Marvin Ellison’s Hood Kingpin (Everybody Wants To Shine) threw so much back into my face. We know the “War on Drugs” is just another form of institutional racism. It’s been tucked safely away within the very laws that are meant to protect us, or should I say society, because the war on drugs is focused on “us.”
One thing I’ve learned is that finger pointing will do nothing to convince our black brothers and sisters to put down the crack-pipe and dope sack. Like many others, I’ve also contributed to the failure and regression of our people. A sympathetic attitude alone cannot inject a new way of thinking … that will turn their lives around and make them a productive part of society.
So what can I do to help? I believe my voice can best be heard from the pencils that express the reality of what flows through the very veins of our communities. I propose that we exchange ideas that will bring forth a play that simultaneously tells the story of the drug dealer and user at the same time. The message being, we (black people) cannot “come up” as drug dealers without pushing our own further down. The play would depict the unspoken adversity, real life tragedies and experiences that our memories hold secret, but we all know.
For example, I see a young brother and sister being raised by a single mother who’s addicted to crack cocaine. In separate bedrooms they each lay awake and listen to the unwanted sounds coming from their mother’s bedroom, while she eagerly submits her body as payment for an addiction that she denies even having. Knowing what’s happening, the daughter swears to never use drugs, and the son vows to never sell it.
As they grow, they try desperately to avoid the hand that’s too often the only hand to offer a way off of the merry-go-round of poverty. The hand that offers help is full of promises, but can only guarantee a prison cell or coffin. For a while the daughter is the only one who will escape the structured dementia that devours the hope and aspiration from everyone around her. She watches her brother develop into a cold-hearted drug dealer who cares only about reaching the top. But inside he regrets the path taken in his life.
This boy one day will echo Ike Atkinson’s quote when he said, “I know I could have done well in school. My life could have gone in a much different direction.”
I see the brother having everything he wants while his sister follows the footsteps of Michelle Obama. Then the brother’s lifestyle comes full circle. One day he witnesses another drug dealer selling rock cocaine to his sister. Standing there in the game of life, unable to move, he feels like someone from the outside looking in had just screamed, “CHECKMATE!”