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DETROIT–Making it Count Community Development Corporation (MiCCDC) and Detroit’s own Dr. Michael Eric Dyson hosted a Juneteenth lunch and learn experience at the Detroit Historical Museum. The lunch and learn was geared at advocating against flavored tobacco products in Black communities.
The Juneteenth event welcomed a lively panel discussion moderated by Munson Steed, Rolling Out CEO and publisher and notable intellectual and New York Times best-selling author, Dr. Michael Eric Dyson.
It drew crowds from far and wide and packed-out the lower-level theatre-style room. City officials, community leaders, residents, including Detroit resident and veteran actor Hill Harper, and more attended the event and lunch was provided by Durden’s Catering.
The dangers of flavored tobacco
MiC founder and CEO Minou Jones welcomed guests to the Juneteenth event and opened up on the dangers about big tobacco companies targeting Black communities’ youth. Jones quickly brought truth to light when she played several mind-blowing videos that appeared to be colorful, youth-related promotional commercials, deceivably selling candy, however, they were actually selling flavored tobacco products.
Jones also went on to speak about why she so passionately continues to fight in the war to end-menthol.
“My father lost his life to COPD in November. I talked to my father before he passed away. I wanted to know a little bit more about how he started using tobacco products. His story was much like many of the stories that have been heard: most people start smoking tobacco products before their legal age, before 21 and before 18. My father started smoking menthol cigarettes before he was 11 years old,” Jones emotionally stated.
“We’ve heard from community leaders who are still fighting on this issue every day because retailers are selling tobacco products to our babies, and I’m talking about five year olds. We have to do more as a people,” she went on to implore.
Dr. Teresa Holtrop, pediatrician and medical director at The Kids’ Health Connections, also spoke about seeing the dangers of big tobacco companies targeting kids with colorful and flavored products during her 20+ year career span.
Dr. Michael Eric Dyson advocates against flavored tobacco
Dr. Dyson was up next with his panel discussion “Still Fighting for Freedom in America,” which centered around learning the tactics that big tobacco companies use to keep the public in chains as it pertains to using menthol and flavored tobacco products.
Publisher and CEO of Rolling Out Munson Steed moderated the lively discussion as they touched on Dr. Dyson’s Detroit roots, his childhood memories of growing up near Fernwood Street on the city’s west side and being enticed to smoke tobacco by local advertisements, and more.
Dyson recalled how he saw entertainers and actors smoking cigarettes and cigars and wanted to be like them with his “candy cigarettes” that mimicked tobacco products.
However, he mentioned witnessing a robbery at 12 years old, at his local corner store where he normally bought the candy cigars, when he had a real-life double-barrel-sawed-off shotgun pointed directly at his back. Although the robbery was successful, this core memory is what made him immediately stop buying and using them and never took an interest in tobacco again.
Staying woke to manipulative marketing tactics
Dyson said even though he didn’t want the audience to have that dramatic of an experience to make them stop smoking, he went on to say “The point is, we are using our cultural genius to further seduce young people. When I say “we”, it’s not just us intentionally, it’s corporate culture, which has appropriated that music to appropriate the minds of our young people. And just by becoming conscious of it, we can begin to make gestures towards remedying what’s going on.”
The event concluded with closing remarks from Jones and photo opportunities with MiC’s esteemed board members Dr. Sheila Williamson, PhD, DNP, CRNA, president; Norma Early, MBA, CPA, CIA, CISA, treasurer; and Angelena Thomas-Scruggs, Esq, secretary.
Lunch was served by Durden’s catering. For more information on MiC, visit https://www.umakeitcount.org.