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.