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Writer and lawyer Michelle Alexander's book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness argues that punitive laws against drugs like crack cocaine adopted under the Reagan Administration's War on drugs resulted in harsh social consequences, including large numbers of young black men imprisoned for long sentences, the exacerbation of drug crime despite a decrease in illegal drug use in the United States, increased police brutality against the black community resulting in injury and death for many black men, women, and children.

According to Alexander, society turned into a racist criminal justice system to avoid exhibiting obvious racism. Since African Americans were the majority users of crack cocaine, it provided a platform for the government to create laws that were specific to crack. She claims that this was an effective way to imprison black people without having to do the same to white Americans.

Thus, there was a discourse of African Americans and a perpetuated narrative about crack addiction that was villainous and problematic. The criminalizing of African American crack users was portrayed as dangerous and harmful to society.

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Alexander writes that felony drug convictions for crack cocaine fell disproportionately on young black men, who then lost access to voting, housing, and employment opportunities. These economic setbacks led to increased violent crime in poor black communities as families did what they had to do to survive.

Alexander explains the process of someone who is caught with crack: first, the arrest and the court hearing that will result in jail or prison-time.

Second, the aftermath of permanent stigmas attached to someone who has done jail-time for crack, like being marked a felon on their record. This affects job opportunity, housing opportunity, and creates obstacles for people who are left with little motivation to follow the law, making it more likely that they will be arrested again.

San Jose Mercury News journalist Gary Webb sparked national controversy with his Dark Alliance series which alleged that the influx of Nicaraguan cocaine started and significantly fueled the s crack epidemic.

The United States Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General rejected Webb's claim that there was a "systematic effort by the CIA to protect the drug trafficking activities of the Contras". They also contributed some money to the Contra cause. But we did not find that their activities were the cause of the crack epidemic in Los Angeles, much less in the United States as a whole, or that they were a significant source of support for the Contras. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Redirected from Crack epidemic. Drug epidemic in the s and 90s. gov webpage: DoJ-DEA-History Retrieved and Levine, H. Best ed. Images of Issues: Typifying Contemporary Social Problems. New York: Aldine de Gruyter. CS1 maint: uses authors parameter link see also Reeves, J. and Campbell, R. Cracked Coverage: Television News, the Anti-Cocaine Crusade, and the Reagan Legacy. Durham, NC : Duke University Press. The New York Times. Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare.

Western Michigan University. PMC PMID Harvard University Society of Fellows : 3, Retrieved January 4, Originally, field staff selected some poor households in inner-city neighborhoods as a comparison group because the household heads reported that no one in the family used drugs. However, in-depth interviewing eventually revealed significant drug use, especially crack, in virtually all the households included in the study.

It was a quiet day in the neighborhood. Usually, there were people hanging out near Island's apartment building day and night, mostly teenagers, most of them involved in some type of hustle. This activity flowed like a stream from the street into the lobby of the building. They used the lobby for dice games and drug selling. Young prostitutes used the scene as a convenient spot to turn a quick trick. Essentially, the activities of the park, street, and lobby continued its flow right into Island's apartment.

Island tolerated high levels of drug use and violence in her household. It became a favorite place for drug-using family members to visit. Island's apartment usually teemed with people, their lives and their noises.

Today it was serene, eerily calm as if we were in the eye of a storm. Everyone was out except Island. Even still, the apartment felt crowded with boxes and furniture and everyone's things. Amidst the clutter, Island Bersini, age 62, sat cross-legged with a cup of tea in her hand. Her biological parents were never married and their relationship didn't last.

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Island never knew her mother, never knew the circumstances of her birth, never knew why her mother abandoned her and disappeared from her life. Island's father had a common-law relationship with another woman who became Island's stepmother and the leading influence in her early life. The stepmother already had five children of her own. So, Island became the youngest of six. When she was four, her father died. Within a year, Island's stepmother decided to move the family to New York in search of a better life.

As a temporary measure, they moved in with the stepmother's sister, who was raising five children of her own. The arrangement became permanent and the 11 kids grew up together. Island remembered how her stepmother worked long hours as a domestic.

Since African Americans were the majority users of crack cocaine, it provided a platform for the government to create laws that were specific to crack. She claims that this was an effective way to imprison black people without having to do the same to white Americans White people have been trying to crack Black people for centuries. "Cracking down on crime" translates to "crack down on Black people.". Every attempt of anti-Blackness has been a "crack of the whip" to break our wills. But let me see if I can look on the bright "Black Americans, who make up of the population," CJPF continues, "account for 37of crack users, meaning that they are times more likely than whites to be regular crack users." So while more white people use crack, and more white people are starting to use crack, crack use can seem like a problem for persons of color or Estimated Reading Time: 3 mins

Island dutifully did most of the daily housework, washing clothes, washing dishes and overall cleaning. As a child, Island felt no one really cared for her and yearned for the day she would have her own family. At age 18, she was introduced to Jim, who had just gotten out of prison.

After a short courtship, they married.

