Jay Z Condemns War on Drugs as an ‘Epic Fail’
Jay Z has urged America’s top politicians to “rethink” their approach to laws regarding controlled substances after declaring the war on drugs is an “epic fail.” The rap mogul, who infamously spent his youth dealing cocaine, expressed his thoughts on the strict legislation, introduced by U.S. President Richard Nixon back in 1971, in a four-minute illustrated op-ed video for the New York Times.
In the footage, narrated by Jay Z, writer/illustrator Molly Crabapple helps to show how the war on drugs did little to curb actual drug use and only served to radically increase the prison population across the country. Jay Z, real name Shawn Carter, who penned the script for the short film, recalls how “young men like me who hustled became the sole villain” during the 1980s, and criticizes the introduction of mandatory minimum sentences for minor crimes, like possession of marijuana. “Drugs were bad, fried your brain, and drug dealers were monsters, the sole reason neighborhoods and major cities were failing,” he explained of the ’80s mentality. “No one wanted to talk about Reaganomics and the ending of social safety nets,” Carter added, referring to President Ronald Reagan’s cuts to long-running social programs. He also outlines how the war on drugs went hand-in-hand with racial discrimination, with authorities targeting African-American and Latino communities, instead of prosecuting white financiers who openly used drugs on Wall Street. “Even though white people used and sold crack more than black people somehow it was black people who went to prison. The media ignored actual data to this day. Crack is still talked about as a ‘black problem.’ The NYPD raided our Brooklyn neighborhoods while Manhattan bankers openly used coke with impunity. The war on drugs exploded the U.S. prison population,” said Carter. “Rates of drug use are as high as they were when Nixon declared this so-called war in 1971,” he concluded. “Forty-five years later, it’s time to rethink our policies and laws. The war on drugs is an epic fail.” The project was based on an idea by writer/filmmaker Dream Hampton, who previously co-wrote Jay Z‘s 2010 book Decoded, which broke down the lyrics and stories behind his songs.
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