Friday, January 08, 2016

DRUG stories:: all seated in POVERTY

Buffalo USA 
 It has a poverty rate four times the national average, 
and the impact of drugs is in your face. 
The intersection contains a McDonald’s, a Chinese take-out and a liquor store, and entering any of them means being immediately approached by people asking for money.
Buffalo and drugs
 Jennifer by the McDonald’s in East Buffalo. Photograph: Chris Arnade
Jennifer (her name has been changed) was the first to ask me for $2, before I could leave my car in the McDonald’s parking lot. “For food. I don’t use drugs now. I have though, just weed but not crack. Not today though.” She said this with an urgency that defied her words. I offered to buy her a Big Mac, but she said she didn’t eat such things, and changed her reason for needing the money to getting a bus.
I asked to see her arms. As she rolled up her sleeves revealing track marks, she laughed, “You must be a cop?”
She smiled after I told her I wasn’t, “Well then you a minister or a drug counselor, otherwise you wouldn’t be about here. Or maybe you want to buy something.”
I explained I didn’t need anything, I was writing about drugs. I gave her the $2. After posing for a picture and giving an interview, she crossed the street to a group of young men standing in front of a corner store, bought a small package from them, walked down the street and climbed into an abandoned home. 
Buffalo’s population was cut in half within 60 years.
 Buffalo’s population was cut in half within 60 years. Photograph: Chris Arnade
The next person to ask for money as I crossed the parking lot was Anthony (his name has been changed), who was precise in his intentions for the money: 
“For drugs.” He told me how he started using them at 17, first cocaine and then crack, and how he has spent the last 40 years shifting between the streets, jail, and group homes. 
He uses the McDonald’s bathroom to wash up in, “when the nasty store manager who runs me out isn’t there.”