The drug war has impacted nearly every aspect of our lives—and it’s time to uproot it. The Drug Policy Alliance has been working closely with other advocacy organizations to create Uprooting the Drug War, a project that shines a spotlight on the insidious ways the drug war has spread into the systems of child welfare, public benefits, employment, immigration, housing, and education. This episode is the second in our monthly podcast series featuring a DPA partner sharing their experiences fighting the drug war in one of those six systems. The Ordinary People Society’s Pastor Kenneth Glasgow and DPA’s Gabriella Miyares discuss how the drug war and the poisonous mentality around it have kept people in poverty and unable to access crucial public benefits.
DPA is proud to partner with The Ordinary People Society through our Advocacy Grants Program. To learn more about grants opportunities, visit drugpolicy.org/grants.
Welcome to Drugs and Stuff, a podcast from the Drug Policy Alliance.
Gabriella Miyares (0:08)
Hello and welcome to Drugs and Stuff. I'm your host, Gabriella Miyares. Today we're presenting the second entry in our series of episodes that tie into DPA's project called Uprooting the Drug War. If you haven't seen it already, you can check it out at uprootingthedrugwar.org. This project brings to light how the drug war has insinuated itself into six critical systems: education, employment, housing, child welfare, immigration, and public benefits. This month, we're proud to welcome Pastor Kenny Glasgow, founder of the Alabama-based nonprofit The Ordinary People Society and a longtime DPA partner, speaking with us about how the drug war impacts the public benefits system.
Today, I'm joined by Pastor Kenny Glasgow, who is the founder of the Alabama-based nonprofit The Ordinary People Society, or TOPS, and TOPS organizes and mobilizes communities across the deep south, providing advocacy and support to those impacted by the criminal justice system, and working to restore communities. So welcome. And thanks so much for joining us today.
Pastor Kenny Glasgow (1:24)
Thank you so much for having me.
Gabriella Miyares (1:25)
So today, we're gonna dive into the state of the public benefits system and how the drug war has kind of made its way into it like it has into so many other systems in our lives. But I want to start with a little background on you. So could you tell us a little bit about the work that you do at TOPS, and how the public benefits system ties into that work?
Pastor Kenny Glasgow (1:48)
So what we do at TOPS is, you know, I can give a real elevator speech real quick -- we do is a three pronged phase, we do H H H, which is homeless, hungry, and harm reduction. And what we do is we feed people, we feed about 300 people a day, in three different locations here in Dothan, Alabama, some places in Atlanta where we have to more or less hide because of the ordinances over there that they have came up with the last couple of years, and in Montgomery. And so we feed people because people are homeless and they're hungry. And what people don't understand is that when you feed people who are more or less chasing the dragon -- in the south, people are using mostly meth, and crack. Heroin is down here a lot in the upper cities like Birmingham and Montgomery, and all that. But here in the southeast corner, and in Mobile and stuff like that, it's mostly crack. When you feed people, it curbs their high. And what that usually do is stop them from what we call chasing the dragon. And they usually go to sleep and it nourishes their body and all that. So that's harm reduction. The next thing we do is M & M which is monitoring and mentoring. We monitor and mentor people, you know, and children and people that are going through different things. Our mentoring program is very, very different because we monitor exactly what's going on in their lives. You know, their home life, their school life, their education, what's happening with their parents, is it a single parent home, and this and that and the other. So we delve off into their lives so that our mentoring could, could take care of the whole scope of their life, instead of just the programmatic side of what we trying to produce or present to them. Then we do what's called the prodigal child project. And that's the bulk of the apple right there. We, it's four pronged within the prodigal child project, we look at those who have had interruptions in their life, whether that be homelessness, whether that be incarceration, whether that be somebody who hooked on drugs, or still on drugs or trying to get off drugs. And then last but not least, everybody was so concentrated on the high school dropout rate, nobody paid attention to the first year college dropout rate. And that pertains to a lot of people with drugs, possession of drugs, using drugs, dealing, using and all. And so that's what we concentrated on in the prodigal child project. And that's basically what TOPS is. We are a very, very supportive services organization. Now, one of the things I want to say to you is that DPA has crossed thresholds that nobody wants to recognize and I talked to Kassandra about it all the time. When Ethan Nadelmann came up with this 20 years ago, we're celebrating our 20th year anniversary, DPA will be celebrating their 20 year anniversary when, next year the year after. Y'all going over 18 years now I think? When Ethan, he broke the