‘Snowfall’ Finale Reveals Tragic Reality Of America’s Drug War On The Black Community

In the end, there were no winners, just perpetrators used to decimate a community. 

After six season’s, FX’s “Snowfall” wrapped its series in dramatic fashion. Set in the early 1980s, the series shed light on how the U.S. government played a role in the infiltration of crack cocaine into Black neighborhoods. The Iran-Contra Affair was a scandal by the Reagan Administration which used earnings from cocaine and arms dealings to fund a right-wing rebel group in Nicaragua known as the Contras.

Created by John Singleton, “Snowfall” is loosely based off of, but not a direct portrayal of former drug kingpin Rick Ross. 

Instead of Ross, “Snowfall’s” main protagonist is Franklin Saint, portrayed wonderfully by British actor Damson Idris. Saint began the series as an articulate and ambitious young adult from South Central Los Angeles, but inexperienced on the dynamics of street culture. Initially a grocery store clerk, Franklin goes from selling small quantities of drugs to friends, to eventually moving large amounts of cocaine for a CIA agent, Teddy (played by Carter Hudson). 

With each season, Franklin’s character grew more violent as his wealth and problems increased. 

By the season finale, Franklin losses everything. His family, wealth, and future. Once known to wear expensive custom suits and fly private jets, the last scene of the series shows Franklin as a shell of his former self. Disheveled, teeth missing, and shabby clothes, Franklin succumbs to the same alcoholic tendencies that initially destroyed his father, Atlon (Kevin Carroll).

Critics and viewers have argued over the minutia of “Snowfall’s” ending. Would his mother, Cissy (Michael Hyatt), have actually killed a CIA agent in broad day light and live long enough for an opportunity to go to trial?  Would Franklin have been so na├»ve in his relationship with Veronique (Devyn A. Tyler) that he saw fit to have a joint bank account? Would Leon (Isiah Johnson) and Wanda (Gail Bean), both actors from Atlanta, be the only ones unscathed? And was Franklin’s poverty outcome more powerful than him going to jail or death?

In real life, there were individuals similar to Franklin Saint in every major city in America during the 1980s. The rise and fall of crack-era kingpins happened in New York (Azie Faison, Kenneth “Supreme” McGriff); Washington D.C. (Rayful Edmond); Detroit (Richard “Maserati Rick” Carter, BMF); Baltimore (Melvin Williams); and Los Angeles (Rick Ross). 

Ross, released from prison in 2009, has been able to carve out a decent career after imprisonment by releasing books and appearing in documentaries and podcasts. However, he’s had his likeness taken by a rapper and, reportedly, he was never credited for his life’s story being adapted for the TV series. 

The crack-era kingpins were all losers in a game that was much bigger than them. 

They were all young, powerful Black men who had the knowledge to run an operate a Fortune 500 company, but lacked the opportunities. Instead, their business expertise was used to poison their own communities through the sale of drugs that viciously impaired working age men and women. 

In turn, a generation of crack babies raised themselves, perpetuating an endless cycle of generational despair and trauma. 

The crack-era kingpins made millions within a short time span, flaunting wealth in nightclubs while inspiring rappers to portray and emulate their stories through street and Trap music.

But in the end, there were no winners, just perpetrators used to decimate a community. 

Their endings more often mirrored Franklin Saint than Jay Z with conclusions of jail, poverty, or death. 

The only winners were the ones who were rarely seen and able to maintain clean hands due to their race and proximity to true power. The Teddys of the world such as the political officials indicted and convicted of the Iran-Contra Affair, only to be pardoned by President George H. W. Bush who was Vice President during the time of the scandal. 

In the grand scheme, “Snowfall” was less about Frankin Saint’s outcome, and more about the tragic reality of America’s drug war on the Black community. 




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