I am a 44 year old woman who has lived in the “hood” all my life. My hood is a place called North Braddock outside of Pittsburgh, PA. My neighborhood is a combination of POOR African Americans and POOR Whites. Everyone in my neighborhood is affected by the same problems and the poor whites have the same chances of leaving the hood as the African Americans do. They are as likely as African Americans to join the Street gangs that inhabit our neighborhoods and they are as likely to sell crack cocaine as the African Americans. The problems are not a black problem or a brown problem but a hood problem.
I was 22 years old when crack and the Crips first arrived in my neighborhood. I was a young street wise woman who made her money hustling and selling drugs. During that time I sold marijuana. I started talking to this man from LA who told me he was a Crip. He then explained to me what a Crip was. I was jumped into the gang three weeks later. What made me a mother of four young children join a street gang and start selling a new drug called “Crack”? It was the lure of money more money then I ever saw in my lifetime. Finally, I had enough money to buy my kids designer clothes and I could also wear the latest outfits. I had no clue as to the effect that drug would have on my community.
I began to realize that selling crack cocaine was slowly stealing my soul. I was selling poison to my own people. People who lived in the neighborhood. I remember refusing to sell that to “Whites” because unless they lived in the neighborhood the Government would arrest me for that. That is what the law did. They didn’t care about you selling this poison to your own people but they sure didn’t want you to sell it to “Whites”.
I became inactive in the Street gang and stopped selling drugs. I was lucky I never got caught and have a clean criminal record.
In 1988 the Democratic congress passed the Rockefeller drug law. This law gave an additional five years for people who sold Crack then those that sold powder cocaine. This law resulted in millions of young men from our communities being locked up for years. I watched men I have known for a long time spend years in Prison for selling Crack when the people that sold Powder Cocaine were giving a slap on the wrist. This law was one of the most racist and classist laws on the books. It also resulted in Genocide. This law was the law of the land for 20 years.
Crack also brought with it a war which resulted in millions of young men dying in the hood. Whomever brought in the crack also brought in weapons so we can kill each other off. That is exactly what happened we began killing each other off. Now our neighborhoods are polluted with a drug and a war and no one hears our screams. We need to stop the violence but how are we going to succeed when you mix poor boys with big money it is hard for our young men and women to stop selling this drug.