AFROPUNK

... the other Black experience

Opioid crisis in white suburbia gets compassion while POC get mass incarceration

It’s cute that politicians across the country are taking up the very real and very serious opioid addiction epidemic that’s taking place in rural and suburban white communities, but I can’t help but feel confused and overlooked by the fact black communities have been suffering because of drug abuse for decades.

Over the weekend, I heard a white politician from somewhere refer to drug addiction as “drug misuse”. My jaw almost hit the floor. Drug…misuse. “Oops, I’m chopping up pills, liquefying them and shooting them up!“ This codified description of drug abuse and addiction to humanize and show gentleness to a segment of drug users who are somehow divergent from the standard image of drug addiction, and thus more deserving or compassion.

But when crack was swallowing black communities whole, and terms like ”crack baby“ were introduced into our lexicon, America recoiled in racist disdain and became hyper-vigilant against black boogeymen, ”Super Predators“, locking up or killing scores of black men, breaking up families and fracturing communities. To this day, the myths and stereotypes of the black community at the height of the government-sponsored crack epidemic continue to define the perception and prosecution of black people in this country, while privatized mass incarceration still profits from it.

Last year, Lisa Ling’s ‘This Is Life’ went to Chicago to chronicle and compare how drug addiction (and the criminality that accompanies it) are handled on different sides of the Metro area. On the poor, black side, black drug users are treated harshly by law enforcement and the justice system, brutalized by the system, and are left with no rehabilitation or hope. But in the white suburbs, a police department has a program that allows local (white) addicts to turn themselves and their drugs in return for treatment. Which is how it should be…for all of us.

Watch New York’s Cardozo Law School Professor Ekow Yankah’s powerful PBS essay about the double standards in the ways in which America handled drug epidemic in black communities decades ago, compared to how they’re handling the opioid epidemic in present day white communities, below.

By Erin White*, AFROPUNK contributor



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Comment by theblackjacobins on April 5, 2017 at 11:50am

I'm a bit confused: when did the Black descendants of the American slaves get the notion to self-identify as POC? We Are Black (not the "color black," mind you, but the US Census Designation): I'm certain while we have had individuals of various other groups on again and off again, claiming to speak out on our behalf only when it suits them politically. Why is this? Do our Black American Politics warrant our blind, bald allegiance to every other group of non-white persons merely because they are not white?

Let's be clear: Blacks have the worst politics than any other group of protected persons under the laws. . . I mean we are ALWAYS on somebody else's front line, or protest advocating for their advantages or rights, and showing our black faces in solidarity with THEIR causes but never our own for LAWFUL RECOVERY, RECOMPENSE, & RESTITUTION under the laws we fought, died and were lynched for across 4 Centuries Black People. . .

Why are so many of us, so utterly confused so as to self-align or self-identify with ANY OTHER GROUP than Black Americans? We have, as Lawful Citizens in this Nation, a legal claim to lay upon our Government for horrors and injustices past, present and ongoing. . . Last I'd checked, we are NOT gay first, NOT "women" first, "Democrat" first or "whatever" first: we Are BLACK, and changing your position to FEEL you are part of something other than that ONE UNDENIABLE quality that defines your legacy of Poverty and Debt (each as a direct CONSEQUENCE of resembling those unfortunate Black souls who were considered 3/5ths of a Man SUBJUGATED UNDER CHATTEL LAWS ACROSS 3 CENTURIES, and tormented across three generations based upon the black Color of our skin. . . .

If we can simply agree that racism is an unjust system of Power, based in significant part upon the race of the subordinates falling under the wielder of that unjust system of advantage. . . and if we can consensus to this definition, we can certainly understand that the ONLY GROUP OF PERSONS with protections under our current  laws, against circumstantial, explicit and actual adverse impact, based upon no reason other than our SKIN, that Black People, and far too many "Afropunks" who are in fact Black descendants of the American slaves, are economically, socially and legislatively forced to reside below ALL OTHER CLASSIFICATIONS AND GROUPS OF PERSONS. . .

NO: I'm not telling you how to live your life, other than conveying that the various myths we are sold, are to achieve an end of advantage to other groups, and when we align with those groups we dilute our core group that directly affects a Legal, verified birthright of everyone who looks like us REGARDLESS OF HOW THEY SELF IDENTIFY. . . we dilute our claim to lay upon our government, and we fail our black forbears who did NOT identify as "gays," "feminists," "this or that" other than NEGROES OF THE BLACK RACE. . .

We are NOT being treated like "gays" when police beat our black asses out of the camera view, or "feminists" when we are PULLED OVER, HARASSED, THREATENED, BEAT LIKE DOGS, JAILED, AND HUNG in a Texas cell when NO OTHER FEMINIST has ever been pulled over for failure to indicate a turn. . . (RIP S. Brown). . . nor are we being treated as anything but Black, when white juries consider our color before our claim, and white jurists consider they are "gatekeepers" first, and not law-abiding judges when they inject racist language and evince in the jurors' impressionable minds, stereotypes based in anything but the facts before it. We are considered Black FIRST, when banks refuse to lend to us, because we RESEMBLE the same Superpredators being streamed on night-time news, and we are considered Black FIRST HERE ON THE INTERNET, where white posters liberally level 400 year old aspersions and vituperative epithets against us, whenever we post on a board concerning injustice against our own. . . 

We need our Black politics to do one thing NOW and one thing alone: advocate for lawful recovery (which is legalese that embodies our injuries based upon protected characteristics). We have protections under our laws, same as the Japanese Americans were given by R. Reagan ($20K apiece in 1988 for "surviving 2 years of jail-time under Executive Order 9066)," same as Native Americans were given each month by the US Government on our account, same as illegal aliens are given (10 million USD) legal aid, Driver Licenses, Housing and Jobs meant for US Citizens by B. O bama for sneaking into our Nation unlawfully in nonfeasance under Title 8 USC § 1325 (unlawful entry into the US), same as Syrian immigrants who are fast tracked through Customs and provided housing and 'amnesty," same as every OTHER Group who self identifies as anything but "BLACK"

The data shows, that it will take Black Americans 248 years, 2.5 CENTURIES to get to where white America is RIGHT NOW< provided white America decides out of the Goodness of their collective hearts, to "let us compete farly and justly" . . . and you all know damn well no White person is ever going to 'stand still' and let you navigate your Black way to Prosperity . . . it will never happen in 1, 000, 000 years that ANY Group will put us before them for any extended length of time since it falls against their political interest.

Per our Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to OUR US Constitution, show out for us politically and definitively during the too-recent Hurricane Katrina devastation. . . but chose NOT TO as a collective group, lest they trigger the white Male's vitriol. . . sure we had individuals speaking out, but not one GROUP ever showed out for us. . . and you negroes need to understand that is a real, and tangible benefit they cherish, because they are NOT like us. . . .

Get it wrong, and we'll never see lawful recovery for 250 years of rape, torture, property and wage theft under slavery (because our forbears were Black); 90 years of brutal rape of men, women and children, lynching, torture, and sport killing under Jim Crow, 65 years of unjust racist socialized Black Codes that penalized us unjustly because many of our ancestors were Black; 35 years of racist housing laws that penalized our Black families, and 25 years of subjugation, profiling and criminalization under the Clinton Superpredator Crime bill of 1998, that criminalized more black men and sons than were slaves under chattel laws. . .

The DATA SHOWS we need to get our Black politics right, and we need Justice before we align with any other group of persons. This has nothing to do, with how you think you identify with those who are not black, or whatever the case might be.


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