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The Suburban Crisis

White America and the War on Drugs
Princeton University Press
1. Auflage
Erschienen am 7. November 2023
680 Seiten
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978-0-691-24895-0 (ISBN)
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How the drug war transformed American political culture

Since the 1950s, the American war on drugs has positioned white middle-class youth as sympathetic victims of illegal drug markets who need rehabilitation instead of incarceration whenever they break the law. The Suburban Crisis traces how politicians, the media, and grassroots political activists crusaded to protect white families from perceived threats while criminalizing and incarcerating urban minorities, and how a troubling legacy of racial injustice continues to inform the war on drugs today.

In this incisive political history, Matthew Lassiter shows how the category of the "white middle-class victim" has been as central to the politics and culture of the drug war as racial stereotypes like the "foreign trafficker," "urban pusher," and "predatory ghetto addict." He describes how the futile mission to safeguard and control white suburban youth shaped the enactment of the nation's first mandatory-minimum drug laws in the 1950s, and how soaring marijuana arrests of white Americans led to demands to refocus on "real criminals" in inner cities. The 1980s brought "just say no" moralizing in the white suburbs and militarized crackdowns in urban centers.

The Suburban Crisis reveals how the escalating drug war merged punitive law enforcement and coercive public health into a discriminatory system for the social control of teenagers and young adults, and how liberal and conservative lawmakers alike pursued an agenda of racialized criminalization.

De Gruyter
Für Beruf und Forschung
Digitale Ausgabe
Fixed format
70 b/w illus. 23 tables.
70 b/w illus. 23 tables.
978-0-691-24895-0 (9780691248950)
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Matthew D. Lassiter is professor of history and Arthur F. Thurnau Professor at the University of Michigan, where he is codirector of the Carceral State Project. His books include The Silent Majority: Suburban Politics in the Sunbelt South (Princeton) and The Myth of Southern Exceptionalism.
  • Cover
  • Contents
  • List of Illustrations
  • List of Tables
  • List of Abbreviations
  • Introduction
  • The Drug-War Consensus and the Carceral State
  • White Drug Crime: Hidden in Plain Sight
  • Youth Politics and Social Control
  • The Power and Permanence of Suburban Crisis
  • Prologue: Los Angeles, 1950-51
  • 1. Pushers and Victims
  • Producing the White Teenage Narcotics Crisis
  • California's Early War on Narcotics
  • Nationalizing the Suburban Narcotics Crisis
  • California Drug Enforcement and the Mexican Border
  • 2. Suburban Rebels
  • Constructing the White Middle-Class Delinquency Epidemic
  • Sensationalizing and Medicalizing Suburban Drug Crime
  • Campus Rebels and the Psychedelic Drug Culture
  • Hippies, Runaways, and Heroin
  • 3. Generation Gap
  • San Francisco Bay Area: Drug Markets and High School Politics
  • Suburbs of New York City: Race, Class, and De Facto Decriminalization
  • Metropolitan Washington, DC: Diverting the "Normal" Youth Revolt
  • Metropolitan Los Angeles: Mass Arrests in White Suburbia
  • Drug Prevention and the "Credibility Gap"
  • 4. Public Enemy Number One
  • Cruel and Unusual Punishment?
  • Bipartisan Consensus for Federal Drug Reform
  • Saving the White Suburban Victim-Criminal
  • Marijuana, Heroin, and the War on Drugs
  • "All-Out War, On All Fronts"
  • 5. Impossible Criminals
  • Marijuana Legalization vs. Decriminalization
  • State-Level Reform: "Concerned Parents" and "The Wrong Kids"
  • Marijuana Decriminalization in Oregon
  • Marijuana Reform and Race in California
  • The Rockefeller Drug Laws and the "Real Criminals"
  • 6. Parent Power
  • Marijuana Decriminalization at the Crossroads
  • The Origins of the "Parents' Movement"
  • The Carter Administration's "Political Powder Keg"
  • The Demand-Side Drug War
  • National Federation of Parents for Drug-Free Youth
  • 7. Zero Tolerance
  • The Reagan Administration and the "Parents' Movement"
  • Marijuana and Alcohol: The Gateway Drugs
  • "Tough Love" at the Grassroots
  • Teen Drinking: Get MADD
  • Crack Cocaine and the Racially Divergent Drug War
  • Epilogue
  • Acknowledgments
  • Archives and Abbreviations in Notes
  • Notes
  • Index

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