Remember crack babies? How we lost an entire generation because crack destroyed all those new lives?
Yeah. Didn’t happen. We all know that now.
It’s good to be reminded of the scientifically unsupported panic that our government and media likes to push on us regarding drugs.
Recently, there was a very good story about the situation 25 years after the “crack baby epidemic.”
“We were really preparing for the worst,” Hurt said. “We had reports of psychologists saying this was going to be a biologically inferior underclass, might not even be able to dress themselves.”
But after 25 years of research, she found there were no differences in the health and life outcomes between babies exposed to crack and those who weren’t.
The crack baby was a myth.
What did make a difference for those babies, however, was poverty and violence.
And, as this article points out, the unfounded hysteria may have come from more than just ignorance…
But in fact, the fuel was provided by an entity even more powerful than the media — it came from the federal government. As law professor Michelle Alexander revealed in her book, The New Jim Crow, when President Ronald Reagan declared a War on Drugs in 1982, recreational drug use in the U.S. was in serious decline. Reagan’s declaration of war tapped into a growing public sentiment against illegal drug use. So the declaration was more about politics than about drugs presenting an actual danger to the nation.
The Reagan administration was trying to make his pitch to white people, so it was easy to construct Black people as the enemy in the War on Drugs. This has led to mass incarceration that has imprisoned millions and devastated Black communities across the U.S. The administration made crack into the monster it needed to create the modern prison industrial complex.
Alexander said the administration even used publicists to help create the myth of the uniqueness of crack, a new incredibly addictive superdrug. At the start of the crack scare in the fall of 1985, the news media unleashed a series of startling stories about newborn infants who allegedly suffered severe and permanent health damage as fetuses because their mothers ingested cocaine during pregnancy. But as Hurt and other researchers found, the impact of cocaine exposure on newborn health and development was, at best, greatly exaggerated in media accounts.
The story of so much of the drug war. The federal government willing to lie and cause severe damage to society to push a political agenda regarding drugs, and a complicit media that loves sensationalism.