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Inthey had a daughter, Sonya, and intheir son, Ross, was born. Jim worked hard delivering coal during the week. However, on the weekend he drank heavily, argued, and physically abused Island. She had Jim arrested and established her own household. Two years later, Jim was hit by a car and killed.

After Jim's death, Island took responsibility for everyone in the family who needed help. Many of Island's siblings or in-laws fell into criminal activity or drug addiction. As a result, their children needed to be raised by others, sometimes only temporarily but often permanently, as one thing led to another.

In time, Island became the prominent caregiver of the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of her generation, sometimes with foster care support and often without such support. Alas, Island's love of family, apartment space, and food were not enough. These children did not receive much of an education, and they failed to develop the type of social capital needed for participating in the modern economy.

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They did, however, receive a good introduction into street life and an education in the prevailing inner-city subcultures.

Sonya reached age 17 induring the peak years of the Heroin Era. After her initial introduction to the drug, Sonya quickly became addicted, as did many of her cousins, uncles, and aunts. She left high school and married a heroin addict and dealer.

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She and her husband lived in shooting galleries. Sonya raised additional money as a prostitute. After a few years, they separated and he moved to Florida. Soon afterward, Sonya was arrested and sent to prison for participating in the robbery of a jewelry store with a friend.

In , 68of people admitted for cocaine addiction treatment were crack cocaine users. That's more than 82, crack cocaine users in one year, and even more who did not receive help. This can lead many people to wonder how to know if someone they care about is on the gleicyferreira.comted Reading Time: 7 mins Numerous African American families have struggled for generations with persistent poverty, especially in the inner city. These conditions were further strained during the s and s by the widespread use of crack cocaine. For many, crack use became an obsession, dominated their lives, and The Crack Epidemic and Its Impacts on Black Families. Yuko Kodama You're listening to KBCS. This is Yuko Kodama, I interviewed Aaron Dixon, who is the former Black Panther Party, Seattle Chapter captain. He wrote the book, "My People Are Rising". And more recently, he's been finishing a Estimated Reading Time: 7 mins

After release, Sonya returned to live with Island. While imprisoned, she had gotten clean from heroin. In the s, Sonya started using crack and again quickly became dependent. Her life revolved around her habit. Whenever she had any money, she would smoke crack. Her main income came from prostitution. As soon as she would turn a trick and make a few dollars, she would find a dealer, buy some crack, and smoke. Sometimes she would directly exchange sex-for-crack, avoiding dealing with the money and having to find a dealer.

Island's second child, Ross, also became part of the street scene.

depictions of crack and people involved with crack in film was also relevant and significant to this research. Film whether on the big screen or movies made specifically for DVD release is digested by the masses of African Americans. As I argue, crack cocaine's presence in the Black community has been overwhelming since it made its arrival Black males, between the ages of 26 to 34, reported using crack cocaine more than any other racial and gender combination (Peters, Williams, Ross, Atkinson, & Yacoubain, ) and according to Hartley and Miller , 85of offenders arrested for crack cocaine were Black The most affected by the crack epidemic which took root in the early s were African Americans. It was cheap and offered an instant opportunity at money for young black males who came from poor families. Crack cocaine is highly addictive, it has a quick euphoric effect and by then the trade of crack cocaine was hugely gleicyferreira.comted Reading Time: 8 mins

As a child, he always hated being poor and felt stigmatized by public assistance. At age 16, he dropped out of school to try to support the family by selling PCP. Ross married at age Soon afterwards, he was arrested for dealing and sent to prison for two years.

Upon release, he returned to Island's household, rather than to his wife, and returned to selling marijuana and PCP. Inhe started selling heroin but hated the drug because of what had happened to his sister.

Heroin had become known as one of the worst if not the worst drug on the street. When the police increased their pressure on dealers, Ross was arrested and sent to prison for another two years. After release, he was shot during a robbery.

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As a result, he was paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. His condition, however, did not stop him from dealing drugs. Even though he was still legally married, Ross began living with another woman, Gladys, who bore three children by him. Eventually, however, Ross moved back in with Island. In the mids, Ross' business practice was well established.

He had his territory, his client base, and his connections with dealers. He learned how to cook-up crack and set up a thriving business. Crack dealing evolved into the family business. When young men came to live in Island's household, they become involved in drug dealing through Ross. The family and extended family resident in the household lived in style, at least by Harlem standards. That money was never invested no one in the family ever had a bank account and the household returned to poverty in the s as Ross' discipline gave way and he became his own best customer.

InIsland's household was no longer as active as it had been in either drugs or childcare. Island had heart problems and received a pacemaker to keep her going. Sonya was hit by a car and spent several months in the hospital. Ross became progressively more sick from AIDS and passed away. Not one is employed at a legal job.

They are all alcoholics, heroin and crack addicts, drug sellers, and what not. I'm tired of that.

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These life histories identify how the Crack Era added to the miseries facing many inner-city African American families in the s and s. Crack represented a major distraction contributing to child abuse, neglect, and abandonment of parental responsibilities.

