Neighbors Of A Black-Owned Sober Living House In California Placed A Sign With The N-Word Outside 

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Security footage showed a neighbor placing a sign with the N-word on it close to a Black-owned sober living facility.

Brenda Jean Bowen and her family run the sober house, Brenda Jean’s Sober Living Facility, in Bakersfield, California, providing a safe living space for men with mental health and substance abuse issues. They aren’t the most popular in their neighborhood, as Bowen and her staff hand out food every Tuesday, but she never thought something like this would happen. “We got a lot of people that were worried about the guys, they didn’t want them in the neighborhood. We had it hard, but we’re not where we used to be,” the owner said. 

“When my husband was unloading the truck, they just happened to look over there, and they see a big sign that says n***r.”

Cameras caught a glimpse of the neighbor accused of the crime on Apr. 23. The family made an attempt to speak to the alleged neighbor but were unsuccessful. 

Bowens immediately reported the incident to Bakersfield Police and the NAACP. She said the family has had a previous disagreement with the same neighbor due to trash cans, but this is a different level. “This is some serious stuff. I took it to heart, and my family did, too. She had no reason to do that. If she had an issue, she could come talk to me,” Bowens said.

With her focus being on helping residents rehabilitate themselves, the men receive visits from social workers, drug testing, and mental health counseling. 

While the Bowens are moving past the traumatizing incident, Bowens is hoping the community won’t and will help support her work. In addition to distributing food, the facility runs a soup kitchen and internship program in collaboration with California State University, Bakersfield. 

Moving past racial slurs, Bowens wants to work on affording food and transportation for residents — not a racially motivated sign. “I love what I do. It’s in my heart. We have a lot of love for them, regardless of what they do I don’t judge them,” Bowens said. 

“It’s hard running Brenda Jean’s, I have a lot going on to worry about a sign that says that.” 

Numerous issues have been reported with sober living facilities throughout the Golden State. The chaos has prompted California lawmakers to propose a number of bills to address the professionalism of private operators in the industry. According to The Mercury News, the bills will pressure local governments to do more to guarantee safety inside these facilities

Data shows facilities in what’s described as “quiet communities” can raise issues for neighbors. The Southern California Sober Living Task Force, a bipartisan group of local and state officials, is looking into the data to investigate if the facilities aren’t a cover-up for activities other than to help people who need more protection and support.

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