mold of funding, he broke the mold of how organizations deal with each other in three to four different aspects, I'm gonna go over that real quick. One was he broke the mold about us being clients, you know, we changed the language. You know, I'm not your client, I'm your partner. So DPA don't have client organization, they have partners, you know, across this nation, that's one thing. The second thing was he broke the mold for formerly incarcerated people such as myself. And DPA was one of the first organizations to fund us to form the formerly incarcerated people movement. He's one of the first organizations to do that, and gave me the first $30,000 in order to start and the FIPM in Alabama, when everybody else said no, Ethan Nadelmann said yes, him and asha bandele. The next mold he broke was the funding apparatus, to where we had to fit this criteria. This and that and the other. So DPA, more or less did it for me. And so the last thing he broke, and where we're going to delve into what we want to talk about, is he broke the mold about supportive services, because everybody was so interested in policy, even though Drug Policy Alliance is a policy driven organization, he broke the mold about supportive services, because he knew that those supportive services were some of the things that would help organize toward changing those policies. So those are the modes that Ethan broke, and DPA has been monumental in doing, and what we have now, here almost two decades later. So when it comes to our supportive services, we look at these assistance programs, people don't want to look at that food stamps, and these programs that you get these food stamps, were denying people because of drug convictions. Simple drug convictions were stopping you from getting any kind of food stamps, any kind of food assistance, any kind of health assistance, any of that by having a simple drug program. Then they wanted to implement, they implemented this all the time in, in your jobs. And what happened was, it led to what a passion of mine was, voting. And so that fight with drug policies, you know, interfering or interacting or engaging into the, these assistance programs for people caused us to look at what possessions had to do with law, and how come it was illegal, and what's going on in the south. And we messed around and found out that in the state of Alabama, there's a thing called moral turpitude. Which means that if you have a possession charge, just merely possession, not trying to sell drugs, anything like that you should have never lost your voting rights. And so we were able to apply that and say, Well, wait a minute, if you're not going to lose your voting rights, then that mean people shouldn't have never really been locked up. And how is this applicable to stop you from getting assistance in any kind of program, to help you do better and help you sustain yourself in life, when in the Moral Turpitude Act in the Constitution of Alabama possession didn't even warrant any kind of criminal act. So it helped us look at that it's not a criminal crisis, but it's a health crisis. And it, and people wanted to kind of tweak that into a policy apparatus. But, but really, it was the assistance program, and the supportive services, in helping humane effort, you know what I mean? So that's what ended up happening. And that's the history of The Ordinary People Society and Drug Policy Alliance. And people need to know that. What people don't realize is that the drug war, it interloops into every other issue, voting, bonds, bails, supportive services, food stamps, housing, I didn't even went to the housing yet. We didn't even get to that point yet. You know, and these are the things that happened. So we started looking at that, then we looking into the housing. So if the moral turpitude act tells you that you're not supposed to even have a person locked up, can't take their voting rights, this and that and the other. Then how could you stop them from having government or public housing? First of all, if I go to prison, my mama and my baby mama and my grandmama, live in the projects, and I go to prison. I can't go to the projects because I got a felony for drugs. That makes no sense because now you put me on the street in a homeless situation. And, you know, and so we started delving into all that, and winning. And one of the things that happened in the south is called repetitive history. And repetitive history is, even though we won this 2005, 6, 7, and 8, guess what? 2010, 11, 12, and 13, they want to bring it back. Now here 2017, 18, 19, 20, 21 they want to try to do it. And this is what they do. But Drug Policy Alliance has been able to harness and incubate all of those histories, all of those victories. And even though a lot of people don't talk about the work that has been done in this south, and more especially Alabama, with our, our partnership, Drug Policy Alliance, has been able to show this in other states and highlight it to prove that this is inhumane.
Gabriella Miyares (10:57)
So that was fantastic. I mean, that already answered one of the questions I had, which was, you know, in your work, and also in your personal experience, like, you know, how you've seen the drug war impact people's access to public benefits. So as you mentioned, you know, even a simple drug charge can be enough for people to lose access to food stamps, lose access to what people know, as welfare, TANF.
