Why Did Black Folks Do Crack?

Crack Addiction’s Devastion In the Black Community

I was reading an interesting story of a black woman who was getting her life together after 30 years of struggling with a crack cocaine addiction.  She happened to be registering at her college to work towards an AA degree in Substance Abuse Case Management.  Starting over at the age of 50.  Trying to pick up the pieces of her life and continue where she left off 30 years earlier when she threw away a basketball scholarship and a college education to chase after crack cocaine.

The story speaks to the issue of the government’s unfair sentencing of non-violent drug offenders for possession of crack cocaine.  Those who possessed “rock” cocaine were harshly sentenced in comparison to those who possess the powder cocaine form.  There is now the “Fair Sentencing Act” that purports to bring those sentences for crack cocaine more in line with those sentences for powder cocaine.  Black leaders are hailing the decision, saying that it’s about time that the government finally righted this obviously unfair and racist criminal justice policy.  Black folks more often had crack cocaine and white folks had cocaine powder form.

Although this was a very unfair sentencing policy which was racist in its inception, I can’t help but think this:  Why did we black folks grab such a tight hold of crack cocaine in the first place?  Why did so many of us, successful and on our way to something great, regular and hard working, mothers of daughters, fathers of sons, brothers, uncles, aunties, cousins, grandparents; with friends and lives, and dreams and hopes and struggles, why did we jump so eagerly on this crack cocaine band wagon?

I’ve read stories about how it was dumped into our black communities.  We all know about the government’s involvement with this.  We’ve all read those stories, even at the time the drug first flooded our communities.  We knew the properties of the drug, how it was a quick high with a vicious addicting quality.  Yet still, so many of us did it anyway.  I remember back in the day as I would walk through my neighborhood, I would smell that nasty sweet stench seeping through the cracks and pores of certain houses as I’d pass.  I remember thinking that stench was the smell of devastation inside that house.   And I remember that devastation that I saw all around as well as the drug turned our family and friends into so many zombies walking the streets. They were closely watching us, waiting for an opportunity to pounce on our petty possessions when our heads were turned.  Hardly any black family was left untouched by crack cocaine.

I just don’t understand how we as a community could let crack so easily come in and devastate us!  We may not have had the politcal might to stop the flow, but we did have the power to say no to it.  I have heard so many arguments about the unfairness of the entire war on drugs and how racially motivated it all was.  How the money was used by the government to fund wars in other countries.  How we black people were funnelled into the prison system complex and made into slaves once again in this country.  With all of this being true, I still go back to the tipping point of when a person first decides to pick up that crack pipe.  I don’t believe that person on the verge of hitting the pipe for the first time thought they were about to do something healthy for their body and spirit.

I do wonder what the mind IS telling a person who decides to knowingly go ahead and do such a dangerous and devastating thing.  Knowing all the consequences, and all the cons and no pros, why did so many of us in fall into the obvious rat trap of crack addiction?

32 Comments Add yours

  1. Melzie says:

    Great points, as always 🙂

    I wonder the same thing Anna Renee. It’s seems so complex, but I have a feeling it may be ridiculously simple (just based on the stories we’ve heard about the instant addictive nature of the mess). No answers, just lots of questions on this end.

    1. Anna Renee says:

      I hear you CG.

  2. As it relates to the global majority they use drugs to escape facing life and creating real solutions to the problems we as melanated people face. The poor/bored are easy targets for drugs/alcohol i.e. escapism. europeans study the global majority – notice how they always put out studies that are negative and oddly positive. We give up our money so easy and they keep devising ways to take it from us. (hence the study that A-A use twitter more than anyone else) <<Someone is going to prey on us for that as well.

    1. Anna Renee says:

      We have to focus more intensely on being in control of our situations, from emotions, to economics. I want us to learn to side step the mess they put in front of us. That is why I focus on how we think, because how we think is how we live. If we keep listening to all the madness, then we will believe it and ingest it.

      If there is any simplicity, then for me it is to ignore the dumb stuff.

