Jay Z believes the war on drugs is an ‘epic fail.’
The mogul narrated a new short film documenting the government crackdown. The video follows the rising imprisonment of African-Americans in the 1970s and continues through the growing marijuana industry of today.
The New York Times published the 4-minute clip Thursday, which also features the artwork of Molly Crabapple.
The newspaper also covered how the video came to be.
Jay’s “Decoded” co-author Dream Hampton proposed a partnership between the Drug Policy Alliance and social change agency Revolve Impact. Hampton works with Revolve, which connects artists with community organizers.
Ultimately, Hampton wanted to discover why African-Americans comprise 13 percent of the U.S. population but account for 31 percent of prison inmates. Comparatively, whites sell and use drugs at similar rates to Black people.
Michelle Alexander posed those contradictions in her 2014 book, “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.”
“In 1986, when I was coming of age, Ronald Reagan doubled down on the war on drugs that had been started by Richard Nixon in 1971,” Jay said in the film, which he also wrote the script for.
“Drugs were bad, fried your brain and drug dealers were monsters – the sole reason neighborhoods and major cities were failing.”
That idea led to Jay and other “young men who hustled” becoming “the sole villain,” as the rapper stated in the documentary.
Because of the record incarceration rates of Blacks and Latinos, prison populations grew from 200,000 to over 2 million. The United States now imprisons more people than Russia, Iran, China and Cuba. According to Jay, the nations are “countries we consider autocratic and repressive.”
The doc also touches on the rising legal weed industry. Though The Game joined the marijuana dispensary arena, many Black entrepreneurs face hurdles in states where the herb is legalized.
“Venture capitalists migrate to these states to open multi-billion dollar operations, but former felons can’t open a dispensary. Lots of times, those felonies were drug charges, caught by poor people who sold drugs for a living but are now prohibited in one of the fastest-growing economies.”
“It’s time to rethink our policies and laws,” Jay concluded. “The war on drugs is an epic fail.”
See the complete film below.