Dream of: 12 June 1995 "Legalize Drugs"

I was sitting in a school class room with about 30 other students. All the chairs were arranged with their backs to the walls around the room so the students were looking toward the large open space covered by a wooden floor in the center of the room. Sitting next to me on my left was Conn (a former junior high and high school classmate), wearing a pale green dress. She at one point turned to me and said that she was having a problem with the back of her dress, and that she thought she had a rip in it. I looked at it, but I saw nothing.

The students (who looked like typical high school students) were having a discussion about poverty and how to cure it. I listened for a while to the tepid, unenthusiastic talk, then finally opened my mouth, "Legalize drugs."

The teacher, a thin, black-haired woman (probably in her 30s) looked at me from her chair on the other side of the room. She looked as if she either hadn't heard me correctly or she couldn't believe what she had heard. I repeated, "Legalize drugs."

All eyes turned toward me and I realized I had hit a sore spot and I would have to defend what I had said. To me it was clear that one of the root causes of poverty was the laws against drugs. I saw an obvious correlation between incarceration of people and poverty. I said, "Look at Holland. Look at the Netherlands."

I was unsure these people knew Holland and the Netherlands were the same place, and I thought they might think I was talking about two different countries. What I wanted to point out was how the Netherlands' liberal policy toward drugs had resulted in less incarceration of people and therefore a lower poverty rate.

As I spoke, I noticed quite a few male black students in the room. I thought they were particularly affected by the draconian drug laws and I said, "Do you know how many men, especially young black men, are in prison because of these wacko laws against drugs?"

I launched into an impromptu speech and declared "hundreds of thousands" of people in the United States were incarcerated for drug charges. To me it was clear that the penal system's spending so much money to put people in jail (and thereby severely damaging their lives in the process) was a major cause of poverty.

As I spoke, I began to realize that I had carried the initial discussion off on a tangent, and that most people in the room probably couldn't see the connection between poverty and the laws against drugs. I also realized I might have made a mistake by saying anything about "young black men," because it seemed young black men didn't like being referred to as "young black men." I sensed an air of disapproval from the black men.

Finally the class took a break, and a black fellow wearing a pink sweater stood up next to me. Still sensing some general animosity from the blacks in the room, and wanting to show that I was friendly toward the blacks, I grabbed him by the arm and in a friendly way pulled him into the seat next to me. I didn't know him well, but I felt as if he were well-disposed toward me, and I wanted to exhibit that friendship to the other blacks.

We talked in a friendly way for a few minutes until he stood and left, leaving me thinking I had resolved any problem. Another white fellow, whom I knew, walked up to me and said he had a message from a black fellow on the other side of the room. The white fellow conveyed the message to me that the black fellow was upset by what I had said. I quickly assumed the black fellow was going to try to fight me after school.

I took measure of myself. I didn't want to fight, but I wouldn't run from a fight. I was older than the others, and I thought I must be in my 30s while the black fellow was only in his teens. I felt physically quite strong. I also had some pieces of hard, flat, pale-blue plastic in my right hand. The pieces were cut into geometric shapes. I thought if I were in a fight I could hold the pieces in my hand and they would help me.

I looked to the other side of the room, trying to discern which fellow wanted to fight. So many men were there, and since none were looking right at me, I was unable to tell who wanted to fight. I wondered what I would do when school ended. I normally walked out the front door and across the street to my car. I envisioned the front of the building, which looked like my old high school, Portsmouth High School. I could see a crowd of black students gathered in front of the school. I could avoid them by going out the back door, but I wouldn't do that. I would walk right through them and if I had a problem, I would just have to face it.

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