A GOP lawmaker said that African Americans respond badly to marijuana because of “genetics” and “character makeup,” and WTF?
In news we literally cannot believe we’re reporting in 2018, Kansas State Representative Steve Alford, who has served his state’s House of Representatives since 2011, is under fire for publicly making racist, unsubstantiated claims about black Americans and marijuana use.
As reported by local news outlet The Garden City Telegram, Alford said that in the 1930s, Kansas outlawed drugs in large part because African Americans were predisposed to over-use, and that they “responded the worst on those drugs” due to “their character makeup” and “their genetics.”
Say it with us: WTF?
Here’s more from Alford’s wildly offensive speech:
“Basically any way you say it, marijuana is an entry drug into the higher drugs. What you really need to do is go back in the '30s, and when they outlawed all types of drugs in Kansas and across the United States. What was the reason why they did that? One of the reasons why, I hate to say it, is that the African-Americans, they were basically users and they basically responded the worst on those drugs just because of their character makeup, their genetics and that."
The Republican lawmaker made the remarks at a local “Legislative Coffee” session, where a crowd of about 60 people gathered (according to The Garden City Telegram, no black citizens were in attendance.) Needless to say (but we’ll say it anyway, because this is important), Alford’s remarks are horrific, racist, and completely without merit. His offensive claim is more revealing of his ignorance and bias than of any actual historical truths.
“It is hard to believe that in 2018, anyone would support the discredited and racist policies of the Jim Crow era,” former Wichita, Kansas Mayor Carl Brewer told The Topeka Capital-Journal in response to the situation. “No matter one’s feelings on medical marijuana and marijuana legalization, we can all agree that views like those of Kansas Rep. Alford have no place in our Statehouse, in our state or in our country.”
Once his remarks began going viral, the Kansas lawmaker backtracked, releasing an apology statement to The Topeka Capital-Journal.
“I was wrong, I regret my comments and I sincerely apologize to anyone whom I have hurt, Alford said. “I have seen firsthand how drug abuse destroys lives, even within my own family, and I remain committed to fighting the spread of addiction in our state."
Alford also asserted that he was not racist. “I’m about as far from being a racist as I could get,” he reportedly said.
While we’re disheartened to know that a person with such regressive views holds public office, the swift public backlash against Alford’s comments gives us hope for a future in which this kind of racist ideology ceases to exist.