Social Justice & Anti-Racism

As a Black man and the son of a West Indian immigrant, Justin understands that the history of America is a history of racist oppression. From chattel slavery to Jim Crow to the era of mass incarceration, Black americans have been violently exploited for 400 years. Racial discrimination is and has always been systemic, whether in the intentional segregation of housing or the disproportionate burden of policing placed on Black communities. Connecticut is not exempt from this history.


Connecticut’s housing stock is deeply segregated by race and class. Almost 75% of Black residents live in areas with low-quality schools, consistent health hazards and poor housing. The childhood poverty rate for Black residents is five times higher than it is for white children. As Black residents are significantly more likely to be poor, they are also severely impacted by the state’s affordable housing crisis. Black residents are incarcerated at more than 9 times the rate of white residents. The police murders of black teens like Mubarak Soulemane are an all too familiar story for Black communities around the state. Black residents are disproportionately exposed to air pollution. Connecticut has one of the largest Black-white educational achievement gaps in the country, and one of the starkest racial wealth gaps in the country. Racial disparities in healthcare are gaping, particularly for Black women. 


There is no realm of life in Connecticut that anti-black racism, systemic or otherwise, doesn’t impact.


On Juneteenth, we celebrate the end of slavery, and the unfulfilled promise of freedom. Justin believes in a transformative policy agenda which will bring us closer to the fulfillment of this promise and our ultimate goal: Black liberation.


Justin believes in: 


1. Defunding the police and prisons, and reinvesting in communities

  • Nationwide protests sparked by the police murder of George Floyd have led to a new reckoning with our bloated police budgets. Activists are calling to defund the police and invest in solving the real sources of crime: lack of housing, poor education, limited mental healthcare, unemployment and poverty. While defunding the police is primarily a municipal task, Justin believes that we must also take this fight to the state-level by defunding state police, public college campus police, and divesting from prisons.

  • Justin will significantly divest from and reduce the Department of Correction budget, which for FY21 stands at over $663 million; as well divest from and reduce the budget of the Division of State Police. 

  • Justin will ban the transfer of military equipment to local or state police.

  • Justin will reinvest in communities first-in-need which have been disproportionately harmed by policing and the carceral state. This includes directly reinvesting in alternatives to policing. These alternatives will be coordinated on a regionalized basis in order to effectively streamline services and can draw on numerous successful models from around the country. 

  • Justin will also provide state-level support to the most harmed communities in setting their own non-carceral reinvestment priorities through community controlled processes like participatory budgeting.

  • Justin will pass enabling legislation that allows communities to create well-resourced democratically controlled Civilian Review Boards.

  • Justin will fight to disarm and defund campus police on Connecticut public college campuses. Such college police departments themselves acknowledge that their roots lay in direct response to protest movements of the 1960s. We should not have militarized campuses.


2. Justice for Black women, Black transgender people and the Black LGBTQ+ community

  • Black women and members of the Black LGBTQ+ community experience medical racism, high rates of homelessness, trauma, sex trafficking and a dramatic wage gap.

  • Black women consistently report racist treatment by healthcare professionals. Poor Black women are also disproportionately impacted by restrictions on abortions rights. Justin believes in eradicating medical racism that leads to disproportionate injury and death for Black women, as well as securing reproductive justice for all women in Connecticut. Justin believes in legislation that expands the use of birth doulas to reduce the mortality rate of Black women.

  • 1 in 5 transgender people have experienced homelessness due to familial rejection or discrimination. The rates of youth homelessness are similarly high across the LGBTQ+ community, and particularly amongst Black LGBTQ+ youth. Justin believes in a housing first policy for dealing with homelessness. He believes in building mixed-income social housing with Permanently Supportive Housing (PSH) units that would provide homes and mental health services to homeless LGBTQ+ youth.

  • Justin also believes in collecting state-level data so that we can better understand the crises facing the LGBTQ+ community, and the Black LGBTQ+ community in particular. This includes research on the shocking number of Black transgender people that have been murdered in recent years.

  • While the gender pay gap receives a lot of attention, there is also a second pay gap: Black women make just 60 cents on the dollar compared to white men. Justin believes the state can close the race and gender pay gap throughout the state workforce, and require state contractors to close the gap as well.

  • Sex trafficking, particularly of Black women is a significant issue in Connecticut. Justin believes in decriminalizing sex work, ceasing the law enforcement entrapment of sex workers and providing resources and outreach to help women liberate themselves from their abusers.


3. Ending residential segregation and securing affordable housing for Black residents

  • In Connecticut, residential segregation has long been enforced by exclusionary zoning codes in wealthy towns and the construction of public housing in already poor neighborhoods. 

  • Justin will preempt exclusionary zoning laws like minimum lot sizes and single-family zoning to allow for affordable development in wealthy suburban communities.

  • Justin also believes in building mixed-income social housing, and supporting community-controlled models like Community Land Trusts and housing cooperatives. These housing systems will be racially integrated, transit-oriented and deeply affordable.

  • Justin also believes in reforming the state’s affordable housing statute, 8-30g, to include transportation in its calculations of affordability.


4. Closing the educational achievement gap

  • Public education in the state of Connecticut suffers from inequities both within schools and between school districts. A first and essential step to rectifying this is ensuring equitable funding of our schools. Justin believes the state should provide the full amount of the Education Cost Sharing (ECS) allotment and it must do so in an equitable way, prioritizing our communities and school districts first in need. 

