The Article: How the Myth of the ‘Negro Cocaine Fiend’ Helped Shape American Drug Policy by Carl L. Hart in The Nation.
The Text: Negro Cocaine “Fiends” Are a New Southern Menace. That was the headline of an article I came across while doing research for my PhD in 1996. It involved trying to understand the neurobiological and behavioral effects of psychoactive drugs like cocaine and nicotine. So I read everything that seemed relevant.
The provocatively headlined article had appeared in The New York Times on February 8, 1914. I was surprised by the title, although I knew it was once acceptable to print such blatantly racist words in respectable papers. But what really shocked me was how similar it was to modern media coverage of illegal drugs and how, from early on, the racialized discourse on drugs served a larger political purpose.