I think that we are a funny bunch, here in America! When there are certain “ugly” or upsetting concerns pertaining to or impacting certain groups within a community, it stays within that community. Everyone is okay with it, so it seems. So no real hoopla surrounds the issue at all. Rather, the issues are confined and referenced as existing solely within the community or that group of people. America- at- large is not and does not seem bothered by these concerns at all.
But, oh my God! If the concerns happen to travel outside of the communities, now thought of within the context of the issue/condition/problem, then the whole nation lights up. Thus, “their” problems become more real for the dominant culture, middle America, or anywhere outside of their world. As long as no one else is affected by their problems, we can ignore it. It is contained.
I don’t think that’s funny at all!
For example, let’s consider the news headlines that focus on the ‘new’ heroin ‘epidemic’. Heroin addiction is nothing new for the black and brown community. However, when limited to this community, America was unconcerned. In fact, it was criminalized, and punished harshly if using or selling this drug.
Within the medical and mental health fields, it has long shown that addiction, in general, and drug addiction specifically, is a disease-a sickness-a mental health, behavioral, physiological disorder. Yet, for many, many years, when confined to the black community, it was treated as a real criminal offense. People by the millions were punished by jail time,, given a criminal record, ostracized, denied employment and more. Because of an addiction, an illness…treated via the medical model framework. Here we have created that ‘mass incarceration’ talked about. Talk about injustice on a grand scale!
Now, in the here and now, heroin use and abuse has crept into the consciousness and veins and nostrils of Middle America. So, what is the response and how does suburbia react? They have raised their voices, cried foul, and pressing the flesh to reconsider or redefine the perception of addiction. The push for more treatment facilities, interventions, and de-criminalization is under way. But it was fine as long as IT WASN’T THEIR PROBLEM.
NIMBY: [NOT IN MY BACK YARD]
The irony in all of this talk is that, once again, we didn’t start the fire! If you recall the story behind the group, “Black Panthers for Social Justice” or the ‘Black Panthers’, drugs were infiltrated and flooded into the black community in order to ‘contain’ and harm them as well as all people who were raising the consciousness of others. This group’s mission and their supportive efforts to empower other blacks began to grow and garner support from youth who represented the dominant culture. They began to stand up for social justice, too.
In order to curtail and stop growth, there was a top-down conspiratorial initiative implemented that included targeting heroin distribution into these communities. For many years, its use and abuse was contained mostly. At least, the widespread usage hadn’t taken hold on their children or family members. But now that it is apparent that this drug or any drug, knows no boundaries-location, race, income…It has gone everywhere.
My mother, a very strong person, and an activist at heart, always said:” Dig a grave for someone else, and you may as well dig two. You’re going to need one, too!”
Well, America, here it is! The evil that men do!
Sadly, the real truth about the perils of drug abuse, is that it is a problem for the user, their families, communities, and the country- every one of us. Additionally, it is a problem that is medical, psychological, behavioral…not criminal. Although criminal behaviors correlate with any illegal drug, the most effective treatment or consequence associated with the ‘epidemic’ activity and use is behavioral health treatment and related services.
Though I would never wish anyone to suffer the devastating, life-altering effects of addiction in any form, it can now bring a mindful awareness of the impact felt in poor black communities for decades. You should see that it isn’t a comfortable awareness, is it?
Somewhat late for headlining and highlighting heroin abuse, but better late than never. Let’s stop trying to do each other in, for fear that there may be someone more equal with the possibility of empowerment of those about whom you feel superior, entitled or more intelligent. There is no such animal as ‘more’ equal. Equal means just that!
Try leveling the playing field, and as nature dictates, there will always be winners and losers. The main thing is that you are given the opportunity to play the game. Fairly! HUMANELY! Compassionately!
And, let’s all pray for those caught in the throws of the effects and impact of addiction! Love them anyway-don’t imprison them-treat them! It starts with us!
One more time: It isn’t funny at all!