Do I look like I sell drugs?

Originally published in InColor Magazine

“Do I look like I sell drugs?” I never thought to ask someone that question. I’ve never smoked or injected a narcotic. I don’t know how many different drugs exist. I can list maybe four. It took me a while to figure out what the hell NUMP, E-40 and The Federation meant when they were rappin’ “Who got purple? I got grapes.”...wait, what? I’ve never witnessed a drug deal or lived in a neighborhood infested with addicts. I doubt someone would assume that of me either. Maybe it’s because I don’t fit the “characteristics” of a dealer…that dark skinned, somewhat thuggish individual from the hood, sporting a fitted style with an abundant excess of gold, who wears baggy pants that sag from the buttock.

And even if someone were to experience all of the above, why should that make he or she any more suspect? You really never know who’s hustlin’ and who’s not. It’s time to get that imagery out your head. Anyone can be a dope boy.

For all the plenty of young colored folks that get dirty looks and don’t deserve it, DJ Al Azif does a smashing job of knocking a social construct while remixing Adam Tensta’s latest single “Dopeboy,” a Sweden-born Hip hop artist influenced by electro/house styles.

Al Alzif broke out his digitalcam and filmed a bunch of ordinary citizens rocking out to “Dopeboy” each holding a piece of paper that reads the song’s hook, "Do I look like I sell drugs?" The home video features various individuals—from artists, the homeless, to Paris Hilton blondes, nurses and small business owners—poking fun at that very question. And while the straight lyrics, beat, and rhyme intoxicate, it’s just damn entertaining. You’ll laugh at the sight of the bald, ripped white farmer on the tractor and smile at the little kid flinging the crinkled inquiry over his head.

Ridiculous isn’t it? And yet, it ironically caused me to think critically about the world around me—about the bias we have, the assumptions we make and the institutions that continue to perpetuate racial stereotypes and profiling.

All over the world, those that are the most disproportionately impacted by drug control are not the major drug traffickers or ‘kingpins.’ Instead, the victims are the peasant farmers, small time dealers, low-level drug offenders, and its users. According to the Beckley Foundation Drug Policy Programme, the majority are poor, ethnic minorities who come from marginalized communities.

The stereotype of drug dealers is that they are people of color. In the United States research by Human Rights Watch has shown that African-American men are sent to prison on drug charges at 13.4 times the rate of white men. Furthermore, 63 percent of all drug offenders admitted to state prisons were African-American and only 35 percent of whites are locked up, according to the Physician Leadership on National Drug Policy. African American’s make-up 13 percent of our U.S. population compared to the 80 percent that is white (Whites are the majority of drug users/dealers).

Major props to Al Azif for shooting a creative home video that doesn’t discriminate. Whether you intended to or not, you moved me. So once again I must reiterate, this is for all people, especially colored people, who get dirty looks and don't deserve it. Bob and groove to this.

To find more info and music by Adam Tensta and the funky DJ skills of Al Azif hit up:


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