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Sir Richard Branson Says War on Drugs is a War on Black People


Sir Richard Branson Says War on Drugs is a War on Black People

by Dr. Boyce Watkins

Sir Richard Branson has spoken up and out against the War on Drugs in the United States.  Branson recently noted that the policies are racist and represent a “war on black people.”  The billionaire made the remarks during an interview with the Metro newspaper.

“The fundamental difference [in drug policy] in America is that it is a war against black people. 85 percent of people who go to prison for drug use in America are black people. They don’t take more drugs, but it’s a racist law against black people in America,” he said.

“The law should be changed. You’ve got something like 1.5 million people in American jails languishing for taking drugs and that is wrong,” said Branson, a member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy (GCDP). “Those people would be much better being out in society, being helped if they have drug problem, getting off the problem.”

Branson was the guest editor of the newspaper during a trip to New York City.  This week, writing for “The Week,” he called for an end to the failed War on Drugs.  President Obama has agreed that the policies are biased and must come to an end.  But in the first term of his presidency, he was only able to reduce the crack-to-powder sentencing disparity from 100-to-1 to 18-to-1.  This means that a five year sentence for powder cocaine translates to a 90-year sentence for crack, which continues to represent a huge disparity.

“I am part of the global commission on drugs, and it consists of 15 ex-presidents from South America, it consists of people like Kofi Annan, Paul Volcker, George Schultz, and ex-presidents from Switzerland and Greece and other places,” Branson said.

“And we just spent two years looking at the war on drugs and it is obvious it failed. Thousands of people in South Africa are killed every year, more and more people are sent to prison and the amount of people using drugs increases year over year.”

Branson has been working to convince the Obama Administration and Congress to stop wasting taxpayer dollars on failed policies from the drug war.   He notes that the US spent $51 billion fighting the War on Drugs.

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“That’s double what Apple profited last year. It’s a horribly depressing number when you think how far even a fraction of that money would have gone if invested in prevention and rehabilitation efforts.

Branson makes a good point.  There is nothing that has done more to destroy the black family in America than the War on Drugs.  I spoke to a grown woman the other day who told me that her father has been in prison for her entire life.  He wasn’t a killer, and he had no criminal record before his conviction.  But he was given 14 life sentences for selling drugs.

As a result of not having her father in the household, the girl said that she grew up without enough food to eat, her brother was murdered, and another sibling is on his way to the very same prison system that has kept his father in  cage for the last quarter century.  Although she agreed that her father should have been punished for his crime, she rightly felt that 25 years was enough.

Mr. President,  you MUST do something to end the drug war.  It’s time for all of us to demand that the laws be changed so that our nation can heal from one of the most devastating eras in the history of black America.  It’s hard to build strong families when so many of our black men are in prison, on their way to prison or coming home from prison.  While it’s important to teach kids to make good decisions, we must also realize that inequity which comes from forcing some kids to pay a lifetime price for their mistakes, while allowing others to have a second chance.

If anyone were to do a drug raid on nearly any college campus across the nation, they would find drugs, drug addicts, and drug dealers all over the place.  Yet, we don’t see white college kids going to prison, only young black men.   It’s time to end the nonsense.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition and creator of the Building Outstanding Men and Boys Family Empowerment Series. To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.

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  1. Rick

    October 7, 2012 at 11:00 pm

    Damn Shame and True!
    Obama/Biden, 2012,
    must press this matter, once reelected

  2. Jeannett

    October 7, 2012 at 11:55 pm

    It’s past time, do we nod our heads and stop or do we Pray and stir up our people in Washington to stop the killing of our young Brothers and Sisters of all races especially the hated races that people seems to create way and problem to push them down and destroy their lives and the lives of their families without even a nod or care!!!!!

