Decades of Systematic Oppression, Mass Incarceration, Racial Tension and the War on Drugs.

This is America Drug Violence

Decades of Systematic Oppression, Mass Incarceration, Racial Tension and the War on Drugs.

In the political documentary, the 13th, the film exposes the truth involving the mass incarceration and criminalization of African Americans through the end of the civil war up until the turn of the century.

Violence against African Americans has been a distinct part of our economic and political system that has built and maintained a labor of division and injustice in the United States. Since President Nixon was elected into office, the United States created a reported “war on drugs.” The war on drugs was a sensationalized campaign evoked by new office members like Clinton and Ronald Reagan as a platform to help keep communities safer, reduce violence and incarcerate criminals who were dangerous to society. 

When in reality, the war on drugs has continued to be a political campaign that has helped build an economic industry of violence, prejudice, and criminalization against African Americans in the United States. 

Social unrest and racial tension have existed in America for many years. Throughout history, institutional oppression and structuralized racism have been a relevant method for maintaining social control and dominance over the African American community. Records of methods used to control African Americans dates back to Colonial Virginia. “In order to maintain power among the people of African descent, oppression and internal colonialism emerged through legislative actions by the Virginia House of Burgesses in 1692 to institutionalize slavery” (Seabrook, Wyatt-Nichol, 2016). 

In the documentary, there is a clear investigation into how slavery in the United States is necessary for understanding the foundational racial oppression of African Americans in our current political landscape. Through a historical understanding of how our country has continually used tactics of manipulation, abuse and deceit to keep African Americans disempowered through reconstruction, Jim Crow, Civil Right, and Civil Disobedience to the newly imposed form of cultural domination of embedded racism in the criminal justice system. The documentary sets the stage for how the war on drugs is, in fact, a continued method of oppression against African American communities. 

The war on drugs as a weapon of violence against African American communities

The documentary gives voice to the massive enforcement of laws criminalizing personal drug use and possession of drugs in the United States causing devastating harm to individuals lives. Enforcement and increased criminalization of drug usages in African American communities ruin individual and family lives; discriminate against people with color and undermine public health. The documentary takes a stand on showcasing the societal consequences of not decriminalizing the personal use and possession of illicit drugs.

In the 196-page report, “Every 25 Seconds: The Human Toll of Criminalizing Drug Use in the United States,” there is clear evidence that the enforcement of drug possession laws causes extensive and life-threatening damage to individuals across the country. The long-term consequences of the criminalization of drugs in these communities can separate families; exclude people from job opportunities, welfare assistance, public housing, and voting; not to mention, can also incriminate and expose the individuals to a lifetime of discrimination and stigma.

However, the problem is that drug discrimination in America is a clear replicated pattern of discrimination against African American lives. During the 1980s – 1990s, harder enforcement for criminalization became a huge political concern for white communities around America. The war on drugs: was never a genuine public health concern but what Michelle Alexander characterizes as “the New Jim Crow.”

In the 1980s the invention of crack cocaine was administered into Black communities and was even backed by the CIA. This event has been denoted as “one of the most bizarre alliances in modern history, the union of a U.S. backed attempt to overthrow a revolutionary socialist government and the Uzi-toting ‘gangsters’ of Compton and South-Central Los Angeles.”  The aforementioned quote is in reference to accusations brought forth by investigative journalist Gary Webb against the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and its role in smuggling illegal contraband to fund an army named, ironically enough, the Contras. Several presidential administrations would later wage a war on drugs, and despite the proclaimed purpose, seemed to only adversely affect the very same African American community it knowingly allowed the filtration of drugs into.

Racial Profiling and Criminalization

The consequences of the “war on drugs,” officially declared by President Richard Nixon in 1971, has come to refer to police practices that involve stopping and searching people who fit the “profile” of drug users or couriers on the nation’s highways, buses, trains, and planes; saturation of particular neighborhoods (almost entirely low-income communities of color) with law enforcement officers charged with finding drugs in any quantity through widespread “stop and frisk” activities; no-knock warrants, surveillance, undercover operations, and highly militarized drug raids conducted by SWAT teams.

