The latest evidence of America's drug-fueled war on black people comes in a blog post from Brookings fellow Jonathan Rothwell. According to Rothwell's analysis, over the past three decades, as arrests of black people for violent and property crimes have dropped, drug arrests have rocketed up.
Black people, Rothwell writes, are 3.6 times more likely to be arrested for drug sales and 2.5 times more likely to be arrested for drug possession than whites, despite white America's well-established greater propensity for both using and dealing:
Whites were about 45 percent more likely than blacks to sell drugs in 1980, according to an analysis of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth by economist Robert Fairlie. This was consistent with a 1989 survey of youth in Boston. My own analysis of data from the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows that 6.6 percent of white adolescents and young adults (aged 12 to 25) sold drugs, compared to just 5.0 percent of blacks (a 32 percent difference).
As for drug use, just 10 percent of blacks report using illegal drugs within the last month, which is not statistically different than the rate for whites. Among college students, 25 percent of whites reported illegal drug use within the last month but just 20 percent of black students. I find a higher percentage of whites than blacks report ever consuming illegal drugs.
All this, combined with a drug arrest's documented ability to shatter a person's opportunities for housing, jobs, and—for the poor—benefit programs, paints a bleak picture. What to do? End the drug war.