Now That Crackheads Are White, Drug Addiction Is No Laughing Matter

October 7, 2016  |  




Drug addiction is no laughing matter – is the latest new trend to come out of the media.

I say this because of the revisionist– if not laughable new narrative–news reports are taking, now that drug addiction has a White face.

This time it is a Facebook Live video out of Memphis, Tennessee which shows two White people in a drug induced stupor passed out on the sidewalk. Here is the video:

According to TheGrio by way of WREG the video was taken by Courtland Garner and has been viewed more than 400,000 times (and thanks to the news reports, it now has over 2 million views).

And as also reported, the male and female seen in the video had passed out on the street after snorting heroin in a nearby Walgreen’s bathroom.

Thankfully, someone in the crowd called for emergency services and the two were taken to an area hospital in non-critical condition.

The female half of the duo was later arrested on a non-related warrant. No word yet on if the pair will be facing charges.

WREG caught up with Garner for the interview and asked him why he decided to record and mock the couple instead of calling emergency. To which he said:

“What they were doing was children things. It was a spectacle. It made me laugh. They can help themselves,” said Garner. “I know for a fact all the kids are on social media, and when kids see that video, you know what they are going to say? I don’t want to look stupid like that I don’t want to do those drugs.”

You can watch the interview here. Please take note of the framing of the news story, which presents Garner as well as the other Black bystanders, as insensitive villains.

Of course there is nothing really funny about people potentially overdosing on a sidewalk. And quite frankly, I am no fan of Garner’s callous indifference. As a society, we all should learn to be more compassionate to each other in general.

But let’s not pretend as if gawking at the drug dependent is some new phenomenon brought on by the digital age. Or that we need to be extra sensitive now the hard drug users are Whites.

Although most abusers of drugs are statistically White, the face of drugs for the better part of the modern era has been Black folks.

And when drug addiction was crack and Black, television news media had no problem both chronicling and exploiting the follies of drug addicted people. Images of Black“crack babies” and their welfare-draining “crack whore” mothers and “crack dealing” fathers were shamelessly used on television news to spin narratives that were everything but compassionate. And television programming (many of them produced by Black folks) regularly made punchlines out of them for our entertainment.

How could we forget Halle Berry and Sam Jackson as Vivian and Gator Purify iconic performance of “I Love Getting High” in Spike Lee’s Jungle Fever?

Through policy, procedure and propaganda, we were constantly fed messages that to be Black and on crack meant to be dangerous, criminal and devoid of any compassion. We were told that they brought it all on their selves. Therefore don’t feel sorry for them.

But now that it is White bodies sprawled out in the streets, drug addiction is no laughing matter…

And I get it. Growing up I had a step-father who was addicted to crack. He was also a former veteran who served in the Vietnam war and had a hard time adjusting to civilian life upon his return. Eventually his addiction would lead to him to losing his job, his house, his family and his freedom.

I don’t feel sorry for my step-father. I know that a huge part of his undoing had to do with the decisions he made. But might his life choices been aided, had he been treated with the same compassion back then – during the height of crack-cocaine era – as we are giving to folks now that addiction is no longer Black and crack?

Charing Ball is a writer, cultural critic, free-thinker, slick-mouth feminist and the reigning queen of unpopular opinions. She is also from Philadelphia. To learn more, visit


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