Consumption of Heroin by the Homeless

Table of Content

In the past decade or so, there was a significant number increase in usage of heroin and crack. In the article Intimate Apartheid, the author talks about ethnic dimensions of habitus among homeless heroin injectors in California and their interactive relations amongst African Americans, whites and Latinos, although mostly focusing on the tension between blacks and whites. The author uses the term Habitus to allow us to see how an individual can achieve personal desires, which eventually becomes imprinted as individualized behavior. It is also used to describe how the African Americans and the whites had established rituals and how they were dealing on the daily basis, which became part of theirs, daily routine.

One of the components of habitus that is discussed in the article is the income–generating strategies or techniques. The whites and African Americans rely on several types of ways they make money. The whites make the majority of their income from passive begging. They make signs and post along the highway to collect small amounts of anything possible from drivers or tourists. Some of the signs they made were such as ‘Please help, God bless, Vietnam, Will work for food.’ The whites are often dressed in rags and dirty cloths with their eyes facing the ground.

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Most of the time, the whites work part-time illegally for small business owners in the neighborhood, which are people of European descent. Typically, they are hired for only several hours per day for labor tasks that did not require much thinking on their part. They jobs were given to them such as cleaning up the sidewalk, unpacking trucks, or checking the shelves for the inventory. A lot of the whites, also collected cans from the garbage dumpsters, so they can receive something from recycling them.

In contrast, the African Americans in our network rarely fly signs or beg. When they do ask for money they more than often do it with something visual and are very verbal. African Americans also like to hang out around gas stations and wash windshields while people are getting gas. A lot of times they like to make fun off or even threaten potential contributors and sometimes demand money. A big chunk of their income is created by burglary at construction sites, warehouses and car trunks. The African Americans also tend to be very knowledgeable and professional at what they do. They were creative in the way they were dressed potential business owners would not differentiate them from regular society.

In contrast, the African Americans are hardly employed as day laborers by local businesses. Instead, they love to criticize the relationships that the whites develop with employers. They feel that part time employment at local businesses is very “demeaning, exploitative and feminizing”. The whites often persuade small business owners that they are praiseworthy homeless people. Even though the whites are getting paid way below what the norm is, they still are very thankful. In many instances, storeowners will pay their favorite homeless a minimum so they have enough for their daily dosage that is necessary to keep them moving or alive. By paying them their salary regularly this guarantees the employer that every morning this particular addict of heroin with with-drawl symptoms, will show up at work. In that case both parties will win.

According to the article there are several differences of homelessness and drug use between the African American users and the white users. Although, there were things that were liked the same by both societies. Both the whites and the African Americans favored injecting heroin intravenously because it provided them with instant satisfaction. Also, the elderly African Americans homeless injectors would search for the vein, which sometimes took close to an hour to find. Most of the African American drug users have been kicked out of their house for their addiction. Although, they still keep in touch with their family members as well as make it to all the holiday gatherings. They are also familiar with all the living conditions of their kids and even get occasional visits by them. Also, the younger generation on the street looks up at the African Americans because they are known on the streets as the original gangsters. In contrast to the African Americans, the whites hardly ever have any communication with their family members. The whites are usually considered like outcasts from their families and are shameful to the community.

To bring everything together, we got to understand and learn about the difference and similarities the whites and African American users have. Even though both groups of people are very different in cultures and social inequality, they tend to learn to survive together. At the end, these homeless people are both dependent on the same drug and need to find a way to satisfy their addiction.

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Consumption of Heroin by the Homeless. (2022, Aug 29). Retrieved from

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