by Miguel Lloyd
I’m sure, by the title of this, you are expecting my take on the medicinal use of marijuana in California or Arizona. Or what countries you can go and “fire up” in coffee houses like the Netherlands. No…thats for another day and time. Today, I’m less concerned about the consumers of the product. In this conversation, we’re going to spend more time on the industry and how it has affected our families.
One of the ongoing conversation that we have in this country is what to do with our youth. How do we develop them into the next generation that will continue this country’s legacy of greatness? This conversation normally begins with the home. Are mom and dad both serving as shining examples of what that productive citizen should be? Someone who provides shelter, guidance, food, spiritual growth and unconditional love. Is both mom and dad even there?
Next is education. Are the kids receiving the scholastic instruction that will provide them with the intellectual tools to compete not only against the peers they see, but the ones they don’t see. The ones in China, Pakistan, India and every other developed and developing country in the world?
Next is vocation. What will they learn how to do? Will they be public servants like soldiers, teachers, police officers, firefighters, government workers, etc. Will they be apart of the corporate community or will they create the next great corporation through entrepreneurship? Will they be a tradesman? A bricklayer, shipyard worker, a longshoreman, carpenter, or construction worker? Will they be a local merchant or sell insurance?
Well, in the “hood,” you have one of the most misled group of young people that exist. You have a group of people that somewhere in communication are told that they can’t be anything but someone to struggle in the environment that they call home. Their mothers in large proportions are raising them alone. Many of them are working entry level, highly volatile jobs. Not growing in careers, but working jobs that can be here today and gone tomorrow because they were not trained in any specialized vocation where they cannot be easily replaced. Well, in order to survive, they look for help where they feel they can get help. The men with the “paper.” Some of the most “successful” people in their “hoods.” The local hustler AKA drug dealer.
For some reader of this blog, the quote by the rap martyr, The Notorious B.I.G, “You either sling rock or you have a wicked jump shot” is a very familiar one. It is a legendary “lyric” in black culture. If this is the first time you’ve heard it, let me further enlighten you. There is a prevalent mindset among black and brown people and more specifically black and brown men, that the only path to success is sports or dealing drugs. Thats it…no more no less. Not any of the positions I mentioned earlier in this essay, but simply hoops, football or for our latino brothers, baseball (not tennis, track, etc. but we’ll deal with that in another essay) or street pharmaceuticals. PERIOD!
Of course if you combine the NBA, NFL, MLB, Euro Leagues, etc. there will not be any where close to the number of jobs needed to sustain any community. It is simply not reality. So the young men who are looking to provide shelter, guidance, food, spiritual growth and unconditional love to their families, turn to streets. Turn to the only trade that many of the men in their lives have taught them. How to poison their community. Well, it’s survival of the fittest right? Isn’t that what we are all taught? Selling it but not using it is the key right? Of course not. At minimum most hustlers smoke weed and drink heavily. The biggest addiction that they develop is an addiction to the lifestyle. Fast money, fast women, and the “adventure” of surviving the game. The sad part is that daily they realize that the path is either death or incarceration. They know it! Biggie wasn’t the first or the last rapper, movie director or author to espouse those sentiments.
What they don’t largely take responsibility for is the path they are sending their families on. Remember they want to provide shelter, guidance, food, spiritual growth and unconditional love to them, just like the rest of us. The unfortunate reality is the streets create killers, their sensitivity and sense of responsibility is greatly diminished. They will kill without remorse and than go home to momma, and drop her a stack of cash or they will lay up with the “baby momma” that gets their attention for the night. They create babies that will be searching for them night after night because, again they are not there. They are largely incarcerated, laying up with the other “baby momma”, dead or simply not taking responsibility to be there.
So what does this have to do with legalization of drugs? Where is the connection? Here is my position. You can legalize one drug, but you cannot legalize them all. The industry will simply reinvent itself. Not to mention the prison industrial complex is driven by this industry as well. There is simply to much “legal” money tied to illegal activity.
We’ve done that before. Alcohol use to be illegal. There are tons on drugs that were illegal last year and will be legal today. Where do you draw the line? Do you water down the illegal drug and make them “safer”? Drug dealers will simply sell a more “potent” strand of the same drug or create a new one to continue the illegal activity. To that end, some of the most fierce addictions these days are to legal drugs like oxycodone and vicodin.
You see, I fully understand and despise, just like the next man or woman, what drugs have done to our community. But on a lesser level I don’t like what McDonald’s, Coke and Cheetos have done either. We are all addicted to something. We are all substance abusers.
The rationale in legalizing drugs is supposedly if you legalize “drugs”, that will curb the violence and the need for as much incarceration of our citizens. Thats like putting a band-aid on a gun shot wound to the heart. That is simply not the answer. It will be a very temporary fix. I believe personally putting more emphasis on educating and providing options early, will give some of these young people, who have untapped skills a different path to choose. If they are beyond that, put more emphasis on rehabilitating non-violent offenders so they don’t get caught in the virtual endless cycle of the revolving door of the system.
You see the product is not the only problem. Options for “future” dealers is a big part of the problem. Some of these young men would probably be carpenters if they didn’t take shop classes out of our schools or worked in factories if we were shipping all their potential jobs overseas.
The fact is many people of all races weren’t sold “dreams” as youth as many generations before them. They were not given any direction as youth and yet we expect them to just starve and do nothing. The reality is they are gravitating to the “industry” where they can “win.” They are low skilled laborers preying on the people who they feel are weaker than them. The addict.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not making excuses for them. Wrong is wrong, and I believe they will pay the ultimate price for their transgressions. Thing is, if you check your history books, beloved families like the Kennedy’s and many others amassed their fortunes through illegal activities, yet we only turn our noses up to people who feel it is their only way out.
We will discuss this in more detail on this weeks episode of Life Full Circle Radio. Of course we will have Elton Gumbel will have our sports. Join me, Miguel Lloyd and the Super Producer, Nikkia Ganey, this Wednesday for this thought provoking discussion.
Our phone lines, twitter feed and facebook page is wide open, waiting on you! Give us your feedback. We’ll talk to you on Wednesday at 7pm EST. www.blogtalkradio.com/lifefullcircle