Tiered Justice

This just in: Lady Justice can see race and class quite clearly from under that blindfold.  In 2012, HSBC a criminal banking conglomerate settled in court for $1.9 billion in fines rather than face criminal prosecution.  Restorative justice has its virtues, but less so when said justice is routinely offered to some and not others.Continue reading “Tiered Justice”

The Bad Guys: Drugs, Race, Sports, and “Character Concerns”

When we think about drug abuse and sports—removing PED’s from the equation—two sports invariably get the preponderance of the coverage and blame.  Regardless of evidence that substance abuse abounds across sports, just as it does across lines of race, space, class and gender, the general public thinks almost intuitively about NBA and NFL athletes withContinue reading “The Bad Guys: Drugs, Race, Sports, and “Character Concerns””

#KEITHJACKSONMATTERS: The Kid That Sold Crack To The President

On September 1, 1989 two disparate worlds within the same nation briefly overlapped. Then President George H.W. Bush and his speechwriters mulled over what would be the new leaders first address to the nation while vacationing at the Bush compound in affluent Kennebunkport, MA.  Far removed from the shores of Kennebunkport, in the shadows ofContinue reading “#KEITHJACKSONMATTERS: The Kid That Sold Crack To The President”

The Great White Hope: Can Hopelessness and Drug Abuse in White Communities Change the Drug War?

“Cocaine is an epidemic now.  White people are doing it.” – Richard Pryor Heroin has a new face.  The new face of heroin elicits more sympathy, compassion, and understanding.  The new face of heroin is, were told, less threatening.  Ninety percent of new heroin users are white.  From punishment to public health, local and nationalContinue reading “The Great White Hope: Can Hopelessness and Drug Abuse in White Communities Change the Drug War?”

Whitney Houston And The Enduring Stigma Of Crack

Popular perceptions of drugs and alcohol are fluid and in many cases highly volatile.  What we think about drugs and addiction, “very much depends on who is addicted.”  This assertion leveled by David Courtwright is amongst drug scholars, a matter of consensus. The public and government response to crack, as well as the drug’s enduringContinue reading “Whitney Houston And The Enduring Stigma Of Crack”

Night Of The Living Baseheads

In the Crack Era, hyperbolic news segments like 48 Hours on Crack Street ruled the scene.  Few dissenting voices were able to marshal necessary counternarratives in the face of panic and political opportunism.  One unexpected, but historically rooted set of voices smashed through the hushed tones of fear and alarm: the voice of politically conscious rap.  Namely, PublicContinue reading “Night Of The Living Baseheads”

Either You’re Slinging Crack Rock Or You Got A Wicked Jump Shot

At the intersection of race, space, class and hoops Jalen Anthony Rose entered the national imagination in the twilight of the Crack Era.  Depending on where you stood in the culture wars, Rose and his teammates—dubbed the Fab Five—were cultural icons or yet another sign of a culture in decline.  Broadcasting personality Dick Vitale bemoanedContinue reading “Either You’re Slinging Crack Rock Or You Got A Wicked Jump Shot”

Public Disservice

Public service announcements of the War on Drugs have long been lampooned, and for good reason. Nonetheless, many have accepted such advertisements as a relatively benign, if irritating, collateral consequence of watching network television. Not unlike obnoxious pitches for ShamWow, we shrug our shoulders, chuckle, and move on. As rates of drug abuse have onlyContinue reading “Public Disservice”

Can’t We All Just Get Along?

As an historian of the Crack Era, I am more often than not engaging the work of sociologists, anthropologists and criminologists that have treated the drug trade and the hyper-policed urban communities I study. While young graduate students and early career PhD’s are poised to properly historicize the period in years to come, those lookingContinue reading “Can’t We All Just Get Along?”

A Case For Local Control?

When a topic like local control comes up, most historians rightly think of modern conservatism. As a convenient device to couch exclusionary policies, a deference to local control often meant preserving the race and class-based homogeneity of white communities. However, local control has not been universally supported in all cases. A deeper look at the politicsContinue reading “A Case For Local Control?”

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