I need this clarified. Last week, yet another person (who doesn’t really know me) has recommended that I watch the cable tv show, “Snowfall”. For the unfamiliar, the show is described by the FX network as “A young street entrepreneur, a Mexican wrestler, a CIA operative, a drug-running couple and other characters are set on a violent collision course during the infancy of the crack cocaine epidemic in 1980s Los Angeles.” It is always another Black person recommending this show to me.
So, I ask again, are we FOR or AGAINST drugs?
My wife has been binge watching “Breaking Bad”. Though the presentation is engrossing, I have no interest in it. She likes it, so I tolerate it, and when I do, it is interesting. But I would never choose it. I do not wish to watch what I consider the romanticizing of drug culture. Every day and night on local news in any corner of America, one will hear of the deaths from illegal drugs. If you get out and about at all, especially in urban areas, the drug afflicted are difficult to miss. Yet, we consume entertainment about this, not framed as tragic, but as glory and sexy for the seller, and as a salve for the user.
Examining Black media, it seems that all entertainment must include dope references at a minimum, if not with drugs as a major part of the theme/plot/song. And we love it. The more we tell the world that we’re not addicts and pimps and hustlers and criminals, the more we seem to romanticize addicts and pimps and hustlers and criminals. Despite comedian Chris Rock’s body of work, his most famous and breakthrough moment for black people was as the crack addict in “New Jack City”, crying that, “. . . the pipe is calling me!”
What could be more telling than the subgenre or rap music referred to as ‘trap’, alluding to the latest street lingo for illegal drug sales. Go back two decades, and there was Biggie Smalls, the Notorious B.I.G. He brought to our ears “The Ten Crack Commandments” an instructional piece of Hip Hop music on how to sell drugs and get away with it.
Meanwhile, his colleague Jay-Z bragged in ‘Change the Game’, “Hold up luv, You know Jigga man resume’/blow up drugs . . .” and later in the verse, “I’m not a Blood or a Crip, but I’ll put drugs on the strip, I’ll put dubs on a whip . . .” or in the Funkmaster Flex’s ‘Mixtape Vol. II’, “I did erry bit o’ crime I writ in mine, ran so much coke, I can shit o’ dime . . . when it comes to the hustle I’ll tell you what to do and how to do it . . .”
All this is especially frustrating because I get lectured regularly by Black activist friends that the crack/cocaine drug epidemic of the early nineties broke the Black community and destroyed the Black Family—which is correct. There is the further insistence that the scourge of drugs was introduced by the US Government via the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The Reagan administration was accused of financing an under the table deal with Iran with funds generated by a CIA Drug smuggling operation, after being refused an allotment for the operation by Congress. The report below seemed to find that the smuggled drugs were introduced via poor Black neighborhoods. But why is the resultant plague being bragged about in music and fantasized in film and television?Usually, these same people also insist that marijuana is harmless and should be legalized, if not legal already.
Back in the 2000s I was a fan of the television show ‘24’. In my opinion it presented the most positive portrayal of a black man since ‘The Cosby Show’. However, most of my black counterparts were more interested in ‘The Wire’. That show (again, for the unfamiliar) was about the open-air drug markets in Baltimore.
I tried to introduce them to ‘24’ which featured Dennis Haysbert as President (a black man, twelve years before Barack Obama), but they wanted the drugs and the streets. Not one black person I knew was interested in ‘24’. I encountered person after person who binge watched ‘The Wire’.
I ask again, are we FOR drugs; or AGAINST drugs?
A friend of mine baffled me with an offer to partner in a CBD dispensary. Never mind that I am a parent; this is not a consideration of his and for him probably doesn’t matter. But what baffled me is that he is good for a lecture from time to time about the setbacks Blacks suffer/suffered as a community at what he says is an evil conspiratorial society. Yet, he disregards the scourge of drugs and their deleterious impact at the opportunity to make a buck.
