Drugs: Crime and Addiction

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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. 

 

On the Davison Bridge

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I saw this man twice today on Woodward, walking on the Davison bridge. He is kind of a large man maybe in his late 20s or 30s. He caught my eye because he had on a jacket. It was 70 degrees, way too hot for the varsity jacket he adorned.  He was dragging a full suitcase behind him, looking down at the traffic on the freeway under him.  The first time I saw him, I wondered where he was going. Maybe he is waiting on the Woodward bus. The second time I saw him, 5 hours later, I realized he wasn't going anywhere because there is nowhere to go. The jacket on his back, the full suitcase is all his. All he got. This is where life has sat him, looking at the busy freeway on the Davison bridge. 

Fears

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This week has been a doozy. Many people have gone through so many different emotions after hearing Donald Trump will be our next president. Some people are ecstatic, but most that I have spoken to are depressed, angry, confused and really scared. I've haven't heard the word fear so much since 9/11.  I took a moment internally and thought about what really scares me and what fears I have. Just to name a few:  

  • Death of loved ones (my parents, siblings and the like)
  • Guns 
  • Our environment being too far gone to fix
  • Being homeless
  • Not telling a person my true feelings about them before it's too late
  • Becoming deathly ill
  • Not having the ability to think clearly
  • Not being able to create art

These are real fears that I face every day and try to alleviate by enjoying my family and friends, creating art as much as possible, using my mind to its fullest capacity and working hard to stay healthy and happy. There is one thing on this list that I have not been able to move forward with and that is telling that special someone I care.  One day, I will get over that fear and scratch it off of my list. One day. 

Fear is an emotional mechanism that is supposed to keep us from doing dangerous things or to alert us of danger. It is a good thing in its place, but sometimes the fears we have are based on the unreal. That is when fear itself becomes dangerous and harmful.Some people have let the fear of Trump create an unreal world in their heads and that can develop into more bad decisions. Let's work for the best and prepare for the worse. 

With the Trump election, my first reaction was not fear at all, just disappointment. I felt it on several levels starting with the politics that lead us to having such poor choices in our presidential candidates, to the horrible language and media frenzy we had to live through for the last year. In hindsight, maybe this is the only way such an election could have ended.  But, for just a moment, I did think, even in the brokenness that we are facing as people in this country, that we would pick what would be best for the majority of us. Again, maybe we did.

The hopes and optimism I held for America were unwarranted and I knew better. My soul knew better. She was talking to me and getting me ready for what she saw was coming and what I was scared to admit.  When it happened, disappointment hit and then the next thing I felt was, time to get back to work. Keep creating art that young children see in their neighborhoods. Keep writing about humanity, spiritual understanding, my Black-ness and womanhood. Keep transforming public spaces and keep loving family, friends, and neighbors and beyond. Be ready to move when my inner spirit tells me to. Be ready to work when I am called.  That is it. We have fears to get over in this country. Fears about race and the guilt of it. Fears about this changing country.  There is a government system with outdated laws, processes,and policies that need to change. Until then, I've decided that Donald Trump is not something I need to fear just another person to love, pray for, and tell the truth to.

The Airport

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My plane got in rather late tonight. We landed about 12:04 AM. I knew it would be another hour or more before I could lay down in my bed. This trip was only a few days but I felt like I hadn't slept for weeks.  I use to call someone to pick me up but that has become more challenging as my family has gotten older and friend's lives are fuller.  Now, I save money for a taxi-ride. Yes, uber is cheaper, but a taxi driver doesn't feel the need to engage and entertain you the whole trip. At one in the morning, the last thing I want is a purposeful conversation.  It was 12:37 when my bag finally fell from the carousel.

I noticed as others grabbed their luggage, they headed for the door looking for the car of their loved ones or even were met by a love one in baggage claim. Smiles, hugs, handshakes and screams. I saw a little boy run up to what I assumed was his grandma.  It gave me such a warm feeling and an empty one at the same time.

Ten minutes later I was in the taxi. The driver asked where I was going. When I told him Detroit, I saw a little hesitation.  I understood it, but also was a little angry about it. I haven't been back home for 15 minutes and already facing Detroit stereotypes and prejudice. Yet I understood. The world in not safe. Detroit is not always save.  The taxi driver dropped me off  at my parent's house, I got my keys from the hiding place and dragged myself to the car. 

