There’s a big conversation among black folks that this heroin epidemic is only getting huge attention because it’s mostly white folks suffering the consequences of addiction. When crack cocaine was running rampant, blacks didn’t get the same courtesy of being in the throes of a national state of emergency. Blacks were simply labeled as crackheads and locked up – many for life.

There should be no argument to that fact!

Yet, even when crack was at its worse, there weren’t over 100 people a day dying from overdosing on the pipe throughout the United States. In fact, hardly anyone died as a result of smoking crack. However, a lot of merchandisers died on the selling side of the crack epidemic as rival factions fought over who had the right to provide crack on particular corners, neighborhoods, or even cities.

The so-called crackhead could end up doing many years in prison just for being addicted. The new aged heroin addict has the advantage of avoiding jail and is often being placed in some type of treatment program, although blacks and whites don’t always have the same treatment opportunities. Regardless of race, the heroin merchandisers are mostly being punished with the same stiff prison terms, especially if it’s proved someone died from the stash they sold.

A friend and I were reminiscing on our first childhood experiences with drugs. The conversation became so funny, I thought I’d share it with you.

My first exposure to drugs was at a Chester High football game. I must have been about 10 years old. Back then, half the stands where full of students and fans, and the other half was the Chester High School marching band. Somebody broke out in song that went something like this…

Don’t gimmie no herb
Don’t gimmie no wine
Just gimmie that beat
What beat?
That Chester beat
We got that beat

I kinda knew what wine was but I had no idea what herb could be. But, the song was so catchy I found myself just singing along with the rest.

Then in 3rd grade one of our favorite teachers was fired because he got busted for marijuana. He was the hippie type and he liked Jimmy Hendrix music, but he never offered any of us a joint and we were very upset he was fired.

My first exposure to heroin was around 6th grade at the State Movie Theater on 7th and Sproul. We’d go see all the Blaxploitation movies like Shaft, Super Fly, Dolemite, Live and Let Die, Hammer, Cotton Comes to Harlem, Across 110th Street, Black Caesar, Hell up in Harlem, The Spook Who Sat by the Door, Coffy, Dolemite, Five on the Black Hand Side, The Legend of Nigger Charley, Come Back Charleston Blue, Trouble Man, Cleopatra Jones, and Gordons War…just to name a few.

There was always some brother nodding out on the stoop and the cause was always ‘horse.’ And there were the jazz legends who were strung out on heroin, but that age of jazz was a little before our time.

I’ve never seen a speck of heroin in my life and I think I speak for a lot of black folks, especially my contemporaries.

It’s sad to see so many lives destroyed by heroin. And the huge disparity in law enforcement efforts for heroin versus crack cocaine is making it seem that blacks with drugs get a worse deal than whites with drugs.

Shamefully, it’s creating a real racial divide among the addicted and those of us watching from the sidelines.