Pat Robertson insists that he doesn’t smoke weed, and I believe him.
Of all the wacky things the 700 Club televangelist has declared over the years — from the Haiti earthquake being the result of God’s retribution for a mythical Voodoo ritual to the recent tornadoes being the result of not enough prayer — he wasn’t stoned when he said any of them, and he sounded coherent enough to seem as if he at least took himself seriously.
So this week he stepped out of the box and away from the core middle-aged and elderly white-evangelical demographic he appeals to and said something more radical than he has ever said before: Legalize it.
What!? Robertson, one of the vanguards of the Moral Majority who pretty much believes that doing anything other than watching his show is a sin, is saying that we should decriminalize weed? Never thought I’d see the day when God and Jah agreed, but clearly miracles can happen.
But as we inhale Robertson’s wisdom, we get the munchies for what’s missing as it relates to the African-American community. The preacher is right. Marijuana and other drug laws have served to incarcerate millions of people over the years of the “war on drugs,” but this country has yet to get the monkey off its back and the dope out of its system.
When it comes to African Americans, we are 14 percent of regular drug users but 37 percent of those arrested for drug offenses, according to the Drug Policy Alliance. In addition, black males are 6.5 times more likely than white males to be incarcerated, according to a report from Project America.
I don’t know of a single black neighborhood in these United States that has actually benefited from drug laws or prisons. Has New York’s Rikers Island ever put a kid through college? Has Pelican Bay State Prison in California ever saved a family home from foreclosure?
In fact, it seems that the more drug laws are used to convict people, the worse the black community gets in terms of crime and poverty. So with as many churches as there are in majority-black communities, you would think that ministers, by and large, would have beaten Robertson to the punch years ago in asserting that drug laws are doing far more harm than good, particularly when it comes to black folks.
But I’m really not hearing the Creflo Dollars and T.D. Jakeses of the world from the very loud and popular mega-church sounding board when it comes to this issue. Mass incarceration, especially of black males, is probably the single most important civil rights issue of this generation. Whole communities have gone for generations without fathers to guide young men to manhood. And where are the dads? Locked up on a 20-year bid because they got caught with a dime bag.