The Devil Unveiled: The Origin of the Racist War on Drugs

A recently released quote has unmasked a boogie man that has haunted the black experience in America since 1971. Honestly, I was wounded by reading it. As an African-American male it has always been apparent that Americas War on Drugs was created to grind us away. It has been reiterated in the classrooms of progressive high school teachers, in barber shops, in churches and in mosques, but denied by the United States government for years. I first heard of an admission by Nixon’s chief domestic advisor John Ehrlichman, who served a 18-month sentence in connection with Watergate, via a Huffington Post story and did not read it until the next day.

At first I hoped it wasn’t possible, maybe an Internet blogger embellishment. The next moment I realized it was true. A high ranking advisor in the Richard Nixon administration admitting that the War on Drugs was designed to subjugate Black people in America. The bombshell quote came from former Nixon domestic advisor John Ehrlichman during an interview conducted back in 1994 by Dan Baum, which resurfaced in a Harper’s magazine cover story for its April issue titled “Legalize it All.”

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(Photo Credit: New York Daily News)

Ehrlichman, who died in 1999, revealed a nefarious scheme that the President seemed all too willing to carry out.

Baum asked him specifically about the draconian drug laws crafted by Nixon and was stunned by the response.

You want to know what this was really all about. The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what Im saying, Ehrlichman continued.We knew we couldnt make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

These quotes are just coming to light in Harper’s Magazine’s April issue, 22 years after being spoken. The revelations of a dead man that provide a tangible time frame for the purposeful erosion of the African-American community by the highest office in the land. But Black people have known about this conspiracy for years.

The drug war as genocidal narrative is painted all over African-American culture since the ’60s. Most of us who have been alive long enough have weathered its effects, and witnessed it decimate our community. For 40 years we were told the racial component was happenstance. Now we find out that, without a doubt, race was the entire point of the policy.

Over 40 years of an American policy designed to grind down black people. Over 40 years of mainstream Americans believing that the African-American community was more predetermined to criminal behavior. Over 40 years of a United States policy designed to throw black men in jail and over 40 years of state-sanctioned police brutality, and we get all this from a made up war on drugs that has been admitted to?

I dont know about yall, but I dont know what Im supposed to do with that.

Over 40 years of mainstream America discounting the concerns of black and brown people regarding an emerging police state aimed at eradicating blacks as a viable political force in America, and then we couple that with the school-to-prison pipeline phenomenon, the prison building sprees and school closures, the Rockefeller Drug Laws, the Three Strikes Law, the Crime Bill of 1995, and all other drug war funding since 1971, and we see a clear pattern.

This is Hitler-ish. Richard Nixon was a despicable villain if there ever was one, as were all who suppressed this information since 1971. Nobody knew that more than Black folks, but to hear how and why it went down from a White House official is a punch in the soul and another crack in the veneer of my weary patriotism.

God bless the Ivory Coast, and God bless the people of Brussels, but Nixon set out to destroy my people. How am I supposed to feel about that?

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