Civil Liberties

Drugs, Racism, and The New York Times

Cocaine, opium, and racial paranoia.


Radley Balko has combed through the New York Times archives to see just how racist the paper's drug coverage was a century ago. Pretty racist, it turns out: The articles he found feature headlines like "NEGRO COCAINE 'FIENDS' ARE A NEW SOUTHERN MENACE" and subheds like "Drug-Crazed Negroes Start a Reign of Terror and Defy Whole Mississippi Town."

You can see the rest here, along with a bonus bit of bigotry the Times ran in 1885. That article's called "The Similarity of Chinamen," and I'd try to describe it, but I don't think any summary I could write would do it justice.