African-American Leadership Finally Steps Up

One of the true tragedies in the drug war has been the failure of leaders in the black community to speak out against the new Jim Crow laws — the drug war that has decimated the black communities through intended and unintended racist application and the systematic disenfranchisement of blacks due to over-incarceration.

In fact, much of the African-American community has called for tougher drug laws and enforcement, perhaps partially due to a lack of understanding of the true effects of prohibition, partially due to a fear of appearing to be excusing or promoting drug abuse/trafficking among their own, and partially due to the tremendous power within the black community of what tends to be a socially conservative moralistic view promoted by the church.

So it is heartening to see the California chapter of the NAACP endorse marijuana legalization.

Saying that prohibition takes a heavy toll on minorities, leaders of the NAACP’s California chapter announced Monday that they are backing passage of a marijuana legalization initiative on the November ballot.

The war on drugs is a failure and disproportionately targets young men and women of color, particularly African-American males, said Alice Huffman, president of the NAACP’s state conference.

The group cited statistics from the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice showing that in 2009, 62% of the state’s marijuana arrests were of nonwhite suspects and that 42% were under 20.

The pattern was consistent in the state’s 25 largest counties, with arrests of African Americans at double, triple and quadruple the rate of whites even though studies show that blacks use marijuana at lower rates than whites, NAACP officials said.

Of course, this move by the NAACP was not without controversy within the community.

But [Sacramento minister Ron Allen, president of the International Faith-Based Coalition, a Sacramento group representing 3,600 congregations, said he is stunned the state NAACP would favor legalized marijuana.

“Most African American pastors are disappointed, absolutely disappointed with the decision,” said Allen, bishop of the Greater Solomon Temple Community Church in Oak Park. “If anyone should know the effects of illicit drugs in the black community, it should be one of our most respected civil rights organizations.”

The point, Reverend Allen, is that the NAACP knows the effects of the drug war in the black community, and also knows that criminalization hasn’t done a thing to help the problem of the effects of illicit drugs in the community.

You and the rest of your religious leaders need to get your heads out of your asses and actually take the time (and open-mindedness) to learn what will be best for your flock instead of reflexively and ignorantly assuming that moral choices and government criminalization work the same way.


Note: Good job by Malcolm Kyle with having currently the featured popular comment at the second article above.

In other news related to California legalization, former Governor Gary Johnson endorses the legalization campaign:

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8 Responses to African-American Leadership Finally Steps Up

  1. Melvin Snodgrass says:

    Racism ended when we elected the chosen one. We are in a post racial utopia now.

  2. Pete says:

    Melvin, I don’t understand that comment or what connection it has to the post. Can you elaborate?

  3. Cannabis says:

    We can all be sado-moralists now, regardless of race?

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  5. Melvin says:

    I was being a smartass P.G. It is my default setting. It was mocking of the people who say we are post racial now. Can white people ever be the victims of racism? (rhetorical)

  6. Brucem says:

    If prohibition is so harmful to minorities – and it certainly is – why are they saying every illegal drug should remain illegal, except stupid old marijuana? African Americans would be much better off if all drugs were legal, especially crack, heroin, etc. Just another case of hypocrisy with respect to pot.

  7. Paul says:


    All groups, like the black community, have their own factions. I imagine Pete is right when he suggests the dominate black position has been to cheer on the drug war because they don’t want to appear irresponsible or soft on crime. And of course they have their own very conservative, church going faction that really does believe in the war on drugs.

    This NAACP announcement is a big deal and very good for our cause. Could be the black community no longer feels such a strong need to appear to be tough on crime, could be they are sick of seeing young black men sent to jail, and I’ll bet the growing respectability of MJ is a major factor in their decision.

    However they arrived at their new position, it is a welcome one. If this legalization bill passes in November by a thin margin, we’ll have our new friends in the California NAACP to thank!

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