Systemic Racism in U.S. Drug Sentencing Policies

Typically, when people hear the words “drug policy reform,” marijuana is the first thing that comes to mind–possibly because, when it comes to drugs, news and commercial media tend to shine their spotlights on the controversial and the lurid. Unfortunately, the anti-racist/anti-classist aspects of drug policy reform activism are often lost among preoccupations over the morality of getting high and the grimy details of the most recently discovered meth lab.

This spring I was accepted as a 2008 intern for The Nubiano Exchange, a part of The Nubiano Project, which is an organization that seeks to “empower the Black community and redefine mainstream perspectives of blackness.” As an intern, I will contribute monthly articles (written from the perspective of a white anti-racist ally) to The Nubiano Exchange throughout the year. I chose to use this month’s article to explore the de facto racism encouraged by the federal crack vs. powder cocaine sentencing disparity, as well as how the disparity came to be, and how it might be changed. You can read about the disparity in my article, One in Nine: Behind a Racially Discriminatory Sentencing Policy.

To urge your Congressional representatives to eliminate the disparity, you can send them a message through the Drug Policy Alliance. There are a number of good bills in the House and Senate which would eliminate the disparity. The message that you can send through Drug Policy Alliance is intentionally general to allow whichever bill has the best chance of passing to move forward. If you wish to express support for a particular bill, you can edit your message to reflect that. For more information about current proposed bills, take a look at Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM)’s bill analyses (scroll down the page to “Crack cocaine sentencing reform.”)

To learn more about drug policy reform work, its connections to race and class, and Unitarian Universalist involvement, check out the following . . .

Organizations:

Articles:

And resources: