By Dinah Ortiz
It would be hard to dispute that the War on Drugs, instigated by President Nixon in 1971, has deliberately targeted lower-income communities and communities of color. Nixon’s own counsel and domestic affairs advisor, John Ehrlichman, confessed in 1994 that the War on Drugs was designed as an assault on “the antiwar left and black people.”
Ever since, we have been able to see the crippling impact of this sinister and deceptive strategy on these communities. We can see it simply by visiting any prison or jailhouse—or by viewing the demographics of incarcerated populations.
But what is not talked about enough is the drug war’s effects on parents in these communities. It has long been strategically intertwined with the child protective system in such a way that it can be sold to stakeholders under the guise of “saving the children.”
If you take the time to spend a day in any family court, what you will see is disturbing: Benches full of parents of color and little black and brown children in despair.
See, what is not talked about in the same breath as mass incarceration are the rates at which families of color are being torn apart. More meaningful to me than statistics is the real suffering of these families that I have often witnessed.