Not so long ago, heroin was a “black people problem,” in that it mainstream culture viewed it as a drug that primarily affected people of color, and not white communities. Then, pop culture and news media started noticing white people dying from overdoses, and suddenly the opiate epidemic was something worth addressing.
It appears that now we’ve entered the “find solutions that just help white people” stage. Maryland is spending $3,000,000 to help with heroin, and not a penny is going to Baltimore. You know, that city where the black people live (Baltimore is 63% black, Maryland ex Balimore is less than 25% black).
Apparently the grants are structured in a way that wouldn’t do Baltimore much good, so they didn’t apply. It probably wasn’t anybody’s explicit intent to exclude black people, but there’s really only three ways his happened:
- Baltimore officials and community organizers were consulted on how to structure the grants, but said “nah, we’ll pass on this round of funding”
- Baltimore officials and organizers were consulted, but nobody listened to what they said.
- Nobody bothered to ask Baltimore officials how to structure the grants to help with their ongoing heroin problem.
No doubt the “opiate epidemic” (that is the recent spike in opiate deaths among white people) will be brought under control at some point in the next decade, but ongoing tragedy opiates wreak on black communities will continue, same as it ever was.
When we say systematic and structural racism is a thing, this is what we mean.