Pastor Kenny Glasgow (11:20)
Let me tell you, I got to take the hat off now. We got to add to it because not only do we want to look at how it affects them in their food stamps, not only do we want to look at how to fix their TANF and all, but here in Alabama, they have a tendency, and a pattern, to where they come at, and this is going to really, really gonna hit you at home, they come at women, I call it the girlfriend clause. They come at women in a real real, intentional way. I would love to put some cut on it, and soften it but I can't. They come at women real intentional. Meaning that when they try to come after me, if I'm your boyfriend, and they trying to come after me with drugs, of selling drugs, or having something to do with drugs, they're going to come at your food stamps, your housing, your children, have you hooked up in DHR, give you a charge, just to try to get to me.
Gabriella Miyares (12:24)
And we see that nationwide. We, I mean --
Pastor Kenny Glasgow (12:26)
Gabriella Miyares (12:27)
Sometimes, you know, even in the case of Breonna Taylor, that got nationwide coverage. That would not have happened without the drug war.
Pastor Kenny Glasgow (12:34)
Exactly. And what has happened is it leaks from federal to local or either it leaks from local to federal. I don't know which way it goes. But it's there. And it's we have abstractly addressed this, we need to address it more and more intentionally, like what you just said with Breonna Taylor. Because these supportive services are -- should not and cannot. And legally, there's no way that they could be addressed, the way they have been addressed so far. They, I don't understand that at all. And my problem is, none of us are addressing it the way it should be. Because we should be telling folks Hey, you know, you, you just can't come at women like that. Trying to use them as a means to go against someone else. I mean, it just don't make no sense to me. But we've been allowing it to happen for so long, that they just continue to do so. I'm really, really hurt by a lot of the work that have been done, that we have to keep going back over and over and over and over.
Gabriella Miyares (13:47)
I actually want to ask you about that. So we've obviously seen that the drug war is very much tied into race, right? Because it disproportionately targets people who are Black and brown, even though rates of drug use are similar across groups. And there's also so many racist narratives that are very tied into the public benefits system too. And, you know, there's this stereotype that's been for decades of this, like drug addicted welfare queen, or the idea that people who use drugs and people's mental image of that is a person of color who's like, lazy and irresponsible, which we know is just a false narrative, but seems to kind of continually perpetuate. So how much do you think that those kinds of stereotypes and narratives are the reason that these things keep coming up over and over in your work? Do you think that that has to do with it or do you think it's a different factor?
Pastor Kenny Glasgow (14:50)
Well, is it -- we can't say it's either or. It's both and. And I'm gonna tell you why. Especially here in the south, the narrative is always has been painted of Black and brown people, people of color being less than. We keep that going. We. Even in our language. Keep that going by calling or classifying each other. I tell people all the time don't call me an ex-offender. Don't call me an ex-felon don't call me an ex-convict. It's classism. Same hurt, same pain, same effect. We allow the language to continue. We continue the language even in our own movement. We allow the stigma language, and the classism language to come out of our own mouths. So with that we enforce white supremacy and the systemic racism, without even acknowledging it. So if we would change the narrative, we got to first of all change the language. Eddie Ellis, God bless him. God bless his soul. He tried to tell us that. Nobody paid it any attention. Eddie Ellis tried to tell us that and now it's becoming so so evident. Even with what just happened with George Floyd. "Oh, don't get so happy, he got convicted there, well let's wait on the sentencing." No, it shouldn't be like that. Why are we continuing to allow it to go like that? So when you got the the welfare queen and this and that and the other, you know, why don't somebody put the statistics up there? Right? That there's more white people using drugs than there is Black. That there's more white people that's going to -- on their jobs high on pharmaceuticals then it is Black people. That there's more white people that got more cocaine than Black people got crack. You know, that is -- why are we not putting that? So, I tell you what, if you don't want to change the narrative, then let's put out the truth. Let's put out the truth for the white folks that's bringing the drugs over here because ain't no Black man got no boat going to get all that dope. It's not happening. That would change it. One of the things that we did, me and Gabriel and asha, all of us together under Ethan is that when they came in Alabama and in Florida, and tried to do the drug testing for those that were getting TANF. You remember what we did, right? We put up a bill for the legislators to get drug tested. Automatically their bill disappeared. It just dissipated throughout the session. Those are the things that we got to start bringing back up. And we also got to allow people or stop people in their language. Funders into the, the knowledge and in the, in the, to change the criteria, so to speak, of their funding, believe it or not was the Coronavirus. Before the Coronavirus, you couldn't even get a funder to support supportive services. Whoo! They'll fund policy changes. They'll fund redistricting voting, this and that and the other, fund advocacy. But to feed people, house people, help people with the necessities of life that wasn't in their funding apparatus, or criteria. Now it is. So we allow these kind of crisis to continue to look at people as welfare queens, because we're allowing them to set our narrative for us, instead of us giving our own narrative. We change the narrative now about Black fathers being deadbeat dads. Because now everybody knows it's more single fathers, almost as much as single mothers. No one knew that. Took us 10 years. But we got to change that language. We got to stop people from looking at us and classifying us different. We got to stop letting educated people, classify people as not as educated as they are as different. Because you may have an education that gives you degrees, but I'm an expert by experience, to where you don't have the experience. You got the education. But I won't take away from you and you don't take away from me.
