06/19/19 Deborah Small

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Deborah Small
Drug Policy Alliance

JUNETEENTH: Deborah Small of Drug Policy Alliance and Neill Franklin of Law Enforcement Action Partnership discuss racism in America, from time of Lincolns freeing the slaves, till the current date.

Audio file


JUNE 19, 2019


DEAN BECKER: I am Dean Becker, your host. Our goal for this program is to expose the fraud, misdirection, and the liars whose support for drug war empowers our terrorist enemies, enriches barbarous cartels, and gives reason for existence to tens of thousands of violent US gangs who profit by selling contaminated drugs to our children. This is Cultural Baggage.

This is Dean Becker, the Reverend Most High, and boy do we have a show for you today.

Folks, this is June Nineteenth, that's the first day this show is broadcast on KPFT, the mothership of the Drug Truth Network. It's a date that the information filtered down that President Lincoln had freed the slaves back during the Civil War, and it's a time to kind of reflect on, that was a good idea, it was not the solution to the full situation, that racism certainly still exists today.

It's best expressed I think through our nation's drug war, but we have with us today a woman who has studied this for decades, who worked extensively with the Drug Policy Alliance. She has her own organization, her own mindset, the Break The Chains perspective, and with that I want to welcome my sister in drug policy, a woman I greatly admire for her expertise, Ms. Deborah Small.. Hello, Deborah.

DEBORAH SMALL, JD: Hi, how are you?

DEAN BECKER: You know, I don't think we need to talk too much about Juneteenth exactly, but we do need to talk about the fact that it has -- that racism still exists quite widely across our nation. Right?

DEBORAH SMALL, JD: Well, I think that it's important to talk about Juneteenth, because the way that it's been framed and defined as if that was the date that the news filtered down that the war was over, but in reality, the plantation owners kept the news from the formerly enslaved people until after the harvest.

DEAN BECKER: Back in that day, they even had bibles that were built excluding certain items and focusing on other items, which kind of led the slaves to believe that the bible was, you know, appropriate for slavery.

DEBORAH SMALL, JD: Well, I mean, I'm not that much of a bible reader, so I'm going to leave off commenting about that because a lot of people take that very seriously. What I would say though is that, you know, those who write history get to control the perception of it.

And so I think that one of the things that is part of the American myth, that, where, [inaudible] right now, is the fact that while we legally ended the practice of holding other people as property, we haven't gotten rid of a lot of the policies that allow us to continue to do that.

And that's true whether you're talking about the system of mass incarceration that targets, you know, people of color, particularly black men, for long prison sentences for relatively minor crimes, to what we see happening at the border, where migrants fleeing violence, trying to save their lives, are being called criminals and put behind bars, children as young as under a year ripped from their parents because they've been charged with the ostensible crime of illegal border crossing.

It's a particular mindset that allows people to be treated as less than human, and while we got rid of the formal legal recognition of that, when slavery was abolished, we have not changed that mindset, and it's been able to mark itself and manifest itself in many different ways over the period since the end of the Civil War, and we're seeing some of the most ugly and brutal aspects of that in our current politics today.

DEAN BECKER: Yes, we are. You know, many folks don't realize that, when someone gets locked up, somebody pays for it. Most often if it's in a county jail, then the state is providing money in support of that, and it, you know, it winds up in somebody's pocketbook. It's always a means to manipulate people and currency. It's an evil construct in my opinion. Your thought.

DEBORAH SMALL, JD: Well, I don't think that the fact that the public has to pay for prisons is the biggest problem with prisons, because the truth is that the public has made a choice to prefer to invest in prisons rather than invest in education and housing and healthcare.

But that's a separate conversation. I think what's particularly remarkable, given our current situation, is that we see crimes being committed on a major scale by businesses, by people who run businesses, by people in government, by people who run our government, and yet that behavior, of ruining the environment, raiding our pension plans, undermining the health and well being of the majority of the people, is not considered criminal.