  3. Naima

    October 8, 2012 at 9:24 am

    The laws do need to be changed but in the meantime we need to encourage our young men to stop pleading guilty and no contest to every charge that gets thrown at them. It seems to me that a large part of their plan is to convince young black men that if they plead not guilty they will magically be convicted and given a longer sentence than if they just go ahead and plead no contest. People need to realize that most of what you see on those cop shows like CSI is fiction. The majority of the time they don’t have any real evidnce even if you are guilty. . It'[s actually very hard to convict someone who insist that they are innocent. The first thing they tell you when you get arrested is that you have the right to remain silent and that anything you say will be used against you. Despite this warning people end up answering every single question the cops ask them. If people would just learn to shut their damn mouths and not say things that can be interpreted as confessions and stop listening to those lazy ass public defenders that just want everyone to plead guilty so they can go home, we would have a lot less people in prison.

    • Bro anton

      October 8, 2012 at 4:32 pm


  4. Lean6

    October 8, 2012 at 9:44 am

    Hmmm…statistics. I understand, but I don’t need leniency for dealers making my streets unsafe, or users breaking in my house/vehicle/mugging my kids while looking for a means to support a habit. CRIME led to or created premise for laws that seem racially targeted on the surface. There are underlying issues, such as poverty that, when combined with the illegality of drugs gives us this situation. If drugs were legalized tomorrow, something else would take its place in the same conversation…in fact there are already many exploiting human trafficking on a larger scale.

  5. BB

    October 8, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    Well said Naima. In light of that, there is a need for more melanated lawyers that are dedicated to educating/helping their own instead of always trying to become a specialist to celebrities. Every time a melanated person picks up a trade, they become a doctor, lawyer, dentist, et cetera to celebrities and sell out for the $$$ or work for the media. There is no leadership or professionals to help deal with the problems in the melanated community. Melanated people have lost their honor, self-respect and dignity. They are programmed to kill, hate and disrespect each other. It is the wild wild west in some urban neighborhoods because these fools are killing each other. Some are too far gone and are just ignorant. Save and educate the babies because the grown folk are either lost souls or have become educated fools and terrorists against their own kind. The valley of the dry bones indeed.

  6. Derrick

    October 9, 2012 at 6:44 am

    I’ve been saying this for the last 5 years, but when this white boy says the same thang, y’all praise him!

    lawd ham mercy!

    • diablo

      October 9, 2012 at 2:27 pm

      the white boy is somebody youre nothing but a black racist

      • DaTruth

        October 9, 2012 at 5:00 pm

        what makes the white boy “somebody” that we should listen to, his white skin? further, when blk folk become powerful enuf to decide whether or not white folk can get employment or start controlling the criminal justice system & locking up whites to the tune of 2 mil + b/c of laws that blks enacted that say that whites should get sentenced for 100 yrs for cocaine possession vs a blk person receiving only 1 yr for possession of crack cocaine, etc., then we can talk about blk racism! Until then, it aint happenin!

      • Derrick

        October 10, 2012 at 7:47 am

        What’s a Black racist? Never heard of a Black racist? Only crackers are racist!!!


        racists = individuals, groups and populations, who believe in and practice white supremacy or racial domination.

        I’M NOT A caucasoid, I don’t practice ‘white’ supremacy, I don’t pracitce racial domination; therefore, I’m not a racist!!!


  7. Rev. George Brooks

    October 9, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    I’m not really interested in what Richard Brunson is saying, because he’s not really serious about helping black people. For if he was he would be seeking to push for the exposure of whoever the whites, Jews and Hsipanics are that are responsible for continuing to flood our black neighborhoods with drugs and guns, all across this country. And I’m sure that many folks in high places, such as Brunson, are in position to know or can easily find out such info, but are not going to say anything about it. Which tells you that he nor any of the others that know or can find out, but are not doing so, aren’t really interested or concerned about helping black folks and black communities. It’s only going to take place when we blacks, ourselves get busy and find out who these Satanic things are and exposed them. This white boy doesn’t give a hoot. — Rev. George Brooks

  8. Shameful

    October 9, 2012 at 7:55 pm

    @ Naima, you are right. Especially about public defenders. After speaking with many in the legal profession, my opinion is that public defenders work for the system. Their job is to make sure the courts don’t get clogged. That means shuffling defendants out as quickly as possible…not really working hard to get the best outcome. The best outcomes take time. And the public defenders don’t have alot of time to spend on poor clients who ain’t paying extra money for a complex case.

  9. Brother Ben

    October 10, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    Respect to every intelligent/ well informed response posted here- you know who you are. Disappointment for every uninformed, obtuse response posted yet continuing to delude yourself that you are in the former category. Marcus Garvey taught the fundamental education of an individual is to teach him who his enemies are. Even that doesn’t get us any closer to solutions. I implore everyone to consider an external solution along the lines of what the African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem have forged. 45 years outside of America with a model community in Dimona which has overcome many of the negritudes confounding the darker-skinned peoples/ victims of the Horrific Triangle Trade, the most significant socioeconomic event in the past 500 years. Ask “Sir” Richard Branson and his other “royal” henchmen/cohorts where their fortunes came from.

  10. Greg

    October 10, 2012 at 7:26 pm

    Well, he is telling the truth.

  11. Deborah

    October 12, 2012 at 9:53 am

    Kudos to Richard Branson for pointing this out. I fully agree with him and Dr Watkins. People should be punished for using and selling illegal drugs, but not languish in jail for the rest of their lives when they could be being rehabilitated and undergoing some sort of community service. And, as I am glad he has pointed out, not languishing in jail due to colour. Although, the facts you stated Watkins, paradoxically show an improvement under Obama’s tenure.

  12. Yahya Sharif Shabaka

    October 15, 2012 at 10:00 pm

    The first police in america was those savages who gathered to re-capture slaves that have escape from the plantations. From this mind set, this country built jails, prisons, solely to house blacks that were not confined to a share croppers plantation. This entire corrupt system of laws are designed to destroy black progress. Having said that, what are we going to do about it? Absolutely nothing! I don’t want to go high tech on you, but, the high tech, that I am referring too, is the toltal destruction of America by GOD himself, as it is written in scriptures that he would do in the last days. There is nothing Obama can do. And if could, he would not. He is too afraid of the white man to defend himself, much less 40 million black people, of whom 95% of the registered voter, voted for him. America had thee opportunity to be the best of the nations created in the past 6000 years, but instead have chosen to be the worst. Just by your injustice done to the black man and woman in your midst, you have brought ruin to your civilization and people. You have killed (white folks) six hundred million black, brown, and yellow people every 1000 years for you 6000 years on our planet. You have sealed your doom. You think that your weapons of war, will be sufficient against God? We have sent prophet after prophet to you, and you have either jailed them or killed them or both. You got your last warner in Jesus. So there is no more help for you. Your entire system is falling apart as we speak. There is no come back for you or the other European nations that are also going to colaspe as result of your and their evil done to black people all over thed world. Elijah Muhammad/Louis Farrakhan is here in your midst, as a warner to you, to stop and desist, for your doom is sealed. You are like Pharoah of Egypt, when it became time to let the inprisoned people of Egypt go free. The wicked Pharoah turned aganist them to destroy them. And for this Allah destroyed the Pharoah and his army instead. Elijah Muhammad has warned you for 42 years, and his reminder Farrakhan has warned you for 39 years. Yet you have been relentless in denying the poor black man and woman justice. Now you have placed a black man at the head of your government, to show other black people that you are no longer the devil/satan that you have been made to be. Your aim and purpose is to get us black people to go to hell with you, by staying with you no matter what. Your fate is sealed.

  13. Nolarch

    October 20, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    This isn’t news. That’s why it hasn’t ended. As Sir Richard states: “If anyone were to do a drug raid on nearly any college campus across the nation, they would find drugs, drug addicts, and drug dealers all over the place. Yet, we don’t see white college kids going to prison, only young black men.” This is the purpose of the war, Sir Richard, its raison d’etre. You have just provided the justification for its continued existence.