Racial profiling perpetuates negative stereotypes of black males as “criminals,” “aggressive” or “dangerous.”

“Many African-Americans contend that the issue of stereotyping them as criminal defendants and then disaggregating them out from other racial groups for discriminatory treatment by police officers is commonplace and, in essence, the price for being Black in America” (Joseph 2003).

The cause and effect of these laws have created an entire system of incarcerated African American populations whose faces have not only been sensationalized as “criminals” but have also endured the long-suffering of racial prejudice and unfair treatment against law enforcement officials.  Not to mention, the sensualization of African American men as criminals has increased civil violence against African Americans. 

“This is America:” A Real Exposition into violence against African Americans in the U.S.

In his recent music video, Childish Gambino, a Grammy-winning alias of Donald Glover, has seen a viral explosion all over social media. But why is this video so poignant in American media?  The video opens with a smiling and happy shirtless Gambino as he dances in a very light-hearted rhythmic fashion to a very light-hearted tune; however, as the video continues you can see that the image of a very “happy” facade is juxtaposed with him shooting a hooded black man in the head and gunning down a black choir.

The chorus sings: “Yeah, this is America/ Guns in my area/ I got the strap/ I gotta carry ’em.”

Within the song, there is a very clear and creative message being conveyed: Gun violence in America is a racial issue.

As a society accepting the normalization of gun violence against racial minorities is not only a social injustice but a disempowering narrative we’re passing down from generation to generation.

According to Live Free, a gun violence non-profit, “THERE ARE ALMOST 12,000 GUN MURDERS PER YEAR IN THE U.S. (MORE THAN THE ANNUAL DEATH TOLL OF U.S. SOLDIERS DURING THE VIETNAM WAR) AND THEY ARE THE LEADING CAUSE OF DEATH FOR AFRICAN-AMERICAN MALES AND THE SECOND LEADING CAUSE OF DEATH FOR LATINO MALES, AGES 18-34.”

Since of the deaths of individuals like Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and a continued tally of unarmed African American men who have died in “officer-involved shootings,” it is clear that America is experiencing the violent consequences of an unprocessed history of racial tension, which is poignantly examined by the Black Lives Matter Movement. However, over the countless of areas and faculties we’ve employed for the restitution of this tumultuous political landscape, we do not always consider drugs to be a planted weapon against the African American people.

Raise Your Vibration – Why Kindness Matters

I hate to think about the world in terms of hippy maxims or quantifiers like “you’re killing my vibe, man” or “whoa dude where did that energy come from.” However lately, I have really been thinking long and hard about a relative truth hippies get right. Your vibe is everything.

Here is why.

What is a Vibration?

Your vibration is essentially your thoughts.

What do I mean by this?

In the recent studies by positive psychologists, they find that thought patterns predict whether or not an individual feels happiness. This is not only a phenomenon brought on by positive psychologists but behavioral and cognitive psychologists as well. In cognitive psychology, we learn that our thoughts essentially dictate and control our behavior. When we think low vibrating or low unconscious thoughts, we begin to externalize those feelings, thoughts, and emotions in our behavior.

Let me give you an example of this: 

  • Have you ever been so stressed at work that you feel like the world is crumbling down around you?
  • Have you ever had an inter-personal conflict with your wife, daughter or other family members where you feel like a victim?
  • Have you ever unconsciously lashed out at an individual, pointed fingers or blamed them?

If you checked yes to all of these questions, don’t feel bad that is completely natural and normal. No one is perfect and we all make mistakes. In fact, I have recently been in situations where I was doing all of these at the same time. Trust me, it wasn’t good for my mental health. And as a psychologist-in-training, I knew something needed to change. If you’re having an inter-personal conflict with someone who is abusive, the best thing you can do is to remove yourself from the situation and work on making yourself happy.

However, in order to understand this happiness, you need to RAISE YOUR VIBRATION! 

