Co-Authored by Jessica Herron
For many in the Black community, the notion of opioid addiction seemed to be a struggle for other communities rather than our own. However, Roy S. Johnson’s column titled “Opioid overdose deaths rising among Blacks; one Birmingham mother an inspiring model for recovery” challenges this notion. He writes: “Opioid-related overdose deaths are no longer a ‘white’ thing.” Though opioid overdoses have long been seen as a minor issue within the Black community, in recent years, Black opioid overdoses have skyrocketed at alarming rates. Many of those overdoses are caused by the deadly drug fentanyl, and Joe Biden’s failed leadership at the Southern border is now making it easier than ever for fentanyl to enter our neighborhoods.
Johnson’s column chronicles the life of Kim Davis. Like many of us, Kim was raised in a single-parent household, has southern roots, and grew up attending church. Yet she still fell victim to drug addiction, with fentanyl-laced heroin almost claiming her life back in 2016.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is often made and sold in the illegal drug market. In recent years, fentanyl has been ranked one of the deadliest drugs in the world, 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. Though the CDC does not track overdose deaths by race, a growing body of research has found that the black community has seen the most dramatic increase in opioid-related overdose deaths.
Thankfully, that was not the case for Kim—she has reclaimed control of her life and now acts as an inspiration for others. Sadly, Kim’s battle with drug addiction is not an unheard-of story within the black community. Many of us have watched friends and family battle with drug addiction, wondering if and how we can help, all while drug cartels continue to smuggle illegal drugs into this country.
President Trump worked tirelessly to protect our communities from illegal drugs like fentanyl by prioritizing border security and vowing to be ruthless in his efforts to halt drug smuggling into America. This became a top priority because President Trump realized that the problem was getting out of control.
Sadly, some still fell victim to the drug. In a 2019 broadcast of NBC Nightly News, a doctor told journalist Jacob Soboroff that 80% of the patients he saw had suffered opioid overdoses. In 2020, there were 411 fatal opioid overdoses in D.C. alone, a 130-person increase from the previous year. Most of those victims were black males between the ages of 50 and 69. Tellingly, 94% of the opioid-related deaths in D.C. involved fentanyl.
With the growing dangers of street fentanyl, one would think that President Joe Biden, like President Trump, would do everything in his power to keep those drugs out of our neighborhoods. On the contrary, Biden’s open borders agenda is giving drug cartels the “green light” to traffic drugs into our country. One of Biden’s first actions as President was halting the “Remain-in-Mexico” policy, a Trump-era initiative that led to the lowest level of border crossings in nearly 50 years. The result? More deadly fentanyl has been seized so far in 2021 than throughout all of 2020. Last month, it was reported that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials seized 934 pounds of fentanyl at the southern border, an increase of 300% from last year. Those drugs do not stop at the border. They end up in cities like Chicago, Baltimore, and New York, all of which have significant Black American populations.
So how does the Biden administration plan to address this crisis?
Avoidance. Vice President Kamala Harris has visited everywhere else but the border to address the “root causes” of illegal immigration, and she can’t stop laughing at border questions. The Biden administration is throwing millions of taxpayer dollars at the Northern Triangle to save face while states near the southern border are forced to take matters into their own hands to abate the border crisis and protect their communities. Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida recently announced that he will send law enforcement to Texas and Arizona to aid in border security efforts. If only the Biden administration was as devoted to protecting American lives.
So yes, opioid overdoses are no longer a “white thing.” Now, opioid overdose is an issue that affects Americans across the spectrum, and because of the Biden administration’s recklessness and failed leadership, it is an issue that is bound to become worse. Black Americans will pay the price.
Paris Dennard is the National Spokesperson and Director of Black Media Affairs for the Republican National Committee (RNC). Follow him on Twitter: @PARISDENNARD.
Jessica Herron is a rising senior studying English and Philosophy at the University of Mississippi. She is an RNC Communications Department summer intern.