Remembering the ’80s is a bittersweet endeavor for many in my hometown. A time of great creativity in black music with the ascendance of hip-hop culture, but also a time of great pain to many.
At the heart of much of that strife was the War on Drugs. First coined by President Richard Nixon in 1973, the War on Drugs was said to be essential for a better life in urban America. Charts, graphs and polls from federal thinktanks fueled the bigoted belief that Blacks were more likely to sell drugs and use them.
Rapper Jay Z spent much of his career boasting about his own exploits as a drug dealer in many of his songs. On Thursday, the New York Times published a miniature documentary narrated by Jigga featuring artwork by Molly Crabapple. In it, Jay Z traces the root causes of America’s current status as the world’s leading jailer.
Though it was not mentioned in the short film it is worth noting that in April 2016, it was revealed that former Nixon domestic adviser John Ehrlichman confessed to the drug war being a racist tool in a Harper’s magazine cover story titled “Legalize it All.“
The film is the result of a collaboration between filmmaker and author Dream Hampton, the Drug Policy Alliance and Rvolve Impact. Check it out.