Category Archives: past issues

Alcoholism, Drug Addiction, HIV and Love

Central Pennsylvania is currently struggling with a Heroin/Opioid epidemic. According to the Lycoming County Coroner’s Office 38 people died from drug overdoses in 2017. Mass drug addiction is no longer limited to the big cities. People, in large numbers, are dying in the rural America. Pennsylvania’s Governor Tom Wolf has declared the epidemic a “disaster emergency” in January 2018.

In the urban Black Community the struggle of drug addiction is a very familiar story. African-Americans have been dying in the ghettos of America from drug overdoses for a very long time. Decades.

Letter to a brother
From August 2007 issue of African-American Perspective.

For AAPN publisher Richard James, the fight is personal. His brother, Clifford “Chico” Thomas Williams suffered many years as a cocaine addict before getting clean. Chico passed away on July 24, 2007 from HIV complications. He would have celebrated his 67 birthday in March 2018.

Mr. James wrote a poetic letter to his brother in 1987. He published the letter in the August 2007 issue of the African-American Perspective newsletter. As a personal remembrance and as a reminder of the dangers of drug addiction, alcoholism and risky sexual behaviors, we re-print “Letter to a Brother”.

brother Chico Williams
Clifford Thomas Williams March 10, 1951 -July 24, 2007.

What follows is a letter that I wrote to my brother Chico during the summer of 1987. At the time he was man in his mid-thirties, but he looked like a man in his sixties. For a while I had lost track of him. His Philadelphia row home had become  an abandoned shell. The following letter was never mailed:

Dear Chico,

I have a lot to say, but little time to say it. I hope that you are well, but I fear that you are not. Please don’t be offended at my sharp tone, but I feel the time has come to be clear and to the point.

Are you still a drug addict?

Julianne died. Who was she? I suppose in matters  concerning the world she was a “nobody”. She had no particular claim to fame, no accomplishments worth mentioning in the eyes of the world. Just a piece of black flesh that lived, loved and wanted to be loved in an anti-black society.

Julianne died. Who was she? She was the mother of two little girls. She was a young woman that could not cope. She herself was barely a child surviving in New York City. She was a person that never, never got a decent chance in life.

Julianne is dead. Cold. Unmoving. Who was she? A crack addict? Yes. A prostitute? Perhaps, no one really wants to know. Who was she? She was my wife’s cousin. She was a slender attractive woman that had simple wants. She was a woman with milk chocolate skin and tight curly hair. She was a misplaced African beauty that no one would dance with. She was a person with whom I shared belly laughs and quiet smiles.

Forgive my flair for the dramatic. I am crying.

I loved Julianne the way I love all my people. My love of Black people is a deep love and within that love is anger and rage. (Anger against injustice. Rage against racism.) Within my love for Black people is fear and suspicion. (Fear of our future. Suspicion of our motives.) Within my love for Black people is hope and pride. (Hope for our children. And pride in our accomplishments.)


Are you still a drug addict?

The last time I saw Julianne, she was already dead. Yes, she walked and talked but the sparkle of life was dim in her eyes, like a flashlight with used up batteries. Perhaps she knew it and needed to visit her cousins in Philly before passing on. When we greeted her we stood silent, in shock, gazing at a young woman who had been transformed into an old lifeless wretch. We hugged her and pretended that nothing was wrong. But everyone knew that the specter of Death had its hand on Julianne’s shoulder.

I can see that odious white skull of death standing behind you. It waits. It grins that eternal death mask grin and waits! It waits for your next destructive decision.

And it is your decision, your responsibility. Only you, and no one else, know what is best for you. No one else resides in your skin.

Life or Death, the ultimate choice is yours and yours alone.

Wait! That’s not true. There is another entity that dwells within. It is that part of you that you choose to ignore. It speaks a strong and steady message you don’t want to hear. It speaks, yet you choose not to hear the messenger’s silent voice.

Julianne chose not to hear the message. And she is dead.

Are you still a drug addict?

What is the message? I don’t know. (I believe the message is different for each of us. I believe that every person has a message inside them whispering gently.) But, what I do know is this. I know that the message celebrates life with all of its wondrous possibilities.

Who speaks the message? The Speaker is known by many names. But don’t get hung up on who or what it is, just be satisfied in knowing that the Message Giver lives within your soul. You are a part of it and it is a part of you. We all have this entity within us. It is in the gleam of a baby’s eye. It is in the passion of young lovers. It is in the wisdom of our elders.

You must decide. If you choose to continue your walk with death, I will be sad. If you take the path of life, I will give thanks and rejoice.

Again, the choice is yours.

In any case, I will love you—no matter what. I can say this without reservation because I hear my own message within. It tells me that love is the greatest power in the universe. The death triad of drug addiction, poverty and racism is no match against this power.

The real tragedy is that Julianne sought love and acceptance from outside sources. The greatest love she already possessed. It was there, inside her, all the time.

But she could not hear the message. Will you?

Get still. Be quiet and listen with your heart and not your ears.

