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Crack Cocaine in Black and Latino Communities

CrackCocaine in Black and Latino Communities

CrackCocaine in Black and Latino Communities

PoorLatino and African American women users of crack in the 1980s weredisproportionately incarcerated compared to other groups of crackusers. The crack cocaine menace had significant social and economicimpacts on the Black and Latino communities. Between 1983 and 1993,the homicide rates for males from the black community increased morethan 100%, mostly due to the use of crack cocaine (Steffensmeieret al., 2011).In this regard, many black women lost their husbands and fathers.From 1985, there were more weapon arrests among the black communitiesthan any other communities. The excessive use and possession ofweapons were because of the rise of dirty drug trade dealings and theemergence of male and female gangs in the inner cities (Millettet al., 2013).

Thenumber of black and Latino children in foster homes rose rapidlybetween 1980 and 1990. Mothers addicted to crack cocaine were unableto take care of their children regarding the provision of food andother basic needs (Steffensmeieret al., 2011).Black children performed poorly in school because of the socialstrain attributed to broken families. The drug-exposed Black women tothe risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases because of thehigh-risk behaviors. Black women engaged in prostitution to meet thecosts of extra doses of crack leading to high rates of STDs(VanDevanteret al., 2011).Additionally, crack addicts could not gain meaningful employment, andwhenever they secured employment, they could not sustain their jobsbecause of the detrimental effects of crack.

TheReagan administration enforced an aggressive campaign to fight thedrug problem in the 1980s (Alexander,2012)).Reagan’s anti-drug campaign came at a time when the black communitywas increasingly involved in the use of crack cocaine. Reagan’smeasures on battling the sale and uses of drugs focussed onincreasing incarcerations rather than the enforcement of correctiveinterventions (Lynchet al., 2016).The drug arrests between 1985 and 1995 quadrupled in states such asIllinois and Minnesota. The deterioration of inner cities led toincreased political and social pressures for the enforcement ofmandatory punishments. Black and Latinos constituted the majority ofthe individuals who served mandatory sentences for sale and use ofcrack (Millettet al., 2013).The fear of crime and racial tensions led to disproportionate arrestsfo African Americans and Latinos since the government was unwillingto tackle social disparities. The legislation of new drug laws, aswell as increased pressure from the media, led to soaring prisonpopulations.


Thecrack epidemic had significant negative effects on the social andeconomic status of Black and Latino communities. From increasedexposure to sexually transmitted diseases to lack of properemployment, African American women carried the burden of theepidemic. Crack addiction in minority families led to increasedsuffering among their children, leading to poor education outcomes.The use of incarcerations as the method of fighting the drug epidemicled to disproportionate incarcerations, which favored the Whites.Most of the incarcerated persons were Blacks and Latinos.Consequently, children born to crack addicts faced increasedstigmatization as the society viewed them as incapable of livingproductive lives because of the detrimental effects of crack duringpregnancy. However, these children beat all odds to live productivelives despite the society’s imagination.


Alexander,M. (2012).&nbspThenew Jim Crow: Mass incarceration in the age of colorblindness.The New Press.

Lynch,M., Omori, M., Roussell, A., &amp Valasik, M. (2013). Policing the‘progressive’city: The Racialized geography of drug lawenforcement.&nbspTheoreticalCriminology,1362480613476986.

Millett,G. A., Peterson, J. L., Flores, S. A., Hart, T. A., Jeffries, W. L.,Wilson, P. A., … &amp Remis, R. S. (2012). Comparisons ofdisparities and risks of HIV infection in black and other men whohave sex with men in Canada, UK, and the USA: a meta-analysis.&nbspTheLancet,&nbsp380(9839),341-348.

Steffensmeier,D., Feldmeyer, B., Harris, C. T., &amp Ulmer, J. T. (2011).Reassessing trends in black violent crime, 1980–2008: Sorting outthe “Hispanic effect” in Uniform Crime Reports arrests, NationalCrime Victimization Survey offender estimates, and US prisonercounts.&nbspCriminology,&nbsp49(1),197-251.

VanDevanter,N., Duncan, A., Burrell-Piggott, T., Bleakley, A., Birnbaum, J.,Siegel, K., &amp Ramjohn, D. (2011). The influence of substance use,social, sexual environment, psychosocial factors, and partnercharacteristics on high-risk sexual behavior among young Black andLatino men who have sex with men living with HIV: A qualitativestudy.&nbspAIDSpatient care and STDs,&nbsp25(2),113-121.