Black Lives: Illusion. Teenage Motherhood, Single Parenthood and the Child Poverty Trap
In this episode, fillmmakers explode a number of myths about the high prevalence of single parent families in African American communities. They begin by exploring the the personal histories of a Black single mother and a teen father.
The single mother they interview is a qualified nurses aide, who can only work a limited number of hours without losing her government subsidized food stamps, health care and childcare. A single mother of two, she is presently separated from her husband and pregnant with her third child. Her mother, also a single parent, always worked long hours at two or more jobs, which meant that Miracle rarely saw her. Most of Miracle’s income goes to cover car expenses. She currently lives in a shelter because she lost her job (and her apartment) when her car broke down and she couldn’t transport her kids to childcare in time to get to work.
Jimmy, who became a father at 17, is separated from his five-year-old’s mother. He supports his daughter by selling drugs because past criminal convictions disqualify him from pursuing formal employment.
This segment also includes an interview with an African American who reminds us that African American single parenthood dates back to slavery. She believes it’s ludicrous to condemn 14-year-old fathers, who are only children themselves, for not assuming parental responsibilities.
The show first aired months after Webb’s “Dark Alliance” expose first appeared in the Mercury News. This series was based on extensive documentary evidence that CIA operatives who armed and trained the Contras who tried to overthrow Nicaragua’s Sandinista government smuggled tons of cocaine into US for inner cities.
The show begins with a recorded interview with Freeway Ricky Ross (from prison) revealing that he sourced the cocaine he distributed to inner city gangs from CIA operative Oscar Blandon.
Six years later Webb would mysteriously “suicide” by shooting himself twice* in the face with a shotgun (see Webb Murdered?).
His life is recounted in the 2014 film Shoot the Messenger.
How to Make Money Selling Drugs is a biting satire on the ludicrous “War on Drugs” and its perverse effect of increasing American drug use.
Mimicking an investment informercial, the mockumentary guides viewers on how to move up the ranks from gang-backed street peddler, to private retailer, to distributor, to domestic and/or international smuggler, to drug cartel king pin.
It also offers expert advice on how to beat a case, how to conceal drugs in a vehicle and how to get crooked cops to work for your franchise. It also profiles an ex-cop who can get you off if the police plant narcotics in your car.
My favorite part of the film is a cameo by Freeway Ricky Ross, who late San JoseMercury News reporter Gary Web made world famous for his role in distributing cocaine the CIA smuggled into the US to fund their illegal war against Nicaragua.