Most people living in America who are even mildly socially aware know that many young Americans smoke weed. Recent studies by the National Institute on Drug Abuse show that nearly 20 million Americans over age 12 smoke weed on a monthly bais. Of this group the racial breakdown is pretty consistent across racial, ethnic and social lines as over 70% of surveyed people who admit to smoking weed are white people. What is not commonly known is that the rate of incarceration for marijuana possession and/or sale is extremely disproportionately slanted toward African Americans. In fact, marijuana use and possession has been used for the past 40 years as a primary excuse for rounding up millions of African Americans, incarcerating them and effectively removing them from the employment pool, dating pool, the political process and the power structure of America.
Since the inception of the so-called drug war in the 1970's America has been fighting a losing battle against the sale and use of drugs in this country. Part of the reason for this is that the government has been complicit in letting billions of dollars of drugs into this country unchecked. Reading the last two sentences leads one to ask the obvious question - If the US is trying to fight a war on drugs, why are so many drugs being allowed into this country? The answer is simple: incarceration and the prison system has become big business in America.
The Rockefeller Drug Laws, which were first introduced in New York in 1973 and soon spread to the rest of the country, created extremely harsh penalties for drug offenses including new marijuana laws and disproportionate punishment for drug offenses. During the first few years of adoption over 90% of the people incarcerated were minorities, with an overwhelming number of those incarcerated being African Americans for marijuana-related offenses.
From the NYCLU:
In New York there were 886 persons incarcerated for drug offenses in 1980. Of these individuals, 32 percent were Caucasian; 38 percent were African American; and 29 percent were Latino.
20 years later, there were 10 times as many (8, 227) new commitments for drug offenses. Only 6 percent were Caucasian; 53 percent were African American; and 40 percent were Latino.
Clearly there was a war going on but it seemed to only be directed against black and brown men. So what exactly was the benefit of having all these brothers going to jail? The booming and recently privatized prison system needed citizens to fill its new jails.
The war on drugs conspicuously corresponds with the privatization of the prison system. From 1970 to 2000 the prison industry has grown exponentially and so has the number of prisoners:
The prison corporations have made money hand over fist as the more people they can lock up, the more money they make and the more prisons can be built. With this profit motive in place, issues like overcrowding and poor prison conditions become irrelevant. In fact, the goal of the corporate prison is to crowd as many people into each cell as possible in order to maximize profits.
Black rappers and hip hop celebrities are not helping the cause by glorifying the smoking of weed and tying it in with the life of the gangster in the hood. Snoop Dogg may have sold millions of records but his glorification of smoking out has gotten a lot of people to follow in his footsteps. The only problem is that Snoop is famous so he's not getting arrested, but the millions of regular brothers on the streets of Compton and the LBC are getting tossed in jail at an alarming rate.
The drug laws of the 70's and 80s have given the government and the police the authority to round up and arrest millions of black men in the hood, and they are taking advantage of it at your expense. The police don't have to leave the inner city and they don't, even though nearly all studies show that whites are more likely to use drugs than blacks and more drug deals are done in suburbs and other areas outside of the inner city.. The bottom line is this: Black and Latino men are being targeted by virtue of location, racist stereotypes, and the high crime rates in their neighborhoods. The "stop-and-frisk" laws are heavily enforced, and they give the police the right to stop anyone just because they "look suspicious". In the inner city that means a "black or hispanic male with a hooded sweatshirt out in public".
This post is not intended to direct black men to stop smoking weed or to stay in the house. This article exists so that black men can BE AWARE of the risk of smoking or carrying weed in public in the inner city. There is a target painted on your back by the government, the prison corporations, and the local and federal government. There is a major incentive to lock you up. Be careful and don't fall into the trap that has been laid out for you.
Note: this article does not directly address the very similar circumstance going on with other drugs in the inner city. We will cover those in a later post. When you add those into the mix you clearly have a situation that is hazardous to the freedom of the average urban black male.
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