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Episode 19

Leadership and the Humanities Podcast

Episode 19: Just Say No

“Just Say No” was the touchstone of the 1980s social campaign run by First Lady Nancy Reagan and was broadcast as a public service campaign during afternoon and weekend television commercials involving big-haired singers and hip-hop dancers in shiny pants…

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The following works were used in this podcast:

Evans, Alice, and Kris Bosworth. Building Effective Drug Education Programs. Bloomington, Ind.: Phi Delta Kappa International, 1998.

Lopez, German. “The Federal Government Won’t Change Marijuana’s ‘Schedule.’ Here’s What That Means.” Vox, September 25, 2014.

Papillion, Natalie. “Reefer Madness: The Racist Origins of Marijuana Prohibition.” Medium, June 6, 2020.

The Sentencing Project. “Report to the United Nations on Racial Disparities in the U.S. Criminal Justice System.” Accessed October 23, 2020.

CERD. “Study Adds to Doubts on DARE Program.” Accessed October 23, 2020.

“United States – Punishment and Prejudice: Racial Disparities in the War on Drugs.” Accessed October 23, 2020.

“War on Drugs – Timeline in America, Definition & Facts – HISTORY.” Accessed October 23, 2020.

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  1. Madeline Orr Madeline Orr

    In Episode 19 of the podcast, Dr. Bezio discusses the war on drugs and how it was greatly linked to certain demographics creating racist biases in terms of drug use and incarceration for drug use. She also discussed how the social campaigns of the 1970s and 1980s against drugs have increased racial disparities in prisons and still have major implicit effects today. How has the Equal Justice Initiative developed over the years and have there been any attempts to really change the deep internal issues within the justice system? How did the release of the film, Just Mercy, have an impact culturally before the murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd versus after they were made accessible to all?

  2. Olivia Cosco Olivia Cosco

    In podcast 19, “Just Say No,” Dr. Bezio discussed the programs Just say No and DARE, which were established in the 70’s based on the war on drugs. She also discusses the disproportionate incarcerations based on racial disparities. For example, five times more white people use drugs than black people, yet black people are more likely to be searched for drugs and therefor more likely to be found possessing drugs. If we know this, why were black people searched more, and have these actions changed much since the 70’s?

  3. Isabela Keetley Isabela Keetley

    Podcast episode #19 focuses on the war on drugs and racist campaigns that followed this. “Just say No” and DARE were two different anti-drugs programs put in place in the 1980s to dissuade kids from using drugs. However, after extensive studies it was found that those who completed DARE had higher rates of hallucinogenic drug use compared to those who did not. Many other studies followed this, disproving the idea that these programs helped keep kids away from drugs, however many did not want to apply science to drug policy and thus did not listen. Along with the war on drugs came racist propaganda, which led to increased institutional racism. Dr. Bezio pointed out the fact that black and hispanic drivers are 3x more likely than white people to be searched when they are pulled over. These searches then have resulted in finding more drugs, even though there are 5x more white drug users in the US. These practices need to stop because they ruin lives due to increased relative rates of incarceration on drug charges. My question then is, how do we reform our justice system to end racial profiling and to truly treat people as equals? And if we know these facts, how come people are not disrupting their stereotypes or actively engaging in reform to eliminate this unequal treatment?

  4. Zachary Andrews Zachary Andrews

    Dr. Bezio’s 19th podcast was very interesting because it touched upon topics that I do not particularly know about or have learned about in the past. More specifically, she talked about the War on Drugs within the United States in the early 1970’s as well as the discriminations and new Jim Crow that followed along with the illegal drugs. On top of that, I learned that there are two times the amount of black people who are incarcerated due to a drug related crime compared to white drug users even though there are five times more white drug users than black drug users. My question is, what can we do to fix this issue of an unproporational amount of black and white drug users in prison? What additional training can police forces do to fix this issue?

  5. Kathrine Yeaw Kathrine Yeaw

    Podcast 19 highlighted the racism that come with drug use in the US. I wasn’t as surprised by the statistics of how much more likely a black or hispanic person is to get in trouble for drug use than a white person. My question is if the racial profiling on drugs is as bad as it was in the 70s or maybe even worse? There is still this association between blacks and crime, but is it because of the drug racial profiling or some other reasons?

