Day 3

So you hear on the news that there was a major drug bust in your city.  Law enforcement authorities have arrested 3 individuals for their involvement.  Quick, without thinking, what color is the skin of these “drug-dealers”?

Yep, it gets me too.

Given the racial composition of our jails and prison, and especially the media monster’s images we are fed everyday of the supposed racial compositions of “drug dealers” and “criminals”, we come by our prejudices, biases, and stereotypes honestly.  However, not so much truthfully.  Truth is hard to find in the images our subconscious conjures when it comes to drugs and related crime.

Although the majority of illegal drug users and dealers nationwide are white, three-fourths of all people imprisoned for drug offenses have been black or Latino.

HOWEVER… rates and patterns of drug crime do not explain the glaring racial disparities in our criminal justice system.

People of all races use and sell illegal drugs at remarkably similar rates.

Studies frequently suggest that whites, particularly white youth, are more likely to engage in illegal drug dealing than people of color.  White youth are actually the most likely of any racial or ethnic group to be guilty of illegal drug possession and sales.

However, black males are admitted to state prison on drug charges at a rate that is more than 13 times higher than white men.

The above information comes from Michelle Alexander’s book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in an Age of Colorblindness, pp. 98-100, notes 10-14 on pp. 275-6.

An African American male has a greater chance of going to prison (1 in 3) than college (1 in 5).  

If this stark, gut-wrenching condition doesn’t break your heart, I don’t know what will…

There is another way for us to live.  Although we read these statistics in one hand, we may read the Good News of God’s reign in the other.  Jesus came to bring us life; life that is abundant and free and available to every single one of us.  Right now, today, Jesus invites us to “Turn away! And enter into the eternal kind of life!”  We don’t have to wait.  We can’t wait.  We don’t have to be prisoners any longer to the lies of this world.  May the truth set us free!  Free to take hold of the life that is truly life.  A life built on the most powerful weapon in the world, love.  A life that knows and experiences and takes joy in the truth that there is no more prisoner or free, no black, brown, or white, no male or female, for we are all one in the love of God in Jesus Christ.  May condemnation cease and the law of the Spirit of Life in Jesus Christ set us free from the law of sin and death!  This is our prayer…  Or is it? 

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3 comments

  1. The racism evident in drug enforcement is shameful. Racism manifests in other ways too. I heard a story on NPR this week about Black and Hispanic school children being disciplined at disproportionately higher rates than whites –even by minority teachers. Institutional racism has left a deep, deep impression on our culture that prevents equal justice.

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    1. Vance, you read my mind. I have been heartbroken by this reality for years. See my newest post on Marcus. Thanks for commenting. Great to hear from you brother! Shameful indeed. But I remain hopeful!

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