Fred Logan: The crisis of Black Power, morality, illegal drugs and narcoviolence, Part I

by Fred Logan 

Every day, all-day long critics of the Black community—“and they are legion”—argue that Black people, particularly the so-called Black underclass, have lost their traditional moral and family values. They claim that is the major cause of the upsurge of drugs and narcoviolence in the Black community. So, they call for moral counseling and a whole lot of praying to stop the dope and violence.

This greatly reassures and misleads a whole lot of Black folks. Often times, we believe divine intervention will chase away the drugs and violence, without a long hard struggle, or any sacrifice of our time or resources. We are wrong on all counts. In the real world, morality without power is lame, and power without morality is blind.

First and foremost, the crisis of drugs and narcoviolence in the Black community is a crisis of Black Power, but that is often completely overlooked. Today’s flourishing open drug markets in the Black community are the direct descendants of the earlier so-called “Red-light districts” in the Black community that African American people did not have the power to stamp out.

Over 50 years ago, Malcolm X said Black people must control the politics and economics of their communities. He also said, “(We) have to get together and remove the…drug addiction” that is “destroying…our community.”  That’s Black Power.

Some Black people are still confused about the “Black Power” Movement. It arose during the 1960s Black Freedom Movement for Black autonomy, Black respect, and self-defense.

The hypocritical mainstream news media attacks Black Power as “too racial” and in the very same breath the media describes crime in the Black community in the most blatant racial terminology, that is as “Black-on-Black crime.”

We should not let anyone convince us that Black Power is a bad thing. Black power is a good thing. The United States struts everywhere and boasts to everybody that it is the world’s only “superpower.” So, who can deny the Black community the right to Black Power?

On the one hand, the Black community is condemned for not owning up to its social obligations. On the other, it has historically been denied the political and economic power it needs to address these obligations. W.E.B. Dubois said that long ago in Dusk of Dawn.

These critics also ignore the reality that the Black struggle against dope has always been a moral struggle. It is the most profound moral statement against illegal drugs that anybody in Pittsburgh has made. Action speaks louder than words. The countless anti-drug activities by Black community groups, churches, and by unorganized people at large have been moral statements. The countless drug rehabilitation programs that Black folks in Pittsburgh have initiated over the past half-century are moral statements.

 It is also conveniently overlooked by these critics that Black low-income residents have long been at the fore front of the African American struggle against illegal drugs. Outdoor drug markets thrive in Pittsburgh’s poor Black neighborhoods. These markets logically seek out the most marginalized parts of the city.

Power, not morality, dictates where open drug markets do business in the USA. Illegal drugs have been sold on the street near Black churches and African American day care centers. But you can bet it is never sold on the street near big-time European American brothels or Trump’s Mar-A-Lago compound.

These wholesale condemnations of poor Black people are also blatantly racist. Black and White critics alike are quick to blame Black parents, particularly single Black mothers for their children’s illegal drug activities.

Black mothers have been blamed for every problem in the Black community. The former US senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan argued decades ago Black mothers were too strong, too dominating. Mainstream pundits now say Black mothers are too weak.

But these critics never fault ex-US vice president Al Gore, or the former governor of Florida Jeb Bush, or other upper income White parents when their children buy or sell illegal drugs. Just try to find that in the news media.

A March 24, 2004 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette front page investigation on illegal drugs in the city’s majority-White suburbs had to perform some racially-sensitive editorial footwork to clarify itself. The article “Heroin’s hold” had a subheading in bold type, “Don’t blame parents.” With more honesty, it should have read “Don’t blame White parents”.

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