  6. Sofia Adams Sofia Adams

    In this podcast Dr. Bezio discusses the Dare drug program created by First Lady Nancy Reagan in the 1980’s as well as anti-drug legislation/movement. This podcast left me with a few questions. Why are black people prosecuted to the full extent when white’s charged with the same crime aren’t? Did government actions and assumptions make drugs more prevalent in low income/diverse communities? How can we change the current injustice within our justice system in terms of increasing minority incarceration?

  7. Olivia Cranshaw Olivia Cranshaw

    In this podcast, Dr. Bezio brought up many statistics about the discriminatory criminalization of communities of color during the period of the War on Drugs and New Jim Crow. I thought it was particularly helpful that the “New Jim Crow” was defined in this podcast as I was confused before the podcast what it meant. Were there any police initiatives introduced during this time period that directly caused more black and Hispanic drivers to be stopped and searched (which led to more criminalization and drug charges), or was it simply out of bais/racism that black and Hispanic drivers looked more suspect to criminalization?

  8. Elina Bhagwat Elina Bhagwat

    Podcast 19 discussed the War on Drugs and the disproportionate incarceration of minorities during this time period. I found it interesting that drug users generally purchased drugs from people of the same race. Is this because they feel more comfortable and trust people of their same race? I also know that a much larger proportion of black people were incarcerated from drug related offenses than white people. Were law enforcement officers purposely more active in largely minority neighborhoods or did their implicit biases lead to the greater incarceration? I know that this is still a problem in the current day, but are drug related offenses less likely to lead to incarceration and did incarcerated people get the chance to be freed during the War on Drugs?

  9. Charley Blount Charley Blount

    Have there been any movements by “tough on crime” politicians to find replacements for harsh drug laws that are becoming increasingly unpopular?

  10. Michael Childress Michael Childress

    on episode 19 of the podcast, we discussed how minorities are much more likely to be targeted for drug related crimes than whites are. Do you think that this is conscious discrimination against people of color, or subconscious implicit biases that result from our generalized stereotypes of minorities?
    Also, you discussed the way in which laws that appear to be colorblind more adversely affect minorities than whites. What are some other examples of these situations besides relating to drugs, and how would the paths of conviction differ for whites vs. non whites?

  11. Sara Moushegian Sara Moushegian

    In this podcast, we learn about the War on Drugs campaign that created the “New Jim Crow” laws that were implicitly racist in the treatment of minorities in regard to drug offenses. In today’s society, are there laws that combat the issue of racist law enforcement officials placing harsher punishments on minorities and searching minorities for drugs for frequently than whites? Is this an issue that the legislature can combat, or is it up to the citizens of the United States to truly change their ways? A mixture of both?

  12. Maggie Otradovec Maggie Otradovec

    Podcast 19 discusses the war on drugs that began in the seventies, but was most prominent during the Reagan administration of the 1980s. The less intense aspects of the war on drugs include Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” campaign and commercials and the D.A.R.E. program, which actually made the student participants more likely to use drugs. However, the war on drugs created serious problems for minority communities. Many of the policies were racist, and law enforcement disproportionately targeted minorities. This has created lasting effects that minorities still deal with today, including disparities in punishment for possession and higher incarceration rates. Why is it that more hasn’t been done to decrease this disparity and improve the lives of minorities affected by these policies?

  13. Sophia Picozzi Sophia Picozzi

    Given the disproportionate statistics of black incarceration and white incarceration from drug usage, it is clear that this connection can be described as an either implicitly or explicitly racist system of over-policing. In this podcast, Dr. Bezio mentioned how black and Latino drivers are stopped by police way more and more likely to have their cars searched, thus resulting in a greater likelihood of drugs being found in these communities. Given this racial disparity both in communities and on the roads, I am curious if this can also be explained by demographics and if it differs by where people live. Everyone knows that over-policing occurs in low minority communities, so I am further wondering if this over-policing is compatible with the racial redlining or segregation of the past? Are the same redlined districts of the 50s the same communities that are still impoverished and thus overpoliced in the present? What can stop this cycle of poverty? How much does where people live/ have lived throughout history matters today?

