Home Featured Eighties Babies and How Crack Cocaine and Dope Changed Us Forever

Eighties Babies and How Crack Cocaine and Dope Changed Us Forever


Washington, DC may have been the only city to have a mayor who was using crack cocaine, but the epidemic stretched across the nation from cities to suburbs to some of the most rural counties in the country.  Philadelphia, New York, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Detroit, Chicago and every place in between was hit hard by what became known as, “The Crack Epidemic.”

For those of us who consider ourselves eighties babies, the influx of crack and dope into our communities was one of our generation’s most affecting and impacting cultural phenomena.  Today, I want to lead the discussion on what it means to be an eighties baby, while also discussing the dark side of Black America in the 80s, and the effect of Crack Cocaine and Heroin on our community.  I’ve taken the time pull out five thoughts.

Miami Vice, New Jack City and N.W.A.

As crack and dope became parts of our neighborhoods, they started to have an impression on our culture through music and television. With televisions shows like, Miami Vice and rap artists like N.W.A., the drug culture we saw in our streets and neighborhoods made its way to our living rooms and television sets.  Groups like N.W.A. brought to our front door issues that were plaguing our community, especially in place like South Central Los Angeles.

“F*ckin’ with me cause I’m a teenager, with a little bit of gold and a pager. Searchin’ my car, lookin for the product, thinkin every n*gga is sellin narcotics.”

George Bush vs. The Nicaraguan Contra

Epidemics are always a great time to remind America that racism still exists.  For example, epidemics happen to everybody but white people. The holocaust happened to the Jews, HIV happened to homosexuals (although white, they must not have been Christian and thus didn’t count), and inevitably, crack cocaine happened to the African Americans.

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What was more alarming was that almost as soon as the US Government took action against crack cocaine with tougher law enforcement and sentencing the problem went away in a couple years.

“They got money for wars, but can’t feed the poor. Say there ain’t no hope for the youth and the truth is, it ain’t no hope for tha future. And then they wonder why we crazy, I blame my mother, for turning my brother into a crack baby. We ain’t meant to survive, cause it’s a setup. And even though you’re fed up, huh, ya got to keep your head up.”

When we found out that Huxtables lived in Greenwich Village, instead of Brooklyn

Regardless of the effort by Bill Cosby to show a different side of the Black family in America, it was no secret to Black people in America that most of us had very little in common with the Huxtables during the eighties.  Whether it was a mother, father, uncle, aunt, cousin, grandparent, or any close relative, finding a Black family without a crack or heroin addict was as common as finding a family of freed slaves in the 1700s.

Many Black men were addicts, dead or in jail, which led to many single mothers. Many single mothers who may have been addicted as well.  It spirals downhill from there to the children born with defects or behavioral problems, to children who lost both of their parents to addiction and were raised by grandparents, distant relatives, or in foster homes.

The quiet moment when Josie Webb told everybody her secret

I grew up knowing that not only homosexual white men were at risk for HIV, but also dope addicts and women who were willing to have unprotected sex for drugs.  When you factor in the risky sexual behavior and drugs taken through intravenous needles, what you get is a high rate of Black Americans infected with HIV.  And the trickle down effect is that it begins to infect not just the drug users, but the outside community as well, since many addicts are in denial and rarely get tested.

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“They ain’t really for condoms, I just think that it’s shocking. Got no fear in no officer, they be scared of them doctors.”

The Competition for the title, Murder Captial

Cities became places where you were terrified to leave your house.  You feared that you could be the victim of violence, even if you weren’t in fact a part of the drug trade.  There were always gang initiations that required members to shoot and kill an innocent person.  Dark alleys and unlit bus stops were a common fear, as well as, staying out past the hour when the streetlights came on.  The murder rate rose astronomically.  Teachers were teaching their kids to look to their left and their right, one of the three of us would not make it to 21.

“When our heroes and heroines got hooked on heroin. Crack raised the murder rate in DC and Maryland.”

Whew, thinking back on that now, I am glad I made it to where I am today.  I have to thank a few people.  My mother, my grandmother, my father (who while divorced from my mother made sure to always be there for me), and my friends.  I have a picture that I took when I was about 12 outside my grandmother’s house with my childhood friends.  I’m proud to say that all of us in that picture, right outside of Nu-Town… ennn… Michigan Park, are still alive, working and never been in jail.