  • Justin will remove structural barriers to a fiscally equitable statewide education system. Wealthy school districts such as Greenwich do not need millions in state-support when other school districts struggle to keep schools open and maintain small classroom sizes (which is a pivotal factor in multiple student outcomes).

  • Research clearly demonstrates that Black students are disproportionately targeted for suspensions, starting as early as preschool. Justin believes in ending the school-to-prison pipeline in Connecticut by divesting from carceral structures within schools, and expanding investment in school-based restorative practices and restorative justice

  • In order to strengthen and deepen restorative processes, Justin believes we need to establish pipelines that bring more Black social workers, teachers and executive administrators into our schools. Justin will work to remove economic barriers which prevent low-income first generation students from achieving teaching accreditation.

  • Justin believes in investing in long-proven institutional school-based models of enhancing student achievement and student development, such as the Comer School Development Program as combined with Teacher-Powered Schools.

  • Justin believes in creating a centralized database for anti-racist and historically accurate lesson plans that teachers can draw on for their classrooms.


5. Passing a Green New Deal which prioritizes racial, economic, and environmental justice

  • Climate change is bearing down on us all, but research demonstrates that it won’t affect us all equally. Poor, Black communities will be among the hardest hit, in large part due to longstanding housing, health and economic inequalities.  

  • I can’t breathe. Justin is one of many Black residents who have asthma or other respiratory diseases. Black children and teens are 5 ½ times more likely to be hospitalized due to asthma, largely due to racist siting of toxic waste sites and industry. 

  • Justin believes in a Green New Deal for Connecticut, which will lead the state’s transformation away from fossil fuels like natural gas and towards renewable energy, energy efficiency and public transportation. Justin also believes that Connecticut should invest in resiliency measures for the most vulnerable communities.

  • A Green New Deal will create thousands of good-paying jobs, and Justin will fight to ensure that those jobs are equally distributed to Black residents.

  • For Justin, environmental justice means ensuring that Black residents are protected from environmental gentrification or green gentrification, while fully gaining from the benefits of remediation and detoxification. Justin will fight for a Green New Deal that ends systematic environmental racism. This includes adequately resourcing the remediation of brownfields and ensuring that communities of color are not displaced by subsequent redevelopment. Instead, Justin will fight for community controlled models of redevelopment, such as participatory planning with outcomes of community ownership, which protect against displacement. 

  • Based on the ratio of top 1% to bottom 99% income, Connecticut ranks as the third highest state in income inequality in the United States. Justin will push for the wealthiest people to pay their fair share. 


6. Ensuring equal access to public transportation for all residents

  • Black residents disproportionately rely on public transportation, but Connecticut’s buses and trains are unreliable and limited. The system’s shortcomings shut Black residents who don’t own a car out of jobs and decent housing.

  • Justin will invest in a public transit-oriented vision, by expanding and modernizing service on all buses and trains, exploring opportunities for new bus and rail lines and reducing fare prices. 

  • This includes modernizing and expanding service on the Waterbury branch line, which runs through the heart of the 17th District.


7. Eliminating the substandard health conditions in Black communities

  • Black communities in Connecticut are disproportionately impacted by air pollution, food deserts and a lack of health insurance (including mental healthcare). Compared to white residents, Black residents are twice as likely to die from diabetes and Black infants are four times more likely to die before their first birthday. Simply put, Black residents are in poorer health and live shorter lives than white residents.

  • Justin believes in rectifying these historical health inequities. Justin will fight to expand Medicaid so that it covers patients who make too much for state-funded plans and too little for private health insurance plans. 

  • Justin will provide resources to towns and cities to end food deserts and provide mental health services to their residents. He will also fight against the siting of toxic waste sites near Black communities, and enact legislation that gives poor communities more control over waste and industrial siting processes.


8. Legalizing marijuana and investing in communities terrorized by the War on Drugs

  • Far too many Black men and women have been incarcerated for marijuana-related offenses. Justin believes in legalizing marijuana immediately, and investing tax revenue from it’s sale into communities most impacted by the War on Drugs.

  • Justin also believes that all prisoners currently incarcerated on marijuana-related charges should be released, and all residents with marijuana charges on their records should have those records expunged.

  • Justin believes marijuana should be sold through worker-run, public dispensaries which prioritize employment opportunities for formerly incarcerated people.


9. A just recovery from COVID-19

  • In Connecticut, Black residents are 2.5 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than white residents. Black residents are also bearing the burden of the state’s rent crisis, and are at an increased risk of eviction in coming months. Additionally, Black residents are more likely to work high-risk, “essential” jobs, further exposing them to COVID-19.

  • Incarcerated residents, who are disproportionately Black, are at a high risk from COVID-19. Justin believes in freeing as many prisoners as possible from jails and prisons.

  • Justin believes in cancelling rent for the duration of the crisis, enacting a statewide moratorium on evictions and granting homeowners the “right to sell” their property to the municipality and become a public housing tenant.

  • Throughout the pandemic, Black communities have had limited access to testing. Justin believes in expanding access to testing in poor Black communities.


10. Reparations

  • America has never had to reckon with it’s deeply racist, anti-black history. Black Americans have never been duly compensated for four hundred years of slavery, Jim Crow and mass incarceration. Justin believes in reparations, and will push legislation that establishes a commission devoted to investigating proposals for reparations. This bill will mirror H.R. 40, the proposed federal legislation which would establish a “Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans.”