Racism without racists

As a follow-up to the California NAACP endorsement of the marijuana legalization referendum…

There have been a several loud outcries against the California NAACP, some claiming that the NAACP has no business in this question, given that marijuana legalization is a civil liberties question and the NAACP’s mandate is civil rights.

There are a lot of good responses to that oversimplification, but what Andrew Sullivan has cobbled together from Scott Morgan and other sources really hits the nail on the head.

It is in these neighborhoods where the police make most patrols, and where they stop and search the most vehicles and individuals, looking for “contraband” of any type in order to make an arrest. The item that young people in any neighborhood are most likely to possess, which can get them arrested, is a small amount of marijuana. In short, the arrests are racially biased mainly because the police are systematically “fishing” for arrests in only some neighborhoods, and methodically searching only some “fish.” This produces what has been termed “racism without racists.”.

Scott Morgan opines:

Our marijuana laws have never, and will never, be enforced fairly. The brutality of modern drug enforcement reaches every community, but if young white men were given criminal records and subjected to profiling and police harassment at the same rates as people of color, the criminal justice system would quickly come to a crashing halt. The drug war was built on a foundation of fundamental unfairness, and mitigating its catastrophic impact on communities of color requires measures far more drastic than telling police for the millionth time that there’s more to their job than searching young black men all day and night.

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15 Responses to Racism without racists

  1. kaptinemo says:

    And there it is, another chink in the prohib armor, one so big a Mack truck can pass through. And one we’ve been talking about for years.

    The history is all there, for any with the mind to recognize it. From its’ inception, as Professor Whitebread so extensively documented 15 years ago, the DrugWar was racist from the get-go. It was intended to be.

    And I vociferously disagree that it is ‘racism without racists’. I have been searching for a particular passage that I read, I believe it to be in Dan Baum’s Smoke and Mirrors’ in which, after a new ratcheting up of the drug laws were affected in major city, a White cop observing a midnight basketball game being played by African-American children stated that the new laws would be how they would ‘take care of those people’. The racial inference was obvious…as it has always been to those with the eyes to see and mind to comprehend. The racism is still there, usually in the form of ‘dog whistle politics’ in which words like ‘inner city youth’ becomes shorthand for ‘n****rs’.

    In an aside, this is more proof of the social theory of the reformers of any stripe usually being castigated for their views at first, and then only much later (if ever) being acknowledged as having been correct…and that, usually only grudgingly. Those striving for reform have every right to take a bow, for the message is finally being heard where it needed to the most…after reformers endured long, hard years in the cold, seemingly shouting into the wind.

    The wind has changed direction now, but it’s no time to stop shouting.

    On the contrary, it’s time to invest in some bull-horns.

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  3. cloud cuckoo land says:

    What is this talk of racism. Racism is over now. We elected the jesus messiah and now a post racial utopia exists.

    • Pete says:

      In my experience, the only ones calling Obama “messiah” and sarcastically saying that we’re now in a post-racial utopia, are, in fact, racists. Maybe you’re not, but be aware that using such code words tends to paint you in that light.

  4. Jon Doe says:

    Pete: more importantly, they’re really annoying. We get it, you don’t like Obama, now quit making the same stupid, unfunny joke again and again and say something meaningful instead.

  5. Bobby says:

    What is really scary about possession of marijuana arrests is that they effect a person’s ability to get a job, loan or may lead to future arrests that have no merit other than the fact that the they have a previous record. It is an issue that must be addressed. The fact that marijuana smokers will give up becoming active members of a community because their pot smoking is unacceptable is not good, but it is a choice they are forced to make. I don’t know what the answer is to the complex problem of legalizing pot, but I do know there are many considerations to be made on both sides of this issue.

  6. claygooding says:

    No support for the unemployed but here is 700 million more to fight the drug war with.

  7. Cliff says:

    cloud cuckoo land;


    Obvious troll is being obvious.

  8. claygooding says:

    A Couple Of Recent Studies The Mainstream Media Forgot To Mention
    More cancer treating studies and evidence of marijuanas efficacy in treating Alzheimer.

  9. Paul says:


    Good catch, there. We should press that point, now that the money is truly running out. If we have to make choices, should it be money for the drug war, or money for unemployment?

    Simply put, the reason your unemployment money ran out is we think it is more important to try and arrest you for smoking dope than help you out in hard economic times.

  10. Paul says:


    I completely agree. There is a lot of knowing, intentional racism mixed in with the the unintentional, uncaring racism of the drug war.

    I’m very happy to see the black community beginning to take a stand.

  11. Just me. says:

    Humm, Pres Obama and Eric Holder are sueing AZ for thier supposed racial profiling but turn a blind eye to this huge racial profiling elephant in the room called prohibition. Talk about hypocritical.

  12. Tim says:

    Kaptinemo: you are so correct.

    Speaking of pushback, Mason Tvert of SAFER reported in the HuffPo today that Kevin Sabet is fishing for stats to smear the Colorado medical marijuana community.

    Check out the comments for some lame ‘reputation management’ attempts by obvious cronies.

  13. claygooding says:

    Norml found some more studies on cancer and Alzheimer’s:

    A Couple Of Recent Studies The Mainstream Media Forgot To Mention

    Inquiring minds want to know. :<)

  14. kaptinemo says:

    Paul, there’s always been a kind of ‘battered wife syndrome’ dynamic at work within the leadership of the African-American community when it came to the issue of drug prohibition…with the drug prohibitionists in the role of the abusive husband. Like that ‘battered wife’, The A-A leadership has been in denial for decades as to the actual cost of their supporting those intent upon oppressing them,.

    But there comes a time when said ‘battered wife’ realizes the abusive hubby isn’t going to stop beating her. And that’s when she grabs the kitchen knife in self-defense.

    That’s what’s happened here. The realization has dawned that drug prohibition is the primary reason for the huge incarceration statistics of African-Americans, vastly out of all proportion relation to their actual numbers in the general population. The political cost of this has been evident for decades: the more who are stripped of their ability to participate in democracy, courtesy of felony voter disenfranchisement, the more powerful their political and social opponents become. To the point now that elections are hotly contested events.

    And those elections decide the economic and social welfare of those same African-Americans. You can’t get a slice of the pie if someone is barring you from getting to the table. It’s that simple.

    The NAACP has announced that those seeking to bar them from that table will no longer be allowed to do so. The wife will no longer tolerate the abuse…and the kitchen knife is in her hand, ready and waiting…

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