While President Barack Obama was still cutting his teeth behind the protected walls of academia, the crack epidemic was busy wreaking havoc in all of the major American cities. Amongst blacks and Latinos, there was a surge in the addiction rates. The results were felt by all. “Crack” babies, thefts, increased violent crime, and shattered families were just some effects of the fallout. It hit New York very hard. Although I was a youngster at the time, the images of crackheads and stories of neighbors stealing televisions from the elderly to exchange for crack still haunt me.
Emaciated brown corpses with rotting teeth and wild hair walked through bus and train stations glaring at passengers through glossy red eyes, while the most timid hid their watches and tucked in their gold chains. The drug seemed to wash away any inkling of dignity and the addicts felt no remorse when pummeling elderly domestic workers to the ground to take the $50 they may have earned from a day’s work scrubbing floors. I am sure President Obama missed out on these particular realities of African-American life and as a result feels more compassion for the drug dealers than the people they destroy.
The Obama administration is seeking to reduce the disparity between prison sentences for felons convicted of dealing crack versus powdered cocaine. Why? Because critics view that particular aspect of the 1986 Anti-Drug Abuse Act as racist. Is it really racist? Or is it protecting the hardworking people who happen to be stuck in these communities from the criminals who terrorize them? Reducing these prison sentences for dealers is not only misguided; it’s dangerous in these current economic times. I am sure we will see a resurgence in the Mercedes-driving, 15-year-old hustlers of the past. It makes me wonder where these so called “black leaders” and ACLU lawyers are when 4-year-olds are on street corners asking passersby, “Are you straight? Are you straight?” I’ll tell you where they are: sitting in posh suburban homes in Garden City.
The harsher sentencing for crack was due to it being pure and highly addictive. Because it was a form of cocaine that could be smoked, the inhaled vapors delivered the drug more rapidly to the bloodstream and successively to the brain for a more intense effect. All it took was one “hit”to turn the curious into a crackhead. I totally agree with the Obama administration on drug treatment after felons are released from prison.Yet something makes me see this move as a psychological ploy to make the uninformed see the dealers in the same light as the addicts. The sentences are aimed at drug dealers not users. Even if they are providing drug rehabilitation, what good will it do if dealers are assured a timely release so they can continue turning abandoned buildings into crack houses?
The push for tougher drug laws was initially spearheaded by many black ministers in an attempt to save their communities. Even Attorney General Eric Holder called for mandatory minimums due to the increase in violent crime in 1996. However, an article in the San Jose Mercury of that same year declared that the crack-cocaine crisis had been created by the CIA and/or agents of the United States government. That set off a wave of paranoia in the black communities. Ironically, however, gangsta rap driven by the foot solders of the crack epidemic — the California street gangs — would rise to prominence in rap music. As a result, hip-hop has made drug dealers seem salvageable and artists such as Snoop Dog (a known Crip), Jay-Z (a former crack dealer), and Russell Simmons are at the forefront of these drug reform efforts. However, they continue to promote artists who glorify the hustler image. It doesn’t surprise me that President Obama would be sympathetic to people who actually live the life of Ludacris’ lyrics — someone he listens to on his iPod.
Crack dealers are not victims and regardless of whether or not there is a “government force” pushing drugs into minority communities, no one is forcing them to sell them. The lure of easy money and expensive cars causes them to lose total regard for humanity as they hand out a free sample to a curious teen or a previously addicted person seeking a new high. The focus of the Obama administration is misguided. Decreasing the mandatory sentences is racist in that it is no better than the smallpox blankets given to Native Americans. Crack dealers are the equivalent of small pox — a virulent plague in the black community that should be eradicated, not protected.
Perhaps I should call my family members remaining in New York and tell them to hide their flat screens.