The costly white problem

Rich white kids buying, selling and abusing drugs at downtown Portland’s Lincoln High School shouldn’t be news.

Rich white kids buying, selling and abusing drugs at downtown Portland’s Lincoln High School shouldn’t be news. But for some reason it is now–front-page news, in fact. If you even got close to last Saturday’s Oregonian you would have noticed the story about the death of 19-year-old former Lincoln High School student Kraig Crow.

Last Aug. 21, Kraig purchased $500 worth of powder cocaine from some of his friends. He ventured into Gabriel Park, presumably alone with his newly purchased coke and some prescription drugs, dosed, and overdosed. As a result, two of his Lincoln peers and three others will be going to prison.

Nearly 16,000 Americans die from drug overdoses each year. So why aren’t we reading about these deaths daily on the front-page, or anywhere in the paper, for that matter? Why is this story making waves? Is it because few in the Lincoln community have suffered from drug abuse issues? Hardly. Lincoln has long since carried the reputation of being a drug-abusing party school. Let us not forget the title The Oregonian bestowed upon Lincoln High in 2004, referring to it as “Drinkin’ Lincoln.”

The most likely reason we are reading about Kraig is because he was a blond-haired, blue-eyed “football star” with a pearly white smile. When a poor minority kid overdoses, it’s just another day. But as soon as a pretty rich white kid dies it’s a tragedy. For the first time in recent memory, members of the most prestigious public high school in Oregon are paying the price for their crimes. And it’s about time.

It is severely unfair to completely ignore the tragic drug-related deaths of so many others in our community. Providing front-page real estate to some while others get nothing is inappropriate. But what is even more unfair is to paint Kraig as some sort of fallen hero. The article about his short life and untimely death reads as if he was someone great, akin to a war hero, while the others involved in the case are made out to be villains. Wasn’t Kraig guilty, too? Hadn’t he also broken the law? Yes, and let’s not forget it.

Drug abuse has long since been a problem at Lincoln and the only reason it has been able to go on for so long and spiral so out of control is because of

the elite standing of so many of the Lincoln families. And coincidentally the only reason this incident is now getting coverage, it would seem, is because of that same elite status.

The headline should have read, “Lincolnites finally beginning to feel the repercussions of their illegal actions and wrong-doings.” The drug problem, among others, has been ignored and denied so deeply that when a bit of it broke through to the surface it became front-page news. How sad that the first time, to my knowledge, that the authorities have really made a strong effort to crack down on the Lincoln drug problem, everyone has to hear about it.

The Crow family hadn’t wanted the authorities to inquire into Kraig’s death. As Kraig’s mother was quoted as saying in the Oregonian article, “These kids were dumb kids. I feel like my kid was a dumb kid that night.”

Really? Your son was dealt illicit drugs, ingested them and died and you weren’t eager to have the authorities investigate and potentially punish someone for it? Should the parties involved, who furnished your son with the drugs that inevitably killed him, not be indicted? With an attitude like that it is no wonder why things like this happen to seemingly good kids like Kraig, and it is also no wonder that things like this will continue to happen within the Lincoln community.

Though the circumstances around Kraig’s death are suspicious (who has a one-person cocaine party in the park by oneself?), it is still a shame that Kraig died. It is also a shame that it took Kraig’s death to bring to the public eye the true scope of the drug problem in the privileged class here in Portland, which is not limited to Lincoln.

What may be worse though is the society of protection that surrounds these kids. The “dumb kids” defense is similar to the “boys will be boys” defense that allows numerous rapes to go unpunished in our country all the time. Unless there is a change of ideas at a societal level there will always be incidents like the one that took Kraig’s life.

Just because you have the means to protect your children from the repercussions of their mistakes does not mean you’re doing them a favor. In fact, many parents may be causing more harm than good. Unless you wish your children to end up like Kraig or his friends, who will now be serving time in prison for their direct or indirect involvement in his death, we may want to re-examine our children’s lives and our involvement more carefully.