So we’re trapped, double-trapped, triple-rapped. Anywhere we go we find that we’re trapped. And every kind of solution that someone comes up with is just another trap. (Malcolm X)
In November of 2015 we published a short essay titled, “Local Neighborhood Drug Dealers, You Are Not My Enemy” (http://po.st/Eagte4). Someone questioned, why wouldn’t you consider drug dealers your enemies? He presented the case that street level drug dealers corrupt and damage neighborhoods and communities by dealing death and promoting crime. While I didn’t and I do not disagree that the illegal drug industry is detrimental to inner city neighborhoods, if we are going to properly analyze these “unlicensed pharmaceutical distributors” we should truly understand the role that these individuals play.
Let’s begin by examining what local drug dealers market and sell. At an earlier point in life, I would have said heroine, nope big red X, Family Feud style, cocaine, nope wrong again, weed not even close, percs, morphine, molly. No.
Street level drug dealers market and sell “a high”, a good time, relaxation and for some an escape. Really, the illegal drug business in inner city neighborhoods should be categorized as a service industry. The sale of illegal drugs is customer driven. If a drug dealer doesn’t have customers who want to get high, then that drug dealer doesn’t have a business. It’s that simple. While the actual drugs can be measured and counted as a tangible product, the service industry of illegal drug dealing involves application of skills and expertise towards an identified desire. These skills and expertise are attributed to the illegal drug dealer.
Drug dealing is immoral …it’s illegal, it’s immoral, it’s unethical it’s not cool. OK. But if you are a drug dealer and a successful one, a bit of a oxymoron, a successful drug dealer, one thing you are not is dumb. In fact you’re probably brilliant. Basically a drug dealer in our neighborhood is an illegal entrepreneur. They understand import, export, finance, marketing, wholesale, retail, customer service, security, territory and logistics. You’re not talking about a dumb cat. You’re talking about a brilliant cat. A brilliant young man or young woman ….who had a bad role model, bad environment, bad soil, bad business plan. It’s bad capitalism but they’re not dumb. So you have basically an illegal entrepreneur. Who if they had the right soil, the right environment they could have become the next Steve Jobs. (John Hope Bryant)
Residing in as well as operating businesses within inner cities communities have awarded me the opportunity to observe and analyze street level drug dealers and the illegal drug industry from a different perspective. While many variables in the illegal drug industry often change, some elements are quite consistent.
The street level drug dealer is involved in a dangerous game of chess. They of course enter into the game as pawns. For many who do enter into the game, the ultimate goal is making it across the board to become a more powerful piece. Of course the probability of a pawn becoming a king or queen is low. However, most street level drug dealers are not concerned with performing statistical analysis to predict their chances of success or even survival in the streets. In fact, many street level drug dealers are mostly concerned with getting through the next day, not becoming a drug king or queen.
Unfortunately, many of these entry level dealers do not “make it”. That’s basically a euphemism for saying the dealer will most likely be killed or imprisoned. The street level drug dealers are variables in the illegal drug industry. These variables constantly change. That’s part of the nature of the game. Street level drug dealers are frequently murdered due to business disputes, territorial issues and bad drug deals gone worse.
Living in East Baltimore (Ground Zero), I’ve experienced several groups of dealers who established themselves as crews only to be eventually wiped off the board. These crews that basically move as pawns do not seem to grasp the ideas of positioning and protection.
Positioning should be rooted in power. The goal of positioning is to establish yourself in a place where you have decisive power over issues and situations that affect your life.
Where should the commander be in the battlefield? The answer, where he can exercise the greatest influence and be close to the point of decision. The place where personal presence can make the difference between success and failure. (Collin Powell)
Most street level drug dealers are not positioned at the point of decision making. Rather, they have been positioned and locked into a square where they do not have freedom of movement. I understand that feeling. We are all connected and locked into this reality of living until we exit human existence. While some Black Americans looked at President elect Trump as the boogieman, others felt as if Mr. Trump is simply another president in a line of politicians that push policies for making a more appealing and comfortable “Trap”.
Some Black people in the United States feel that the only true exodus out of a “Americanized trap” is self awareness, self assertiveness and Black Nationalism and action.