Gabriella Miyares (19:26)
Pastor Kenny Glasgow (19:27)
That's how we change that.
Gabriella Miyares (19:28)
Yeah, that's really powerful. And I think people often forget how the language can kind of keep us in this cycle. So there are obviously a lot of policies in place that make it more difficult for people to get these supportive services if they have had any kind of drug conviction or even like suspected drug use, if their drug use is ongoing, like with drug testing. And we've talked a little bit about that. And I also want to ask you, you know, again, from your work on the ground, why are public benefits so critical? And why are these supportive services so critical for people and communities that have already been harmed by drug war policies? Like, you know, we see this culture of punishment, where it's this continual punishment, you know, beyond criminalization, that, you know, you can't get any kind of support once you've even, you know, been out for a while. So can you speak a little bit to that?
Pastor Kenny Glasgow (20:31)
So, one of the things that you have to understand, right, I'm, I'm a formerly incarcerated person. I get out. Because I got a drug charge, I can't get any benefits. I can't get food stamps, I can't get housing. I can't even be in public housing. I can't get TANF. So I got to get a job. But I got a drug charge, I can't get a job, moral turpitude clause, I can't get a job. If I have an education in nursing, I have education in the medical field, I have education in the pharmaceutical field, I have an education in dealing with computers, and this and that and the other. I got a drug charge, I can't get a job, not in my field. I gotta resort to, you know, flipping burgers at Burger King or something like that, maybe, but it depends on their policy. So we tried to do Ban the Box. But you know, that still working on in certain cities, but not statewide. And what tends to happen is, I have to fall back to my norm. And my norm is what? Survival. Survival of the fittest. And survival the best way I know how. So since drugs is my reasoning, for not being able to get a job, then my only result is, my reasoning for not being able to get a job. So I got to go back to drugs. I got to go to drugs, even though I'm a, I'm a person that's an addict. I've been in recovery for years. And I don't want to have anything to do with drugs. But drugs is the depiction of my life at this point. So now in my, in my psyche, in my mind, the society has set me up to where the only alternative or identification I have. That's stopping me from getting jobs or stopping me from living a normal life, is what? Drugs. I got to pay my supervision fee. I'm on parole. I just got out. I got to pay my court fines, I got to pay my drug fines, just for having drugs. You know, one of the funniest and craziest paradoxes that I used in court was, if you're gonna fine me for my drugs, then give me my drugs back. I mean, I mean, how are you gonna fine for possession, for having drugs? Give me my damn drugs back! You know, I got to pay for em twice? You know, and these are the things that people don't understand. So now in my psyche, everything about me, that's happened to me, that's wrong with me is drugs. So now that's all I have. I'm gonna break in your house. I'm gonna rob your store. I'm a steal. I got, I got to steal food, I got to eat. You know, I don't know about Mama Tina's mission house and Pastor Glasgow and them got where I can eat free food. I can't go there right now. I'm high. I gotta -- I can't go to church. That's my first point of shame. Can't go to church. Everybody in church looking at me. I'm already paranoid. I'm high -- everybody know I'm high. Everybody know I'm dealin drugs. My first point I'm saying. So where -- I have no other alternative but to live on the streets. Be homeless. Live from hotel to hotel, make money every day to stay there and deal with these drugs. And that's the box you put me in. As a society, because you won't give me no assistance to help me with my necessities of life. To where if you gave me some food stamps, I could get some food. I ain't gotte steal to eat. To where if you gave me some TANF, I got some money, I could buy a couple pair of clothes, ain't gotta walk around dirty. Might even take a bath now and then. If you gave me a house, oh my God. I'm in there! I could live! But without any of this, you put me in a situation to where I gotta survive. So to you, it's criminal. To me it's survival. To you, I'm, I'm hurting people. To me, I'm trying to help me and myself. Now, my baby mama on my case, can't pay child support, I got to take care of this kid. And lo and behold, if I'm a woman, I got I got to do whatever I got to do. To you, it's prostitution. To me, it's being a mother.
