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Editors’ Note

WITH WHITE MORTALITY RATES soaring as a result of opioid use, drug addiction has morphed from a criminal crisis into a health crisis. This should not surprise us since, as Donna Murch notes in her lead essay, “Historically, the fundamental division between ‘dope’ and medicine was the race and class of users.”

But by examining the opioid crisis alongside the War on Drugs— which has locked up so many people of color—as well as the Trump administration’s immigration policies, Murch brings an otherwise familiar story into new territory. To understand the twisted logic that created the divergent responses to drug use—succor and sympathy for white users, prison and expulsion for people of color—Murch draws on Cedric Robinson’s idea of racial capitalism. She shows how a racialized regime of drug prohibitions and a commercialized approach to prescription pharmaceuticals led Purdue Pharma to market OxyContin specifically to whites because it guaranteed them the longest head start on enforcement attempts and thus the biggest prof its.

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About Boston Review

Paperback, 130 pages Racist Logic tackles how racist thinking can be found in surprising—and often overlooked—places. In the forum's lead essay, historian Donna Murch traces the origins of the opioid epidemic to Big Pharma's aggressive marketing to white suburbanites. The result, Murch shows, has been to construct a legal world of white drug addiction alongside an illicit drug war that has disproportionately targeted people of color. Other essays examine how the global surrogacy industry incentivizes the reproduction of whiteness while relying on the exploited labor of women of color, how black masculinity is commodified in racial capitalism, and how Wall Street exploited Caribbean populations to bankroll U.S. imperialism. Racist logic, this issue shows, continues to pervade our society, including its nominally colorblind business practices. Contributors not only explore the institutional structures that profit from black suffering, but also point the way to racial justice. Forum Lead essay by Donna Murch. Responses by Max Mishler, Britt Rusert, Julie Netherland, Helena Hansen, David Herzberg, Michael Collins, Julilly Kohler-Hausmann, Jonathan Kahn, L.A. Kauffman, and Donna Murch. Essays Peter Hudson, Jordanna Matlon, Alys Weinbaum, and Richard Ford.