Black Community Thrashes New York City Fur Ban

The ban targets a symbol of pride for African-Americans in NYC without stopping white suburbanites from buying fur, advocates argue.

By Noah Manskar, Patch Staff | May 8, 2019 5:40 pm ET | Updated May 8, 2019 5:43 pm ET

NEW YORK — Jackie Rowe-Adams’s second son, Tyrone, often said how good she looked in furs. He told her he would save up to buy her one, she said, but he never got the chance — he was shot to death.

After Tyrone’s death, Rowe-Adams bought a fur in his memory. “When I put on my fur, I feel like my son is near,” she said.

That’s just one example of the powerful symbolism fur garments have among African-Americans in New York City, according to clergy and other advocates who argue a City Council proposal to ban fur sales threatens that tradition.

“People feel complete when they put on something that they worked hard for, they have sacrificed for,” said the Rev. Phil Craig, who was among about 75 clergy and other advocates who rallied against the ban Wednesday at City Hall. Several wore fur hats despite temperatures near 70 degrees.

Council Speaker Corey Johnson’s bill would bar city merchants from selling brand-new fur apparel and fine those who do. Used fur garments could still be sold, as could other items made from them.

But advocates say the measure is insensitive to the important cultural role that furs play in the city’s black communities, particularly black churches.

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