Straight No Chaser
As we enter the 21st century and the new millenium, the sense that a new era, bringing new technologies and lifestyles is upon us. But in saying that we must all realize that through out this time some things have never evolved or changed. That brings me to the subject of alcohol and the effect it has in our community. Because God knows people have been putting down the drinks for as long as we have been walking on this place we call earth.
Whether it was back in the biblical times when men were drinking wine, in the 20’s and 30’s when old men were drinking white lighting (“moonshine”) in the woods or now in the modern world where it’s Hennessy and Remy Martin on the tip of everybody’s tongue. Nothing about the situation is really different. The times have changed surely but the infatuation with drinking has endured through World wars, the Great Depression, the Civil Rights movement and many other events that shaped our world today.
Nevertheless I researched, observing today’s world and talking to many elders before my time here. I came to the conclusion that the trend of alcohol playing a prominent role in the lives of many in the black community has been infinite. Whether small or large, it serves some type of purpose in the lives of a significant amount of our community.
If you have trouble believing this then hop into your car and take a ride at night through your local black community and tell me what you see. Now if you’ve gotten paid and haven’t been there in a while, I suggest you do as the brother Ice Cube once said and “Make sure your ghetto pass ain’t revoked” before entering. Otherwise I’d wait until the sun comes up first.
Now let’s move on. Count the number of liquor stores that occupy the street corners you once grew up on and that our future leaders are growing up on. Take a walk and glaze through the trash piles and tell me what you see. Hundreds of bottles of St. Ides, Old Gold or Old English for the ibonic negligent ones out there, Mad Dog 20/20, Wild Irish Rose, Crazy Horse, Cisco etc…. I could go on and on. This isn’t Cheri, $150.00 cognac or Champagne or some of the other things you see on television or see people living the good life drinking. These are just a few mere titles of the liquid crack that are being absorbed by so many of our brothers and sisters.
Then take a journey to the other side of town where the “well off” people live or where you may already live and compare the two areas to each other. Can you notice how all the liquor stores have turned into wineries where they let you taste anything you want before buying the bottle? Imagine a liquor store in the ghetto that would let you taste test everything before buying it. My apologies to those of you who can but that is just not feasible to me so let’s move on. Notice how all the bottles have corks instead of screw off caps and they’re not selling pickled eggs and pigs feet on the check out line.
As humorous as that is I think my point has been proven. Does the disparity leave you shaking your head? It is not bad enough that so much alcohol in plunged into our urban communities but the proverbial bottom of the barrel is given out to us and taken in with open arms by many. Is it our fault? Many will say we don’t own the majority of those stores in our neighborhoods, which is true. Being from the south I found it amazing that so many foreign families up north and all over find their way into the black community to open the many stores that they do. To the black people that do own the stores I have this to say to you. Realize exactly what you’re doing and find a way to accept responsibility for it. I realize you have to make your living the same as the next man but run a first class business and try by all means to keep it safe and distinguished.
What I mean by that is show enough concern and caution to the fact that you’re selling potentially harmful products to your own people. I’ve seen stores that a 12-year-old can walk in and get beer or wine as long as the money is right. Be the one who cares enough to tell those underage kids to “get out of here before I kick your little ass!”. Excuse me that’s what I was told as a youth. Ironic I would remember that so well now but you understand my point.’ Because if you don’t, you’re no better than the brother on the corner with the crack in his pocket waiting on the next soul he will destroy. Think about that next time you just sell someone liquor without proper identification and it will all make perfect sense.
Now to hear me talk you’d think I was always immune of the charms of alcohol. But for me to even attempt that lie, I would probably grow wings and fly through the air calling myself the “Brown Hornet”. It sounds silly but me having you believe that would be even sillier. What type of kid doesn’t yearn to do the things that older people get to do? Whether it is watching the older guys in the neighborhood drink beer, watching your family make daiquiris at the barbecue or seeing the many ads on television back in the day like Billy Dee Williams and Colt 45. “Works every time!”, remember that? Anyway it’s a typical human trait. If somebody tells you that you can’t do something that just enhances your desire to do it even more and no one is immune to it, especially kids.
Now if you feel your kids do not have these feelings then I can only think of three reasons why that has come to be. #1. You are truly blessed and need to write a book on parenting cause you are doing your thing. 2. Your kids are good actors and are playing you like Michael Jordan did the Utah Jazz in the finals last year, or 3. You are in serious denial.
See my feelings were no different and I spent many a weekend outside of liquor stores trying to convince somebody to buy me a bottle or some beer. Entering the military right out of high school at 18 and getting out on my own so young really just added fuel to the fire. There was no one around to question my actions and I took full advantage of it drinking every weekend. Why was I doing it? Was it a necessary evil I needed to get by? To be honest I have no idea why I did it. It just became the thing to do on the weekends and I was always down for the cause up until about a month ago.
You see I am stationed in South Texas very close to Mexico and my friends and I frequent the clubs in that area on occasion. A few Saturday’s ago we decided to go down and relax a little after a hard week of work for Uncle Sam. I had a few drinks before going due to the fact that they jack the drinks up there so you can get drunk fast and spend more money. Upon getting there I had a “strong” drink, danced and had another. I wish I could tell you what happened after that.
You see I woke up in the Intensive Care Unit at Val Verde Memorial Hospital in Del Rio, Texas with no recollection of anything that happened after that moment. I was diagnosed as having alcohol poisoning. It seems one of the bartenders, who wasn’t too crazy about my “kind” slipped me a drug into one of my drinks for fun without anyone seeing it. I passed out shortly afterwards and commenced to regurgitate all over myself in the process almost choking. I also lost a good amount of blood from the immense strain that was being put on my stomach. I was blessed enough to have friends with me who weren’t “medically trained” but had enough sense to recognize something was wrong and take me to a hospital. People an alcohol level of 0.30 is considered lethal by many experts. My alcohol level was 0.28. Now all I can do now is thank God over and over as many times as I can because in all due respects I should have died that night.I see it all the time at some of the emergency rooms I have worked at in the military but one thing never fails. When it comes to your doorstep, it gets scary real fast.
Actually I’m sill recovering to this day over it. Needless to say my drinking days are over for good and if my story scared you at all then good because it should have. Alcohol kills more people than all drugs put together. Whether it is a DUI or in my case alcohol poisoning, it can be fatal. When you live in a world as dangerous as the one we do, adding fuel to the fire really does not aid you in any way, shape or form. We have enough problems being black in America today yet we still choose to add more things onto our back to weigh us down even more than usual.
Drinking sociably in the privacy of your own home or out with friends is fine. But when it infiltrates your daily routine and becomes as normal a practice as brushing your teeth (not normal for some of us) then you need to look in the mirror and ask yourself, Why? It is not only a cancer to our people but to all races that grace the depths of this world. Be strong and think sensibly people. Second chances aren’t given out to everybody. I have mine and I’m going to take full advantage of it. But who’s to say the same will happen to you. If you choose to roll the dice with your life then fine. But when you crap out don’t say that you weren’t warned about the consequences. Think about it and keep the peace.