Gabriella Miyares (25:22)
Yeah, that's, that's really powerful. You touched on something, too, that I think people don't often think about, which is the kind of mental impact of these policies, right? Because it's, it's really like, you know, it's this kind of feeling of unworthiness, of you know, kind of self-identifying as something that is wrong, or bad when really, you're trying to do the best you can. And if every way you're looking at is blocked, what are you expected to do? Right?
Pastor Kenny Glasgow (26:00)
Well, it's not blocked, it's actually, it's actually called psychological warfare. That don't block me but sends me right back to what? Drugs!
Gabriella Miyares (26:08)
Exactly. Yeah, you're right. It goes, it goes a little further.
Pastor Kenny Glasgow (26:12)
Yeah. And that's the same thing that they did in slavery, they psychologically beat us down into the point that we're, you know, even when Master was sick, oh Master, we sick? Because psychologically, you're the only identification I have. So if you put me in this box with drugs is everything that hurts me. Then psychologically, drugs is the only thing I have.
Gabriella Miyares (26:37)
Yeah, yeah, thank you for sharing that. That's really powerful. We've talked a lot about, you know, the past and the history, we've talked a little bit about the work that you currently do. And I want to kind of look forward, forward to the future. So could you tell me, you know, in an ideal world, what would uprooting the drug war from these systems look like? I mean, we're focusing in this interview on public benefits. But you know, you can talk overall, if you like.
Pastor Kenny Glasgow (27:05)
Well, first of all, uprooting the drug war, in a real, real world... if you really was looking at a humane world, not a human world, a humane world -- with humane-ity. Not humanity, humane-ity, then, then, then you would, you would provide the benefits. One of the things that I looked at was these, these stimulus checks. How they're helping a lot of people, and everybody, go oh, look at these entitlements, this and that and the other. All the Republicans having a fit about it, but have you looked on the website? The Republicans getting the most money from the PPP loans and all that. You know, and I'm like, Woah, wait a minute, I thought you was against it? Give the money back, to the people that need it. But anyway, in the real world, you would, you would first of all, give them the benefits. That's first of all. You would second of all, go back to the 1800s, before Black people were able to vote. And in the laws that pertain like in 1901 Constitution of Alabama, the Moral Turpitude Act? It applied to nobody that had possession of drugs, or use of drugs or anything like that, would even go to jail. But it only pertained to Black folks -- I mean, white folks, not white Black folks. So let's go back to that, since you thought it was good enough for you, why it ain't good enough for everybody? In the real ideal world, let's look at the fact that, you know, stop using the girlfriend clauses. You know, we shouldn't even have to keep going back and forth with policies that we know are draconian laws that shouldn't even apply to human existence. In the real world, let's, let's change the box on the employment application. You know, have you been convicted of a crime? Have you been convicted of a drug crime? What is that? You know, where'd that come from? So my 20 to 30 years experience in doing the work that you need has nothing to do with it? You know, in the real world, let's look at how food stamps, housing, and TANF welfare, got anything to do with something that I have may have a problem with, or may not have a problem with, because there's a lot of white people use drugs and it's social. But when Black people use drugs it's criminal. In the real world, let's look at all that. And then let's get back to our movement. Let's be real honest about it. Stop giving me these cookie cutter, one size fits all programs. You can't give me no goddog rehab. How are you going to rehabilitate somebody like me that never been habilitated? Yeah, survival is all I know. You want to rehab me, you don't even know what the hell I've been through. In a real world, stop calling me the same things that you fight. You cannot fight oppression and be oppressive. I'm sorry. You know, in the real world, let's not fund on how you look good on paper. But what's your experience and what you're doing on the ground? How are you organized? Because organizing in the south is very different from that in the north. And people gonna say, Well, what that ain't got nothing to do with, with assistance programs, that ain't got nothing to do with the drug war. It got everything to do with it. Because it's how we treat and look at each other is how people are able to get away with these policies and laws that don't give people the rights and the necessities of life to live. That's how we change it. That's where the real idealistic world ending this drug war would look like. You know, when you got Nixon's top man, I forget his name. That said, the only reason we invented the drug war, six years after the Voting Rights Act, seven years after the Civil Rights Act, when Martin Luther King -- was to -- to stop Black and brown people from voting and having access to all this in life. Then you know, if you ain't change that yet? There's something wrong with you. And let's not even