If you know me, you know that I am fascinated with crack, the dominant discourse around it and the lack critical discourse around it, as it pertains to Black + Latino inner city neighborhoods. And how it affects men, women and children differently.
I plan on doing a post on my crack project proposal, but I just wanted to excerpt In Search of Respect: Selling Crack in El Barrio by Phillip Bourgois real quick. My two favorite quotes from the introduction are:
This book is not about crack, or drugs, per se. Substance abuse in the inner city is merely a symptom – a vivid symbol – of a deeper dynamics of social marginalization and alienation. Of course on an immediately visible personal level, addiction and substance abuse are among the most immediate, brutal facts shaping dily life on the street. Most importantly, hoever, the two dozen street dealers and their families that I befreidned were not interested in talkign primary about drugs. On the contrary, they wanted me to learn all abou ttheir aily strugges for subsisstence and dignity at the poverty line.
The other quote is,
The anguish of growing up poor in the richest city in the world is compounded by the cultural assault barrio youths often face when they venture out of their neighborhood. This has spawned what I call “inner-city street culture” : a complex and conflictual web of beliefs, symbols, modes of interactions, values, and ideologies that have emerged in opposition to exclusion from mainstream society.
I love this idea of a culture developing in opposition to being excluded from mainstream society. It totally avoids treating Black and Latino’s from the hood like pathological deviants.