      1. CareyCarey says:

        “If we keep listening to all the madness, then we will believe it and ingest it”

        Exactly point anna. It all depends on who we listen to and where we get our knowledge. That average person we listen to whomever, and believe that to be true without seeking answers from numerous sources. We see it everyday. All I have to do to illustrate that fact, is mention the pulpit pimps, and those who follow such individuals.

        1. Anna Renee says:

          “All I have to do to illustrate that fact, is mention the pulpit pimps, and those who follow such individuals.”
          Yep! That right there is a drug in itself.

  3. CareyCarey says:

    I have no idea what N3 – Nubian News Is talking about and I doubt he/she does either. Move away from anything they said because it is a trap. First, the tip to his lack of knowledge showed it’s head when he said they use drugs to escape facing life. If one does not believe they fit in the above “group” that is the perfect place for denial to take root. “I can’t be addicted because I am not like “them”. Also, we have to be very carefull how we read that statement because the average drinker or drug user, upon first ingesting their drug of choice, does not view/see it as an attempt to escape life.

    And, I don’t know who “they” are. I do know that one size does not fit all. I’ve personally been around drug and alcohol users from all walks of life, i.e., Airplane pilots. government officials, judges, FBI agents, house wifes, working class Joe Scmoe, teachers, doctors, nurses and writers. So ignorance rules this game.

    I am here to tell you that the core of the problem is ignorance. Although we all have seen the warning signs,(including those associated with alcohol, which is the biggest killer), a very miniscule few knows anything about the addiction process. Consequently, people get in thinking “it” will never grab me like that, but they were talking about something they didn’t know. And then, once they are in, the road out is another land mine filled with ignorance and usurpers. The system is not designed to help those in the “storm” get out. The money is made by getting them “in there” and keeping them “in there.” Yeah, figure out how that works, but it’s not too hard to do once one see’s the big picture. Who wants to cure a person of their habits? Surely not the liquor companies, correction facilties, nor treatment facilities. OH NO, the money must flow.

    1. Anna Renee says:

      I’m listening Brother Carey. So why do you feel that people even take the gamble? Do you feel that somewhere in the back of their minds people know that possibility of the drug grabbing them is there?

      And do you think that if people DID understand the addiction process, they would be scared from trying it? As for me, I was scared of trying it even though I didn’t know the process. I just saw what it did to so many brothers and sisters.

      As for the “shitstem” that’s just what it is. It’s a huge parasite, poisoning people, then devouring them. The legal drug industry, the hair care industry, the food industry, the hollywood industry, the prison industry, the beauty industry. It’s endless. Ive only scratched the surface of the ones that affect women. I haven’t spoke of the ones that affect men, and children.

      1. CareyCarey says:

        Yes Anna, fear and early drug education is the key, imo. I believe fear and knowledge go hand in hand. We learn at a very early age that fire is hot and the dangers it can cause. We also learn at a very early age that walking in front of cars and jumping from high places can cause death. However, as the system is setup know, the seeds of drug abuse (alcohol included) are not planted early enough. Why? Basically because there’s no money in it. If we fear something enough, and know it to be true, then we will certainally stop, look and listen before we even think about stepping in it’s wake. But when “doubt” is present, doubt frequently take control of the man.

    2. You must be fair to life. There are those out there that use drugs because they can not cope with life or can not overcome some traumatic experience. albeit the judge, FBI agent, house wife or whoever. Also drugs may be a form of therapy just like legal drugs for some. Out of curiosity and please correct us if we are wrong – are you saying that people use drugs because they are ignorant to the “ills” ?? Kids 10 years old and under know about the perils of drug use, how could an adult not know? Much less know someone else who was “grabbed” by it?

      1. CareyCarey says:

        N3, there are many that use drugs as a way to escape traumatic experiences, I am not disagreeing with that. Yet, as I said before, you cannot use that in an absolute. Furthermore, to use the phrase “can not cope”, is again a trite phrase that’s so incomplete and misleading. It’s terribly ambiguous. Would you consider a person who over-eats, as not copying with life? How about a person who drinks a glass of wine or a few beers at night, are they not copying with life? How about a person that gambles, has sex outside their home (multiple partners), or smokes cigarettes, are they not copying with life? Listen, for many, the above example would not be viewed as a person not copying with life, but in essence (the truth), all the above examples are just as dangerous and life treatening as using drugs.

