Bourbon 'n BrownTown

Ep. 10 - Drugs! Treatment, Criminalization, & Racial Framing in the Opioid & Crack Epidemics

Episode Summary

BrownTown dissects the framing, policy, history, and aftermath of the “War on Drugs” and the opioid crisis. As the current crisis is handled with humanity and treatment for those largely white demographics affected, the crack “epidemic” was framed much differently when it came to Black and Brown communities.

Episode Notes

BrownTown takes a look at the current opioid crisis and the “War on Drugs”, particularly its exacerbation with crack cocaine in the 1980s. Black and Brown communities and bodies have been criminalized for decades under drug laws and mass racialized incarceration for their trauma, addiction, and underground economy. However, when a similar problem affects a largely white population, the narratives flips to treatment, medicalization, understanding, and humanity. The larger history regarding the criminalization of drugs has always incorporated a systemically racist tie to policy and a hegemonic control of framing problematic narratives. From opium to marijuana, the crack “epidemic” was yet another escapegoat mechanism to racially divide low-income and poor people to keep from organizing against class inequity. When unraveling the layers, we see that “big pharma” (large, monied pharmaceutical industry) operates under a white capitalist and, most importantly, legal institution, which allows the practices that led to the opioid crisis with little to no retribution. BrownTown goes on to discuss personal frustrations in a changing world that is, fortunately, becoming more aware of these histories which has led to some change in laws and public attitudes yet obscures the research that has been available for decades. Is this too little too late? How does a person, a society, a government reconcile the ills of the past while planning for a more just future? Here’s BrownTown's take.


CREDITS: Intro song Reagan by Killer Mike. Outro song Crack Music by Kanye West. Audio engineered by Genta Tamashiro. Episode photo by Andrew Merz.


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