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Quentin Tarantino Compares Drug War to Slavery

The Django Unchained director says the mass incarceration of black men for drug offenses is "slavery, through and through."

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By May Wilkerson

12/19/12

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Iconic film director Quentin Tarantino believes that US drug policy, and the subsequent mass incarceration of African Americans, is comparable to pre-Civil War slavery. In an interview about his latest movie—Django Unchained, which documents the story of a freed slave, played by Jamie Foxx—Tarantino points out that the hierarchies of racial injustice have shifted but not wholly improved. "This whole thing of...this 'war on drugs,' and the mass incarcerations that have happened pretty much for the last 40 years has just decimated the black male population," says the filmmaker. "It’s slavery...it’s just slavery through and through, and it’s just the same fear of the black male that existed back in the 1800s." He adds that the US prison system, which currently houses staggeringly disproportionate numbers of black men, mirrors the structure and appearance of slavery. "Especially having even directed a movie about slavery, and you know the scenes that we have in the slave town, the slave auction town, where they’re moving back and forth," he says, "Well that looks like standing in the top tier of a prison system and watching the things go down. And between the private prisons and the public prisons, the way prisoners are traded back and forth." African Americans throughout the US are 13 times more likely to face jail for the same drug-related offenses as white people, according to a 2011 statement by the NAACP; at 13% of the US population, they currently make up 53.5% of all imprisoned drug offenders, despite drug use being fairly evenly divided across racial lines.

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