Some white folks will make Black people the scapegoat for anything if you let them, and that’s precisely what a Kansas lawmaker did this past weekend.
While explaining his revisionist theory on why marijuana was made illegal in the first place, the staunchly anti-pot Republican State Rep. Steve Alford explained to a group of his constituents that “the African Americans” were abusing weed to the point that America had no choice but to protect its wholesome, innocent citizens from the drug-addicted, weedhead Black folks, according to the Garden City Telegram.
“What was the reason why they did that?” Alford asked rhetorically Saturday during a “Legislative Coffee session” at St. Catherine Hospital in Garden City, Kan. “One of the reasons why, I hate to say it, was that the African Americans, they were basically users and they basically responded the worst off to those drugs just because of their character makeup, their genetics and that. And so basically what we’re trying to do is we’re trying to do a complete reverse with people not remembering what has happened in the past.”
Alford’s unfortunate words came just two days after Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded the federal policy that allowed states to set their own marijuana laws – a policy ushered in by former President Barack Obama, who, as you might remember, is a Black person. Coincidence?
Alford, who has been a member of the Kansas state legislature since 2011, apologized Monday, but the damage had already been done.
Sadly, his altered history lesson gone wrong wasn’t completely rooted in fiction, as the drug was initially made illegal because of an irrational fear of brown-skinned people – it just wasn’t Black folks. Mexican immigrants were scapegoated because they allegedly popularized marijuana in the U.S. following the Mexican Revolution, according to the Drug Policy Alliance.
“During hearings on marijuana law in the 1930’s, claims were made about marijuana’s ability to cause men of color to become violent and solicit sex from white women,” the nonprofit drug policy reform advocacy group wrote on its website, which made no mention of Black people in particular. “This imagery became the backdrop for the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 which effectively banned its use and sales.”
In other words, America tried to demonize people of color for a problem that actually never existed – sound familiar?
The truth of the matter is that Black people use less marijuana than white people, and probably have since the beginning of time. Even still, Black folks are arrested at a rate that is exponentially higher than their white counterparts. Go figure.
If you’d like to reach out to Alford to let him know exactly how you feel about his opinion, his contact information can be found here.