Satan’s Poverty Program


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By Robert Lilly | March 1, 2009

“Dope is Death! We must fight dope addiction by any means necessary!” – L. Komboa Ervin “We kill, beat, rape, and brutalize each other because we are in pain ourselves. In our pain and confusion we strike out at convenient and familiar victims; those like ourselves.” – L. Komboa Ervin – Activist, Former Black Panther{{more}}In the past couple of years there has been the issue, in the community, of drugs and drug dealing being done too close to home. Some in the community have agonized over this matter to the point that they became willing to take action. But what action would be the right action? For the purposes of brevity, in recounting to you these happenings, I must be brief, because I am just now learning of the details of the behind the scenes events – I was not a part of the process. In fact, as a drug addict, I was a part of the problem! Some of our elders thought it the better part of valor, to seek out relations with the law enforcement agencies of our city as the best and possibly the only solution to the pervasive use and distribution of drugs in our neighborhoods, near our homes. That would mean that secret and clandestine investigations would be arranged. And those who were deemed suspect would be targeted for arrest and prosecution. Subsequently, dozens were arrested, prosecuted and sentenced, to either probation or prison terms. Now, if this solved the problem and the community, through it, was placed on the path to restoration, then I would be all for it. But the sad and unfortunate element of this approach to crime control is that in reality the community, by taking this stance entered a lose/lose agreement. The African American community in Abilene, Texas is a weak and vulnerable community. We are few in number and even fewer in power and position. Any action that serves to diminish our potential for strength, in my opinion is a wrong action. In contrast, those opposing actions that enhance our potential for self/group determination and empowerment are right actions, despite the seeming difficulty of their execution. So the community loses when its’ men and women are incarcerated as a result of this method used for ‘cleaning up the streets’. They, despite their negative anti-community behaviors are still potential allies; they are human capital that can be reformed through human investments.Allow me to digress; I can hear someone arguing that this is foolish thinking. They may be saying to themselves and others, about these misbehaving brethren, “they won’t learn!”, or “they won’t listen to us!” My rebuttal: It is not what these few people, who do bad things, say about us that determine the matter but rather what our seeming powerlessness to address them effectively says about us. Because, the particular areas in which I know for certain these happenings occurred are bordered by a number of churches, I think it appropriate to quote Dr. Jawanzaa Kunjufu’s book: Developing Strong Black Male Ministries. In it he said, “The second major reason why Black men don’t go to church is because of hypocrisy. Everyone, especially brothers, wonders how four churches on a block can have a liquor store and a crack house for neighbors. Churches should be making a difference, not accepting the status quo.” I use this quotation as a reality check not as an insult. If, however, you take issue with it then you write in to the paper at www.westtexastribune .com and give us your opinion about this situation. We welcome both dissenting and supporting views but remember we are a solution oriented paper.No Help for the BurdenedFurthermore, they are not helped once they are placed into the prison system. There are no drug counselors available to offenders at the county jail level. And once the offender enters the Texas Department of Criminal Justice system their chances of experiencing a treatment program are very low. TDCJ does have treatment available for offenders with substance abuse history; however the ratio of prisoners with substance abuse and those who are board mandated to take treatment is extremely imbalanced. In a study done by the Urban Institute, put out in 2005, entitled: Texas Prisoners’ Reflections on Returning Home, 676 prisoners shortly before their release from Texas prisons and state jails, were given a survey to complete and the findings show that eighty percent of prisoners reported illegal drug use prior to their incarceration , yet only 21 percent participated in a specific drug or alcohol treatment program while incarcerated.Additionally, the community loses once these offenders return back to our neighborhoods. They return home bitter and still addicted to whatever the substance was that they abused prior to their arrest, afraid and alienated. They are ambivalent toward their reentry because they don’t quite feel as if they are wanted, yet they are happy to be home – a familiar place. Nevertheless, they are right, they are not wanted, and they never were wanted. And the proof for this is implicit in the fact that we have no real campaign as a community to reform or even educate the addict in our streets before it gets so far out of hand.In all fairness though, there are private or non-profit programs in our Abilene environs, but these groups do not, as principle take a proactive stand on the devastation caused by the addict. These groups are set up for the addict who has hit his/her ‘bottom’- their proverbial ‘end of the line’, and now are ready to do what it takes . These groups operate based on attraction rather than promotion. Some of the addicts are mandated by local probation and/or parole officers to attend classes. Bear in mind, that drug users are not the only recipients to be incarcerated. The drug dealer is also as much of an addict as the drug abuser but our system does not recognize his/her addiction to capitalism in the same light. We need programs that are as relevant to the reform of the drug dealers as much as they are to the drug abusers. On another note, so few of us write to those unfortunates who land in prison to tell them of the wrong they are guilty of. Probably no one ventures to become an approved TDCJ volunteer and go inside these prisons to teach them what we say we wanted them to learn when they were in our midst. In light of the multitude of churches this city has we are indicted by the miniscule number of prisoner re-entry initiatives that the congregations sponsor. And I am not talking about a ‘faith-based initiative’ approach; more so, we are referring to a grass-root awareness that these are our brothers and sisters in Christ and that this work is not one done based on the principle of charity for some ‘outsider’ but rather a