The War on Drugs, America's Apartheid
African Americans constitute about 12% of the American population, and around 13% of drug users, nearly the same number, which is what you’d expect. Additionally, 9.7% of blacks use drugs, compared to 8.1% for whites, again similar numbers, in line with what expectations. So you’d expect that the rates of incarceration for possession drug possession for blacks and whites to be similar. But they’re not. Blacks make up 35% of those arrested for possession, 55% of those convicted, and 74% of those sentenced. How, exactly, in a fair society, would 13% of drug users make up 74% of those sentenced for drug violations? And how can 35% of arrests make up 74% of inmates? This is nothing but institutionalized racism.
In South Africa during Apartheid 851 per 100,000 black males were incarcerated. Currently in the United States, under the banner of the “War on Drugs” 4,919 per 100,000 black males are incarcerated. Nearly 1/3 of black men in their 20s are in prison, on probation or parole. Our institutionalized racism is worse than the worst post-slavery institutionalized racism.
More African Americans are in jail now than were enslaved in the 19th century. We’re currently beating our own institutionalized racism.
There is simply no way to justify this. Societal factors such as poverty-prone minorities being more likely to commit crimes cannot go far enough to explain the huge disparity between blacks and whites in prisons. We should be absolutely outraged. Many prominent black figures are, but the general public should be too. Democrats, the champions of the underprivileged, have a chance to actually help them. But they won’t, because we’re too committed to this insane “war” that helps no one and hurts hundreds of thousands.
My take-home message is to get pissed off about this, and to get other people pissed off about it too, because nothing will change if we remain silent and complacent.