Mummy Sold Crack Cocaine. And She Was Right!
7 months ago Chad 6
Even though what we do is wrong…
Freeway ft. Jay-Z & Beanie Sigel
This invisible alien slithered, smuggled my way that is, onto the lower rungs of the middle class (whatever that is) through the back door on account of my formal education (a few degrees here and there), profession (somewhere in education) and by digesting whole the mores and customs they profess to hold. The mortgage, the car, the two kids, the wife, the occasional vacation and yes, the oftentimes unmanageable bank overdraft: all elements of the middle class utopia I was told. But even as I strive for self-improvement, can you blame me if I’m absolutely pleased with life? Does that mean I’m quenched, without appetite and not yearning for more? Do I lack drive and ambition? No, not really. It’s just that I never should have made it here. I really shouldn’t have. And here’s why: Mummy sold crack cocaine to get me here.
After birthing four kids midway through her second decade of life, my mother had an epiphany of sorts. Selling bag juices and fried pork in her neighborhood shop in a decrepit Jamaican favela probably wasn’t going to get us much beyond the subsistence line. Neither would her fanciful dreams of singing stardom. Patti La Belle she wasn’t, despite her protestations to the contrary. She had dreams of making it to the great US of A, but despite the five passports with varying versions of her name lying strewn inside her drawers, the American embassy had yet to be fooled. Thankfully, the British proved a tad more gullible.
The Lady Is Not For Turning
She arrived in the UK on the dawn of the millennium without a visa, a valid passport, money, a place to live, a job or the goodwill of a single person on the British Isles. The woman was a fighter and a grafter: Avon lady, dishwasher, cook, cleaner, strawberry picker, Tesco shelf packer and high visibility jacket street cleaner in Swindon. All this over a five year period as my siblings and I got the precious proceeds via Western Union.
You Want Me To Starve?
As this was taking place, I was getting an education, completing my undergraduate degree at The University of the West Indies and finding out that the big bad world was not what they promised me at school. I knew no one important in a country where jobs were not exactly advertised. There was no job to walk into. No house or car to salute my accomplishments. I was lost and had no idea about what to do next. I was heading for a career of underemployment in KFC or Tastees Patty. My precious education could not help me.
Then mummy suggested applying for a masters degree program in the UK; get a scholarship and drive forward. Accepted by a prestigious British University, the scholarship was not forthcoming. Heathrow, casual racism and three months later, fees were due. £10,000 worth of fees, that is. Dishwashing and my part time job in a nightclub were not getting it done. As resourceful as ever, mummy found a way.
Crack cocaine had a new dealer to satiate the appetites of the good residents of Swindon, Bristol and Southampton. The M4 had never been so busy. We’re not talking Walter White (Breaking Bad) levels of crack purity, violence or money here. We never owned a car, a house or nice clothes. Initially, it was 98.8% about servicing the university’s increasingly voracious accounts department.
The British Police eventually caught, arrested and jailed mummy for three and a half years before deporting her to the slums of Kingston with £150 of Home Office guidance. The Judge said, and I quote:
‘it is crack dealing scum like you that rip apart the fabric of our society.’
I beg to differ Mr. Judge!
‘It is fine people like her that build and stitch together the fabric of this here society.’ Here’s why.
To be born dirt poor with aspirations to greatness is a really dangerous thing. See Scarface, Pablo Escobar or Richard Nixon. When there is darkness, there will be criminality and misconduct. Of course, it is much easier for society to combat the victim (turned delinquent) conveying the gloom than the source of the darkness. Most people born in Jamaican ghettos, Sierra Leonean slums, The South Bronx or Haitian shantytowns get so beat down by the hopelessness of it all that by age 10 or 11, one accepts defeat. They crawl beneath blankets of cardboard paper, shrivel up and eventually die of broken hearts. No one forgets them because their existence was never acknowledged in the first place. Like the oxygen exhaled from the tree’s bark, their humanity is neither accredited nor understood. Society moves on, happy in its ignorance that the undeserved of the underworld ever existed; that potential greatness and self worth and lives of consequence slithered away without trace like plumes of smoke.
So what happens when those people decide that it doesn’t have to be so; that they will strive for more than the crocus bag and cardboard bed and the disdain, scorn and contempt of civilised society? What happens when they shoot their arrows for the stars of the middle class? When they decide that that respectability is an option they will create for themselves? Barriers happen. Obstacles happen. Hurdles pop up all over the place. As we argued here, prejudice and other forms of discrimination are always present.
We Make Our Choices, Now Our Choices Make Us.
Now that you want to make something of your life, you face stark choices. You have to develop this thing called curiosity; a search for knowledge. But rather than making things easier, it gives you stress. Because you start learning about how shit the world really is. You understand how your condition was actually about more than just bad luck or ‘how god planned it.’ You need an education. You need GCSEs, diplomas, A Levels, Degrees, Postgraduate Degrees, Doctorates and endless on the job training courses to learn things all those years at university failed to teach you.
All this credentialism and education inflation is not expected to teach you anything. It is really just a sorting tool for employers to see who has the stomach for four years of frat parties, booze and boring to death lectures on the meaning of life from your divorced, alcoholic philosophy 101 lecturer who moonlights as a consultant for a payday loan company. But even sadder, is the fact that all that education is a great way for universities and their investors to make money by sucking like leeches on the dreams and aspirations of you, the poor. And that is where mummy and I came in.
The pious, liberal/conservative consensus spewed by those in possession of the enlightened, cultured gene, will voice their objections. ‘But selling drugs is illegal,’ they pronounce in their newspapers and television shows. Crack cocaine is illegal. Destroying other people’s lives. It makes addiction an even bigger problem, yadda yadda yah.
Some of this is valid. Drug addiction the source of many social and mental ills in our society. But so, I would argue is alcohol addiction, gambling addiction, tobacco addiction and even sugar addiction. And these are all legal. I cannot turn on the TV without having these vices shoved into my face.
I know, I know, this is a stock argument for those pushing for legalization of all drugs, crack notwithstanding, (which is not the purpose of this article) but it should make us all think about what is legal and what is not and whether an economic imperative rather than morality is the main arbiter.
Most low-level crack and drug dealers like mummy do it as a last resort because contrary to popular belief, it is not the path to riches. It is cold nights and dark days of high risk for £20 sales. It is done out of necessity. It is done when the poor and dispossessed assume a sense of ambition. It is done when society has spat in your face all your life. It is done to survive. And that’s precisely what we did. I completed my sentence at that university, learned almost nothing but now I had credentials. Society cracked the door open a little. I had to kick it off its hinges. The fight continues but it would have been declared a no contest before the first bell if mummy never sold crack cocaine. Unless of course, you have a better idea.