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Does a Gentler War on Drugs For Whites Show the War on Drugs Was Really a War on Blacks?

By November 12, 2015August 24th, 2018No Comments

By Robert Stitt

The Huffington Post recently published a response to the New York times article “In Heroin Crisis, White Families Seek Gentler War on Drugs.” The articles point out the disparities between white and black drug-addiction, penalties, and social tolerance, but from very different viewpoints.

The New York Times article was focused on the “discovery” that white people have drug problems, too. These addictions are finally being noticed as they impact more and more of the white social elite. The growing drug of choice for these white high-seekers: heroin.

According to the Times, “nearly 90 percent of those who tried heroin for the first time in the last decade were white.” and “deaths from heroin rose to 8,260 in 2013, quadrupling since 2000 and aggravating what some were already calling the worst drug-overdose epidemic in United States history.”

The Times article goes on to show how this new awareness of drug-addiction has shaped the political field with Carly Fiorina, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, and, on the other side of the fence, Hillary Clinton, all finally saying that there is a need to look at ways to decriminalize addiction and take a softer approach to those who live from high to high.

The Huffington Post article approaches the topic from a viewpoint that is tacked a full 180 degrees. The article’s author wants a softer approach and decriminalization of addiction, but also wants an acknowledgement that the ways and means of the process are deeply rooted in racism. The idea that politicians are just recently noticing that there is a problem, now that it is the white families that are dying and facing prison time, is a problem. The lack of commentary about the flooding of inner-city streets with crack cocaine and weapons under the republicans and the 3-strikes law under Bill Clinton, both of which decimated black families, just shows that whether republican or democrat, white is white.

For years, whites who favored powdered cocaine were given lesser sentences than the blacks who used crack cocaine. The Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 reduced this disparity, but it did not undo decades of damage. Drug addiction has always been a problem, but it is a medical problem, whether the addict is white or black. Funny how it was always addressed as a legal issue until the whites starting getting caught.

The greatest disparity between the articles comes with the director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, Michael Botticelli, telling the Times that “the sole difference between the treatment of heroin users and crack cocaine users lies in the political acumen and savvy organizational skills of white people who understand how to petition government for change.”

The Post’s rebuttal is that this is a slap in the face of black America. “This suggestion that if only we had enough intelligence, if only we had made enough noise, then African-American communities would have been treated more gently by police officers.” African-American leaders have been petitioning for the very change that is on the political dockets now for years.

The New York Times wants you to know that drug addiction is a terrible health issue that bridges all races, ethnicities and socioeconomic statuses. The Post wants you to know that this has always been true and that by pretending things have recently changed  “Police officers and politicians are simply making it clear that the war on drugs was never supposed to include white America. It is racist, systemic, purposeful violence in the truest sense of the word.”


IBW21 (The Institute of the Black World 21st Century) is committed to enhancing the capacity of Black communities in the U.S. and globally to achieve cultural, social, economic and political equality and an enhanced quality of life for all marginalized people.