A new short film narrated by Jay Z and illustrated by Molly Crabapple is calling America out on its war on drugs that unfairly lead to the incarceration of hundreds of thousands of Black people. The short begins with the rapper’s narration:
“In 1986, when I was coming of age, Ronald Reagan doubled down on the war on drugs that had been started by Richard Nixon in 1971. Drugs were bad, fried your brain. And drug dealers were monsters. The sole reason neighborhoods and major cities were failing. No one wanted to talk about Reaganomics and the ending of social safety nets. The defunding of schools and loss of jobs in cities across America. Young men like me who hustled became the sole villain and drug addicts lacked moral fortitude.”
He goes on to explain the ways that these drug policies specifically targeted Black men and women, essentially highlighting some of the points made in Michelle Alexander’s very popular book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. The effort is a collaboration between the Drug Policy Alliance and a social agency Revolve Impact and hopes to encourage policy makers and the general public to end biased policing and mass incarceration.