Since the 19th century there has been a connection between racism and drug prohibition. With the end the civil war and the passage of the 13th Amendment the south feared that they had lost a steady supply of workers and thus would lose an easy source of free labor. However, one escape clause existed in the passage of the 13th amendment which states that neither slavery nor voluntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any other place subject to their jurisdiction”. At this point black were incarcerated very easily even for small crimes such as vagrancy and homelessness.
In American film making the black man was depicted as a predator who came to harm the white women such as that of the film birth of a nation. This trend continues in law enforcement and in society today. Starting in the 19th century many drugs that classified as illegal today were readily distributed. Heroin was introduced as a better alternative to morphine and opium. Cocaine was placed in the soda of Coca Cola. Pain killers were sold in corner market to cure all kinds of illness. Since the prohibition of alcohol came into effect there was a debate as to what substances should be illegal and which ones shouldn’t. According to In the article on The War on Drugs, racial meanings, and structural racism: A Holistic and Reproductive Approach which states that “Drug law enforcement strategies in the United States center on the use of violence, force, and imprisonment and contribute to racial oppression”.(Rosino,850). Later in history law enforcement would be given and trained with military weapons and tactics to pursue low class citizens and people of color. In the article The Drug Prevention and Control Act of 1970: Retrospect Assessments of Disparate Treatment and Consequential impact which states that the “Drug abuse and prevention act of 1970, numerous policies and laws were simply designed and redesigned to prohibit and suppress particular types of drug manufacturing, sales, and consumption.” (Yamatani,2017). After President Nixon came into office soldiers were returning home from the Vietnam conflict addicted to heroin. Nixon turned his policy into one of prevention and law enforcement to one strictly designed for tough on crime which he coined as the watchdog image on public safety. After establishing new drug enforcement agencies performed 6000 drug arrests in 18 months, the majority being black. (Yamatani,2017).
The next two presidents followed Nixons lead with the emphasis on racial bias. When Ronald Regan came into office, he repeatedly increased the drug enforcement policies. At that time crack cocaine had hit the streets of America which carried a higher sentence than that of powdered cocaine. Crack cocaine was essentially connected to African American males. According to The Drug Prevention and Control Act of 1970: Retrospect Assessments of Disparate Treatment and Consequential impact which states that the “Regan administration’s official knowledge of drug operation’s and collaboration with and protection of known drug traffickers to U.S cities.” (Yamatani,2017). As well as the CIA acknowledging a direct involvement in with drug dealers. When Bill Clinton took the presidential office, he made matters worse by enacting the violent crime and control act which would send more people of color to prison than ever before. In which anyone who committed three felonies weather low level offenses or not would not get out of prison and would be there for life. After which the prison population exploded. Since the war on drugs is racially motivated with most inmates being black. The question becomes how the prison system makes money off inmates. Since the 13th Amendment came into effect race has been an issue with placing large numbers of people especially black people into the prison system. Starting with them being arrested for lower level crimes that we would consider a very minor offense. They were being arrested for vagrancy, loitering and other offenses that wouldn’t even get us a ticket today. The black man has been seen in the news and other media as a menace and someone who was trying to hurt the white women of society. Later being portrayed as a super predator.
The war on drugs increased the likely hood that a black man would be sent to prison more often than the white man. The current trend continues, one out of every three black men born today will go to prison in his lifetime. This will effectively eliminate a whole culture. When an individual goes to prison, they are cut off from their family and friends. Black males will not be able to guide their children and if they are male children it will increase the stereo type of the black male never taking care of his family. This also increases the chances that the children will have difficulties in life and further the trend of black males going to prison. This trend needs to end. There are many black males in the United States that have earned degrees and become major contributors to society although the triumphs are never publicized. In order to change the racist conceptions society has on black males we need to start showing the true nature of the race and show that there are those that contribute to society instead of taking away from it.