I thought about selling crack one summer for recreation. After watching neighborhood friends breakout fresh Jordan’s week after week the pressure was too much to bear. I needed to get “fresh” or die trying, literally. This scenario happens often, a black kid like me with two parents present, decides to piss it all away. Baltimore is like a vacuum that’s doesn’t discriminate against how wholesome your upbringing is. Just raising your kids here is like rolling loaded dice. My soon to be crack boss was Melvin. He weighed about 130 lbs soaking wet and sported purple black skin. His head reminded of poorly animated alien movies. He’d wear Nike air forces whiter than new dentures. My interview with him went well, and the day before I was going to pitch my first rock we had an impromptu meeting, I guess to discuss best methods of avoiding 5-10 years of hard time for a rock or two. He moved closer than comfortable to me and said, “Yo this goin be your strip right here, knockers (unmarked police) can’t run up on you right here cuz it’s one way in and one way out, feel me?” And I felt him, oh yeah I felt him, at I least I thought I did. After a handshake filled with ambition, I walked off feeling like scarface or nino brown. “Yo remember tomorrow you gotta get up early son, fiends be ready to get out the gate.” he said with conviction. Drug addicts, and specifically functional ones, rise before dawn. They smoke in the morning possibly break in houses, find junk metal, do your taxes, or better yet, litigate your custody case. The doctor’s who are junkies never make the news.
4:00AM the next day seemed like it came in seconds. I woke up to a phone call from Dante Jones, my soon to be head football coach at Edmondson high school, and before I could tell him that I was now a good kid gone kingpin, he screamed through the phone “two-a-days start a 6:00AM, be late and I’m going run you on the hill until you throw-up”. Needless to say I couldn’t make a time commitment to both, so my drug dealing career never got started… The purpose of this jaunt into my past isn’t to highlight the potential screw-ups or gullibility I had as a child. I would hope that you glean from it, the important lesson of intervention. Also understand this type of work comes in all shapes and sizes. Even till this day I never forget the small instances where I received guidance at life’s crucial turns from different people.
But, my coach knew that he had to kidnap kids from the streets of Baltimore, no matter if they came from a Cosby Family, or The Wire. Biggie Smalls had a rhyme that went “Either you’re selling crack rock, or you got a wicked jumpshot.” Biggie wasn’t lying at all, but everybody can’t slam a basketball. So people with multiple skill sets are more needed than ever. And Black America now, and like always needs skilled interventionist. In fact, we could use semi-skilled soldiers in this war. Unfortunately there are tons of people, organizations, and laymen acting as a panacea for every ill in Black Society. Even some of those who don’t claim to have all the answers, are busying themselves with finger pointing. Political agendas are being shoved down the throats of the masses, street outreach organizations are furious because their getting overshadowed by public personalities, and black college students are doing their very best not to be perceived as the black bourgeoisie.
The worse thing that could happen right now is that everyone starts to battle for the microphone. It’s kind of insane that this is what’s happening in my city and all over America. Funny, I used to wonder how it felt to be in Ferguson with the lights turned on, media ready to shoot, and leaders battling for influence. Then Ferguson came to Baltimore last week. Amazingly enough, it has shown how unified we can become, but it’s also exposed the internal wars we wage for the hearts and minds of the masses. For the people who benefit from Black America’s continued erosion it’s not the rage on TV that they fear. They worry about the one day we put differences aside and form one moral army.
This all reminds me of the plantation, where we were separated by everything from sex to toe-nail length. Whether our ancestors knew it or not, the elephant in the cotton field was freedom. And I seriously doubt we had the time to clash “publicly” over how we were going to get it. So the house slaves maybe had a job to poison master’s food, the bedwarmers put pride aside and spent the night with the pedophile overseers, and the field-hands slashed the necks of all the hounds, in the still of the darkness. I imagine that they plotted in cabins whispering so their scheme wouldn’t be heard through hollow walls. They more than likely used coded ebonics to coordinate logistics. Lastly, they acted not with their own salvation in mind, but with thought that they couldn’t possibly see another child be slaved, sold, lynched or molested. When morning came a decent revolt was ripe for execution.