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How Drugs Affect Communities Of Color

Updated on September 4, 2020
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Aya is a young college student with a love for learning and writing about social issues and addictions.

Drug abuse is not something that can be tied down to one race, gender, or social class, but it is something that can affect a group of people more than the other. There are drug addicts in every race, gender, and social class, The American Addiction Center stated, “Men may be more likely to abuse illicit drugs than women, but women may be just as prone to addiction as men when they do abuse them.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also known as the CDC has previously stated that, “From 2015 to 2017, nearly all racial/ethnic groups and age groups experienced significant increases in opioid-involved and synthetic opioid–involved overdose death rates, particularly blacks aged 45–54 years (from 19.3 to 41.9 per 100,000) and 55–64 years (from 21.8 to 42.7) in large central metro areas.” The incarceration rate as well as the high arrest rate for these large cities are not increased simply because of the use of drugs, it is increased because law enforcement focuses more on urban areas, lower income communities, and communities of color. The American Civil Liberties Union mentioned in their article that, “We are incarcerating African-American men at a rate approximately four times the rate of incarceration of black men in South Africa under apartheid… The number of black men in prison (792,000) has already equaled the number of men enslaved in 1820… if current trends continue, only 15 years remain before the United States incarcerates as many African-American men as were forced into chattel bondage at slavery's peak, in 1860.”

Slavery started in 1619 where African American slaves would work hard and heavy jobs all day long in fields and plantations with no way to escape, now that slavery has been abolished, the United States of America has found new tactics to target and harass African American people, which is incarceration as well as the war on drugs. Instead of being stuck in the fields or on plantations, they are stuck in jails and prisons for low level crimes, crimes such as possession of marijuana. They will find any and every reason to mess with people of color and put them in jail in order to keep them confined and away from the rest of society, not because they are drug addicts, but because they are people of color.

For example, when the war on drugs began to rise in mid 1971, authorities made distinctions between the ones who sold crack cocaine and powder cocaine, even though it is practically the same drug, the only difference is how one would ingest the drug. During that time there were a lot more white people that were using those kinds of drugs than there were black people, but it somehow was still deemed an “African American” problem, still to this day many consider it to be an “African American” problem. This gave police officers the right to raid and mess with black people while white people openly used cocaine. These kinds of actions were incredibly common in the past. Long after the crack era ended, the war on drugs continued, there were more than 1.5 million arrests in 2014, and more than 80% of those arrests were deemed to be possession only, and almost half of those arrests were for marijuana.

Despite the fact that marijuana is legal in many states and many of those states flourish from the businesses and the tax made off of marijuana, but unfortunately many African American and latinos with drug cases involving marijuana are still given mandatory sentencing. It is time to rethink our policies and laws, for a white man to own a marijuana dispensary and make money while many African Americans get fined and arrested for doing the same. This shows that one group is affected more than the other or targeted more than the other when it comes to drug use or drug abuse. The war on drugs seems to be more of a way to target colored communities than really fight off drugs, if police officers claimed they were under the suspicion of drugs, that would give him or her the perfect reason to heckle with people of color as well as conduct unlawful arrests. We have seen many cases where officers claim something bizarre, for example, claiming someone has a weapon when they don't and shooting them, but this needs to change. We must help other communities not raid them and run them down. If there is an issue positive change must be brought not a negative one. Rehab centers must be opened in lower income communities, instead of focusing on their arrests and trying to imprison them, we should focus on cleaning them. If people truly think that African American communities are full of addicts then they should open up rehab centers and try to help them. Putting people in jail for a problem like that is unconstitutional in my eyes, they want help not trouble.


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