talk about the 13th Amendment. I'm trying not to go there. And the exception clause. How could we sit up here and say that we abolished slavery and it's still written in our Constitution? The Constitution contradicts itself to me. You shall not be held on involuntary servitude, or slavery except or by, for a felony conviction as a means of punishment. But then in the Eighth Amendment you said, that shall be, there is no cruel and unusual punishment. What's more cruel and unusual than slavery? So we're using the drug war in all these different aspects to pertain to a person's life, socially, criminally, psychologically, and health wise. And in, actually what we look like in the, in the real world, get rid of the drug war. We're funding police and law enforcement to set up an apparatus of us and them. The blue line, Black lives matter, because of the drug war. And we don't see the problem? Every other country in existence. Every other country besides America, looks at us for our expertise, for our freedom, for everything we have. But when it comes to the drug war, they look at us and shake their head like no, no other country locks people up for drugs. No other country locks people up for use of drugs. We got less than 100,000 people than any other country, or 250,000 people locked up more than any other country? We already, we killing ourselves.
Gabriella Miyares (32:56)
Yeah, and if you look at you know, when those numbers spiked, it's very much tied to the drug war.
Pastor Kenny Glasgow (33:01)
Exactly, exactly. So in the idealistic world, let's take it all out. Let's put that money back into the education. To raising our kids. Let's put all that money that we're putting in law enforcement to fight against people, for the drug war, and put it into building a camaraderie with people. Let's put it back into our communities to uplift our communities, to give people their sense of humane-ity again. Let's put it back into our assistance programs to help people, like the stimulus program along the way, so they have these necessities of life to live. And then it would be a better coexistence with people all over the world. That's where that money needs to go. Instead of sending the billions, the billions, the billions that we're using to put this class against this class. Because, you know, you're the ones that lock everybody up, and you're the ones that's going to prison, you know, they're doing studies of that, of kids in school, they used to be from ages nine to 12. Now, you know, what it's dropped down to right? Ages three to six. Yeah. And they could sit up there in kindergarten, and say oop, you're going to jail, oop, you're going to college, oop, you're going to prison, oop, you're gonna be law enforcement, oop, you're gonna be a prisoner. So they know how to do it. We know how to do it. We don't have the funds to go against it. They, they got to open in funding apparatus. And then, you know, our own movement wants a set of criteria to make us compete against each other, for funding and all this kind of stuff. You know, we have to really, really look and reimagine and rethink some things. We really do. And that's just my 20 years experience doing this work and looking at all this, you know, when we talk about the assistance programs, you know, we're not even assisting each other enough to even ward off the people that's fighting against the assistance programs with the necessities of people to live a normal life.
Gabriella Miyares (35:06)
Mmmhmm. Yeah, you talked a lot about the, you know, the costs and like where that money could go, I just wanted to quickly share a statistic for our listeners, which was, you know, a lot of people applying for welfare funding are forced into drug screenings, right, in order to get the funding, but in 2016, less than 1% of those people tested actually tested positive. So that and that cost states a million dollars in that year alone. So just imagine, you know, if that million dollars spent towards surveillance could actually be used for the supportive services? Yeah, it's a little crazy. So, in your experience, where would you reallocate these funds? Like, where do you think it has the most impact for people's lives?
Pastor Kenny Glasgow (35:58)
I would think that we could -- there's a couple of places I would put it. First of all, in education. First of all in education, and that's just not education for children. That's education for adults, when it come to our language, when it come to our mindset, when it comes to us, even having our own different silos, far as the academia educated and those experience, you know, I would, I would take the funding and I will also put it into uh, funding organizations that's doing more supportive work. So therefore, there's a there's a safety net, for those that are getting trapped into the, the, the apparatus where they can't get their assistance. We have organizations that can give them their assistance. And then I would take the funding. And believe it or not, I would put that funding into, like a research program. That research program would not be just studying statistics and data and this and that and the other. That research program would be investigating the police. Investigating law enforcement. Investigating what they do, and the legislators and all that. A real oversight committee. Those are the three places that I will put it where we would have the most impact. And it would be very effective.