Slowly, I drove to my home. I turned off my car and I took in my surroundings. It was very quiet and very late. For a moment I thought how I would feel safer if someone was with me. If I could have a friend to keepme company. But I had only me.  Nothing more.  I got out of the car and as I removed my bag from the trunk,  a man came from the side of my neighbor's house. It frightened me for a second and then I realized it was one of my neighbors. I smiled and said hello and wondered why he was outside at that time of night.  My mind went back to the taxi driver and I was a little less angry at his hesitation to come to the city.  My heart slowed down and I opened my house door feeling safe, secure and alone.

It was the next day, around 9 am that I called my mother. She didn't even know that I had stop by to get my car.  She told me I should have waken her, but I know if I did that, she would have yelled about me waking her. I was in a quiet place that morning, so our conversation was short.  My trip from the airport made me think about how alone I am and how uncomfortable that can be sometimes. I decided to go back to sleep hoping rest would take away the sadness and depression I was feeling. I have a good life, but that moment, for that moment, I felt miserable. 

 

Colorful Women Series: Stay Woke

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Colorful Women is not about skin color. It is about the colorful personalities and experiences of women. But, the last few months have been filled with racial and prejudice events that I must use the Colorful Women platform to speak on the subject.  Sometimes having dark skin in America can be hard. It can be the difference in living an amazing life or not. It can be the difference in life or death at times. 

I kind of tear up thinking that someone may think less of me because of my skin tone which God the Creator gave me.  It could not be wrong or bad if it came from the universe. For me, my skin has been beyond a blessing. Everyday, I live beyond the definition this world has placed on my skin. I am lucky to have family and friends and the upbringing that says be proud to be Black, be proud to be human and to be most proud that I am a child of God. We all are children of God, equal and just as important as anyone. I know there are many people of color that did not have my upbringing and have been torn down by the American narrative of the Black person. 

How can we change what is going on in the world. Easy. Love is the answer. Treat others as you will have them treat you. Be proud of who you are inside and out and live respectively and a Black person or whatever type of person you are blessed to be. We MUST – all of us, know our history and how we became the country we are so that we can fix it. We MUST share our knowledge to other generations. We MUST stay aware. I love the saying STAY WOKE. They are amazing words. It is like the Matrix. Once you take the pill there is no looking back. Your eyes are open, keep them open. My eyes are open and with each day, each book, each conversation, each newscast, my eyes are open wider. 

WOMEN: A special request for you. We have gotten to a place where we tear down each other, men, our loved ones. Let us go back to our nature and comfort our children, our men and each other. Let us TEACH love. That is our womanly power. We have given it away to show our independence and some weird type of strength that really has created a toxic space. We can be independent and nurturing at the same time.

I write this with peace and love – STAY WOKE my friends. 

 

Colorful Women Series: Colorful People

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Close your eyes and see the world differently. We have removed the brown hues, olive skin, pinks and porcelain whites and traded them for reds, greens, blues and bright yellows. Can you see me with my green skin and magenta locks walking down the street with orange men, yellow women, pink children and purple elders. How can the world not smile and love and be happy with happiness walking around saturated in beauty.  

Now open your eyes.  

Those colorful people exist. On the outside our beauty has been tainted by judgmental and prejudice stories and beliefs. On the outside we may be brown, black, beige, olive, tan, white – but truly open your eyes and you see that real US. The inside that sparkles bright like rainbow colors. Our true source of our beauty. Do you see that.  

NOW, you can enjoy the beauty of our browns, blacks, beiges, olives, tans and whites. We are colorful people inside and out. Uniquely and equally so. All we have to do is keep our eyes and hearts open. 

 

Colorful Women Series: Do You See Me?

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You read a lot. A LOT. 

I know. 

Put the books down and LIVE you say.  

Write the BOOKS – Don't read them.

You don't know. Reading helps me live. 

See, the last book I read, told me not to sweat the small stuff. 

The book before that, showed me how to think BIG. 

Two weeks ago I was reading this novel and I learned how to tell someone you love them 

AND

then how to murder who I love and get away with it.

Being shy (and sometimes shy still)

Books open me up and help me form words when nothing else would

Stories connect me to people. They have connected me to you. 

What is your favorite book?

Google.com isn't a book

What am I reading now? 

A Shakespeare play. My favorite. King Lear.

Fathers and daughters and bad relationships.

No, King Lear doesn't remind me of my father. 

You say good bye and walk away

I look beyond the pages of my book to see you get further away from me.

What would our novel be about. A girl in love and a guy with no clue. 

Oh my gosh. He looked back!

Did he see me gazing?

Does he see me at all?

