As cannabis consumers, we are all invested in ending the war on drugs, but for many the stakes are much higher than the simple right to enjoy marijuana when and how we see fit. “More black men are imprisoned today than at any other moment in our nation’s history,” and the majority of these men imprisoned are casualties of the federal government’s War on Drugs. This startling fact, that we should imprison such a high number of a particular race, points to a systemic policy failure that is robbing minority men of their right to liberty and opportunity to function fully within our society.
The New Jim Crow written by Michelle Alexander, an associate professor of law at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law explains how the justice system is being used to control African Americans: “The absence of black fathers from families across America is not simply a function of laziness, immaturity or too much time watching Sports Center. Thousands of black men have disappeared into prisons and jails, locked away for drug crimes that are largely ignored when committed by whites.”
As a reading experience, this book was flung against the wall several times in exasperation at injustices that continue today, all while having a black president at the wheel. As a white reader, The New Jim Crow presents a depressing and confronting reality but if there is a time to educate yourself on what is at stake for our most vulnerable, it’s during a Trump presidency.
The message isn’t one community blaming the other, but a call to arms to eradicate the injustice of the war on drugs. Alexander comments, “A nation is a choice.” We could choose to be a nation that extends care, compassion and concern to those who are locked up and locked out or headed for prison before they are old enough to vote. We could seek for them the same opportunities we seek for our own children; we could treat them like one of “us.”