Leading African American Neuroscientist, Dr. Carl Hart, Challenges Lawmakers and Pundits About Drugs and Addiction

Press Release May 18, 2015
Media Contact

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<p>Tony Newman (646) 335-5384<br />
Anthony Papa (646) 420-7290</p>

Carl Hart, PhD, a neuroscientist and associate professor of psychology and psychiatry at Columbia University, whose work has redefined how people are discussing addiction, is today releasing two more groundbreaking and deeply compelling talks, one before a TEDMED audience in Northern California; and another a special Telephone Town Hall attended by hundreds of advocates, policymakers, faith leaders and medical professionals, and covered by Ebony.com, the leading African American news and lifestyle site.

Dr. Hart’s TEDMED Talk brilliantly dispels the myths about drugs, and drug use and drug misuse—and how Black and poor communities in particular have been harmed as a result of our misinformation. It serves as a perfect companion to Hart’s unflinching, eye-opening and best-selling memoir, High Price: A Neuroscientist’s Journey of Self-Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs and Society (HarperCollins, 2013), which won the PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award. In High Price, Hart argues forcefully that what plagued poor Black communities during the 1980s was less crack-cocaine, than it was unemployment, racism and hopelessness.

“Today would have been Malcolm X’s 90th birthday. His influence on human rights is increasingly apparent as society become more concerned about issues of over-policing in Black communities,” said Dr. Carl Hart. “My TED talk is particularly important today because it illustrates the detrimental impact of aggressive selective drug law enforcement on Black communities. It shows how drug-related harms have been exaggerated, and that this has helped create an environment where unjustified police killings are more likely to occur.”  

Last Thursday, Dr. Hart who is a board member of the Drug Policy Alliance, the nation’s most highly regarded organization promoting alternatives to our current drug policies, participated in a DPA Telephone Town Hall in which he spoke directly to parents—as the father of three Black sons—about how to mitigate the dangers of teen engagement with drugs.  “[My] number one concern [about my children and drugs] is with the police.” Hart explained that while drug effects are actually predictable, contrary to  mythology, how police treat  young Black people, is not. 

Click here to view Dr. Hart’s TED Talk, here to listen to and read Ebony.com’s coverage of his Townhall for parents, and here to visit his website.

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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