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Sunday, March 25, 2012
"Our Stolen Generation: Brenda"
“Our Stolen Generation: Brenda”
By: J. Thomas Hunter
High On Crack Street (pic 1)
“High on Crack Street: Lost Lives
in Lowell” is a documentary from 1993 that tells the story of a group of crack
users living in Lowell, Massachusetts. It
follows 3 people; Brenda, Boo-Boo and Dickie; as they engage in criminal and
immoral acts to score crack and smoke themselves into a stupor in any of the
various drug dens that litter the former manufacturing city. It was featured
most prominently in the 2010 movie, “The Fighter,” which was about a boxer who
was trying to get out from under the shadow of his more accomplished brother
and trainer, Dickie. Though Dickie was a central character of “The Fighter,” he
played only a minor role in “High on Crack
Street” and is not a factor at all in this
article. Instead, the documentary and this article focuses on Brenda—the
sympathetic addict who offers surprisingly lucid insight on the issue of human
Brenda is rail thin. Her front
teeth, to the extent that they even exist, are badly damaged or blackened. Her rubbery,
wrinkled skin distorts her face to the point where her age is practically
impossible to ascertain within reason simply by looking at her. Brenda’s
pleading, glassy eyes, however, reveal a human soul—a woman, trapped—deep
inside the shell of a reasonless beast.
Boo-boo, her on-again off-again
boyfriend, periodically doubles as her pimp so that the two can earn enough
money to buy more crack. A prostitute’s life is a harsh one—marked by violence,
denigration, a broken heart and of course, unwanted pregnancy.
Shortly after the documentary
opens, Brenda hits the streets looking for johns. Despite her ragged
appearance—typical of prostitutes—she finds takers and earns a few hundred
dollars which she spends entirely on crack. She appears one morning afterward
on her way to Planned Parenthood—convinced that she is pregnant again. She has
no children, and admits openly to the documentarian that she is not a stranger
to abortion. After the clinic workers determine that she is, indeed, pregnant,
Brenda considers the paternal possibilities and the options available to her.
By her calculus, her child’s father could be Boo-boo, Mike (an ex-boyfriend—also
a junky), or any one of the anonymous johns she serviced during her nights of
In a moment of clarity, Brenda considers
the kind of life that her offspring could have being born of an uneducated,
drug-addicted prostitute who lives in squalor and destitution. The prospect is
hardly rosy. Her own family advises her to abort her baby, an option that would
force her to hit the streets again, repeatedly dejecting herself, to earn the
money for the actual abortion. Despite years of Brenda frying her brain cells
and living a life of utter moral depravity, she completely understands and
vocalizes that abortion is murder—and gravely wrong.
“I know how much pain and mental
suffering I went through when I was fifteen,” she says, referring to her first
abortion. “I murdered my baby! I murdered my baby! And here I am, I’m going to
do it again. I think it’s selfish.”
After vacillating over whether or
not to abort her child—leaning ever heavily on the side of life, but succumbing
to crack as she deals with the stress of her decision, she enters into drug
rehab in an attempt to clean up her life.
In so doing, she leaves her
friends behind. She leaves the HIV-infected Boo-boo, who worked only to keep
her a slave to crack. She leaves Lowell, a city ravaged by destitution. In
spite of her best efforts, though, she still can’t leave her addiction. In
fact, Brenda dies—after delivering her baby.
Indeed, the life of a drug-addicted
prostitute is tragic. How striking it is, though, that Brenda, considered by
most standards of a functioning society to be merely a semi-sentient, flesh bag
of bones and blood, understood that the life of her child had immense worth.
Her child, “doomed” to be born into a Hell on Earth, deserved an advocate—his/her
Contrast her view to that of
America’s most elite members of society who use people like Brenda as examples
that justify abortion on demand.
People of immense
wealth—especially in comparison to Brenda—support abortion because they predict
that a child born to someone like her would be better off dead. The arrogance
that leads one to predict that a life yet lived could be worse than death
itself is astonishing, however a staple of pro-choice rhetoric.
Despite all of her demons, Brenda
understood that killing a defenseless child is simply wrong. Having never spent
a day in college, her moral clarity on this issue had finally evolved beyond
that of her would-be professors and indoctrinated classmates. Brenda, in all of
her awesome tragedy, chose morality—life—against the instincts of her
Photo Sources: "Pic1" fromhttp://3.bp.blogspot.com/_0zH912eX0_8/TQGPzFebCaI/AAAAAAAAALI/S0qe_DSKN3E/s1600/High%2Bon%2BCrack%2BStreet%2B1995%2BHBO%2BDocumentary%2B720x4802.jpg; "Pic2" from http://b.vimeocdn.com/ts/131/934/131934589_640.jpg; "Pic3" from http://www.waterbirthbaby.com/gallery/0/baby-photo-shoot-3.jpg