Sunday, November 1, 2009

Real Talk: the Drug Game and our Community

No cheaps laughs today, some more Real Talk. I'm addressing another problem that is killing the Black Community on so many different levels: Drugs, Usage and the Temptation to Sell. It's causing young Black men to abandon their attempt to get educations, it's created a war on the streets, the addiction has broken apart countless homes and communities, and consequently jails and morgues are filling up with Black faces. It's imperative that we as a community convey the message that our youth need to go to college, get good jobs and get outta the hood. I went to high school in the hood, and I'll admit it right now, I was jealous of the dope boys in high school. As broke as I was, they were making hella money dealing in the bathrooms during lunch. Then they'd gamble it away playing craps, like that money didn't mean shit to them. For those who lived in the hood, I wouldn't b surprised if the dope boys were the only ones with money that people see on a regular basis on their streets. The Thundercats, as I call em, had money and pull and I can see how youngsters in poor homes can see that and admire them (Like the movie 'Paid In Full'). Unless u got a future in music or sports (which still take time and commitment), the dope game looks like the most direct route to the money. But u gotta resist and overcome, cuz that game ain't forever. Most dudes deep in the game will tell you, they trying to live it up and ball out the hardest while they got it, cuz they don't expect it to last. As u move up the ladder, try to do what u gotta do to get more money in the game, u start gettin more attention from everybody, including the haters and law enforcement. Dudes get killed over jealousy, turf, and other bullshit. All of a sudden ur homeboys, ur inner circle may start seein things a little different than before and they could change up on u too. U already know how the cops and legal system will do. Most of the people in jail are in there on drug charges. That's the easiest way for cops to get their numbers up, cuz dope boys r easy to find; they're on every corner in every hood. Don't let them start squeezin info outta somebody and find out ur other dirt, then Johnny Law could have u on somethin serious. We gotta help our own kind to make it past the game. We have some problems we have to overcome to help things out:

Impatience with Schools and the School Route
It may seem hard to stay in school as long as it takes to get to where u wanna be. There's 4 years of high school, at 4 expensive ass yrs of college, then gotta get a job and move up the ladder some before you make that real bread; u can make money out on the streets immediately. It may seem even harder if ur surrounded by people who don't expect to get outta the hood or graduate so they don't even try. It's hard to force urself to do ur homework when ur friends r out running the streets and not even thinking about theirs. Plus, schools in the hood aren't the ideal environment anyway. A lot of them are so bad that the teachers are trying to keep the behavior under control more than actually teaching; they're gonna socially promote most of the kids anyway cuz they wanna get them outta there. There's fights and disruptions all over the place which makes it hard for those who actually are trying to learn something. Black men are now statistically more likely to go to jail than graduate college, that's tragic.

Inherent Problem With Authority
I'm not sure where it came from, but in the hood I ran into so many people who have this tremendous distrust and overall disdain for any figures of authority. I believe it's a combination of the too common broken family structure in the Black Community (something like 70% of Black homes now don't have fathers as an everyday presence), distrust through bad interaction with law enforcement and the legal system, and the overall hard attitude it takes to survive in a cut throat, hood environment. I can understand rebelling against bad or corrupt leadership and I'm by no means saying that all authority figures are worthy of your respect. However, I'm talking about people who had a problem with leadership for no real reason at all. Principals, teachers, coaches, anybody who asked them to do ANYTHING. Rebels without a cause. It's like the natural reflex is "You Ain't My Daddy. I Ain't listening to you." This attitude is particularly detrimental because in schools becuz refusing to listen to teachers is going to do u more harm (by causing ur own grades to nosedive) than proving anything to anyone. So those with this attitude toward authority of any and all kind are the type that would avoid a place like a school as it is filled with supposed authority. They may be more comfortable in the anarchy of the streets.

Lack of Productive Activity and Family Support
Sports and other such activities did a lot for me in my younger years which is why I've come to swear by them. They gave me something to focus my energy on, helping me build up a work ethic. Seeing that hard work result in improvement and success helped to boost my confidence. That confidence helped me resist peer pressure and bad decisions becuz I didn't want to mess up what I had made for myself. Furthermore, I didn't want to let down my family and mentors, all those that had supported me for so long; all those people who helped me develop as a student, an athlete, and a person. I understand that I have a much better family structure than so many in the hood, which is why it becomes important to develop a relationship with a role model or mentor to help young people who don't have one in the household. AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, I was at practice during those hours between when school ends and the parents come home from work, the perfect hours to be getting into trouble. I believe that constructive activity/hobbies are crucial to keeping young people on the right track as far as development. It may help our communities save so many more young people from using or selling drugs.

"Ready to Die" mentality
I used to believe that drug dealers ignored the threat of getting hurt, killed, or locked up becuz they thought they were invincible and it could never happen to them. There's some truth to that and that is how it appears on the surface; however the truth is much sadder. It's become a badge of honor to killed or 'pinched' on the streets. They consider themselves street soldiers and therefore death or doing time from the struggle is considered honorable like a soldier being killed at war. That's part of why things escalate so quickly when people get mad. It factors into these people getting killed for nothing. Life isn't as valuable as honor or reputation for many. We have to instill the value of life and maximization of the precious time we spend on Earth to our youth. They seem to have been getting the wrong messages from everyone else.

Lack of Exposure
One thing other cultures have done a lot more of than Black Americans is exposing their youth (and themselves) to the world. It's easier to convince urself that everything is possibly when u can think outside of ur current situation and community. There are so many in the hood who have never left their city limits or state, much less the country. That can cause a level of close-mindedness and a very small scope of thought. Traveling not only offers a refreshing break to the tenseness and pressure of life in the hood, but it can open eyes to so much that we never would have imagined.

I could go on for ages about things we could do to help ourselves with this situation. But at this point, more than the actual action of selling and using drugs, there is a drastic change of mindset needed to make it out of the hood. We have to build up a sense of confidence in the youth that they can overcome everything going on and become whatever they aspire to be as long as they're willing to do it the right way. We also need to eliminate the hopelessness that leads to people ruining their productive lives by becoming strung out on drugs.WE ARE SELLING DRUGS TO OURSELVES KILLING OUR COMMUNITIES. If u consider it a war in the streets, we're on both sides, meaning we're the only ones getting killed. We're dealing to ourselves, meaning our households are the ones suffering. Every dealer u see killed or junkie u see strung out is someone's son, daughter, mother, father, sister, brother, or whatever; In close knit communities, they could be kin to someone u kno. So as hard as it may seem at times, as tempting as the prospect of instant money and power is, it's simply not worth it. The rewards that come from education and legit business are worth the wait for delayed gratification. It will last and you can be proud of not having to sacrifice the lives of others in your community to get it. We gotta take better care of ourselves and our communities, or we won't have to much left. No games, that's Real Talk...

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