“MALT LIQUOR IS NOT YOUR AVERAGE BEER!” Typically malt liquor beverages have a higher percentage of alcohol content, it is sold in larger containers and has a lower price per volume than the average beer. Compared to a standard drink, the typical malt liquor beverage is off the scale. The average malt liquor beer can average 80% more alcohol content than the usual 12 ounce beer. Because malt liquor represents a quick, and cheap alcohol buzz, the beverages have been “TRADITIONALLY TARGETED AT LOW INCOME MINORITY COMMUNITIES.”
Last year while watching the NBA playoffs a commercial came on that featured Sean Combs and Ciroc Vodka, and a chill went up my spine. The commercial took me back to a pivotal moment in my life, a single moment in time that lasted for years, I can remember as if it was yesterday, it was the summer of 1982. I will always remember the particulars of that day, for it was the first of many long nights. I was spending the night over a friends house and his mother was having a party, in those days kids pretty much knew their place, we stayed upstairs, and the grown folks stayed downstairs. Back then there was no time-out as punishment, for if we desired to do something that we knew our parents wouldn’t agree with, we had to really contemplate whether it was worth it or not, for in most cases the act did not warrant the repercussions that were to follow. Well I must of thought it was worth it on that particular night, because I decided to sneak downstairs to see what the big fuss was all about. I stealthily crept down the staircase with one hand on the bannister, and one hand covering my mouth, for the fear of making a sound. I inched closer and closer, every step calculated, their laughter becoming more audible as I approached. As I came upon the door I noticed that it was ajar, so I decided to take a peek. As I slowly put my head inside of the room I was in a state of awe, there was music playing, there was dancing, there was laughter, there was drinking, there were board games being played, and the Larry Holmes -vs- Gerry Cooney fight was on the television. After contemplating whether the crime will fit the punishment that was sure to come, I made the decision to sneak in. As I crawled on all fours looking for sanctuary behind the bar, I noticed that everyone was fixated on the fight, I remember thinking, “it is now or never,” so I slid behind the bar unseen. While behind the bar I noticed that there was a small hole within it, so I used it as a peep hole to watch the fight for a few minutes. I was unable to watch the fight for long as my nervousness was beginning to be a bit much, for I was ready to return to the world above to tell the other kids about the world down below. As I was thinking of a way of escaping the world below a commercial came on. There was this handsome man that resembled my father holding a can of beer looking sophisticated, confident, and refined. He proceeded to speak in a deliberate, smooth, and seducing voice, “Don’t let the smooth taste fool you!” The crowd went crazy! I overheard one woman say, “Damn that Billy Dee is fine, I’ll have his baby today!” It wasn’t just the women, I was also seduced by his salesmanship. I did not know it at that time, but it was all staged, his dapperness, his sophistication, his permed wavy hair, his perfect smile with teeth to match, and his clothes that were tailored to fit, were nothing more than tools to get their job done, their job of keeping the American Black male and female in a state of decay by peddling bottles of self-imprisonment. For you young readers, Billy Dee Williams is an American Black male actor, voice over artist, and pitchman. His most famous pitch was for the National Brewing Company, which in 1963 introduced Colt Malt Liquor, the label was designed with a kicking horse, a reference to its “extra kick” compared to its competing white brands. As I was preparing to make my escape to the world above, I noticed a see through mini fridge filled with Colt 45 Malt Liquor, the white and gold cans glowed like a found hidden treasure, so I took two cans and pushed the rest to the front, no one even noticed. As I made my way to the door which was still ajar, I paused for a moment as I looked back into the room, it was as if I knew that this would not be my last party. Well I was back upstairs, but I was different, “I was the man!” I told them about my adventure, they were all entranced as I described the world below in graphic detail. The look that they gave me was the same look that those from down below gave Billy Dee Williams, so I reached back outside of the doorway and pulled out a can of Colt 45 Malt Liquor. I then proceeded to say in a smooth, deliberate, and seducing voice, “Don’t let let the smooth taste fool you!” And it did, up until I stopped drinking that mental and physical self imprisonment in 2005, twenty three years later. Food for thought, two kids that I introduced to Billy Dee Williams that night has since passed on, one from cirrhosis of the liver, and the other died while driving drunk, crashing into a utility pole down the street from his mothers home. In retrospect, I know that I was not the cause of their deaths, but one does wonder from time to time, what if I hadn’t met Billy Dee Williams that night?
“DON’T GET DRUNK ON WINE, WHICH LEADS TO DEBAUCHERY. INSTEAD BE FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT.”