People of color do not use drugs with greater frequency than whites, but they are much more likely than whites to be arrested and incarcerated for drug use. Drug enforcement efforts target minority neighborhoods because the lack of political and economic power of people in these neighborhoods means that drug dealers find it easier to serve their diverse clientele who come from areas throughout the region by setting up shop on the street in minority neighborhoods. These neighborhoods are forced to tolerate drug dealing in the same ways that they have to endure toxic hazards, polluting businesses, and other criminal enterprises that wealthier and whiter neighborhoods would find intolerable. The selective policing that allows illegal activities to be shifted to interzones and ghettos inhabited by people of color extends to the policing of individual drug users.At the recent fence meeting, there were discussions of a "drug market" on one side of the Potomac Gardens and how DC housing authority police had jurisdiction over Potomac Gardens thus creating an interzone between police jurisdictions. At the meeting, one Potomac Gardens resident said that she was just like everyone else in the room; she went to work and put her sons through college; she just didn't have enough money to afford non-public housing. Did she also not have enough political and economic power to get drug dealers out of her housing complex?
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Potomac Gardens, the Fence, and Power
This quotation from famous sociologist George Lipsitz in his brand new book How Racism Takes Place made me think of the tense discussions about the fence at Potomac Gardens public housing in Ward 6 (@ 13th and Penn. SE):