        N3, I am suggesting that when a person makes statements such as yours, they have to know, or should know how they affect those that may be listening, which could included many that are in denial. And, it goes without saying that many people (in the above example) will be the first to say they are copying with life and their “habits” just makes them feel good and they are not affecting anyone.

        “are you saying that people use drugs because they are ignorant to the “ills” ??”

        EXACTLY. That’s exactly what I am saying! It may not be the Impetus behind their first drink, toot, shot, snort, drag, hit, etc, but I highly doubt a person would start if they knew they were ingesting a substance that is a POISON, that will more than likely cause great destructions in their life. So yes, it’s all about ignorance (lack of knowledge). And, to use a 10 year old as an example, speaks volumes about “your” knowledge of this subject. You were in essence saying a 10 year old knows about the addiction process (an ill/ consequence), when it starts (an ill)/ “dier consequence“, and how hard it is to “kick“ (another “ill”). Not to mention the perils of recovering from an addiction (another ill). Does a ten year old know about those ills? I know most adults do not. I can safely assume (based on what you’ve written) that you know very little about any of the above processes/ills that are intricate parts of drug addiction, not to mention a child!

        So yes N3, it’s all about ignorance – in so many ways.

        1. @CareyCarey Let us preface this with saying that we are glad we see level on the topic at hand. That being said we offer our reply: We find it hard to believe that aside from trying to deal with life people with enough common sense to survive can NOT know that drugs are bad for them or addictive. Case and point: cigarettes and alcohol – both deadly and most are aware of that fact. Yet they still smoke and drink but for what? To kill themselves faster? If you work hard to live and enjoy your job why ingest toxins that shorten your life span. It makes no sense. Regarding the 10 yr old as example that would be a 10 year old who has taken a class on drugs and what they can do to your body. Habit = Addiction. What happens when you are hungry @CareyCarey – you eat. If someone is in your way to your food i.e. your survival – what do you do? You move them out of the way so that you can have what you need to LIVE. With focus and goals in life no one can be stopped – when accountability and responsibility are taken – decisions are made. If someone wants to stop doing something they can. Yourself being knowledgeable on addiction you are aware that there are those who stop | “cold turkey” beit heroin, cigarettes, whatever. So to not know could be considered a poor reason to assist in accelerating one’s own demise. Include friends and family who supposedly love and care for that individual and how could a person not know? We thank you for your wisdom and look forward to learning from your respectful response.

          1. CareyCarey says:

            N3, I think we have brought this home. I will agree that many are knowledgable on the subject drug abuse. However, I think we will stay divided on the amount of knowledge a person must have when fighting the deamons of addiction. This is what I do.

            And in my profession I’ve heard your “voice” a thoudsand times. Case in point, there may be those that kick herion cold turkey, but I am here to tell you that less than .001 percent (I am being modest) of those that become addicted to Heroin, kick cold turkey. In fact, I’ve been around hundreds of heroin addicts and I’ve yet to see one that kicked cold turkey and then went on to have a meaningful drug and alcohol free life. I seen them get locked up and then have to go through withdrawal, but never on the streets. You’re talking storybook endings.

            If you know Anna, tell her to send you one of my speaking engagements.

            Thanks for the conversation.

            Btw, I have a story if you care to read it. CareyCarey @ http://www.blogger.com/posts.g?blogID=1193770251961546922

            1. Anna Renee says:

              Brother Carey, thank you so much for all of your imput on this post. It was very informative and I think I got a better handle on the issue of addiction. It is a very complicated situation. I won’t pretend that I understand it all, but your sharing of knowledge has put me on track to approach learning more with the right mindset.

