On a flight back from a business trip, I read a book about Leroy “Nicky” Barnes, the man who once was the largest heroin dealer in the country. I grabbed this book, Mr. Untouchable, while browsing through the social science section of Borders, and I thought it would be interesting to understand his thought process.
I was not disappointed. In his own words, he took me from his childhood through his release from prison at age 64 (he served over 30 years of his life in jail) with every detail in between. This man was extremely intelligent; and he spent years living extravagantly as a result of his multi-million dollar heroin enterprise (he personally made $5 million dollars from 1973-1975). However, the good life would come to a screeching halt when he was busted and convicted of Continuing Criminal Enterprise, receiving a life sentence.
He was ultimately released in 1998 after helping the DEA bring down over fifty major criminals. But why would a career criminal who followed the code of the streets (don’t talk to police) suddenly have a change of heart? The answer is simple—revenge.
Nicky Barnes was the leader of Black America’s version of the Mafia. He had devised a “Council” of seven men who had established a crime family based on honesty, trust, loyalty, and brotherhood. Most of them black Muslims, they also incorporated Islam into their philosophy. While their system was incredibly successful for the early years, it was unable to stand once Nicky went to prison. Not only did brothers start getting sloppy, but they also started getting greedy. One man in particular, Guy, was bent on establishing his position as the new “man,” and he made his statement by taking Nicky’s most valued trophy, his young mistress named Shamecca.
Feeling betrayed and grossly disrespected, Nicky first tried to have another council member kill Guy for breaking the Council Code of never messing with another brother’s woman. When his brother failed to follow through, his only option was to put Guy away to rot in jail, and that is exactly what he did (he also brought down the rest of the Council in the process). However, what he says at the end of the book is really what I want to focus on. Listen to his words:
The Council members were in foreign territory when it came to family loyalty. I’m talking about positive values. Unity, stayin’ together. . . . I created a family with people who didn’t understand family. And when I left, when “Dad” went away, it all fell apart, just disintegrated. They betrayed me, because they didn’t understand what it was to have a family. And that was all I wanted.
The demise of the Council was their ignorance about family. In fact, the reason most of them even entered the criminal life was because of the lack of family support. They couldn’t uphold the values because they had never seen these values practiced in their lives. Nicky regretted giving the other brothers equal power in the council, but his initial reason for doing was an inner longing for something he didn’t get as a child; a functional family.
We have a lot of “baby daddy’s” and few husbands today because young men are not seeing an example of true manhood in their home. Young men are turning to gangs and crime because they have a longing to find the family they never had. More specifically, they are turning to the streets because they hope that they can find protection, security, and identity there. These are things that fathers should give their sons. Nicky Barnes is sad example of what happens when boys never get taught to be men.
Jesus got his identity from the Father. Real men get their identity from Jesus. Boys must get their identity from real men. A man without Jesus is like having no man in the home. He will show his son what a man should not be more than what he should. And that boy will likely be a chip off the old block. What we need are boys that are a chip off the old Rock (1 Corinthians 10:4). For that to happen, men must step up and be real men, i.e. men after God’s own heart. Pass this on. Discuss it. God Bless You.