“Drug dealers were the sole reason neighborhoods and major cities were failing,” the rapper says in the video made with artist Molly Crabapple about the mindset behind President Nixon’s war on drugs which was ramped up in the 1980’s through President Reagan.
“No one wanted to talk about Reaganomics and the ending of social safety nets, the defunding of schools and the loss of jobs in cities across America,” he continues.
Jay Z then explains how drug dealers were victimized and thrown in jail for long sentences, raising the United States incarceration rates to rise higher then those seen in China, Cuba, Iran and Russia.
“Rates of drug use are as high as they were when Nixon declared this so-called war in 1971,” he says. “Forty-five years later, it’s time to rethink our policies and laws. The war on drugs is an epic fail.”
Crabapple, an activist, illustrated and produced the video in collaboration with Revolve Impact and the Drug Policy Alliance who are fighting to end the war on drugs.
“Jay Z and Molly Crabapple’s groundbreaking video will educate millions of people about the devastation wrought on the African American community because of the drug war,” said Asha Bandele, senior director for grants, partnerships and special projects at the Drug Policy Alliance in a statement.
“That it is offered at a moment when policymakers are finally joining advocates in demanding an end to the architecture that actually incentivizes biased policing and police violence makes it especially timely.”