BEN CHAVIS and AL SHARPTON

(NNPA)—Rapidly shifting U.S. demographics are fueling the urgency of civil rights leaders, social scientists, policy makers, and public health professionals to focus their attention on policies designed to close the gap in racial and ethnic health disparities and ensure justice and equity in communities of color. In the interest of social justice, the good intent of policies developed and endorsed by dedicated public servants requires, however, a thorough and thoughtful consideration of the impact of unintended consequences of those policies in communities of color across the nation.

While many Black Americans have made significant advances in professional and educational achievement, heightened political and social status, far too many are still burdened with poverty, few employment and educational opportunities and poor health. Compounding this situation is the tense relationship between police and the Black community because of use of excessive force, profiling, over incarceration, and selective prosecution. It has also been well documented that Black people are sicker, experience bias and discrimination in the healthcare system and die sooner than other groups in American society.

It stands to reason why conscientious policymakers and public health professionals are zealous in their efforts to do whatever it takes to improve the safety, quality of life and health in Black communities—even if it means making selected harmful products unavailable by imposing bans and prohibitions.

Prohibitions and bans are official public proclamations and legislative orders forbidding, limiting, restricting and making illegal a behavior or forbidding, limiting, restricting and making illegal the use, manufacture or selling of a product. In 1920, Congress ratified the 18th Amendment to the Constitution prohibiting the manufacture, transportation and sale of liquor.

The good intentions of those who aggressively supported the prohibition on alcohol were to reduce access to alcohol as a way of reducing drunkenness, the crime and accidents caused by drunkenness and to reduce the death, illness and disease associated with the use and abuse of alcohol.

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