The 'War on Drugs' Is Finally Revealed as a War on Black People -- & That Terrifies Me

Nixon speaking on drugs

Harper's magazine recently sent many into a frenzy by announcing to the world what black folks already knew -- that the big drug epidemic that hit black people hard in the '60s was no accident. Former president Richard Nixon's adviser John Ehrlichman didn't mince words when he was visited in 1994 by journalist Dan Baum during his prison sentence (for his involvement in "Watergate") -- and announced his culpability in what was a dark period for many. 

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Ehrlichman admitted, "The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people." But because there was no way to outlaw either of the two, the next best thing was to turn the majority against them.

The administration began using practices -- like "criminalizing" those they were after in the media by making "black" synonymous with heroin and associating "hippies" with the use of marijuana -- as a means to distract the world from causes these groups were really synonymous with: civil rights and anti-war ideals.

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Just when you thought it couldn't get worse, he went on to say, "Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did."

The shocking part isn't exactly what he said. It's that he finally confirmed what millions of people have felt -- that the war against drugs was all one huge conspiracy and that our government was capable of betraying us. If the administration was able to really know the pervasive damage it has done, would they still find this to be their solution?

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Sadly, it served its initial purpose in destroying one of the most meaningful movements of the '60s by viciously tearing black communities apart. The Nixon administration, ultimately, prevailed against black people -- leaving us in tatters from the damaging effects of its "war on drugs." But I'm hopeful because we, as a black community, are no longer complacent and have sought out justice through movements like Black Lives Matter.

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Learning all of this, though, has also left me more terrified than ever -- terrified of what's to come. I believe that our society has made it clear, from both past and present actions, that it fears the potential that black people hold and that it doesn't want to see that potential nurtured -- so it continues to break us mentally and physically.

With that said, if the odds are always stacked against black people (and they are), how will we ever overcome these man-made circumstances -- born from our own disregard for black lives (which stems from the negativity from the past), as well as from the police?

Just to shed light on the obstacles we face, it's been proven that "African Americans represent 12% of the total population of drug users, but 38% of those arrested for drug offenses, and 59% of those in state prison for a drug offense," as the NAACP reports.

Chilling statistics like this further prove to me that we're facing an uphill battle as we prepare to pick up where we left off in the fight for our civil rights -- for our right to live.

So you tell me -- now that we know the truth, how do you beat a game that's been fixed?

 

Image via Bettman/Corbis

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