Trenton, NJ – Earlier today, Governor Murphy gave his State of the State address where he outlined a promising plan to move New Jersey forward in the coming year. During his speech, Gov. Murphy expressed a commitment to ensuring that this state grows not only from the “middle out,” but also from the “bottom up.” He vowed to rebuild the American dream for New Jersey residents by growing and shaping a state that leads in our public education system, ensuring safe and affordable housing, addressing the racial inequities in maternal and infant health, protecting voter rights, and addressing the harm caused by the War on Drugs.
While we are encouraged by New Jersey’s progress under the Governor’s leadership, we must not only acknowledge our state’s shortcomings in fully addressing the conditions that afflict Black communities, but we must insist that the state meet these issues with the sensitivity, urgency, and intentionality that it requires.
Although Black residents comprise a mere 15 percent of the state’s population, we continue to be overrepresented in crisis and institutional systems as evidenced in the state’s disparities in health, housing, and carceral systems; yet underrepresented in areas that afford social benefits as evidenced by the state’s stark $300,000 racial wealth gap.
Despite leading the nation in racial disparities, there is an enormous opportunity for the state to be a true leader by advancing and embracing racial justice and equity. This is accomplished by (1) codifying the Use of Force directive, ensuring that its gains live beyond any administration; (2) significant investments in Black maternal health centers throughout the state, placing resources in the hands of Black mothers to improve outcomes through culturally congruent care; (3) establishing community-led first response teams for nonviolent substance use, behavioral and mental health calls (4) desegregating New Jersey’s public schools; (5) funding harm reduction efforts, violence interruption and restorative justice hubs; and (6) the reinvestment of cannabis revenue and opioid settlement monies to repair and make whole the communities disproportionately targeted by the decades-long War on Drugs.
With all of the positive gains it has had, New Jersey still exists as one of the most inequitable states in the nation. Salvation and Social Justice exists because of these racial and social inequities and continue to strive toward the liberation of our communities through equitable and just public policy. We look forward to working closely with this administration, the Legislature, advocates, and community leaders to bring us closer to realizing the New Jersey that was promised and the one New Jerseyans deserve.
View our policy agenda here.