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“You claim I’m sellin’ crack/But you be doin’ that”
– KRS-One on “Sound of Da Police”
The day was a good day…That hot summer afternoon in Compton back in ‘84. As, Egyptian Lover, blasted from somebody’s boombox
the yunguns held a breakdancin’ competition on the sidewalk, while the old folks played dominoes in the shade. But then it happened… A mysterious white cloud descended upon South Central LA. All of a sudden the breakdancers started shootin’ at each other and the the old folks knocked over the domino table and started stumbling around the ghetto like mindless zombies….
Of course, the drug epidemic didn’t quite happen that fast. It was part of a long program that had gone on for decades to destroy Black people, mentally, spiritually and physically. But it just seemed that way…
Last weekend, a new movie was released called, “Kill the Messenger”, which tells the story of the late San Jose Mercury News reporter, Gary Webb. In 1996, Webb released a series of articles called , Dark Alliance, which alleged that the CIA played a role in the crack cocaine epidemic that took over South Central LA during the 80’s.
Like many of my generation, I remember the initial outcry over the allegation that the Feds were responsible for turning good-natured Uncle Jimmy into a crack head. There were numerous talk shows and town forums with black folks expressing outrage but, what happened next is just a blur…
This blur, has resulted in a generation of kids who don’t know how to get out of the drug/gang life because they have no clue how they got in it to start with.
Now, let’s be clear. Talk about the conspiracy to wipe black folks off the planet did not begin with Gary Webb’s article. Nor did it end with the release of his book. There has always been talk of a grand conspiracy to kill off the “undesirables. ” Ever since the good white Christian church folks of this country had the revelation that it wasn’t exactly proper to string God’s people up by ropes, new, but equally destructive ways had to be implemented.
Although, Webb may have been the loudest voice who raised the issue of the drug induced genocide of the ‘hood, he definitely was not the first.
During the early 70’s Samuel Yette wrote, The Choice, which revealed various government programs to stop the rise of African Americans. Also, two years before “Dark Alliance” was published , Dr. Patricia Turner wrote the outstanding book , “Heard It Through the Grapevine”, which gave case studies surrounding the various “conspiracy theories” that had circulated around the Black community, including the introduction of crack. Not to mention lecturers, like Steve Cokely, who traveled, tirelessly, around the country trying to warn a skeptical black community that the sky wasn’t fallin’ , but somebody was bombin’ the ‘hood with crack rocks.
So, what made Gary Webb’s revelation so earth shaking? Who knows? Maybe a slow news cycle. Maybe the way the planets were aligned. Or maybe, as usual, nobody believes anything until a white man says it. For a brief moment in time, the plight of the boyz in the ‘hood had finally made front page news in a way that did not make absentee fathers or the lack of education totally responsible their collective condition. But those who live by media coverage, die by media coverage, as the suffering of Black kids in the ghetto could not compete with John Q. Public’s fascination with the sexual exploits of a sitting US president. Unfortunately, the “Dark Alliance” story that could have saved thousands of Black lives was knocked off the front page by the explicit Too Short-like , freaky tales of Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky.
Not that the issue of how drugs got in the hood hasn’t been raised since the 90’s. Every time a superstar rapper gets called out over his lyrics that champion drug dealin’ , he is quick to sing the old familiar ditty about how “ we don’t own the planes or ships that bring drugs into this country.” ala “Nino Brown” from the infamous court scene in New Jack City. But instead of a noble quest to get to the root of the problem, the statement just plays out as a way to justify genocide.
So, in the aftermath of “Dark Alliance”, Freeway Ricky Ross, the man credited for , allegedly , pushin’ drugs for Uncle Sam has become a folk hero to a generation of Hip Hop fans. But instead of having to continuously explain his bad decision to thousands of grieving mothers, his biggest concern seems to be over some rapper swagga jackin’ his style. So instead of debating the validity of Webb’s accusations, and more importantly, questioning whether there are other Freeway Ricky Ross’s pushin’ Molly in the ‘hood in 2014 in order to fund a “war on terror,” we are stuck with conversations that just make for good TMZ material.
Maybe, the movie “Kill the Messenger” will open up a dialogue in the African American community, where we can use it as a platform to re-examine the question of biological and chemical warfare waged on us. Maybe we will finally ask the right questions to get the right answers so we can tell our children to “Say no to drugs” and not come off sounding like clueless, hypocrites.
My generation has some unfinished business to take care of.
Yes, the “conscious Hip Hop era of yester- year raised questions but it did not create the organizational structure to demand the answers. So, 18 years after “Dark Alliance,” as Fred Hampton once said , we are left “with answers that don’t answer, explanations that don’t explain and conclusions that don’t conclude…”
Maybe, one day we will be able to place the blame for the destruction of our families where it rightly belongs instead of , like Pac said, “blamin’ mama for turnin’ my brother into a crack baby…”
Min. Paul Scott represents the Messianic Afrikan Nation. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on Twitter @truthminista