Drugs: Crime and Addiction

3Dprint-drugs

I was born in the mid to late 70s and went to school during the 80s and 90s.  There were campaigns all over the place to keep kids like me from taking drugs, selling drugs or getting addicted to them. Drugs were plenty and diverse, but the most prevalent were marijuana, heroin and crack. Heard about cocaine, but that wasn't in my neighborhood. There were those derogatory terms that no kid wanted to be called, like crack baby or crackhead.  American was "cracking" down on drug users and dealers. I saw friends losing their dads to prison and too many moms to the addictions. There wasn't a lot of help to get off drugs other than church. It wiped-out some neighborhoods. 

Now here we are in 2017. In some states, like mine, marijuana is damned near legal. People are still dying in my neighborhood over things like crack and heroin, and people are doing long sentences in jail for having these drugs on their person or in their system.  But there is a new twist; opioids. Opioids are drugs prescribed by doctors to help ease the pains from surgeries and similar health issues. In the course of becoming well, some become addicted and too many are dying from something they thought was there to help. In the last decade or so we have seen an increase in doctors prescribing opioids to more patients. Doctors blame pharmaceutical companies for falsely marketing opioids as non-addictive. Regardless of whose fault, the facts are nearly 100 deaths a day occur because of overdose on opioids. Opioids is a drug problem, like crack, cocaine, heroine, and marijuana before it. It is an epidemic and crisis that needs to be solved with health and behavioral strategies and with the support of our government. What the opioid crisis has not been is criminalized like the use and selling of drugs before it. Why? Because of who it is affecting.  According to this study, most opioid addictions and overdoses are occurring to white Americans between the ages of 24 – 45. 

When heroin, crack and marijuana was decimating neighborhoods of the poor inner city, communities of color, the solution was war and the results were kids losing parents to overdose, death and long sentences in prison.  Why are these problems treated differently?  It goes back to the same sin that America repeats over and over again. Seeing the poor and people of color, especially black people, as less; not important. Seeing us as the creator of problems that are only solvable through jail, punishments, and death. Because these drugs have gone across the borders of specific communities and into homes of the rich, white and important, it must be contained. We see the unfairness in this. What I hope is that America wakes up and see that anyone dealing with drug addiction needs help and deserve support if we as a country are giving it. America, if we are going to punish the drug dealer on the street for distributing drugs in the neighborhood, let's punish the doctors for distributing to their patients. Lastly, if we are going to make drugs legal, then we need to free those who sit in jails for decades for something that is no longer a crime. 

 

Thelonious Monk

Thelonius

Do you remember the first time you heard music from Thelonius Monk? I was in high school. My music teacher was an avid fan. I recall sitting in the band room waiting for the class to start and he was arranging music for the jazz quartet. It was "Strait, No Chaser." I didn't know at the time. It sounds like a lot of broken notes to me, but as a musician, you keep your mind open. As an artist, you assume that he was trying something new. 

A different student came into the band room after me and had more courage to say out loud what I was thinking. "What are you playing? It sounds out of tune?" The piano stopped, and I cringed. "That's Monk Man. You don't know Monk?" This took us into a long lesson about Thelonious Monk. His music style, his career, his life. 

Even after the lesson, it took me a moment to grasp his music, but not his life. His life was poetic, dramatic, cool, the epitome of black life in America, genius. I love that he ran by passion, not by what was accepted. He changed Jazz and what a Jazz musician feels like, look like. I played his music to get a better understanding of the man. I am genuinely now a fan. 

The other day, I attended a concert celebrating 100th birthday. I know if my music teacher was alive he would have been in the room taking it in, swinging and swaying, maybe even shedding a tear or two.  The truth is that Monk was not appreciated right away. It took years for some of us to see his greatness and contribution. It made me think how important it is to love what you do and not do it for recognition.  I find myself struggling to be seen and heard sometimes and have to remind myself that is not the point. The product, the art, the sharing, those are the points of it all.  

Balloon

I had a dream about a balloon a few nights ago. I can't tell you the details of the dream. Frankly, I do not remember them. Just the balloon. Red, of course, like in the movie, IT.  I am not a fan of balloons nor clowns so a balloon in my dream was very disconcerting.  I thought about this damned balloon all day. What did it mean, why was it in my dream. Why is it in my head several hours after the dreams is completely over. No clue but it is distracting and to remove it from my psyche I did what all artists do, took it out of my head and brought it into my reality. An illustration and a poem. 

IMG_0607_balloon

Floating above
Connected to the world
Only by a string and your hand
You look down at your feet, wishing you could fly, then
You looked up and with a mischievousness grin you
Released it into the blue sky. 
It will travel in your place – but where will it go?
Well first, it will sail over the grit of your city into the suburbs where everything is the same boring;
Tracking its way to the more exciting locations of the world. 

Maybe to Ghana's Accra or Egypt's Alexandria. 
London? Everyone goes there
Paris? It must go there
Berlin? Maybe there
Havana? Yes Havana

You wish it adieu and pray that it sees it all before it burst.