The Crusader Newspaper Group

It Takes a Village

It Takes a Village

By  Rev. Paul Jakes, Jr.President of the H.O.P.E. Coalition

CBS Morning News reported this week that the drug Fentanyl is killing people, especially from ages 18 to 45 because of the misuse and abuse of this drug. In many hospitals, pharmaceutical fentanyl is a synthetic opioid used to treat patients with severe pain or to manage pain after surgery.  

On the other hand, illicitly manufactured fentanyl, which is also a synthetic opioid, is illegally distributed for its heroin-like effect often after being combined with other drugs. It becomes extremely potent, more addictive, and far more deadly. 

Rainbow fentanyl m30
Rainbow fentanyl m30

Fentanyl and other synthetic opioids are the most common drugs involved in overdose deaths. Even in small doses, it can be deadly. Over 150 people die every day from overdoses related to synthetic opioids like fentanyl according to CDC data from the National Vital Statistics System.

Now consider the latest threat according to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) – a synthetic fentanyl made to look like candy. The unassuming candy disguise does not diminish its lethalness. Fentanyl is 50 times more potent than heroin and because illegal fentanyl does not come with a prescription there is no way to determine the strength of a pill.

The look makes it especially enticing to youth, who if they survive after one use and continue using it, they are destined to become addicted. Opioids are highly addictive whether legally or illegally manufactured. Talk to your children!

I believe that this issue is not being reported at the magnitude or frequency one would expect from the media. Nevertheless, we must fight to save our children, families, communities and our nation.

According to a July 19, 2022, CDC report:

• Overdose death rates (number of drug overdose deaths per 100,000 people) increased 44 percent for Black people in 2020.

• In 2020, the overdose death rate among Black males 65 years and older was nearly seven times that of White males 65 years and older.

• Black people 15–24 years old experienced the largest rate increase (86 percent) compared with changes seen in other age/race groups during 2019–2020.

“The increase in overdose deaths and widening disparities are alarming,” said CDC Acting Principal Deputy Director Dr. Debra Houry, M.D., M.P.H. “Overdose deaths are preventable, and we must redouble our efforts to make overdose prevention a priority.”

We must get the word out that Narcan saves lives!

Naloxone is a life-saving medication that can reverse an overdose from opioids—including heroin, fentanyl, and prescription opioid medications—when given in time. Naloxone is easy to use and small to carry and it won’t harm someone if they’re overdosing on drugs other than opioids.

It takes a village
Rainbow Fentanyl 2 (Multnomah County Sheriff)

Some say that we cannot overcome this problem of drug abuse, but we can. We must first verbalize it and then act upon it.

We must join with Attorney Generals across this country who have called on President Biden to decree that Fentanyl is an agent of mass destruction. According to the National Center of Drug Abuse Statistics, more than four times as many people died from drug overdose than from homicide in the first month of 2021.

We must use our God-given discernment to right the wrongs and avoid the pitfalls of not getting the help that is available in many behavioral health centers all over this country.

It takes hard work, but we can do it. Years ago, we had a community of people who cared for each other. Most people don’t know who their neighbors are. Some say it’s hard to save our community but it’s not. We must make a new covenant and agree to build up and not tear down. The strength in a community comes in the form of community service.

So, as we build block clubs we rebuild our community. As we clean up our streets, we build up our community. As we protect our children going to school, we build up our community. The renewing of our community occurs as individuals realize collectively we are a village whether we accept it or not. Every effort to bring about change no matter how great or small is a village working together replacing despair with hope.

Job 14:14 says, “If a man dies, shall he live again? All the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come.” I have come to the conclusion that too often we blame the system and do little for our own community.

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that there are 44 million people of African American origin living in the country, comprising 13.4% of the total population. Studies confirm that African Americans and predominantly African American communities disproportionately suffer from a wide array of health concerns, including substance use disorders, trauma, and mental health concerns.

I say to all African Americans today know who the enemy is. For the enemy is not wearing a mask or a white hood on his head. The enemy is a seducing spirit creating disharmony within the community and yourself. This enemy comes to kill, steal and destroy. But a village who stands together shall overcome.


Rev. Paul Jakes Jr., who has been described as a “Warrior Minister,” for his activism is the senior pastor of New Tabernacle of Faith M.B. Church, located at 531 North Kedzie St. in Chicago

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