We'd rather fill our jails and prisons with people whose major problem is that they have a substance abuse problem or a mental health problem.

DEAN BECKER: Wow. That's why I call on you, Deborah. Look, the whole point of my program over these decades I've been doing this now is to educate and to embolden Joe and Jolene Citizen out there to recognize the failure, the horrors we create, and to do something about it, and I guess, Deborah, this is probably an impossible question to answer, but, what more can we do to motivate those folks, to get on board, to be a part of the solution to this problem?

DEBORAH SMALL, JD: Well, I think that this is an opportunity for us to really look at the sickness in our culture, as it, to me, it relates to the issue of Juneteenth, because the original sickness in our culture was believing that it was okeh to acquire wealth through the rape of your land, through the genocide of its original people, and through the exploitation of people who were brought over here and forced to work the land in order to make a few people wealthy.

That's the original sin, the original capitalist enterprise upon which the United States was built, and until we're willing to reckon with the reality of that, and all of the things that have flowed from that over the years that we're still dealing with, we're not going to be able to create the kind of economy and society that works for everyone.

DEAN BECKER: Look, Deborah, we have, and by that I mean drug reformers, we have made progress over the decades, but I look at some older interviews and I see where we have been saying the same thing for decades, that the truth that we see writ so large, but is still being ignored by others. Are people just too in tune with their television, with their work, with their kids' school, to actually recognize what we have crafted, what we have maintained, all these decades?

DEBORAH SMALL, JD: Well, I mean, you know, I think it goes back to what I was saying. It's like we don't have a society and a culture that values the worth of the whole. We have a very individualistic culture in which people focus on what it is that they can get for themselves, regardless of its impact on the broader society, the broader culture, and the broader world.

In many ways, I feel that Donald Trump is America's Dorian Gray. For those who are familiar with the story by Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray was about a man who managed to stay young and beautiful and handsome and charming throughout the years, much to the surprise and dismay of his friends.

But he had a secret portrait in his closet, which over the years manifested every horrible thing that he did. And as the time went by, and he did more horrible things, the portrait got uglier and uglier, while he continued to look young and beautiful.

Well, in many ways, America is like that. We've maintained a view of ourselves as being young and innocent and pure and virile and all sorts of good things, and ignored all of the horrible things that we've done in terms of human exploitation, in terms of resource exploitation, in terms of marginalizing whole communities of people, and basically having an economic system that relies and based its focus on consumerism, individual consumerism, as opposed to a more communitarian form of living.

And in many ways, Donald Trump is that picture, out of the closet. You know, in many ways, he represents and manifests for us all of the things about ourselves that we've kept hidden, and pretended weren't so.

And so for me, this is an opportunity for us to look and say, what kind of people do we want to be? What kind of country do we want to be?

Do we want to be ignorant bullies that think that you can somehow threaten your way to success? Or do we want to look for a more cooperative form of interacting with each other and our -- the rest of the world that enables all of us to have the potential to thrive instead of our current course that basically is going towards mutual destruction.

DEAN BECKER: Whoa. I couldn't sum it up any better, I could not focus near as well as you have on that issue. Deborah Small, I want to thank you for being our guest here on Cultural Baggage. I want to offer you the chance to share some closing thoughts, perhaps a website. Your close, please.

DEBORAH SMALL, JD: Well, I'm thinking about, you know, the fact that in many ways we celebrated and should celebrate the ending of slavery the same way that we celebrated and should celebrate the granting of voting rights to women and the extension of civil rights and civil liberties that we see throughout the last thirty, fifty, a hundred years.

But right now we're faced with a time that many of those rights are under threat, and I think that when we think about the jubilation that the newly freed people felt when they learned that slavery was over, we need to ask ourselves, is there anything that's happening currently that makes us feel that level of elation and jubilation, and if not, why not, and if not now, when?

DEAN BECKER: You just knocked it out of the park, Deborah, thank you very much.

DEBORAH SMALL, JD: You're welcome.

