DRUGS: some say we
NEVER STOOD A CHANCE
Night approaches and activity in the
small community heightens. My eyes
dart about, trying to keep up with all the
unusual things to see. Rows of broken
down homes stand feebly in a line, and
t parents and young grandparents hang
out of broken windows, laughing over
the children's boisterous behavior. The
houses look like patched-up shacks, with
loose boards and foundations leaning to
one side. The cheaply made cubicles are
squeezed together tightly with no room
left for a fence.
The area smells of poverty, and even
the street sign with its faded letters and
bent post sways hopelessly. There are no
sidewalks, and cars are parked haphaz-
"HPD can't do shit — They won't
stop it ever. Half the world does
drugs," reports Jimmy, a 124-
pound crack addict and dealer, in
the Houston Chronicle (June 12,
He's right. The city's police department is fighting a losing battle
against drug use. As one crack
house is destroyed, two are there to
replace it. City officials continue to
echo Nancy Reagan's campaign,
"Just Say No."
The Narcotic's Department continues to bust dealers and users as
city neighborhoods continue to bar
their windows and lock their doors
to the increasing violence due to
the increase of drug traffic.
This year in Houston there were
drug-related arrests and
drug-related deaths. The number
continues to grow and the enforcement agencies throw up their
hands in disgust.
The following is an account of
life here on city streets, where
drugs are ever present.
Between poverty and despair the Fourth Ward
leads to a path of desperation. Photos by Mark
66 University of Houston
ardly in the street or in man-made driveways. Barefoot toddlers, who should be
in bed, run up and down the street in
dirty diapers as young mothers forsake
them for the brief attention of a friendly
male. The night deepens, and one faintly
lit streetlight casts flickering rays of
A group of young men establish themselves on the curb and begin taking swallows of liquor. Others sit contentedly on
their porches, playing dominos and slapping down winning spades. Money passes to the winners, while wails of anguish
come from the losers. Women stand at
the front of the washateria, talking of
the latest news, "Honey he ain't no good
... don't you know he ain't come round
he'er since!" Laughter rolls from their
bellies which hang out of short skirts
and old worn blue jeans.
Toddlers continue to amuse themselves in puddles of muddy water left
over from yesterday's rain. A long, old,
Cadillac backs slowly out of a driveway
and the driver begins to scream obscenities at the youngsters crouched in potholes in the middle of his path. "Get yo'
knappy heads outta the street ... I'm o
run ya ova!" The car speeds up maliciously and the children waddle away,
laughing and squealing, "Skillet head,
potat head, stu'id head."
Adolescent boys stand on the corner
teasing each other about their visible
flaws, "Mayn, you' so ugly, the docta
slapped yo Maama when you was bon."
Raucous laughter rings through the
night as the offended one scowls with
angry shame. The young boys animate
their speech with aggressive gestures,
and each body contorts convulsively
with every outburst. The boys begin
laughing harder, as their need for humor
overcomes the need for compassion.
Girls of the same age, who look as if
they've discovered the secret, stand on
the same corner throwing their bodies
vigorously to music that pounds out of a
parked car. The steady bass that beats
out seems to sedate, sooth, and suppress
the frustrations kept in the bottom of
their soul. They sing loudly trying to
capture the boys' attention.
As if, for the first time, the boys fix
their gaze on the girls, and howl precociously, "Ooooooh, sweet thang, be my
freak," "Go on and do that ..." They
laugh at their attempts to woo the girls,
but immediately become distracted by a
foreign, unfamiliar, shiny new car, and
elbow each other trying to reach the car
first. The fastest boy emerges at the
front and approaches the car window.
The driver of the fancy car thrusts him a
ten dollar bill, and the boy hands over a
small glass vial. He walks back to the
pack of boys, grabs a cackling girl, and
walks towards the neighborhood bar.
The new model car drives to the end of
the street, and turns out of sight.
— Juliette Farley