By: Ebony Baker
Friends has always been committed to supporting the community as well as outside organizations, by hosting regular fundraisers and by making donations to various causes. However, since the murder of George Floyd, Friends has made a conscious effort to push our company further, by educating ourselves and our staff, as well as pushing social change initiatives as much as possible. With this in mind, we decided to design and produce products that would address the continued oppression of people of color. With the goal of raising money for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), Friends NYC designed and released this brand new BONG. hat and matching tee shirt.
A portion of the sales of these two BONG. items will be donated to the DPA, an organization that is committed to changing the policies that incarcerate (mostly BIPOC) people, in prison for petty crimes, typically marijuana-related offenses. The designs were inspired by a hat worn by our sartorial icon, Dennis Rodman in the 1990s, and seen in the ESPN docuseries The Last Dance. Both items were hand-printed in Brooklyn by our friend and female-owned printing company, @Kingslandprinting.
During the 1960s, America saw a rise in the use of drugs. Subsequently, in June of 1971, President Richard Nixon declared drug abuse to be America’s “public enemy number one.” Nixon increased federal funding for drug control agencies as well as government-led initiatives that led to mandatory sentencing, no-knock warrants, house raids, and mass incarceration, especially of Black and Brown communities. Since the ’70s, $47+ billion has been spent annually in the U.S. on the War on Drugs. Since 2018, 1,654,282 people have been arrested in the U.S. of which 663,367 were arrested for marijuana law violations, and 608,775 people were arrested for possession only. “The percentage of people arrested for drug law violations are Black or Latino: 46.9% (despite making up just 31.5% of the U.S. population). In addition, the number of people in the U.S. incarcerated in 2016 was 2,205,300 – the highest incarceration rate in the world.”
These numbers are indicative of a failed system that used and abused Black and Brown communities to further financial and political gain. To combat this corrupt agenda, The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) has made it their “mission to advance those policies and attitudes that best reduce the harm of both drug use and drug prohibition, and to promote the sovereignty of individuals over their minds and bodies.” DPA’s vision is a “society in which the use and regulation of drugs are grounded in science, compassion, health, and human rights and which people are no longer punished for what they put into their own bodies but only for crimes committed against others, and in which the fears, prejudices and punitive prohibitions of today are no more.” Since being founded in the 2000s, DPA has become the world’s leading drug policy reform organization working to end the war on drugs.
Our BONG. hat and tee are available for purchase in store and at www.friendsnyc.com. We hope that you will join us in support of the DPA - get involved, make a donation, and help to end the War on Drugs and the continued incarceration of black bodies.
*All statistics referenced can be found on The Drug Policy Alliance website.*