Gabriella Miyares (37:19)
Yeah, thanks so much. I think, I think you're right. I would love to see that in practice. So I'm going to finish up our interview with a last question, which is how can our listeners learn more about and help support your work at TOPS?
Pastor Kenny Glasgow (37:34)
Well, they could go to wearetops.org, that's W-E-A-R-E-T-O-P-S dot O-R-G, go to wearetops.org. And you can learn a lot about our new ED, it's under new management, new leadership, they have a new vision. I'm actually retiring, but I'll be available for training for for stuff like this podcasting, and really just mentoring a lot of younger folks and folks that, that are getting new to this and that wants to hear some of the 20 years experience that we had, in doing so. But I'm also one of those that know how to pass the baton and share the platform. That's another problem we have that we need to learn more of.
Gabriella Miyares (38:19)
I wanted to ask if you have anything else that you want to add for our listeners to -- uh, as kind of a closing thought.
Pastor Kenny Glasgow (38:25)
So one of the things that I wanted to add to a closing thought to our listeners is, those of you that work in drug policy, I want you to look at one of the things that we have allowed to happen in our movement is the separation of sorts, I call it. What that means is because you work in drug policy don't mean you don't work in criminal justice. Oh, come on now. Cuz you work in drug policy don't mean you don't work in voting rights restoration. Because you work in drug policy don't mean that you don't work in prison abolition is a prison reform, all of this meshes together. And that's what I was trying to tell you in the beginning. That when I was with Ethan and asha and Gabriel and all, we changed the apparatus of all this from the Drug Policy Alliance and TOPS partnership, to where it delved into, interlooped into, because it was already intermeshed into, white supremacy and the systemic racist system that we have. So let's stop allowing others, and ourselves. Not only do we need to change our language, we need to change our practice -- that you work on policy. You work on voting rights, you work on -- No no, no, no, no, we all work on changing systemic racism. We work on changing a system that is designed to be non-humane, and we cannot coexist with our brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, nieces and nephews, sons and daughters. Until we ourselves, not let them form our narrative. But we form our narrative. And we're together. We're one. And we fighting this fight. We're a big machine that works on different parts, but yet we are one. Until we come to that point, they still going to separate us, they still gonna mesh us out and put us in silos, they still going to fund us in different aspects, they still going to classify us, they still going to name us and call us different things. And they still going to write our narrative. The last thing I'm gonna say, one of the reasons that the Republicans are beating us, is because you could have Glenn Beck or Sean Hannity in the Eiffel Tower in New York, you have a redneck, in the clay hills of Alabama, they got the same message. Our problem is, we don't have the same message. And that's how they give our narrative instead of us. God bless you. Thank you so much.
Gabriella Miyares (40:59)
Oh, Kenny, thank you so much. I, I'm so grateful for all the work that you do and all the work that you've done with us. And you're right. It's all interconnected. So we're really, really happy to partner with, with you and with TOPS and I look forward to hearing more about you know, all you continue to do. So thanks again for joining us.
Pastor Kenny Glasgow (41:18)
God bless. Thank you.
Gabriella Miyares (41:21)
All right, have a good day.
A huge thanks again to Pastor Kenny Glasgow for joining us and to all of the incredible work done by our partners at The Ordinary People Society. To learn more about their work, visit wearetops.org, and to learn more about how the drug war hurts people across public benefits and many other systems, visit uprootingthedrugwar.org. Stay tuned for our next episode in this series. Until then, thanks to all of our listeners. Stay safe and stay well.
Drugs and Stuff is brought to you by the Drug Policy Alliance. If you like what you hear in the podcast, do us a favor and rate the show on iTunes. Give it five stars and a nice review. Also, we'd love to hear from you. Tweet at us @drugsnstuffDPA, use the hashtag #drugsandstuff, check out our website drugpolicy.org to see the other work we do, sign up for our emails, and donate. Special thanks to our producer Katharine Heller and to the hard working staff of the Drug Policy Alliance for all of their work. Thanks for listening.