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War on Drugs as War on Race

Drug Addiction


Drug addiction has always been the reason for many crimes in the majority of highly populated cities in multinational countries. The presence of many nations within the borders of one country often creates misunderstanding and conflict. This became the reason for adoption of a set of measurements known as the War on Drugs. It began in 1914 by passing Harrison Act, which did not prohibit but taxed drug import and usage (Nunn, 2002). In the late 1960s President Nixon used the term War on Drugs for the first time and led the policy called ‘total offensive’. Presidents Reagan and Clinton continued the policies for eliminating drugs. Reagan aimed his policy towards approving the governmental position as conservative and thus deserving more respect (Nunn, 2002). The Anti-Drug Abuse Acts of 1986 and 1988 changed federal control system into punitive one and took measures against drugs use in the US (Nunn, 2002). During the presidency of Bill Clinton, tough measures for reducing drug usage were taken.

Still, prohibition of drugs meant increasing the arrest rate. This tendency always dealt with population of color rather than white. Hispanics and African Americans represent lower social rank. The difficulties of survival made them take drugs. It was established the stereotype that Black population takes drugs more. This fact became the possibility for the whites to approve their dominance. From 1980 to 2000 the incarnation rate among the people of color was much higher (6.5 to 29.1 per 1000) (Beckett, Nyrop, & Pfingst, 2006). For this reason, anti-drug law enforcement has acquired the features of racial suppression of the representatives of people of color. The War on Drugs created made racism a common phenomenon. There are historical reasons, political reasons and other aspects behind this phenomenon.

War on Drugs as Racial Discrimination

The lower rank of African Americans approved itself since the Colonization time when Europeans discovered Africa and took its residents as slaves to America. Although the black population was physically stronger due to their natural adaptation to hot climate and constant work, the international laws claim all the people are equal regardless to race. People who lack literacy and live in poverty are more likely to live in low-level society. American Indians also belong to the vulnerable group. However, many whites do not associate themselves with drug addicts. Still, some of them continue taking drugs as it has been approved historically. As a result, such people become more vulnerable to drug use, and this promotes their stereotyping.

Provine (2011) is similar in this perspective. Racism effects remain predominant in the United States compared to other countries regardless the condemnation from varied societal groups. Similarly to the United States, the deviance rates at African Americans are higher compared to the white ones. Taking into consideration the events at Ferguson preceded by the murder of a black teenager, many white people perceive population of color, especially African Americans, as criminals.

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Family conditions and social background, particularly the absence of a parent, influence drug usage rate. The percentage of people living below the poverty line among families with no husbands among Hispanic and Black was higher in 2000 (41.7 and 41.1 respectively) compared to 27.5 % of the White population (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2003). K.B. Nun illustrates the statistics of 3457 blacks arrested for drugs compared to 459 whites per 100,000 people. This would mean that African American males were 7.7- 8.7 times more likely to be arrested than white males (Nunn, 2002). The 1999-2000 statistical data show the opposite tendencies and demonstrate that only Puerto-Rican subgroup of Hispanic population comprises large percent of drug usage per month. American Indians also use drugs at 3 times higher rate than the black population. This racial subgroup has been taking drugs more often due to the historical fact marked by constant suppression by the whites (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2003). Still, the National Institute on Drug Abuse shows lesser amount of white population engaged in drug crimes.

Provine (2011) distinguishes several factors that refer to the African American population and determines high rates of illegal drug use and distribution. Fewer economic possibilities and inability to find highly-paid jobs, prejudiced social identification and biased criminal justice system are common in the descriptions of African American vulnerability to misconduct (Provine, 2011). By contrast, white population often has higher living standards compared to racial minorities (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2003). In addition, the laws stand for their interests. In many experiments when people saw the crime stage and had to assume the appearance of the criminal, they usually opted for a dark-skinned person (Beckett et al., 2006).

The usage of drugs is often a long-standing and pervasive concern. Such an issue creates problematic social effects, but it is sufficient enough to declare war on drugs. Provine (2011) considers the ways of adopting the approach in the United States and determining why it persists despite its evident shortcomings. Societal racism is irrevocable in this situation as the profound antidrug policy is to make a drug “something to be feared” (Provine, 2011, p.41). Taking into account the society’s adherence to an unsuccessful criminalization approach, racial impact makes a large difference. Due to racial factor and impossibility for the color people to protect themselves as whites can, most prisoners comprise young African American males. Nunn (2002) marks the same fact concerning the imprisonment of African Americans.

Studying the origins of the racial war, it is possible to distinguish severer legislation, incarceration and prosecution of racial minorities. The authorities direct the mentioned measurements towards decreasing the population of the minorities. At the same time the theory of color blindness in the racial aspects hinders the development of the war and makes the laws unbiased and equal to all the people (Provine, 2011).

Nunn (2002) calls the inequality in the arrests concentrated on the black population “Mass Incarnation”. Such tactics of the police left many black families without any means. The officers arrested people from the black blocks with larger scrutiny and greater amounts than the whites. This would not mean better results, but rather depriving the society of the African American members’ preclusion of educational and social development of the black communities, inability to socialize after many years of incarceration and raising aggressiveness in behavior, which can result in second offence.

Nunn (2002) exemplifies rude law enforcement towards the black population. The police detained African American pedestrians and drivers without probable cause or reasonable suspicion in order to search and conduct indiscriminate confiscation of property or cash as proceeds from drugs trafficking. This motivated the community members to look for economic gain by replacing the arrested by the dealers they found (Nunn, 2002). Such tactics led to the harassments and infringement of the private rights of African Americans.

The aggressive and unfair law enforcement contributed to the hostility towards the American legal system, the police and the government. Certainly, the policies like this caused mass panic. Determining the oppressed side and at the same time promoting oppression is the tactics of American law towards the color representatives. Racism functions ‘under the mask’ of law and forces racial resistance by proving domination of the whites (Nunn, 2002, p. 385).

Enrolling SWAT teams in eradicating crimes contributed to mass panic and mistrust to the law. Such method provoked fearful perception of the police and made the legislative apparatus cruel and close to apartheid policy. The legislation promotes misperception of races and allows expressing such views. Proving the guilt is unimportant if the minority representative is considered as a criminal due to racial prejudice. In this respect Americans perceive the blacks as potential or obvious addicts or dealers.


War on Drugs is a radical and cruel policy that has unfair character. It has transformed into a new method of approving dominance of the white race over the people of color. In this respect eradication of drug usage has become the way to destroy racial minorities. Racial discrimination in the American society appears the problem that penetrates into every aspect of life. The victims of social suppression at finding job and making a better living are mostly African Americans. The aggressive conduct of the legislation policies towards the minorities as well as the Native Americans includes violence and damage. Such ways are inappropriate in approving the power of the dominant white race. Moreover, it creates danger of repeated aggression. Certainly, the inconsiderate conduct, aggression and temper are peculiar for the dark skinned races. Still, workable legislative system should support individuals according to the principles of morality without damaging their life or confiscating their possessions.

Introducing the justification for the national minorities would become a better solution in the democratic society. Enrolling SWAT in the police operations against the guilty and non-guilty drug addicts from ethnic minorities destroyed loyalty to law. Such measurements ruined the blacks’ trust to the fair legal system and made them vulnerable in many social spheres. Still to gain the trust of the minorities, the government should be more flexible in producing laws to satisfy all the interests and observe the law to punish the guilty ones.