From Frugivore — On the first day of Spring, there was a scientific study that made its way through all the major news outlets concerning the behavioral issues of children born to mothers addicted to methamphetamine. In a nutshell, the story reads in a predictable fashion: children born to meth-addicted mothers exhibited behavioral problems, which were exacerbated by poverty and the lack of a man in the household.
That’s pretty standard reporting considering this was the first study of its kind and most researchers don’t want to jump to conclusions, which are always subject to change. But there was something missing from the coverage that would normally accompany drug research findings. Luckily, Jezebel hinted at the void with its headline “Meth Babies Are the New Crack Babies.”
So what was missing from all the coverage?
Fear … Hysteria … A Presidential, Oval Office, Fireside chat with Americans about how tough we need to be on meth users and sellers, complete with a full scale ratcheting up of the “War on Drugs” and new mandatory minimum prison sentences for these “soulless creatures” ripping away at the fabric of small, rural middle-America, people who Sarah Palin coined “Real America.”
Jezebel’s headline is still relevant to its primarily white audience if you peruse the comment section. Because of its very real moral significance to America’s narrative, evoking the ghosts of crack babies is clever but is it a fair comparison?
Bearing in mind blacks for the most part are still enduring, suffering, and surviving in rural poverty or crack and other illicit drug-infested inner cities — arguably the only robust black communities left after “integration” — the black children born to crack mothers seem to fill the role of test subjects — yoked, branded, and monitored in projects as representations of a time when black life was patently evil and destructive yet seductively commodifiable, a time only glorified in Hollywood.
In comparison, the behavioral issues seemingly inherent in meth babies will probably be used to explain some isolated violent incident in Montana or Fresno, California but it will not come to define a generation of whites as opposed to how crack did to blacks. There will be no hyperbolic headlines like “Babies Offer Reminder Of Crack’s Cruel Legacy; Congressmen Get Close Look at Suffering,” or “Sex, Crack, and Infant Deaths.”
The coverage of meth will be treated as a news story with the common dramatic story lines that engage any audience. But unlike crack babies of the 1980s and 90s, the contrast lies within the humanization of white sellers and users, both rogue players who will never define whiteness or white people.
Even though we live in a 24-hour news cycle, whole white communities have not had the intense media spotlight placed on them like the wall-to-wall, salacious coverage of crack-infested black communities.
Granted the crystal meth issue in America is not as widespread or concentrated as the so-called crack epidemic, which spread quickly throughout America’s major cities, but American meth labs also didn’t have the unabashed support of the Central Intelligence Agency to help the toxic substance permeate middle-America.
Interestingly, methamphetamine production doesn’t receive the media’s vitriolic outbursts over its impact on the surrounding environment. Crack became synonymous with the deterioration of black communities, producing some of the highest murder rates in outside of war zones, with countless stories spelling out doom for not just inner cities but for the nation as a whole. Conversely, meth is a highly toxic, chemically hazardous, drug, which contaminates and destroys all life in its path. For every pound of meth produced, between five and six pounds of highly toxic waste is generated.