Nation neglects problem that affects mostly blacks

Last week, President Bush declared Nov. 30 National Methamphetamine Awareness Day.

Although some 12 million Americans reported having tried methamphetamine, this is far fewer than the number of people who have tried inhalants (23 million), hallucinogens (34million), cocaine (34 million) or marijuana (96 million), said Margaret Dooley, outreach coordinator for the Drug Policy Alliance, based in San Diego.

But I must ask: why hasn’t there been a National Crack Day?

I’m not saying meth is not tearing up families, friendships and lives, but I am asking who are the majority of people that meth usage is affecting?

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, averages from 2002-2004 indicate that meth usage rates increased each year for 18- to 25-year-olds more than those of 12- to 17-year-olds, who, in turn, had a higher rate than 26-year-olds and older.

Among all people 12 years of age or older, 2004’s usage rate was higher among men than women.

In 2004, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders were a the race groups who used meth the most, followed by American Indians and Natives Alaska and people reporting two or more races. And whites and Hispanics used meth more than Asians and lastly, blacks.

First appearing in rural areas, and now making an appearance in major cities across the nation, meth is a raising problem in other parts of the nation.

When crack, known as the “poor man’s drug,” hit the scene in the 1980s and ravished lower-class communities, mainly inhabited by blacks and Hispanics, there was no National Crack Day to help combat the problem.

I don’t remember reading in my history books where President Ronald Reagan dedicated a day to combat crack.

There was a war on drugs, but it never specifically targeted crack.

According to a 1985 U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s National Household Survey, crack, a form of cocaine, usage increased from 4.2 million to 5.8 million people.

Cocaine began to surface in the lower-class communities in the form of crack because it was inexpensive, potent and extremely addictive. And similar to meth, crack can be made in easily in small labs or homes.

Crack-cocaine created an epidemic.

Professors at the University of Chicago and Harvard University have suggested that crack was the main factor for the rise and fall of social ills in the black and Latino communities between 1980 and 2000.

From 1984-1994, the homicide rate for black men age 14-24 doubled, the professors said.

The nation is embracing meth awareness, but I don’t understand why our country did not dedicate a day stop crack in the 1980s.

Was it that the people most affected were not the right skin color?

You make the call.

Katrelle Simmons is a junior English education student from Orlando. She can be reached at