DEAN BECKER: All right, my friends, you've seen the news about this drug. It's no longer on the shelves, and soon the only place you'll be able to see this particular product is in a court room near you.

It's time to play Name That Drug By Its Side Effects! Weakness, nausea, skin rash, unexpected weight gain, swelling of hands and face, difficulty breathing, flu like symptoms, sluggishness, dark urine or pale stools, double the chance of dying of heart attack or stroke. Time's up! The answer: Vioxx.

Friends, I'm proud to be bringing you the voice of one of my friends, my allies, one of the boldest, staunchest supporters of ending this war on drugs, heads up Law Enforcement Action Partnership here in these United States, a longtime friend and ally, my compadre, Major Neill Franklin. How are you, Neill?

NEILL FRANKLIN: I'm well, Dean. Thanks for having me on. I really appreciate every time you bring me on your show.

DEAN BECKER: Well, Neill, I'm proud, you know, we're up well past seven thousand shows we've done over the years, and we bring a particular focus to various aspects of this drug war.

But one that, well, we delve into quite frequently but it needs more recognition, this is airing today on Juneteenth, June Nineteenth, here in Houston on the mothership station of the Drug Truth Network.

Well, Neill, we are celebrating Juneteenth, especially down south here, I think, in recognition of when the word of the slaves being freed by President Lincoln filtered down south, and it's been recognized for well over a hundred years now, and it just brings to mind that it's not over yet, is it?

NEILL FRANKLIN: Well, see, this is why it's kind of emotional for me, because, you know, we always hear people talking about, well, you know, we ended slavery back in the 1800s, you know. You always hear the conversations about, you know, you've got to move forward, you've got to get over it.

You know, we ventured through the civil rights movement, always a struggle, you know, the -- just for equity, man, you know, just for opportunity. And, you know, it seems like around every corner there's something else that you have to watch out for.

We've never had the proper indepth conversation about racism yet in this country. One of the things that we really try to do is keep an eye on policy that prohibits, you know, African Americans from obtaining equity, of being able to move forward.

And as you know, Dean, the war on drugs was significant, a significant piece of policy, prohibition, that greatly affected, still greatly affects the black community to this day, and will, unfortunately, in the unforeseen future.

You know, and there continue to be policies. I mean, at one time -- here, I want to have a conversation with you about what we're beginning to see with other pieces of policy that are being proposed, such as the ban on menthol tobacco products, and people are, like, probably listening and saying, well, what does that have to do with, you know, this conversation?

But, if you -- just give me one quick second here, I've got to talk about this, because here is, we're trying to unravel the war on drugs, and all the devastating effects of that, especially in the black community, from incarceration numbers to many other issues.

Right now, in communities all across this country, San Francisco, Oakland, it's being proposed in LA, New York City, they're trying to ban menthol tobacco products. Now don't get me wrong, I don't want anyone smoking cigarettes. We know we lose thousands of people every year due to consumption of tobacco.

But, here's the thing. Of all the blacks who smoke cigarettes, 78 percent of blacks prefer and use menthol tobacco products. Dean, what do you think would happen if we were to ban tobacco, menthol tobacco, in a city like Baltimore, where close to 70 percent of the population of Baltimore is black? You know?

DEAN BECKER: Well, you give me a chance to answer that one. I will say this, in the beginning, it will create shortages, it will create a black market, hell, it will lead to violence before it's over.

NEILL FRANKLIN: Thank you very much. And this is what's happening. People aren't doing their due diligence, the -- to say, okeh, what would be the effects? What would be the problems? You see, because right off the bat, people who don't have jobs, people who have criminal records, you know, from the war on drugs, they're going to do whatever it takes to make money.

So what are they going to do? They're going to go to Richmond, Virginia. They're going to bring cigarettes up from Richmond, Virginia, into Baltimore, you know, they're going to create and establish an underground market for menthol tobacco products.

See, we're just not going to stop smoking menthol cigarettes. We're going to create our own underground market, and when that happens, Dean, law enforcement, the police, will be roped into it. Go find the cigarettes, go find the menthol cigarettes, by any means necessary, and we know what happens then.

