Saturday, March 22, 2008

Leadership in Peril, A Perspective on Crystal Meth

“Leadership in Peril”

Due to the budget cutbacks ordered by Governor Schwarzenegger, a statewide social marketing campaign targeting Latinas and gay men is losing some of it’s funding.

Budget cutbacks are a reality in government. This is not new. What is disturbing is the lack of outcry from our community leaders. Even more perplexing is the silence from our community members surrounding Meth use. This, at times, leads me to believe the work we do in community prevention renders useless.

Two years ago, several community-based organizations came together to form the Act Now Against Meth Coalition. The collaborative effort gathered over 10,000 signatures from a cross section of the community and presented them to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. After eighteen months of meetings with various government leaders and board of supervisor deputies, some funds were identified and allocated for treatment and prevention. The end result of the many hard months of work paid off. Los Angeles County allocated $1.7 million for Meth treatment and prevention. Is it enough? No, but it is a start. The board of supervisors, office of AIDS Programs and Policy and the Alcohol and Drug Program Administration (ADPA) responded to our request. The handful of community based agencies and the over 10,000 people were responsible for the outcry.

Each one of us has been impacted directly or indirectly by meth addiction, right? But what are is the community at large doing to address this issue? Where have all the leaders gone regarding this issue? Silence has long dictated their response.

In a recent Latino Men’s Group meeting the issue of the white party and drug use came up. Some of the comments included: “We know meth is used at white parties, it is part of the lifestyle, part of the business” “the promoters care but they turn the other way when it comes to drug use”. It’s true. Party time at Easter break is synonymous with gay life. But, why is that?

Isn’t it hypocritical for those who tolerate and promote drug use be the first to demand same sex marriage? Why are we so concerned of how we are treated as LGBT in society, when so many of our brothers are tweaked?

My friends, we are marginalized community. AIDS has cut the lives of many of our brothers and sisters. We have a moral responsibility to speak out and to take action.

This column may raise your ire for that is not my intent. But, it should provoke thought. If you feel challenged then so be it and act upon it….

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