Since arriving here on U.S. soil, it has been a constant uphill battle for the Black American citizens of this country.
Dealing with Antebellum slavery, Jim Crow laws, segregation, as well as our continued battle with an openly racist criminal justice system that allows law enforcement to kill black citizens with impunity have all played a major part in, not only how we treat each other, but how we treat ourselves.
For some of us, these adverse situations become too much to handle and taking advantage of any way possible to escape naturally became the only way out. Whether it was weed, cocaine, heroin or even alcohol, we all have someone in our family that abused one or more of these drugs.
However, that all changed in the 1980s with the advent of “Crack Cocaine.“ Not only was it extremely addictive but considerably more affordable than other drugs of its caliber, naturally making it the specific drug of choice for the melanated community. Broken families who were already dealing with the systemic deficiencies I described earlier, now had to deal with the repercussions of a family member who became a “crack addict.“
At the time, the primary users of this drug were typically low-income, poverty-stricken individuals who until then, had a hard enough time dealing with the fierce struggles of everyday life, once they found crack, the community imploded. All the men and women in the inner city that fell victim to the irresistible allure of the drug, promptly becoming a shell of themselves, forfeiting what little funds they did have available, just for a hit.
Those who didn’t have money participated in a less honorable form of bartering offering up whatever they had available. Vehicles, T.V’s, microwaves, furniture, even items that belonged to their kids, all of it had a price. It wasn’t uncommon to find apartments completely empty because everything had been willingly sold.
The innocent children involved inevitably got the worst end of the stick, often times being left alone to fend for themselves. In some cases, that meant being a part of the exact thing that was tearing their family apart just on the opposite end of the spectrum. You see, the crack user wasn’t the lone addict, so was the dealer.
For the first time ever, young men in urban communities all over the country were able to generate thousands of dollars within hours. The “D-Boys” stood out. Nice cars, jewelry, expensive clothes, fly women, they enjoyed it all, right in the midst of a community that had nothing. This elevated the drug dealer to a celebrity type figure influencing the subsequent generation of young men to follow in their footsteps.
He was a hero for many reasons, but it wasn’t just the money, he also appeared to maneuver around the limitations placed on black society by the white power structure. However, when it was all said and done, both individuals fell right into the clever trap. In 1982, then President Ronald Reagan doubled down on an initiative started by Richard Nixon called “The war on drugs” creating mandatory minimum sentencing laws for drug offenders.
The harsh sentencing focused on crack and not powder cocaine, meaning most of the people affected by these new laws were black. It’s essential that we all understand how crucial this time period was and most importantly, how vital the government’s role was in it.