When mayoral hopeful Carol Mosley Braun called her opponent Patricia Watkins-Van Pelt a crack head not only did Mosley Braun paint herself as an insensitive elitist, she also perpetuated the stereotype of so-called crack heads as degenerates. Crack head has become a catch-all phrase to describe the undesirables roaming our streets.
But those of us sharing living space with them in blighted urban communities know that they are no more the Frankenstein monsters the media smear campaign has made them out to be than celebrities who have a revolving door in and out of drug rehab. Not all of them smoked the mutha@#$%@#$ TV like Gator from Jungle Fever, but are more like Dicky from the Fighter who do more harm to himself than others. Rich people and/or celebrities have substance abuse problems; poor people are crack heads no matter their drug of choice is.
What Mosley Braun doesn’t know is that Crack heads are assets as well as nuisances to the community. We have a love-hate relationship with them; we don’t like what they do, but we don’t mind their help when we’re in a pinch. For a few dollars, these substance abusers will do any outside work you might need done. Take the recent blizzard for example. Some of us would still be digging out if it were not for the locals with their handy shovels looking to make a few dollars.
Contrary to popular belief, they are not all lazy, shiftless folk looking for a handout. They work year around trying to earn a little cash. In the winter they shovel, in the spring they cut grass and wash cars, and in the fall they rake leaves—a handyman for all seasons. I know there are those sitting on high pointing an accusing finger that those who give them money are supporting their habit, and that might be so, but the way I see it, many of us have an addiction of some sort—food, sex, alcohol, drugs, gambling, shopping, social networking etc.—and we feed it. So, who am I to pass judgment on someone who offers to shovel my snow for a few bucks?