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A Big "Mistake"

July 4, 2006

by Pamela Cole, Editor-in-Chief

Dallas Austin made a mistake. A big one.

The Columbus, Georgia native, Atlanta-based music and film producer was arrested May 19 in the United Arab Emirates for possession of 1.26 grams of cocaine. He has been in jail there for six weeks. Today, he was sentenced to four more years in an Arab prison. By UAE standards (which upholds a zero-tolerance policy on illegal drugs), he got off easy. The sentence for drug trafficking in the UAE is death.

"I'm pleading guilty, but by mistake," a confident Austin confessed to the court of robed Arabians on Monday, according to witnesses. "I had no knowledge and no intention of violating the laws of the UAE," he added.

Did Austin think that drug possession was legal in the UAE? Perhaps he thinks it's legal in America, too. Did he think he was enroute to Amsterdam instead of the land of Arabian knights? That admission of guilt smacks of irresponsibility to me. Austin is a rich, successful American, and other rich successful Americans have been able to avoid such sentences in the past. Will Austin be able to remember now, as a result of this embarrassing incident, that possession of cocaine is illegal?

The 30-something Austin has suddenly become another bad example for young African American men. What a shame! Austin is revered in Atlanta for his success in music, producing songs for TLC, Madonna, and Michael Jackson to name a few. Recently, he has also become a well-regarded filmmaker with the local productions of Drumline and ATL.

But one "mistake" has added Austin to the list of hip hop/rap artists whose fame and fortune led them down the path to prison (and some, to death). Atlanta's golden boy is suddenly fool's gold.

When someone as smart and talented as Dallas Austin makes such a stupid "mistake," I don't know what to think. So I think about Tyler Perry, also Atlanta-based, who is said to begin every production meeting with a prayer. I think about Robert Townsend, CEO of the Black Family Channel, generously sharing his wisdom and experience with local students.


Past Editorials:

The Madea Empire
Coretta Scott King
Breaking Ground
Happy Holidays
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Virgin Entry

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