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The Cure Amplifies the Problem

DONNA MURCH’S masterful description of the roots of the opioid crisis coheres with our study of corporate pharmaceutical executives, addiction researchers, and medical practitioners. We too find that racial capital has played a central role in creating the “white” overdose epidemic through drug regulation, drug marketing, and law enforcement. Racial parsing has meant that even while pharmaceutical opioid markets grew out of control, drug-war style law enforcement continued to inflict its devastating harms, especially in black and brown communities.

But Big Pharma’s carefully constructed racial capital did not end with the creation of the opioid crisis; it endures in the U.S. national response. Many of the same players now reap profits from treatments for the opioid dependence they helped to create. And the structures of access are marked by many of the same racial privileges.

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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.