So, I mean, so I just had to say that, just to make a point, that, as we talk about Juneteenth, you know, at every turn, around every corner, there seems to be another piece of proposed policy that will adversely effect the black community.

And we really have to keep an eye out for it, we really have to keep our ear to the ground, and examine every piece of proposed policy, especially when it has something to do with our criminal justice system.

DEAN BECKER: Well, I would throw this into this equation as well. We have Eric Garner, a black man, selling cigarettes --


DEAN BECKER: -- single cigarettes --


DEAN BECKER: -- on the streets of New York. He was singled out, the police found time to focus on him, selling cigarettes one at a time, and killed the man.

NEILL FRANKLIN: This is a time when we finally recognize, you know, what bad policy can do to a community, especially our communities of color. This is a time when we should really pay close attention to these proposals and make every effort that we can to move the police from trying to solve, for instance, health issues with criminal justice strategies and practices.

So, this goes to the place of police should be protecting people from people, not being concerned with consensual adult behavior that may be harmful to your health.

I'm sixty years old. If I want to go smoke a menthol cigarette, I should be able to do that. If I want to go smoke marijuana, I should be able to do that. If I want to use any of these drugs that are out here, I should be able to do that. As far as the government is concerned, just make it as safe as possible for me if I decide to do that, like we do with alcohol.

DEAN BECKER: Very good points. Friends, we are speaking with Major Neill Franklin, now retired, he's the executive director of Law Enforcement Action Partnership.

Neill, I think about -- what you were talking about kind of brings to mind that this is oversight. This is babysitting every adult in America. This is -- this is, you know, protecting us from ourselves at the point of a gun, and it's just -- it's gone off the rails, has it not?

NEILL FRANKLIN: Well, it definitely has.

DEAN BECKER: What we have right now is a lot of agencies, a lot of media, even some politicians in certain countries talking about legalizing drugs, actually controlling these drugs, the distribution, the purity, robbing the gangs and the cartels of their source of income.

What we have been talking about, what we have preaching about all these years, now decades, it's starting to get the focus it deserves. Am I right?

NEILL FRANKLIN: It really is. We're really seeing it actually, the end of prohibition of marijuana, of cannabis, in this country. Canada has already taken a huge step forward, and now we're starting to have those needed conversations about opiates, you know, we're really starting to talk about medical assisted treatment, you know, where we are going -- you know, and this is how it should be.

The primary focus here should be the sanctity of life. Right? So what do we need to do regarding these policies to keep people alive, okeh? You know, countries in Europe have recognized this years ago, decades ago. So they have medical assisted treatment in Switzerland.

They, you know, they have programs where if you're addicted to something like heroin you can go to a center, you know, multiple times a day to get pharmaceutical grade heroin so that you stay alive, so that you can receive counseling, so that you can receive wrap around services, and when you find out that you're ready, you know, you can then, you know, make the attempt to become drug free.

And if that doesn't work for you, you know what, it might be heroin maintenance for the rest of your life, but, at least you are alive, at least you are no longer in a position where you feel you have to commit crimes to satisfy your need to get the money for the drugs that you crave.

You know, you can live with your family, you can live a chaos free life, just as someone who might be on insulin for diabetes for the rest of their life.

This is what we're beginning to realize, and we've got the momentum and we've just got to keep it going.

DEAN BECKER: Well, we still have the die hards, the recalcitrant bastards like we do here in Texas, where they just absolutely refuse to even recognize medical marijuana. They're still spouting hundred year old propaganda, reefer madness, as if it were still valid.

But we do have many others that are stepping forward, and what I'm really thrilled about is that nearly every one of these Democratic candidates is talking about legalizing marijuana. They talk about ending the war on drugs without many specifics, like we were talking about, with like the heroin maintenance.

But, they're at least broaching the subject. The future looks a little brighter. Your closing thoughts there, Major Neill Franklin.

