Pubdate: Thu, 11 Aug 2005
Source: Baltimore Sun (MD)
Copyright: 2005 The Baltimore Sun, a Times Mirror Newspaper.
Author: Dan Rodricks
Bookmark: (Women)
Bookmark: (Treatment)


DRUG DEALERS: Your mothers have been calling; your grandmothers too. I 
speak with them almost daily. The conversations are always pleasant, but 
the subject is always sad, and the subject is always you - the sons and 
grandsons who hustle drugs on the streets of Baltimore.

Frustrated rowhouse matriarchs watch every day as you go out the door to do 
what the mother of a dealer named Donyell calls "selling that poison."

Donyell, by the way, got out of the game a few weeks ago, after a brief 
story about him appeared in this column. He enrolled in an electrical 
technology class at a vocational school. When I called him the other night, 
he was doing his homework.

At 29, he has taken a step toward being a full-fledged electrician. You 
know why he gave up the street? Fear of jail again. Fear of death. "And," 
he said, "one time before I leave this world, I want to hear my mother say 
she's proud of me, instead of shakin' her head and askin', 'Why you keep 
sellin' that poison to your people?'"

Donyell is one of more than 100 men and women who have called here since 
June 9 to find help getting out of the heroin-and-cocaine trade that ruins 
lives and fuels the violence that keeps Baltimore high on homicide charts.

Among the many callers have been your mothers and grandmothers.

They want you out of the game.

Of course, many of you probably hear that every day (because you don't own 
a car and can't afford to live anywhere but at home).

The women in your life worry about you with good reason: Baltimore is a 
deadly city if you're in the drug trade.

"My son needs to get out of the game, but he gets turned down for jobs," 
said one mother, who asked that her name not be published. "He lives in 
[Baltimore County] and he's still selling drugs because he believes in 
taking care of his [three children]. He says, 'I gotta do what I gotta do.' 
But I want him to get it through his head that there's a job out there for 
him somewhere. He doesn't have to make money this way."

"My son has gone through a drug treatment program," said a woman named 
Carol, who asked that her last name not be published. "He can do roofing, 
he's been a painter, and he's worked construction. But he can't seem to 
find a job."

"My grandson," another woman said, "has lived with me a long time. His 
mother is deceased, and his father was never in his life. He's 20 and 
running the streets, in and out of jail on loitering and drug charges. He 
needs help."

These weary-sounding women make the phone calls because you guys don't. 
You're either discouraged or inert. Some of you still like dealing dope, 
though the pay is overrated and you're still risking your neck for some 
other guy who probably doesn't live with his mother and can afford his own 

"I sell [because] I don't like being broke," said a 33-year-old man who 
sells cocaine. (His mother told him to call here for help in finding a 
legitimate job. It took a month, but he finally came around to it Tuesday 

So your mothers and grandmothers still care - even though they know that 
poison you sell brings misery, year after numbing year, to city 
neighborhoods and deep suburbs. (Among the women who have called here are 
the mothers of young men and women who died of heroin overdoses in Carroll 
and Harford counties. Their stories another day.)

Wanda Carter 's son is still alive, in his late 30s, still immersed in the 
city's heroin world as an addict and sometimes dealer.

"He has been incarcerated a number of times," she wrote in a letter last 
month. "He was released in January and was doing well until all of his 
attempts to find a job failed [because of his record] and he started to 
hang in the old neighborhood with others that he had gotten high with 

"Before I knew it, things started missing from my home. ... He sleeps on my 
porch at night and is gone most of the time before we get up. We have tried 
to get him in an inpatient detoxification center, but most places want you 
to continue to call or show up regularly [to get a bed], and in his state 
that's not always possible. It turns out to be another letdown, an excuse 
to get high.

"It's very discouraging and heartbreaking to see your child caught up in 
the drug world and be unable to help them."

So you have to help yourselves. You have to call and get treatment - and be 
dogged in the pursuit and patient in the wait. You have to decide to stop 
selling the poison and find a real job - and be dogged in the pursuit and 
patient in the wait. Do it for yourselves and your city. Do it for your 
mothers and your grandmothers.

For information about drug treatment, jobs, job training and community 
services available to adults with criminal and substance abuse backgrounds, 
contact Dan Rodricks at 410-332-6166.
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