duty-driven action on our part.So what is the solution – you ask? The solution is for us to turn from our wrong -headed opinions and to face the fact that this is our problem and one in which it is plausible for us to solve. We are not as powerless as we would have ourselves to believe. I want to make it known that any time someone is incarcerated for the use, abuse, and or distribution of drugs they leave behind wreckage. Fragmented pieces of lives in the form of women, children and families; all devastated by the irresponsible behavior of the unfortunate one who now must count the days until he, and increasingly more these days – she is permitted to come home. What of this damage done? Do we expect that it will be put back together magically? Or is it our responsibility to address this situation? These women need support, the children need guidance and the neighborhoods that were the staging grounds for these culprits’ activities need repair. Even if I were to concede that the police involvement so often sought after by the elders was the answer, I could not even imagine them being capable of or willing to tend to the hundreds of shattered lives scattered about throughout our community. My friends, that, by virtue of our proximity to the problem falls squarely on our shoulders, it is our duty to repair the breach. Three Types of Criminals There are those ordinary Black people who steal and rob just to survive under this system, because of the unequal distribution of wealth. Some of us in our desire to make it in a Capitalist society we will stop at nothing, including murder. And finally, there are those who do whatever they do because of drug addiction or mental illness. – L. Komboa Ervin, former Black Panther I have often wondered: why is it that so few of us turn out to social gatherings and participate in cultural programs. And then it dawned on me as I was driving through some neighborhoods in the city, and in every neighborhood where I went I saw a number of people out on their lawns or in their driveways drinking alcohol or smoking marijuana; there is a significant drug problem in our families. Too many of us are consuming dangerous levels of alcohol and we excuse this behavior by pointing out that it is legal. Some of us argue that weed is God’s herb and so it is permissible. Another group says, “We are doing what we have to do to survive.” That excuse may or may not be valid. My response to them is: Have you investigated what your options are? Why is it that so many of us, particularly the young and Black, tend to think the only way to escape the hopelessness of poverty is to sell drugs? Malcolm X said something I think profoundly speaks to the source of this mind state; “When you let yourself be influenced by images created by others, you’ll find that oftentimes the one who creates those images can use them to mislead you and misuse you.” Our youth are the product of the genius of a mad scientist akin to Frankenstein and now that the monster is tearing up the town, just like in the book, the villagers want to chase him, catch him, and burn him. This, by no means is being said to dismiss the accountability of those who would seek to destroy the fabric of our village. Therefore, we hold them responsible for their actions but we also provide them with a life-line back to civilization. We don’t destroy them and say we have done our part. This would be a pyrrhic victory, a battle won at too great a cost. I want you to imagine the face of a child molested by her father or neglected by her mother who is using methamphetamines or crack, picture her in your mind; now tell her that it is not your job to help her! If not you, I ask, then who?To think that the only way out of our blighted and depressed situation is to cooperate with the law enforcement agencies, as our first recourse is just as defeatist as the ‘dope boy’ who claims he is ‘hustlin’ to eat’. We can all do much better than that. I will not stand by and watch so many lives being ruined and not lift my voice in opposition to such flawed logic on the part of the elders and the unwise youth. We must seek a middle ground. I. The middle ground is to establish financial power through businesses and to consolidate our capital into an economic weapon. II. It is to create jobs with living-wage salaries; the wages we pay our workers are appalling and can do little to enable the most common of man to get ahead. One can say nothing about poor people having the desire to improve their lot and thus not being that motivated to work for ‘compensation’ that does not fairly compensate their labor. III. We must support the education institutions, too few of us have seen the inside of our children’s classroom, even more so the text book. And we must create alternative educational experiences for our youth. IV. Put an end to racial profiling and the selective policing the law enforcement does in our communities. V. End hunger among the children, because the majority of our community’s poor are children, and many of them have parents either on drugs or in prison. VI. Eradicate violent crime and spousal abuse against our women and one another. VII. Establish alliances with other groups who recognize the divinity of our cause.In conclusion, I think it appropriate to end with a relevant scripture: “So be very careful how you live. Live wisely, not like fools. I mean that you should use every opportunity you have for doing good, because these are evil times. So don’t be foolish with your lives, but learn what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, which will ruin your life, but be filled with the Spirit” .It is my theory that much of what we do is driven by our deplorable living conditions and the hopeless despair it spawns. Satan would have us to believe that unity is impossible and thus the only alternative is to cop-out and dive deep into the streets or the bottle or the club or the needle or whatever chemical that is being marketed on the streets or on late night TV., that is being purported to change the way we feel. This is Satan’s plan for those in poverty. God wants us to be united and to render aid to our brothers and sisters. Satan wants us divided and misguided, stuck in the haze of our deluded fantasies. So as further advice we conclude with this admonition from the Bible: “It is not for kings, O! Lemuel – not for kings to drink wine, not for rulers to crave beer, lest they drink and forget what the law decrees, and deprive all the oppressed of their rights. Give beer to those who are perishing, wine to those who are in anguish; let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more” . Will we continue to take hold of ‘Satan’s Poverty Program’ or strive to develop our own God driven version? The question begs an answer.