Children born to crack users like Ricochet had a challenging home life. The African American tradition of extended family served as only a modest stopgap for Ricochet's family. The children received some support from their maternal grandmother and from Aunt Willie Mae, Ricochet's sister, who had stepped up as a member of a broader kin support network. Even stable inner-city households were greatly affected by the Crack Era. Island held onto her apartment and her children and provided refuge for a continual flow of children from kin who were unable to support them.

However, children growing up in Island's household did not fare much better with the extensive crack use, sales, and other street activities taking place in their home. From a problems perspective, the challenges faced by distressed African American families as they emerge from the crack era are profound and complex. Children from households like these have been becoming the parents of the next generation of African Americans in the inner city. Moreover, the legacy of the Crack Era has left profound deficits in kin support networks.

Many of the older relatives who might have otherwise helped are unavailable due to persistent drug use, poor health, imprisonment, and death stemming from crack use and sales. These young parents face major challenges in obtaining and maintaining jobs that could lift them and their families out of poverty.

Welfare reform has set a goal of moving families from dependence on government aid to economic independence through employment at legitimate jobs.

However, many African American families are still feeling the effects of a long history of structural disadvantages Feagin, as well as the residual consequences of the Crack Era. It will take a wealth of services and comprehensive case management to elevate a large percentage of the distressed African American families. Many parents and responsible adults do not have the human and social capital necessary to pull together a healthy and productive lifestyle for themselves and their dependent children, let alone other unfortunate children stranded by the collapse of inner-city households.

Consequently, young children in these households are at great risk of never rising above the persistent poverty dogging their family histories. There are strengths in these families and communities. However, from the problems perspective, we conclude that it is hopelessly optimistic and even immoral to applaud the strengths of the African American family and leave these distressed households to struggle or more likely wallow in their problems.

These families that are embedded within the larger American experience deserve and should be entitled to greater opportunity, especially the young children that have not yet become engulfed in self-destructive behaviors and who have all of their lives and potential ahead of them. We further contend that aggressive social service agencies should be established within distressed communities to assure that every child receives these opportunities.

No child should go hungry, have medical needs untreated, endure physical or sexual abuse, or fail to receive an education because they are poor.

Helping these families, and helping them to help themselves, can be well served by drawing upon traditional strengths and emerging capacities.

The African American experience has a powerful tradition of support through family, extended family and fictive kin. This post-crack era presents an opportune time to initiate these and other human services that support distressed African American families. In the inner-city, young persons are not impeding their life chances with heavy illicit drug use as much as their predecessors.

Consequently, more of them could be available to rebuild kin networks, to amass family resources and to help elevate persistently distressed African American families. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use.

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Crack: Rock Cocaine, Street Capitalism, and the Decade of Greed

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Abstract Numerous African American families have struggled for generations with persistent poverty, especially in the inner city. Keywords: family, crack, black, foster care, kin networks, poverty, inner-city. Introduction Poverty can be much more than a lack of money or work or even motivation. Severely-Distressed Conditions Entering the s, many African American families were facing tremendous structural challenges in poor inner-city areas. Extended Family Tradition Historically, African American children have been less likely to live in a two-parent household.

Methods Data for this project came from a series of intensive ethno-graphic projects on drug use and violence in poor inner-city households that spanned the s and has continued into the s.

Island's Family Island Bersini chose her pseudonym because she was born in the Islands. Discussion These life histories identify how the Crack Era added to the miseries facing many inner-city African American families in the s and s.

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In: Mortimer JT, Shanahan MJ, editors. Handbook of the life course. Kluwer; New York: Code of the street: Decency, violence, and the moral life of the inner city. Norton; New York: Climbing Jacob's ladder: The enduring legacy of African American families. Simon and Schuster; New York: In search of respect: Selling crack in el barrio.

Cambridge; New York: Context and surrogate parenting among contemporary grandparents. Marriage and Family Review. Cultural, historical, and subcultural contexts of adolescence: Implications for health and development.

In: Schulenberg J, Maggs JL, Hurrelmann K, editors. Health risks and developmental transitions during adolescence. Cambridge; Cambridge, UK: Reckoning: Drugs, the cities, and the American future. Hill and Wang; New York: The improbably transformation of inner-city neighborhoods: Crime, violence, drugs and youth in the s. Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology. An enumeration method of determining the prevalence of users and operatives of cocaine and heroin in Central Harlem.

Drug and Alcohol Dependence. Conceptualizations of African American families. In: McAdoo HP, editor.

for explanation

Black families. third edition Sage; Thousand Oaks, CA: The Philadelphia Negro: A social study. University of Pennsylvania; Philadelphia: reprinted Consequences of growing up poor. Russell Sage; New York: Impact of drugs on family life and kin networks in the inner-city African-American single parent household. In: Harrell A, Peterson G, editors. Drugs, crime, and social isolation: Barriers to urban opportunity.

Urban Institute; Washington, DC: Girls' sexual development in the inner city: From compelled childhood sexual contact to sex-for-things exchanges.

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