Now that we’ve shared that moment together, you’re welcome to share your stories and thoughts.  I think that being a 80s babies and the things we went through made us stronger than many other generations.  We don’t always give ourselves enough credit for what we made it through.  In addition, we’re going to start a new tradition on Fridays around here.  The resident DJ in the house is Carver The Great, you know him from my mixes previously, we’re going to bring you a weekly Fist Pump Fridays mix that’s designed to get your Friday off to a great start and a powerful finish.  Today’s mix starts off with a podcast interlude from me.  Enjoy and let’s get into the mix and weekend.  Bottoms up!

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– Dr. J

Two mixes for you today, #FistPumpFridays – Crack Musik & Long Heels, Red Bottoms:

Crack Musik Tracklist: 1. Dr. Jay’s Intro, 2. Ten Crack Commandments by Biggie, 3. Blue Magic by Jay-Z, 4. Crack Music by Kanye West, 5. Keys Open Doors by Clipse, 6. By Any Means by Meek Mill & Rick Ross, 7. 9 Piece by Rick Ross, 8. Make The Trap Say Aye by OJ Da Juiceman & Gucci Mane, 9. Bricks by Gucci Mane, 10. White Girl by Young Jeezy, 11. Pocket Full Of Stones by UGK, 12. CTG Outro

Long Heels, Red Bottoms Tracklist: 1. Long Heels, Red Bottoms: Trina, 2. Took The Night: Chelley, 3. We Found Love: Rihanna, 4. Party Rock Anthem: LMFAO, 5. Sexy & I Know It: LMFAO, 6. Shots: Lil Jon, 7. I’m The Ish: DJ Class, 8. Run The World (Girls): Beyonce, 9. No Hands: Waka Flocka/Wale, 10. Pick Em Up: Baltimore Club, 11. Put Your Leg Up: Baltimore Club, 12. Just Wanna F*ck: Baltimore Club, 13. Perculator: Cajmere, 14. I Can Freak It: Lathun, 15. Nasty Dancer: Kilo Ali, 16. Shorty Swing My Way: KP & Envi

Let’s rock. Yeah, tweet that and let me know you listening! #FistPumpFridays


  1. Enjoyed this write. Crack was definitely everywhere in the 1980's. I remember working in NYC at the time and riding the Metro North train to work every morning. The train would inevitably stop at the 125th street station, and I used to see the crack heads sleeping on the sidewalk in a pile like a bunch of puppies enjoying the warmth of one another after partying all night during the breezy summer. The sad part is that it looked normal to me. I was used to it. Resisting the lure of drugs during that time took strength and perseverence so if you don't know…now you know.

    1. I ride the mtero north all the time. Its crazy how different that station looks now that (Bill Clinton) has an office in Harlem. It use to be all run down and you never see any white ppl get off at that stop, now its all done up and cops are on beat almost 24/7.

  2. Very true, but it's more than Bill Clinton having an office there, Harlem has been completely regentrified. There used to be no ATM machines past 96th Street, I remember having to take a cab with my boyfriend just to get to an ATM. Now there's white folks at the bus stop in Spanish Harlem on 120th Street. Black and Hispanic people have moved on and affluence has retaken it's hold on the Harlem Community.

  3. Doc J that long heels red bottoms list got some songs on it that I never heard before. Got me thinking I need to seriously step my current hip hop game up……I guess I been listening to too much Ole Skool and jazz lately.
    I've been having these discussions with folks quite a bit lately. I currently live in MD and originally from North Philly.

  4. Folks ask me would I ever move back…answer is no… I never ever want to move back to Philly (or Delaware or Jersey or any other part of PA for that matter).
    I knew for a long time I never wanted to raise my kids there because I wanted them to have a much better environment than me. I go back if there is a family emergency. I go back to visit and see my peeps and thats about it.