NEILL FRANKLIN: Well, so, you're absolutely right. I think we've finally turned the corner regarding our elected officials, that if you do not support ending the prohibition of marijuana, if you do not support leading this effort of drug abuse with health solutions, health centered solutions, you know, you're not going to get elected.

So, the people, by far, are looking for leaders who are willing to end all of this madness in some way. If you are, as you said, one of the die hards, one of the dinosaurs that's still hanging around and you're still spouting this, you know, the warmongering about, you know, for instance, you know, marijuana being the gateway drug to other things, and if you're still hanging onto those positions, you know what? You're not going to be elected, or reelected.

I do believe it's a new day, and I'm really looking forward to this next presidential election because, I'm going to tell you right now, if you don't support what people are now pushing for, you're not going to be one of the final candidates for the presidency.

DEAN BECKER: All right. Neill, it occurs to me, you know, this is a show that recognizes, or is aligned with, or recog -- you know, dealing with Juneteenth. The freedom of the black community, and, I hate to say this, but it's true, we have, by that I mean the whites, have taken it upon themselves to control the blacks for their intakes. That's what started a hundred and fifty years ago, or hundreds of years ago, and it's like blacks cannot be trusted so the police give major focus to black communities, black neighborhoods, black kids, and it's -- it's horrible. Your response there, Neill.

NEILL FRANKLIN: Yeah. You know it is. Back in 1865, you know, it may have been, you know, this may be a celebration of emancipation, but I'm telling you, and freedom, but we're far from it, Dean. We are really far from it.

And I think one of the things that we're seeing, at least with this administration, is that a lot has been, and continues to be, in shadows of, you know, regarding policies and regarding true freedom for blacks in this country.

So we still have a lot of work to do. We still have a long way to go. And we've just got to keep on fighting, and again, I appreciate what you and the station are doing regarding this, and bringing this to the forefront in your conversations, so I really appreciate it. It's really important.

DEAN BECKER: All right. Once again, that was Major Neill Franklin, now retired, heads up Law Enforcement Action Partnership, out there on the web at LEAP.cc. If you want one of us, one of us who has worn the badge or pounded the gavel or otherwise worked in the criminal justice system to come talk to your organization, please get in touch with us.

Neill, thank you, sir.

NEILL FRANKLIN: Thanks a lot, Dean.

DEAN BECKER: The following is a Drug Truth Network editorial.

Major media is a whore, a prostitute, a sleazy gathering of mindless idiots, putting forward two sides of an equation as if the drug war had a reason to exist, as if we were not allowing terrorists to make billions of dollars each year because of our fear of flowers.

The media continues to spread lies and innuendo on behalf of eternal drug prohibition, pretending logic and controlling the supply of drugs, and pretending it is possible despite a history of well documented failures.

Drug war corruption happens every day in America, it is given blessings at every level of government. The supposed morals of those who believe in drug war should give everyone concern.

Those who believe in eternal prohibition are not concerned that five hundred billion dollars are gathered each year by terrorists, cartels, and vicious gangs. They do not care that drugs are now cheaper, more available to our children, and deadlier than ever before.

They have claimed the moral high ground, and must be thrown off their perch, forever denied the bully pulpit. Incrementalism makes a lot of folks feel they're doing all they can for reform. Not true.

Until we challenge their morals, their methods, the madness will continue to increase because they need the madness to turn on its head, to justify their declaration of an eternal war on the law of supply and demand, a war they know that can never be won, but that pays so very well.

Please be sure to join us next week. I hope to have Mister Ray Lakerman, he's a British citizen who lost two of his sons to drug overdoses, but a man who now wants to legalize all drugs. Again I remind you, because of prohibition you don't know what's in that bag. Please, be careful.

To the Drug Truth Network listeners around the world, this is Dean Becker for Cultural Baggage and the unvarnished truth. Cultural Baggage is a production of the Pacifica Radio Network. Archives are permanently stored at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy. And we are all still tap dancing on the edge of an abyss.