  14. Thomas Bennett Thomas Bennett

    Is educating the public the key to overturning a lot of the drug laws that allow structural racism to continue? If so, how much of an effect can private companies allowing educational materials to be more accessible have on political change?

  15. Mia Slaunwhite Mia Slaunwhite

    D.A.R.E. was still used in schools when I was growing up. My brother who was two grades older than me went through the D.A.R.E. program, but I did not. The jingle is one of those that gets stuck in your head. —

    “D! I won’t do drugs!
    A! Won’t have An attitude!
    R! I will respect myself!
    E! I will educate me! ”

    are there still some schools that are still using the D.A.R.E. program?

  16. Henry Groves Henry Groves

    In Podcast 19, Dr. Bezio dove into the war on drugs and programs “Just say no” and “DARE”. The huge movement against drugs pushed programs to teach kids in schools about drug abuse resistance; however, from listening to this podcast, it was actually the kids who attended these programs in school who had a higher chance to get addicted. What I found to be fascinating was the controlled substance act, and how marijuana was in schedule 1. Though the podcast did a great job explaining why marijuana was considered in the same category as heroin, I still was blown away that they were grouped the same way. I also found it interesting how racial inequality with drug treatment and punishment in the 70s and 80s have affected the percentages of minorities that are charged with drug crimes today. My question is, “Why is it that in today’s age society we still have such an unproportionate amount of minorities that are charged with drug crimes? Is it due to racial inequality from the past creating preconceived biases towards these minorities, or a different reason?

  17. Alexander Dimedio Alexander Dimedio

    Why did I still go through the dare program if it statistically does not help? What are some of the reasons behind dare not working? Will another schedule one drug become legal someday soon? Why would Marijuana become legal in some states, but put people in prison for the same thing in other states? How can we really decide if a drug medically helps someone? How can we begin to create equality among those who get charged for drugs?

  18. Michael Stein Michael Stein

    The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 established drug schedules that have been detrimental to people’s lives, especially in minority communities. While the classification of drugs through schedules is understood as part of the war on drugs, it was President Nixon who signed the act, not Ronald Reagan — the President that many people associate the war on drugs with. Why did the Reagan Administration become synonymous with the war on drugs instead of the Nixon Administration? Was it simply because of programs like D.A.R.E.? Or were there more complex political reasons for the association?

  19. Mohamad Kassem Mohamad Kassem

    In the podcast episode, 19 Dr. Bezio talks about the war on drugs and discussed how the social anti-drug campaigns contributed to increasing racial disparities and bias. She also talked about how minority groups are affected and targeted much more than white people as we see that 5 times more white people use drugs than black people in the United States, however, the system targets black people to be searched and viewed them as suspects all the time.
    I was thinking about the divide in ideology between people who are conservative and those who are democratic/ liberal. This is a general point but I saw that most of the time (at least on social media) conservatives tend to not believe that there is an issue with the system when dealing with racial issues, that black people deserve what they are getting from the police, and they also disrespect the BLM movement. What causes this divide in ideology? And are such people actually oblivious to what is happening or do they know the truth but prefer to support a political view that benefits them?

  20. William Clifton William Clifton

    In Podcast 19 Dr. Bezio explains in detail the American drug epidemic and the DARE program. A program that was created by First Lady Reagan in the 1980s. The role that drugs play in America has always fascinated me. From my perspective it seems as though the government to a certain degree relies on the drug industry. On top of this, I am confused why the prosecution of drug abusers and dealers is so vastly different dependent on the race of the defendant. Why do we allow the courts, who are supposed to be the definition of unbiased, get away with mass incarceration and a systematic flaw in how they sentence different races?

  21. Pierce Kaliner Pierce Kaliner

    In Episode 19, Dr. Bezio talks about drug use D.A.R.E. and Just Say No. And, how the new drug laws one didn’t work, and two were racist. Because juveniles who went through the programs were actually more likely to use drugs. Dr. Bezio mentioned how racial disparities in incarceration rates exploded during this time. During the recent presidential campaign there was a lot of talk about the 1994 Crime Bill. How much did the crime bill impact racial disparities in jails compared to the War on Drugs?

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