From June 2017
In short, the current opioid crisis has a different face.
The 1980s drug crisis was the “crack epidemic” and stereotypically portrayed as a phenomenon of “the violent black inner-city,” focusing on criminally dangerous drug addicts. Media coverage at the time shamed black mothers with addiction in particular, referencing “a time bomb in cocaine babies” and the “bio-underclass.” Crack was “reaching out to destroy the quality of life, and life itself, at all levels of American society.” In reality, the harm caused by the crack epidemic was not as severe as the media sensationalized. However, the resulting punitive approaches of the “War on Drugs” with harsh sentencing and mandatory minimums disproportionately affectedcommunities of color with devastating effects.
Today, we're shown a different face in the opioid crisis – a white one.
Since 2001, the opioid overdose death rate among non-Hispanic whites has been higher than that of non-Hispanic blacks, and has sharply increased in recent years. With this new face comes a new response: rather than demonizing substance use as criminal behavior, our nation emphasizes treatment and public health interventions.
HOW STRUCTURAL RACISM FUELS THE RESPONSE TO THE OPIOID CRISIS