Young and thuggin': The unresolved life of a young hustler
As Anthony's problems with the law continued to escalate, so did his encounters with law enforcement officials in his neighborhood. His attempts to find legal employment were also hindered by this escalation. While he was still an adolescent, Anthony entered substance abuse treatment on three different occasions for his drug-related problems. Although he was able to remain substance-free while in treatment each time, his problems continued because he was "addicted" to a drug dealing career. Like hundreds of thousands of other young African American men, Anthony is now in prison with a felony drug record. Rather than helping him find a different path in life, society has made his attempts to change more difficult. Through a political economic life history, Anthony and the author collaborate to tell the story of an individual carving out a life in the midst of a historically injustice socioeconomic context. The story details Anthony's family history, their move north to Baltimore during the World War II era, and the discrimination they faced as they built a new life. It also discusses changes in labor markets and the escalation of the War on Drugs and the impact of these forces on Anthony's life. A political economic life history allows structure and agency to come together as one, as a dialectic must. The questions driving this approach are: What do structure and agency look like as one force? What does the dialectic look like when it is not pulled apart? This life history is an attempt to present Anthony as fully human despite historical, racial, and ideological structures that divide and constrain his life. Keeping Anthony fully human throughout the story forces a common responsibility to an uncommon justice.