There has been a specter haunting America for over 400 years. That specter is an insidious and destructive beast that has found its way into every crevice and layer of all American institutions. Racism, racial stereotypes, racial stigma, biases, and White supremacy has infiltrated every power structure since the foundation of America and has created a system of social control that has perpetually oppressed, marginalized, and disenfranchised generations of people of color. One of the most catastrophic by-products generated from America’s historic racist ideology has been that of the over-criminalization of people of color for drug crimes justified by discriminatory policies founded in moral panics regarding drug use. Moral panics related to drug use have existed since the early 20th century and although they have evolved, they all share the same etiology of racist ideology and stereotypes, and they all produce reactionary policies that disproportionately affects people of color. The most obvious and detrimental example of this has been the modern War on Drugs that began in the 1980s and continues to gain momentum with a further reach into society. People of color not only face mass incarceration in disproportionate rates, but they face barriers upon release and are prevented from having an equal opportunity to reenter society, keeping them in a continuous cycle of despair and oppression. This cycle continues because we as a country refuse to confront one of the most influential factors behind it all, which is racial stereotypes and biases, and therefore, people of color are trapped in a “Groundhog Day” effect indefinitely, not matter what they do. Until America makes that critical transformation of acknowledging its own demons, there will not be a new tomorrow.
"The War on Drugs, Moral Panics, and the Groundhog Day Effect: Confronting the Stereotypes that Perpetuate the Cycle of Disparity,"
The Mid-Southern Journal of Criminal Justice: Vol. 21, Article 4.
Available at: https://mds.marshall.edu/msjcj/vol21/iss1/4