  14. Pat

    October 23, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    But …yall still let your sons and now even your daughters go to fight wars in other nations who don’t attack America even as you are continually under attack up to an in the Prezdency. We won’t even talk about how you kill each other whether you wear a badge or not. The value of human life is too low in the US, it’s much more serious than drugs. But, black people ain’t serious!
    Black woman could stop drugs…she withdraw that love. NOI is a drug free zone and many examples of black men cleaning up and standing up. But self hate, human hate. Whites are infected too! That’s why they need you too focus their hate. Satan is the father of the haters.

  15. Donna

    October 24, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    How refreshing Very well put

  16. Ish Muhammad

    October 25, 2012 at 9:00 pm

    No Shyt Min Farrakhan told us this back in the 80’s negroes might listen now a Whiteman said it LMAO leave that Shyt alone Blackman & Woman your Deliverance is near!

  17. Ish Muhammad

    October 25, 2012 at 9:22 pm

    All you Black Brown Red & Yellow Men Wake the Hell up! Remember that first Godfather Movie When those Italians were talking about Drugs,He said I don’t want it in our Neighborhoods or Around Schools Keep the traffic in the Dark Areas their Animals Anyway so let them lose their Souls! Drugs are used in America for control purposes! Many Singers Artists were being controlled by Drug Addiction just call the List! That Movie came out in 1972 Black people you must be Blind not to see what was going on! Black Power was Crushed by Dope & COINTELPRO FBI intel Program to Dirty up & Criminalize our people! Don’t Blame Nickie Barnes & Frank Lucas these Crackers used these Dummies to try & Kill us all the Government Sells dope all Day Every day! They use Dope to set Brothers up all over the Country! Will the real Dope Dealer Please Stand Up!

  18. Ish Muhammad

    October 25, 2012 at 9:28 pm

    When we was talking Black Power,we could not get any Guns! Now that our people are Blind Deaf & Dumb & full of SelfHate envy Jealousy,we can get all the Gats we can Carry! Genocide is a MF

  19. Halima

    October 26, 2012 at 6:45 am

    Branson is a racists so his statement should be taken with a pinch of salt.

  20. essie m. lacay

    October 31, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    I have alway’s followed, Sir Richard Branson, he has journied w/Desmond Tutu, and he keep’s very good company. I am so inspired by billionairs’ who are actually doing something w/their money to help the world become a better place and get rid, of all the reef-raff…so we can improve not only this nation…but the world on a global level. Since working @ the United Nation’s, it has opened up my eye’s and a lot more…I am working on opening up school’s that will build leader’s of tomorrow…from the hood. As they would like us to believe. The neighborhood’s that are down-trotten…are from the “shell-shock”, of the 60’s, and displacing black and hispanic family…mainly Black’s, so they can distroy the family structure. Why didn’t they attack the white communities, with such vorocity as they have done our’s….the truth lies within, these Anglo-saxon, evil thinking white’s that are still sitting in Congress, and not allowing the President to move his policy for change. Yes, we are the Change we are looking for…but how can our President do it…when you got a bunch of, “farty-fart’s”, that do not want to change…in their mind’s…they still live in “Mayberry”, with Andy Griffiths….and the men is dead….go figure!!!!!!!!

  21. essie m. lacay

    October 31, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    No he is not a racist…apparently, Halima…you have not done your homework…it takes’ a leader to understand leadership…on a wider scale…sorry sweetheart…I lov you…if your muslim…”salum-alakim”, and all praises do to Allah, God, Jehovah…what ever your preference’s might be people…but these millionair’s and billionare’s will be taken to task…as I built ‘MOMENTUM”….trust me…baby I will not allow them to do…I will shout it from the mountain top’s….hay…remember that’s what, MLK, said!!! I listen to my elder’s do YOU!!!!!!!

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