We Americans, and especially the Black Community, are awash in a culture that among other things promotes drugs, drugs that we asked for at the same time that we railed against. We said no to drugs like Nancy Reagan told us to, while a substantial accusation that refuses to die implicates her President husband, Oliver North, and the CIA in flooding poor and or black communities across America with the crack epidemic.
We highlight celebrities who stay clean but adore those who get high (Snoop Dogg?). Our films fantasize about those who sell it and have unending sympathy for the souls addicted to it–but the bad guys are those trying to end it. In the film ‘American Gangster’, is Denzel Washington the hero or villain? Protagonist or Antagonist?
In fiscal year 2021, 71,000 Americans died as a result drug overdoses. The Drug Enforcement Administration further reported Fiscal Year 2022 finished with 100,000 drug overdose deaths. Most of this infiltration of illegal drugs come across the southern border, including the deadly fentanyl, and of late is brought in by illegal aliens used as mules voluntarily or under duress. In the Journal of Homeland Security, catastrophic is measured as five hundred deaths and/or $1 billion in property damage. The loss of life due to illegal drugs therefore qualifies as a recurring catastrophe.
Despite the data, the observable debilitating nature of drugs on the poor souls who use it, and the anguish it causes for family and friends of the addicts and users, we’re not angry about it at all. Some among us are entertained by it all, and a few in media seek to benefit from this catastrophe.
I’m not innocent, I am guilty also. If Scarface is on TV I find it difficult to turn away, the story is incredible, and every scene is shocking. The film glorified him as seller/distributor and also as user. Who can forget the scene from at left when he sniffed cocaine from a desk covered with the substance?
I was also pulled in by Hip Hop music for some time, having watched its ascent while growing up in the South Bronx. As a bit of a musician, I was impressed with some of the production, but along with that came the horrible themes, that promoted drug peddling and smuggling. Even female rappers got sucked into this, and most Hip Hop heads from the NY area can recite Foxy Brown’s verse from “Affirmative Action”:
“Nigga with them Cubans that snort coke
Raw though, an ounce mixed with leak, that’s pure though
Flippin’ the bigger picture
The bigger nigga with the cheddar was mad dripper
He had a fuckin’ villa in Manilla
We gotta flee to Panama
But wait, it’s half-and-half, ki’s is one and two-fifth, so how we flip?
32 grams raw, chop it in half, get 16
Double it, times 3
We got 48, which mean a whole lot of C.R.E.A.M
Divide the profit by 4, subtract it by 8, we back to 16
Now add the other 2 that ‘Mega bringin’ through
So let’s see, if we flip this other ki, then that’s more for me
Mad coke and mad leak
Plus a 500 cut in half is 250
Now triple that — times 3, we got three quarters of another ki”
Yeah, she said that . . .
But stand as a Conservative, or Christian, or both, and you will be ridiculed, and hopefully that will be your only be penalty. Meanwhile, marijuana advocate Snoop Dogg is accepted and lauded everywhere he goes. West Coast rap was built on the drug economy, and in reciprocation glorified it in song. On the east coast, the Brooklyn residents are among the loudest complainants about drugs destroying neighborhoods, and in particular Black families and neighborhoods, but the murals painted on buildings all over the borough show they are the loudest celebrants of drug peddlers and rappers that promote the ‘drug game’.
I would say more, but do I really need to?
Are we FOR drugs, or AGAINST drugs?
DEA Washington Division, Public Information Office, (2022, February 16). Fentanyl Deaths Climbing, DEA Washington Continues the Fight. United States Drug Enforcement Administration. https://www.dea.gov/stories/2022/2022-02/2022-02-16/fentanyl-deaths-climbing-dea-washington-continues-fight
White, Richard. (2018) A Theory of Homeland Security Article in Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management · February 2018 DOI: 10.1515/jhsem-2017-0059 https://www.researchgate.net/publication/323151369