              1. CareyCarey says:

                Anna, it’s actually my pleasure, so thank you for allowing me to share what I’ve gain. There’s a saying we have… “In order to keep what we’ve gained, we have to give it away”. Meaning, as long as I “we” live, I have to continue to spread the “right” messages, that are obviously different from common opinions. The myths and stereotypical views and images of addicts spread faster than the truth, so I am always on my job.

                Here’s a link to another woman that wrote about addictions 2 days ago. Her lover died from the disease. She, like you, now has a different perspective on the substance abuser, and how they get to a place of no return.


  4. CareyCarey says:

    “Carey, do you feel that somewhere in the back of their minds people know that possibility of the drug grabbing them is there?”

    Yes, somewhere in their mind that could be their thought, but again, it’s not a real gamble to most folks because most of us (as I said) do not believe we will get trapped. The common mindset is that only losers, the small minded, uneducated, and low income individuals do not have the will power and knowledge it takes to not let a substance “control” them. But see, that’s the big lie and big trap. See, nobody wants to get addicted and surely no one knowingly signs up for that life, but again, the addiction process begins long before the consequences. So it’s reasonable to believe a person “thinks” they are handlingly a substance, until they try to get out. The addiction process has started and then ignorance, egos and misinformation takes control.

    Drugs are made to love and they do their job quite well. But I believe you are asking my opinion of why a person start in the first place? Well anna, there are many many reasons, and each person/story is different, and you know I’ve heard thousands. There are many things to consider, i.e, the age of the person when they “started” (huge factor), their friends, how they discharged their emotions, their self image, were they go to get their source of wisdom, their pain threshold, their passions, curiousity, etc, all of which is different for each individual.

  5. Ankhesen says:

    I am here to tell you that the core of the problem is ignorance. Although we all have seen the warning signs,(including those associated with alcohol, which is the biggest killer), a very miniscule few knows anything about the addiction process. Consequently, people get in thinking “it” will never grab me like that, but they were talking about something they didn’t know.


    @ Anna Renee

    Girl, your titles are killing me. *chuckles and shakes head* When I post them people are like, “WTF?” and I have to go, “Noooo!!! Read it first!”

    1. Anna Renee says:

      I try to be compelling and simple. It’s a gift. 😉

      1. Ankhesen says:

        That you most certainly do.

  6. Reggie says:

    I’m always amazed at these addiction stories; and yet, we all have a loved one who has fallen for these drugs hook, line and sinker. Some of them live, many of them don’t. That all too elusive ultimate high killed my cousin.

    1. CareyCarey says:

      Reggie, I’m glad you showed up. I’m trying to illustrate how the addiction process takes form and how it’s different for every individuals. If you would, tell anna’s readers about your parents “addiction” and the consequences they’ve faced. The point I am trying to make is that we can change the name of the “addiction”, but the process of getting in (whys and how of when they first started,are different for each person) yet the struggles/impending doom are the same.

  7. Anna Renee says:

    I just learned that Amy Winehouse has passed. A very talented young woman, dead because of her addictions. At 27, the devil’s age to take so many talented bluesy singers.

  8. Amenta says:

    Anna Renee, I see your title as a two fold question because in the body of the post you write “I just don’t understand how we as a community could let crack so easily come in and devastate us!” On this side of “doing” crack comes the seller.

    Freeway Ricky Ross introduced a way for these poor and not so poor black people to make hundreds of thousands of dollars. Many of the sellers opened legitimate businessess, bought houses and property, bought their impoverished families the bacis in life they could not previoulsy afford. Once those that didn’t have saw a way to have, “rocks” were sought after as a way to ease the sting of poverty. Thus, rocks flooded black neighborhoods. All this temporary wealth for most, was made at the expense of other black people.

    I think KRSONE discribes it best in his 1990 song Love’s Gonna Getcha. The doer of crack was not only the smoker but the seller as well crack easily came into the community because people believed they could make thier way out of poverty

    1. Anna Renee says:

      Ah, the plot thickens. Good point Brother Amenta

    2. Anna Renee says:

      I always looked at the sellers of crack as traitors to the community, and that was the general stance of the community about them. What wasn’t talked about too much (at least I didn’t hear much) was how many people was selling just to pay their bills and buy their food and pay their rent. Most folks were not true entrepreneurs with it, and it was just a regular grind, like a job at MacDonalds, or the Post Office or something.

