Gold medalist Michael Phelps was allegedly caught at a party using a bong and the View's Whoopi Goldberg defended the use and confessed her history with smoking trees. Now this could a perfect opportunity for me to comment on Phelps marijuana use or the so-called role model factor, or even Whoopi's pride for admitting something half of the nation does, but I won't. I'm much more interested in the whys and whos behind weed smoking. I'll admit: I smoked a few times during high school and undergrad, but acquiesced due to my fear of brain cell damage. Don't laugh [I was 16]. I had my eye on a broadcast journalism career and nothing was going to get in the way of that. It was a naive and ignorant excuse based on urban legend, but honestly: my imagination was colorful and complicated enough, I didn't need anything to help add to the drama. And although I had been advised on several occasions that the high would actually soften the color and bring my mind to ease, my experience was different, trust me.
Now, I have nothing against weed-smoking. In fact, several of my male friends partake on a regular and have no qualms about it. But over the years I've noticed a pattern: within my social circles most weed partakers are black men. Whether listening to Coltran and Miles, or needing that special "chill" after work, the black men I know trust in weed like a third eye. I often wondered if we, black men, seek out extra comfort in order to navigate the sometimes immobilizing terrain of America. And sometimes I wonder—and yes I'm about to take it there—if we, black men, are victims of a society that's much more interested in keeping us docile and/or priming us for more serious drug use. A peer once said, "I don't trust a brother who doesn't smoke!" Some of my Etheridge Knight/Mumia-reading friends believe if they didn't have weed then the day-to-day would be a lot more dangerous, for everyone. Some of my friends say weed is simply a tool used for recreational play. What's your thoughts? Not about Micheal Phelps and Whoopi, LOL… about black men and weed smoking.
Keith Josef Adkins is an award-winning playwright, screenwriter and social commentator.