  5. When I left Philly back in June 2007 I heard they were competing with Jersey and NY for the most body counts, hence pt of the reason why the murder rate started to skyrocket. I know of just as many folks who got killed by stray bullets at home or walking down the street, in the wrong place at the wrong time, as they did because of drugs.
    I miss the 80's and for the most part despite the violence, gang banging, drugs, and hard times, I have much respect and appreciation for the 80's. It has made me stronger and better and not take as much for granted as some of these youngins do nowadays. I'm glad about the person I became being a product of the 80's. I probably would be a different person if I was growing up as a teenager right now.
    If I was anything like kids now I would probably be a spoiled azz brat tryna grow up way too fast and thinking I knew everything and taking life and everything and everybody for granted

  6. Btw, Doc J did you ever hear about that "conspiracy theory" that the government created drugs and purposely placed them in the black community to cause black people to kill each other and to purposely cause the demise of the black community? If so what were your thoughts on that theory….?

    1. Thar happened earlier than the 80s, in the 60s/70s. And it had to do with the GOV planting cocaine in urban California hoods to weaken the Black Panther Party . Supposedly J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI was behind it.

      Back in undergrad, during my black power phase, I did a mini investigation into it. And if I remember correctly, the evidence in support of drug plantings having actually happened was weak. Basically, there were a few memos back and forth discussing the strategy and it's merit. But, I never saw anything suggesting that Hoover gave the OK . But then again, I'm not sure an OK on something that evil would ever get written in a memo.

      Honestly with all the other reckless ish the FBI did during that time (Assata Shakur, wire tapping motels, killing folks-just cause), I wouldn't be at all surprised if they did plant coke. #bigbrotherswatchingYO
      My recent post The Measure of A Woman

  7. Man listen, I remember "THE BLOCK" and "Brown's" back in the 80's used to keep Great Neck Rd and Albany Avenue in a certain part of LI looking like Times Square on a Wednesday Matinee day. *SMH*

    I've seen some of the cutest chicks fall all the way the hell off after getting hooked on that mess.

    If you was dating a drug dealer you was #WINNING

      1. i dated a drug dealer my senior year in highschool 93 and thought I was winning…….I was shot at and ended it quick fast and in a hurry and that was the first and last drug dealer I ever "knowingly" dated.

  8. I'm from Bodymore, Murdaland…as the thugs call it, smh…and I'm an 80s baby…and drugs def impacted my household and my extended family. I was about 8 when I found a paper towel/toilet paper/aluminum foil "thing" under the bathroom sink…and took it to my Mom, "What is this?"…although I'd had D.A.R.E in school, so I knew the answer. I guess I really wanted to know, "Is it yours or his?" Her face and demeanor told me it was his…then he (my Dad…well stepdad…but Dad) disappeared for a minute. Then, he was back. Aaaaaand wash, rinse, repeat…several times. He's good now though. *fist pump*

    I've had two cousins die from HIV/AIDS (tied to drug use)…the younger one, left young children. I used to watch her son. He had/has the prettiest big brown eyes…and he's doing well now…a vet…just had a son.

    Needless to say, I've been impacted by these epidemics.

  9. The worst part about the 80's crack era is that most black neighborhoods never came back from it. A lot of urban areas are still run down, filled with drugs, single mothers, locked up fathers, wild kids, etc… A lot of the mind sets that were created in the 80’s have trickled down to the next generation… A portion of the following generation was created by crack babies, single mothers, and 80 babies that just never got it right.

    One thing I do hate is the whole Murder capital thing… I hear way too many young people brag about it like it’s something to be proud of, instead of something that needs to be changed.

  10. I ceelbrate turning 21 and 25 because I beat a statistic. I didnt grow up in the ghetto or the projects, but had strong ties to it from friends family etc. I was exposed to the drug culture and was fully aware that every day was a blessing. The issues you highlighted are paramount. Salute and these mixes will go HARD!

  11. This was a good post. I think we all have a personal story about the effects of drugs within our family. Like you said we survived some ish..and with that thought, I feel sad for the youth because no matter how smart they are, how advanced they are…they still lack an inherent toughness. This deficiency leads to the bitchassness we see today with the senseless bullying and internet thuggery and kids committing suicide left and right. And as I approach 30 even though it was rough, I still appreciate and reflect positively on my childhood and the year in which I was born.

  12. I remember the effects of that on my family, and yeah, it caused a lot of changes to the point where we had to go to the other side of the country. So from the age of 4 (that i can remember the most about it), I've seen the effects of it. It has caused me to wonder how there are new crackheads being made considering the effects of it, and the subsequent jokes they have become the butt of in our community.


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