Faculty Publications


The Influence of White Exceptionalism on Drug War Discourse

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This punitive U.S. drug policy approach and its attendant symbolic moral crusade are commonly referred to as the “War on Drugs.” While frequently attributed to President Nixon, the inception of the War on Drugs can be traced back to the nation’s first opiate crisis in the late 1800s. Because the War on Drugs has been used as a strategy to further subordinate Black persons and other persons of color, it has disparately impacted these minoritized and subordinated communities. While white Americans use and sell drugs at similar or higher rates than people of color, Black people are 6.5 times more likely than their white counterparts to be incarcerated for drug-related crimes. Consequently, almost eighty percent of people in federal prison and nearly sixty percent of people in state prison for drug offenses are racialized as Black or Latino.