Pubdate: Mon, 05 Nov 2001
Source: Amarillo Globe-News (TX)
Copyright: 2001 Amarillo Globe-News
Author: Mark Werpney


Drug policy reform advocate Deborah Peterson Small addressed the 
controversial 1999 Tulia drug bust during the keynote speech at the Freedom 
Fund Banquet on Saturday.

The Amarillo Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of 
Colored People sponsors the event at the Amarillo Civic Center.

Small, a Harvard Law School graduate, is the public policy and community 
outreach director at The Lindesmith Center in New York.

"Anyone who cares about racial justice has to care about the injustices in 
Tulia," Small said. "What's happening in Tulia is a microcosm of what can 
happen nationally."

She contrasted laws regarding cigarette smoking to those on drug use, 
saying it's not likely tobacco products will be banned even though people 
are aware of the risks.

People are OK with that, she said, because of aggressive campaigns to 
educate people about the dangers of smoking. There are definite harms to 
drug use, but policies put in place to address those can cause harm, Small 

Small also addressed her experiences at the World Conference on Racism in 
South Africa.

She said she was proud that the majority of leaders at the conference were 
women, noting the history of women being at the forefront of the struggle 
for racial equality.

Small discussed the issue of reparations, saying the issue was not simply 
about money. Reparations are about access to resources and changing the 
relationship between people of African descent and the rest of the world, 
she said.

"For too many years people of color have approached their rights as 
supplicants asking for something," she said.

Small, a New Yorker, also addressed the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and how 
it has brought people closer together.

"I have had more conversations with strangers there in the past month and a 
half than I have in my entire life there," Small said.

She said there is more common ground between people than they realize, 
asking everyone to employ the lessons taught by Martin Luther King Jr. and 
Nelson Mandela.

Calling on people to renew their commitment to be fighters for social 
justice, she said people should love each other and be pro-active in 
remedying injustice.

"We have to be willing to acknowledge where we've fallen short," she said. 
"I believe if we do that we won't see the injustices we had here in Tulia."
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MAP posted-by: Keith Brilhart