The term “crack baby” originated after a 1985 article by pediatrician Ira Chasnoff. Now known to be a myth, it suggested that there was a possible link between maternal cocaine use and infant health – and American media went wild.
But has white America ever really cared about Black children? By overstating the effects of prenatal cocaine exposure, America had an excuse to dehumanize Black women struggling with addiction and classify them as undeserving of welfare, support, or even their own children.
America’s “solution” for drug addiction and poverty is to imprison working-class Black mothers. And as for the 40-60% of children predicted to be addicted to cocaine? It only turned out to be 2-3%.
But, even if “crack babies” hadn’t been a myth, do Black mothers and their children not deserve love and resources?
What birthed the culture of the “crack baby” is not unloving Black mothers – but white supremacy. Black women are not disposable. We need to build a world where the response to a Black woman struggling is not criminalization, but rehabilitation, care, and support.