I was recently a guest on NewsOne Now, a talk show broadcast by TV One network, with host Roland Martin.
Our theme was a mutual favorite, mandatory minimum sentencing for crack dealers, albeit from opposing perspectives. He feels it's racist, while I feel its right on target! The opening monologue cited the heroic stance Administrator Michele Leonhart of the Drug Enforcement Administration made before a Congressional committee by defending mandatory minimums. She did this contrary to the pronounced anti-mandatory minimum stance of President Obama and US Attorney-General Eric Holder.
Along with someone from the US Black Chamber of Commerce and Families Against Mandatory Minimums, I heard a fanciful case laid out for a group of chocolate Klansmen who undid what my grandparents and parents generation bequeathed to mine and posterity.
The Black business chamber representative sees crack dealers released from prison as prospective entrepreneurs, anxious to trade in street corners for store fronts. Since it was an eight minute interview, I didn't have a chance to rebut that whimsical notion.
Crack dealers have no more interest in opening legitimate enterprises than the man in the moon.
The spokesperson from Families Against Mandatory Minimums predictably talked about how hard these laws have are on those left behind and the cost to tax payers. I wonder why we never hear how hard crack dealing is on not only the families of addicts and drug-related gunshot victims, but also those impacted by the ripple effect each sale inflicts?
The host asked me to state my position, which I did and was met by his chief concern, the disparity between sentences for crack verse powder cocaine. I responded I didn't care if it was, which prompted Martin to assume I accused him of the same, which I didn't.
I noted the violence and other profound threats inherent in crack dealing drove legislations hostage inner cities demanded in the 1980s as literal warfare consumed them.
My only concern is the role crack dealers serve in destroying low income communities from the grassroots up and how this SHOULD disqualify them from current social justice icon status on the general Left, Black Left and among some libertarians.
The episode ended as one brief moment in a national debate within Black America which MUST happen, because while White liberals and libertarians can become civil rights activists for crack dealers from a safe distance, we reap the lethal whirlwind as reentry programs fail because crack dealers simply want to sell crack not upgrade to respectability.
Civil rights for crack dealers isn't a quantum leap forward in race relations. It's a time warp where serious penalties for destroying low income Black lives gets glossed over in the name of appeasing middle class Blacks who left the Hood decades ago, alongside Whites who'll never visit the inner city but shamelessly use it for votes and social program dollars.
Not quite my idea of civil rights.
Nadra Enzi aka Cap Black is an anti crime activist & Project 21 member in New Orleans. 504 214-3082.