RACE AND CLASS DIMENSIONS OF THE WAR ON DRUGS: A HUMANITARIAN CRISIS

Author: 

Professor Terry Gibbs, and Garry Leech

The U.S. war on drugs has been waged along class and race lines, both domestically and internationally. Rather than finding long-term solutions to the social development issues in target communities, drug policy has exacerbated problems of poverty and social marginalization. This paper examines how the war on drugs has prejudicially targeted poor people of color in U.S. cities, and impoverished Colombian farmers, who have been disproportionately victimized by U.S. drug policies. The focus of law enforcement on urban drug use, and the mandatory sentencing disparities between crack cocaine and powder cocaine in the United States, has contributed to a disproportionate number of African- Americans and Hispanics being incarcerated. This strategy has led to serious dislocations within the families and communities of these populations. Similarly, militaristic drug policies in Colombia have destroyed food crops and displaced thousands of poor farmers and their families, while failing to confront an underlying development crisis in rural communities. We argue that U.S. drug policies have effectively created a humanitarian crisis in both the United States and Colombia, particularly for people of color and certain sectors of the lower class. View More