An important part of the narrative of my new book, BOP APOCALYPSE: Jazz, Race, the Beats and Drugs (Da Capo Press) is about the racism inherent in the formulation of our templates for drug laws, policy and enforcement in America. The man who first institutionalized it was Harry Jacob Anslinger, head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics from 1930-1962, and behind all of it, as I state in the book, was a panic about interracial sex--

"The other most powerful fear had to do with sex and forbidden flesh, for walking hand-in-hand with the image of marijuana use was an unspeakable fear as old as slavery itself..Always implicit in the anti-marijuana agenda was the great fear that, as the sweet smell of burning cannabis rose in the steamy back streets of New Orleans, in dusty towns along the border of Texas and Mexico from Brownsville to El Paso, on the South Side of Chicago, along 12th Street in Kansas City, Central Avenue in South-Central Los Angeles, and the Stroll between 131st and 132nd Streets crossing Seventh Avenue in Harlem, the sexual boundary between the races would vanish as if by some perfidious deed of black magic, and the great taboo of interracial sex would come tumbling down forever.

Nothing epitomizes this fear more than the following item from Anslinger's file, which he would trot out over and over again: 'Colored students at the Univ. of Minn. partying with female students (white) smoking and getting their sympathy with stories of racial persecution. Result pregnancy.'"

 

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