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Pocketmags Digital Magazines

No Gentler War on Drugs

DONNA MURCH is right that the rhetoric on drugs has softened along racial lines. The dominant narrative now mostly describes working-class white victims in rural states, despite recent data showing that drug death rates are rising sharply for African Americans. Prior drug “crises”, such as those involving crack and heroin, were seen as inner-city issues that exclusively affected people of color, who were rarely extended the moral purity of victimhood. This racial transformation has led lawmakers, law enforcement, and mainstream media alike to display more compassion toward people who use drugs, as exemplified by the 2015 New York Times headline “White Families Seek Gentler War on Drugs.” Yet public policies have not matched the rhetoric. Although in some cases we have moved toward a more health-centered approach to the overdose crisis, the rhetoric of compassion belies an ongoing and insidious entanglement with capitalism.

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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.