Lately (and by that I mean since the beginning of time) it seems as though it takes a few pictures with white people for something to start being okay to society. Weed, pot, marijuana, the ganj- whatever you want to call it- has been around for quite some time. For most of its history, it’s been called the devil’s lettuce and other fear evoking names. And guess who’s been behind all the rhetoric? White moms and white dads. It’s only been a recent trend that these moms and dads that shame the green are starting to get high themselves, and according to the image above from Today.com, its making them better parents too! So what’s going on outside the white world while white people are getting high and taking their kids out to ice cream more?
I could talk about the roots of marijuana as an issue, and tell you about how people in disadvantaged predominantly black communities have to sell the drug to get by since they have been institutionally placed into a system that prevents them from prospering. Bad schools, poor infrastructure, and police officers that will find a reason to arrest you for your color are a bad mix. But instead, I want to talk about median income black families, the families that are on their feet and considered to be doing well. “According to data from the Survey of Consumer Finances, the median white household possessed $13 in net wealth for every dollar held by the median black household in 2013”.
The numbers speak to themselves. If I am an average white household, I’m making 13x what an average black household is making. Many people argue that this clear gap in income between black families and white families is a matter of personal responsibility, and that color is not a factor. But data gathered from a 2013 Survey of Consumer Finance “find[s] that individual choices are not sufficient to erase a century of accumulated wealth: structural racism trumps personal responsibility.” So you’re probably wondering, what does this have to do with weed again?
Well let me show you an example of systematic oppression that rejects black people from the opportunity to close the gap:
- While a white mom is being praised for smoking weed, a black father is getting arrested and sentenced to multiple years in prison.
- While this white mom is “becoming a better parent”, the kids of the black father are now without a dad and a vital source of income.
- Their mother now must work even more, and the kids will be left without the guidance of two parents.
- If money is short, the kids will find a new way to make some money and likely become advocates of the devil’s lettuce.
- And again, some of these kids may end up in the same cycle as their father.
This example may seem a bit specific and uncommon but the numbers speak for themselves:
If you walk around a college campus, it will be clear as daylight that black people are not smoking around 80% of the weed in the world. But it’s a matter of fact that if you are black person in a bad neighborhood you are exponentially more likely to get pulled over or frisked, than if you are a white person in a good neighborhood.
This very fact is why I rolled my eyes behind my head when I saw the title of the Today.com article. When there are new stories everyday about black people being arrested for weed and not being able to take care of their kids, and then I scroll through twitter and see an article about weed making white moms better parents, the roles of race and class become apparent. Maybe black people should switch over to the other side so if they want they can smoke weed, but this time they’ll be praised on national news outlets as great parents instead of being taken away from their children.