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November 1, 2006 - East Texas Review (TX)

OpEd: Our White Brothers

By Armstrong Williams

Return to Drug War News: Don't Miss Archive

This country's media and think tanks are immensely focused on the social pathologies of American Blacks. Whether the topic is about single parent households, AIDS, crime, poverty, racism, the list goes on. From reading and hearing, one may think that if a certain segment of the Black population was not in America, all of our social ills would disappear.

Just last week this columnist spoke about "our brothers" with hopes that my words will help heal this community that has been oppressed for generations and now finds itself trapped by a psyche that sees impediments instead of opportunities. However, there are others in media who write and report on the problems of Black America in hopes of reinforcing their own racist stereotypes.

Vices such as drug abuse, homicide, promiscuity, sexual misconduct and disease are problems that cross ethnic and class lines in America, but you would never know that if the media were your only source of information. Mainstream media focuses so much attention on the prevalence of these problems in the black community that an outsider would think that segments of white America does not wrestle with the same issues in their homes and communities.

Nevertheless, the truth is that American Whites wrestle with these issues and various others that are not prevalent in the black or brown communities. While the vices are largely ignored, stigmatized blacks are further alienated in a society that they have longed to find a place in. The constant negative coverage leads many to devalue their own self worth and lose interest in trying to achieve the American dream.

According to the federal Center for Disease Control, white males are 4 times more likely than their black male classmates to be a regular cocaine user. White high school seniors are three times more likely to have used heroin, three times more likely to have smoked pot in the past years, seven times more likely to have used cocaine, and nine times more likely to have used LSD. The recent meth drugs cannot be found in the nation's urban centers but its suburbs.

The story is the same with illegal use of prescription drugs.

According to the Justice Department, drug users tend to buy from same-race dealers, meaning most white users buy from white dealers.

That's right, white dealers.

Ask yourself how many times you have turned on the evening news and saw a story on white drug dealers and users?

Now think back to that occasion when you did see such a story and think about the adjectives used to describe the offenders.

Were the same adjectives used to describe black drug offenders?

Of course not! Whites caught engaging in illegal activity are often described as being "confused" and "misguided", as if such behavior was unexpected because of the hue of their skin. Blacks accused of the same crime are described as "hardened criminals", "hoodlums" and "gangsters".

After hearing a story about white teens selling drugs to children, the media's bias give many the impression that the teens simply fell off the beaten path and deserve a second chance at life. However, upon hearing a news story concerning the "hardened black gangsters" the same audience will be ready to lock the offenders up and throw away the key.

The "down low brothers" has been a major topic of discussion lately. Instead of framing this behavior as a problem within American society, the media focuses on the race of these individuals. However, when the media uncovers the hidden world of pedophiles on shows such as Dateline NBC's "To Catch a Predator", they never speak in terms of race, although more than ninety percent of the offenders are white males. Likewise, when a black student kills another black student it's described as a black on black crime, but such racial terminology is never used when a white student shoots ten of his white classmates.

The media's double standard further feeds Blacks feeling inferior and Whites feeling superior.

If not addressed soon, such complexes could tear this nation apart at the seams.

It's time for us to focus on the behavior of our fellow citizens and not their race.

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