As a medical professional and African-American resident of Los Angeles, I could not help but be demoralized after reading the two articles concerning cocaine and the black community. In the first article, “Adventures in the Drug Trade,” by William Overend (May 7), the transformation of the cocaine scene is portrayed simply as the result of collusion between blacks and Colombians. If one sincerely wants to understand what has happened, one must examine the economic deterioration of the black community. In Los Angeles, the last 15 years have seen many of the industries that employed large numbers of black residents permanently close. The dropout rate in many South-Central high schools is more than 48%, contributing to the high numbers of unemployed black youth. Massive cutbacks in social programs result in unrealistic reliance on law enforcement to provide solutions.

The second article, “Nothing Works,” by Stanley Meisler, concluded that there is no solution to the drug crisis. It is essential that the public health issues created by crack cocaine be addressed. If there is no obvious solution at this time, then large amounts of resources need to be allocated to develop solutions. Can anyone imagine doing nothing about AIDS because a cure is not immediately within sight?


Los Angeles