadership for developing and sup- porting initiatives critical to governance and compliance practices in Information Technology. Prior to Ms. Dawson’s role in Information Technology, she was a Systems Project Manager on the B-2 Mission Planning Program. Ms. Dawson joined Hughes Aircraft in 1990 as a Member of the Technical Staff advancing to her current role in Information Technology. Dawson is a life member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated where she currently serves as President of the Epsilon Eta Omega Chapter. Alpha Kappa Alpha is comprised of 260,000 members internationally and is dedicated to improving the quality of life for citizens’ worldwide and promoting global peace.
The strategies listed included a letter writing campaign, boycotting Walmart stores, forming a coalition to lead a march to the District Council, forming church groups, organizing a steering committee and using social media to spread the word.
“If it’s our company today, it can be your company tomorrow. We are asking you to help us help our community. It is time to stand up and stop waiting for others to do what we can do ourselves. Let’s be the one to make change happen,” Morrow said.
For more information or to become a part of the Steering Committee please email email@example.com or call (909) 985-0072.