What I am saying here is don’t get stuck in a victim mentally just because you have felt victimized. Even though you can’t always love people up close, that doesn’t mean you should stop your thoughts and start thinking negatively. The more we think negatively about people in our lives, the more we blame and hate and point fingers – the less happy we are.

Have you ever felt what it feels like to love? It is the most magnificent, wonderful feeling in the world. And we can still choose love every time. When we are stuck in our negative thought loops, we start discounting all of the beauty and life there is in the world. We also start turning that hatred towards others inward on ourselves. When we can’t blame other people for the negativity, we blame ourselves and we keep perpetuating the cycle of hate and doom.

But we can choose to be happy. We can choose to express, feel and always have unconditional positive regard for everyone we meet. We can appreciate all individuals are beautiful, lovely beings of light who have their own struggles and their own life experiences that make them who they are.

Remembering, that you are not a victim and that you have enough self-love to remove yourself from toxic situations is no one’s fault. The only thing you can control is yourself and what you experience in every moment. You cannot change other people, you cannot make other people happy and you cannot blame yourself if other people don’t understand your situation.
But you can choose kindness, happiness, and love in every moment.

  • Do you have an ex you still hate?
  • Do you have a frenemy who you think toxic, mean thoughts about?

I encourage you to sit down and send them love today. Whoever you hate, send them love at every moment and you feel the shift in your happiness. You will feel the stress dissipate and the negativity evaporate.

How Saving Our Inner Child Can be the First Step to Healing

I remember the day I fully became human, on that day,  I realized I was no longer a child. For, being a child is unlike being an adult in every way. I think it was a slow progression really; the day I stopped being a child. However, it wasn’t really something I ever noticed. It was comparably like hair that grows. Every 3 to 6 months, my childhood would  slowly escape me but I couldn’t feel it. And everyday went on like the same day just in different ways.

Can you really lose childhood like a jewel lost in the night? All those long childhood afternoons spent in wondrous splendor vanished so completely – and why?Photo on 3-19-16 at 12.13 PM

The truth is we never stop being children, for it is the innocent child in us that is an authentic representation of who we really are. To lose yourself, in its entirety, is to stop loving the child within and to compromise valuable parts of who we are for the intrinsic desire to belong. Living from a place of worthiness and compassion is being in touch with the child that once stared at the sky in wonder and awe. That crouched barefoot in the mud and dug up worms and millipedes asking the simple questions over and over again: what can this be? Youth is not a sliver of time that is compounded into our physical beings, yet it feels that way. The world tells you to grow up and get a job, to work hard like your parents and to make it in the American dream. While little by little you face the saddening consequences of forgetting you were born a child, you are a child and you will always remain a child. We try to mask our hearts like they cannot tell we love them and all the while we’re compromising, everyday, who we are. It is this slow forgetful process that causes us to feel pain, to hate and to create vengeance and anger in this world. It is why we become open wounds waiting and hoping for someone to love us again. And through each new wound that emerges we hide away- we numb, we eat and we try to forget the slow blood thinning pain.

As we get older, unfortunately, every time we’re in touch with the experience of suffering, we unconsciously believe we can’t bear it, and we stuff our feelings and memories deep down into the crevasses of our mind. All the while, your heart and your inner child is pleading and begging you for the attention it deserves: “Hey! she yells, ‘pay attention to me.’ We believe that forgetting the child who was once full of energy and playful spirit will stop the pain of our self-compromise.

It’s time to evolve! It’s time to grow up. I am too busy to take care of this… All the while, the inner child is crying for attention and we continue to run away because we’re scarred of our own suffering.

Slowly we cannot feel and we can hardly see and feel compassion for others, but our inner child is in us and she is saying you need me and I need you. However, it is by rescuing the child within us that we begin to live again. It is by finally seeing and acknowledging our childhood wounds and our own self-compromise that we’re inspired to live more in-tune, authentic lives. By reaching out an acknowledging the hurt inner child, not only do we save ourselves, but we save our relationships, our experiences and friendships.