OK, so you all know that most rap music is poisoning the minds of today’s youth and rappers should be more conscious of their deep influence on society and culture, correct? Cool. Moving on…
I’m going to start to do posts addressing questions regarding Black people that many may have long wondered. Question one is the title of this post and I will attempt to address it how I view it. Just my thoughts, man…
The international illicit drug trade is a multibillion dollar enterprise that draws its personnel from all walks of life, all racial and cultural backgrounds, and all age groups. In the early 1970s, then United States President Richard Nixon announced his administration’s new war. This war was not to be waged against poverty or small, Asian, communist nations, but against drugs. The flower power counterculture of the 1960s left America in a social state that brought depressants such as alcohol and marijuana from the slums to the suburbs as well as more adventurous and detrimental drugs such as the hallucinogens LSD and PCP. The 1969 Woodstock Festival in upstate New York seemed to epitomize what a generation of federal lawmakers and conservative parents feared: sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll. With the free-wheeling substance abuse of the 1960s behind them, an influx of Vietnam veterans and their various new addictions constantly re-entering America, and the introduction of cocaine to the nation’s high society ahead of them, the U.S. Federal Government instituted sweeping reforms in domestic policy to curb the trafficking, sale, and abuse of illegal drugs in America. New York’s infamous drugs laws passed under former New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller may serve as a prime example of the mid to late-20th Century Republican Party’s genesis of policies meant to be “tough on drugs”. Frequently, this has also been interpreted as being “tough on Blacks” since Blacks began being arrested, prosecuted, and incarcerated in as compared to Whites. alarmingly disproportionate numbers(more in expanded post)
Since White flight and the creation of the predominantly Black, inner-city “ghettoes” of America, the real-life situations presented to young Blacks have been anything but positively comparable to their more socio-economically blessed, predominantly White counterparts. Basic things such as a “good” education, health care coverage, and adequate housing are taken for granted by many of America’s more privileged racial and economic groups. These things are conspicuously absent in most inner-city areas of the country today and their existence or absence relies largely on the abundance or paucity of a community and family’s funds. The importance of financial capital in attaining these things leads to people in inner-city areas seeking financial capital through any means necessary. For these individuals, the most immediate and lucrative medium through which they can amass financial capital is through the drug trade.
The drug trade is the only multibillion dollar business largely conducted in poor, inner-city American neighborhoods. Think about it. Entering this particular vocation requires no daily commute, no documents validating an individual for work—including a college degree or high school diploma—and no prior experience. These first two necessities may be interpreted in a business frame of thinking as a lack of venture capital that is necessary to enter a business enterprise since both require some sort monetary input. Young, Blacks in poor, inner-city areas possess some of the most intense and innate entrepreneurial instinct to be found anywhere in the general population as individuals such as Dame Dash, Master P, and others with their (largely successful) myriad companies selling everything from music to liquor to car rims can attest to. Becoming a doctor, lawyer, or other highly esteemed professional requires an immense amount of financial and personal commitment. In the example of a doctor, four years of college averaging $25,000 a year in addition to three years of medical school averaging $45,000 a year is a costly and timely sacrifice. Granted, this assumes the highly unlikely prospect that an individual pays for their higher education in its entirety. Nevertheless, this serves to illustrate the point at hand when compared to the fact that selling drugs in inner-city America does not require any money to begin with at all; it is a direct application of the most basic of business practices: supply and demand, product to market, and cultivated physical resources exchanged for financial capital to consumers.
The allure of drug dealing is one too tempting for many racial minorities in inner-city America to turn away from. This sad fact of the matter stems from the aforementioned incentives of immediate monetary gain in addition to the lack of quality health care, education, and other things so common in more affluent neighborhoods. Following this line of thinking, the distribution of drugs is seen as the most lucrative and abrupt means through which to achieve their financial ends. No where else is this as simple as in inner-city America. Whereas more affluent communities are ripe with professionals in medicine, law, politics, business, and a variety of other fields, poor, inner-city areas possess fewer prestigious professionals or even people gainfully employed and not living paycheck to paycheck. Role models in suburban communities abound as young people are engineered for success, expected and continuously prepared to attend college since birth, and taught to strive for achievements, goals, and wealth above and beyond what their parents attained. On the other hand, inner-city minority youth are not raised to flourish and improve nor do they have many positive role models to strive to emulate; they are only raised to survive.
As was mentioned previously, harsh punitive measures are taken towards drug offenders in certain instances of the law and its application. The common destination of drug dealers throughout the nation is one that has experienced a nearly exponential increase during the past 35 years or so: this destination is, of course, America’s jails, prisons, and penitentiaries. In the theories of the architects of America’s penal system, it was meant to act as punishment to civilians who broke the law of the land in addition to a deterrent against future crimes and criminals. Some would argue that this original goal was changed at some point around the late 1960s or early 1970s and the chief goal of the American penal system was then to incarcerate as many Blacks, specifically Black males, as possible as a means of social control post-Jim Crow. I would argue that the penal system has failed miserably at its original goal and should be, at the very least, radically reformed if not abolished. The reasons behind this belief most prominently include the fact that although “cruel and unusual” punishment is illegal in America, the American penal system can adequately be described as cruel although it is sadly not unusual. Additionally, the rehabilitation that criminals are supposed to undergo while incarcerated never occurs. Instead, inmates are forced even deeper into their “criminal mindset” through frequent and explicit exposure to violence; squalid living conditions and subhuman treatment; and little or no access to educational, psychological, and vocational rehabilitative programs.
There are so many forces pushing young Blacks in inner-city America to sell drugs that few can blame them for using their means to attain what American society has deemed and lauded as so important: money. Yes, selling drugs is illegal according to American law. Yes, selling drugs is regarded as immoral according to American society. Yes, selling drugs is only a short-term path to success according to the American dream. Nevertheless, these reflective viewpoints are not what inner-city Blacks immediately take into consideration when choosing to enter the illicit drug trade. Their immediate concerns are rising out of their current social and economic situation in the hopes of living a “Scarfacesque” lifestyle replete with money, a mansion, and all the social power, political influence, and economic security that they have never enjoyed. Black people sell drugs to make the money to obtain physical necessities and luxuries for themselves and their families that they do not have and no legislator, police officer, or warden is going to stop them.