This past week, 25-year old actress and singer Demi Lovato was rushed to the hospital after what appeared to be a heroin overdose. Celebrities like Lovato’s ex-boyfriend Joe Jonas rushed to social media to send their condolences. Twitter was flooded with fans and others wishing nothing but the best for her, and a speedy recovery. But something that stood out to me, and other people of color, preferably those who come from low-income backgrounds like myself where drug abuse is and has been prevalent for years is the double standard of how drug abuse is treated.
DMX, a well-known rap artist from the 90s struggled for years with drug abuse and mental health issues. His struggles made him nothing but a troubled criminal through the eyes of Hollywood. Whitney Huston and her husband Bobby Brown were the butt of crackhead jokes for years throughout their marriage and career. Lil Wayne, a 35-year-old rapper, is also a well-known artist who struggles with drug abuse and has had a number of seizures and other serious health related issues. In 2017, he was hospitalized for a seizure that was due to his heavy ingestion of Lean. Lean, formerly known as sizzurp is a mixture of codeine and sprite soda that made it way back to popularity within the last decade.
All of the black artists I mentioned above were always subjected to scrutiny because of their addictions, while young, white females (and sometimes white males) have their abuse treated as unfortunate illnesses. People like Demi get the sympathetic “Get well soon, #prayers” tweets while Lil Wayne gets the “Ha-ha stop doing crack, ya crackhead!” jokes. Even outside of Hollywood, the opiate epidemic that has reached white suburban neighborhoods has had the media in awe. Everyone watched in shock and sadness as viral videos and images surfaced of white parents overdosed in their cars and in their homes in front of their precious, innocent children. But where was all of this outrage as the crack epidemic ravished through urban neighborhoods in the 80s and early 90s? When black mothers laid strung out in front of their daughters and black boys watched as their fathers became victims of violent drug related crime. Where was your outrage America? Where IS your outrage?
It’s as if black people of color and those involved in black culture entertainment are expected to be drug users. What a shock, huh?
I know some Demi stan is probably going to read this and assume it’s an attack on her, or an attempt to call me out because she is Latina, not "a white woman". It is not, and I do wish her all the best. But as a white-passing rich Latina, she still benefits from the privilege, as displayed these past few days. What and what we want is for drug abuse to be treated as an equal issue across the board, with the same kind of energy you give to rich white people.
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