What was your initial reaction when you first heard that Demi Lovato was checked into a hospital after a suspected heroin overdose? Public opinion seemed to be split between people who were genuinely concerned for the pop star, and another group of people asking, “Who the hell is Demi Lovato?”
You would be hard-pressed to find anyone bashing her for her relapse or calling her a “scumbag.” This was the complete opposite reaction to Whitney Houston’s demise, Lamar Odom’s downfall, Josh Gordon’s struggles and other black celebrities who succumb to the evils of narcotics.
A new Whitney Houston documentary bluntly displays just how tough and wild her life was. Former NBA all-star Lamar Odom is on the road to recovery and could be headed to China to restart his career. NFL star Josh Gordon, who has missed 55 games in his short career due to failing drug and alcohol tests, could potentially see action on the field this season.
All three of those black stars faced backlash and ridicule from the media and selfish fans who put their own entertainment ahead of another person’s well-being. On the contrary in Lovato’s situation, most were understanding of the cycle of addiction and how tough it can be to break a lifelong issue. Many Twitter users were quick to point out that drug abuse often stems from traumatic experiences and uneasy childhoods.
But black people rarely receive the same benefit. The glaring difference in public reaction is not Demi Lovato’s fault — blame the government.
Non-famous black people are imprisoned and brutalized on a daily basis for the same drug crimes that white people commit. Neighborhood pushers get more time behind bars than prescription pill providers in white coats. Years of unequal repercussions have brainwashed us into thinking one is worse than the other. As the homie Panama Jackson says, “a black drug dealer or user of heroin or PCP is viewed as a detriment to society. A white opioid addict is viewed as a cause worth saving.”
I’ll admit it, they got me too. I find myself shaking my head at family members because they just can’t seem to get their shit together. Meanwhile, “Prayers up to Demi” was my first thought when I heard the news.
According to reports, Demi Lovato is currently “awake and with family.” We wish her the best and hope she has a speedy recovery. It’s a slow grind getting the government to change laws and create legislation that enforces fair punishment, regardless of race. In the meantime, what we all can do is look ourselves in the mirror. We all have demons. All I ask is that you keep the same energy.