May 11, 2023 – Whiteout is written by three uniquely qualified individuals whose research and writing overlap. As a result, the book includes an astonishing amount of material backing up their assertion that Whiteness is foundational. You’ll find sentences that need underlining on every page. Their recent webinar, moderated by historian Robin D.G. Kelley and sponsored by Haymarket Booksand the Drug Policy Alliance, is also recommended viewing.

Jules Netherland is a sociologist and policy advocate. Her experience ranges from working in a soup kitchen with Franciscan monks to buprenorphine researcher to policy advocate. Her harrowing account of what it took to pass a stripped-down medical marijuana bill that would help few patients is required reading. It’s an illuminating example of the power of Whiteness to shape drug policy even when anti-racist activists fight hard to prevent it. Netherland writes, “The entry of suburban moms and their children changed the debate and what was possible for medical marijuana legislation…’ white innocence’ seemed to be what legislators and the media found most moving.”

David Herzberg is a historian who writes, “Remembering forgotten things is what historians do.” Among his many contributions to the book is explaining how Whiteness has always influenced access to opioids. From Chinese opium use to the era of Jim Crow to today, he unpacks the “racialized drug/medicine divide.” He includes striking side-by-side quotes from politicians, police and pundits that reveal almost every era has had a prescription drug crisis. We just forgot.