Speaking on the opioid painkiller and heroin epidemic in Maine, Gov. Paul LePage, a Republican, made an unbelievably racist remark at a town hall on Wednesday:
These are guys with the name D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty. These types of guys, they come from Connecticut and New York. They come up here, they sell their heroin, then they go back home. Incidentally, half the time they impregnate a young, white girl before they leave, which is a real sad thing because then we have another issue that we got to deal with down the road.
The comment, surfaced by Get Right Maine, plays on clear racial overtones by using names typically attributed to black culture and rap, and suggests that black people are outsiders, criminals, drug dealers, and rapists that take advantage of young, white women. (This racial trope in the war on drugs goes back to at least the late 19th century and early 20th century, when local, state, and federal lawmakers pushed drug laws by suggesting that minority people would lure and harm young white women with drugs.)
Studies show white and black Americans use and sell drugs at similar rates, although African Americans are much more likely to be arrested for drug possession. So there are simply no statistics to back the governor’s implications.