Your loving brother,


Although the letter was never mailed, Chico got the message. He reduced his drinking considerably,  he cut out the crack cocaine and began to fight his HIV/AIDS. 

On Wednesday, July 24, 2007 at Chico’s life came to a close. He lived for 20 years after I wrote this letter and he died clean. Rest In Peace brother.

It has been 31 years since Richard James wrote the letter. Since that time, Mr. James’ attitude about addiction has evolved and matured. He knows that drug addictions are diseases of the brain

Here are a few local resource in the Williamsport area:

Alcoholics & Narcotics
Drug Addiction Treatment Center
(570) 323-4714
Drug Addiction Treatment Center
329 Pine St · (570) 505-8331
Williamsport, PA (570) 323-8543


Treatment of Black Women

Sankofa (A look back)

“Nappy headed hos.” That was the downfall of nationally recognized Radio and TV personality, Don Imus. As part of our observance of Women’s History Month – March 2018, we look back at our second issue published in April, 2007 Volume 1.2. Enjoy.


Let’s bring civility back.

The Rutgers women’s basketball team won 22 of 25 games, which took them to the top of the NCAA playoffs. They lost to the University of Tennessee on April 3rd. Since that devastating lost (59-46) the young women had begun to settle in for a “life as usual” on the campuses of Rutgers University. Then, Shock Jock Don Imus and his producer, Bernard McGuirk uttered outrageous racist and sexist comments about the mostly black female team on Imus’ daily morning radio/TV show.

Imus insinuated that the women were tough, unfeminine and called them “Nappy headed hos”. Two days later, Imus profusely apologized for his remarks. But political and activist organizations are asking for Imus to be fired. The groups led by Rev. Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and others have opened a debate about the use of hateful, hurtful language in the media. (Imus has accepted a two week suspension.)

In my opinion, Imus was trying to be hip. His “joke” was a parody of the gangsta rap music genre of the Hip-Hop culture. In his own defense on the Today show, he noted that black men (rappers) also use such derogatory and demeaning language characterizing black women, but no one calls for their dismissal. He said that there is a double standard by which he is being judged.

I agree. There should not be a double standard. Hate speech is bad regardless of the color of the person who speaks it. Just because black people call themselves hateful names doesn’t make it right.

In my opinion, some words should be retired from the English language. At the top of the list is nigger, followed by chink, spick, wop, faggot, dyke, ho, and bitch.

A small number of Hip-Hop artists are making millions of dollars spewing hateful speech that degrades women. The entire Hip-Hop industry, controlled by white multi-national corporations, is making tens of millions of dollars producing and distributing musical content that generally denigrates the African-American culture.

I understand the need for self-expression and the freedom of speech. I wouldn’t be writing this if I didn’t believe in the right to proffer opinions even when they are controversial and disturbing. As an artist I also can relate to the need to feel unfettered when creating art. But enough is enough. Black women have been characterized as bitches and hos. Black men have been demonized and labeled as niggers. What hurts the most is that black artists are leading the hateful propaganda charge.

At the core of the issue are the hate, anger and disrespect that exist between black males and black females. In many relationships, in the black community there is an unhealthy adversarial competition among young men and women. This cultural self-hatred should be acknowledged; our very survival depends on a thorough examination of the root causes of the animosity and enmity between black men and black women.

The Hip-Hop culture has brought the ugly truth into the light, “there is no love in the ghetto.” Low-income African-American families are caught in a cycle of crime, illegal drug addiction, unwanted teen pregnancies, poverty, hopelessness and despair. For these people, life is without joy; exploitation, manipulation and discrimination dominate their lives. They believe that they are powerless.

We don’t need a rich, famous, middle-aged, white radio personality, backed by the powerful corporate media, to dump extra pain and suffering on the deserving young women of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights Basketball team.

As the current Imus flap unfolds, I hope that we take the opportunity to examine the deeper ramifications of his remarks. The American people need to declare to the world that such comments are “deplorable, despicable and unconscionable”. And within the black community, we need to stop calling each other bitches, niggers and hos.

And as far Mr. Imus is concerned, I am amazed that the public considers what he does as entertainment. He has been rated as one of the most influential radio commentators in the country. His deep melodic voice of insults and rude remarks is heard by millions of people daily. But, I never thought he was funny.

Where’s the civility? Where is the mutual respect? Where’s the love? Women, particularly black women deserve greater respect.

Helpful links:



Do you use the “N-word” to describe an African-American? Do you call a black woman a ho? Do you know anyone that does use such degrading language? Why do black people demean themselves? How can we turn this strange phenomena around?

Should we burn gangsta rap CD’s that use such disgusting lyrics? Should we boycott recording companies that distribute hateful speech? Should we ban such destructive language?

Or should we provide the counter balance of a positive re-affirming language of self-love and respect. Can we publish a newsletter that showcases the talents of the African-American community? Can we display the other side that is usually overlooked in the traditional news media?

I think the time is right for good people to come together and express their disdain for a society that tacitly condones racism and sexism.

Let’s start a dialogue to end hate speech. Let’s offer an African-American Perspective.