      As I think of the issue from the seller’s perspective, it was just a matter of survival when there is always a scarcity of jobs in our communities. So they had to prey on others’ weaknesses, just to pay rent.

      But yes, there were those who were thinking street dreams and sucking inspiration and vicarious living from that Scarface movie. So many many many black men were negatively influenced by that one movie. Seemed like it was a necessity of the street cred.

      I also remember it being said that crack became a part of the regular economy, not just for the big time movers, and small time street sellers, but for Mr. Rent man, Mr. PGandE man, Mr. Safeway, Mr. MacDonalds, Mrs Beauty Supply store, Mrs. Macy’s, Sears, —they all got a part of that crack money. True trickle down economics.

      So many twists and turns with this.

  9. James says:

    Good post and replies,it was escapism for me with alcohol and the need to feel taller then I was!

    1. Anna Renee says:

      So the alcohol makes one believe he or she is “taller” than they feel they are? It seems so tricky, BigMac.
      On the one hand, one believes one is not “tall” (a lie), so then one drinks or do drugs to trick themselves into believing something that is already true anyway, if one would look at it differently.

      It’s so damned heavy.

  10. James says:

    BTW,you couldn’t have had a better person to address this issue then Carey!

    1. Anna Renee says:

      I had him in mind when I wrote the post, and knew he’d bring something powerful to the table on this one.

      1. CareyCarey says:

        And Anna, you couldn’t have a better person to join this discussion than James. As he mentioned, he has battled an alcohol “addiction”, so he’s talking first hand knowledge. He said it made him feel “tall”. I know exactly what he means by that, and as I’ve continual said, for each person, the when, whys and the ways out are different. James, aka, Big Mac wrote the following….

        When Does Your Life Become Important?

        “Is it when we become seriously ill with some disease that John Hopkins can’t cure?
        Is it when a love one or family member we adored has passed this life?
        I find myself at 58 years old still smoking cigarettes,I know intellecually that they bring no good to my life. I could blame the manufactures of cigarettes for my situation and in a big way they are for the lies they have told me and the millions of people that are hooked on cigarettes. But at this point in my life I KNOW that in order for me to rid my self of this addiction I’ll NEED the courage to put on my big boy pants and face the music of withdrawal”

        And, although Reggie didn’t come back, the following are his words. Reggie said: “My parents smoked like industry. My brother and my sister both smoke. My father had cancer so severe that it almost killed him. The doctors cut as much of it out of him as they could and still leave him alive. My mother had lung cancer surgery. She lost a third of her lung; and yet if you went to her home today, it would smell like cigarette smoke because she refuses to quit”

        Lets continue down the road of truth….

        Mizrepresent said…
        “What you have said here is true… I have had at least 2 members of my family fight addiction with both drugs and alcohol (ie Heroin and Cocaine) and neither of them really one the battle. One died from liver disease, but he did stop, just too late, another is still fighting, but not willingly. All my life my entire family father, uncles, aunts, etc…drank, it was common, it was accepted…i don’t really know what will bring about a change…cuz i see myself in them as well. Not addicted, but certainly not trying to give it up either”

        Well Anna, I will say this one-mo-a’gin, I think INSIDIOUS is the man of the hour and ignorance is close behind. Any type of addiction is more of a formidable foe than the average genius can imagine. Some are slower roads to hell, very deceiving, but they all kill. For the most part, it has nothing to do with a person’s level of education, nor their financial status. Do you remember when Big Mac said he knew “intellectually” they bring no good to his life? Yelp, it takes no prisoners.

        And do read the link I posted early from the woman’s who’s guy died from his drug problem, and tell her where you got it :-). Her guy’s death (2 years ago) affected her life and she is still talking about it and asking questions.And tell Ashley I said hello.

  11. Cuz spear-chuckers love the crack its embedded in thier DNA.

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