Colorful Women Series: Neck Roll

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A short walk around the corner and I was at my fav cafe with a hot coffee and a book. It was after lunch but before dinner, so not that many people were there. Just the way I like it.  A guy on his laptop was watching  video smiling and silently laughing. A couple having a quiet conversation and one other person on the phone. The girl on the phone was beautiful. Long hair – most of it hers, flawless makeup and dressed to the nines. She sparkled. Her boisterous laughed filled the cafe. Every now and then she realized that she was disturbing the rest of us and would quiet down. 

Whoa. Her demeanor changed. She got up out of the chair and walked to the door like she was marching to war. You could hear the anger in the syncopation of her sandals slapping the back of her heels.

She didn't get completely out of the threshold of the door before her hand went to her hip and she began to point as if a person was standing right in front of her. Her words became shorten and rough. She is mad. And then, I see it. The neck roll, moving side to side with each word she says as though there is not a vein or bone in it.

"I don't need you." I don't need no man. I am an independent woman. Who the hell do you think you are?"

I was wondering what the guy on the phone was saying. We could only imagine. But we didn't have to imagine her responses. They were filled with derogatory names and expletive language.  After about five minutes of that, she pushed the red button on her smart phone, looked at it for a moment and with tears in her eyes she looked into the cafe. She realized we all saw and shame came across her face. She quickly turned her heard and with the same angry walk she left out the cafe with, she walked to her car. We all heard the car door slam and the screeching of tires out of parking lot.

I sighed, glanced around at the other observers of that episode and went back to reading my book. 

She was hurt. How many times have I heard women say how independent they are and what man they don't need. It is a mantra of a lonely and fustrated. What does independents have to do with wanting to be loved, honored and held. What do it has to do with sharing moments and life with anyone. Nothing. 

The neck roll tells no lies. She was mad. Maybe she will go home and have a good cry, or bitch to a girlfriend over red wine. She look like the kind that will take a bat to a car. 

Colorful Women Series: You Aren’t A Real Woman

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I found out the news the way most people do these days; on Facebook. He is leaving town with his fiancé who is expecting their first child. I didn't know about the fiancé and of course I did not know about the baby. I was deflated and embarrassed. 

For years we were in and out of each other's lives. Sometimes I would be in a relationship. Many times you would be with someone, but I thought the end result would be you and I.  That is what I thought the universe wanted. 

Days before the truth came out, you lay next to me and said, "You look like a real woman." Here we go with this again. You have accused me of NOT being a real woman so many times. What does that mean?

Why did I let you get in my head and questioned my femininity.  I didn't wear things cut up to there and down to there. No, I didn't really get the enhancements of silky hair and acrylic nails. No, I did not learn the magic of batting my eyes and getting men to do what I want. I was okay with the type of woman I am until you. If the lack of these things really makes me less of a woman why did I continually find you at my door? Your definition of my womanhood bounded my power and my love. I should have left it alone –but attraction is a monster that warps the senses.

You loved my intellect and hated it at the same time. You admit that you would love to wallow nude in my intellect. It scared you and to compensate your fear, you would attack my womanhood and tell me that I could never tame you – “I am wild and free.” Well so was I.

It's too bad. You knew me deeply, loved me deeply, but you could not commit to me. Maybe you knew you couldn't live within my standards, which were simply, live fully, love fully, and be open and honest.

LOVE – Love is easy and natural. Commitment? Well, that takes courage and determination.

For days after reading that post I felt less beautiful, unwanted, unloved and alone. Time, understanding and prayer raised me above that, but I cannot help once in a while to go back to that memory and ask how can you love so deep and treat someone so conniving.

The good of it all is if I didn't get the message before, I got it now. Hope you found the real woman you wanted. Me? Still looking for that real man. 

Colorful Women Stories: She’s Always Right

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Which skirt should I wear?

Red. Black. Flower pattern?

This one still has the tag on it.

It's beautiful, but too revealing. Is that celluilite?

I'll wear the black one with a yellow blouse. No…I will look too much like a bumble bee.

Black blouse and black skirt will match. No…this isn't a funeral. I REALLY DON'T KNOW.

Let me call her and see what she thinks. 

 

Ring…ring.

Hey. I just sent you a photo of the skirt and blouse.

Just open the message. Click it to make it bigger.

What you think?

I know it is not a funeral. Can I pull it off with yellow accessories?

Red skirt? That was my second choice. 

With a purple jacket?!!? I will look like a complete clown. I rather look like I am going to a funeral. 

I don't want…huh?

Okay – red skirt, black blouse and purple jacket (sigh) I will try it.  

Bye Ma. 

(15 minutes later)

She was right. She is always right.