Starting with the 1898 Spanish American War, the Hearst newspaper had denounced Spaniards, Mexican-Americans, and Latinos.
After the seizure of 800,000 acres of Hearsts prime Mexican timberland by the marihuana smoking army of Pancho Villa,* these slurs intensified.
* The song La Cucaracha tells the story of one of Villas men looking for his stash of marijuana por fumar! (to smoke!)
Non-stop for the next for three decades, Hearst painted the picture of the lazy, pot-smoking Mexicanstill one of our most insidious prejudices. Simultaneously, he waged a similar racist smear campaign against the Chinese, referring to them as the Yellow Peril.
Hearst, through pervasive and repetitive use, brought the word marijuana into English.
From 1910 to 1920, Hearsts newspapers would claim that the majority of incidents in which blacks were said to have raped white women could be traced directly to cocaine. This continued for 10 years until Hearst decided it was not cocaine-crazed Negroes raping white womenit was now marijuana-crazed Negroes raping white women.
Hearsts and other sensationalistic tabloids ran hysterical headlines atop stories portraying Negroes and Mexicans as frenzied beasts who, under the influence of marijuana, would play anti-white voodoo-satanic music (jazz) and heap disrespect and viciousness onto the predominantly white readership. Other such Jim Crow (apartheid) offenses resulting from this drug-induced crime wave included: stepping on white mens shadows, looking white people directly in the eye for three seconds or more, looking at a white woman twice, laughing at a white person, etc.
For such crimes, hundreds of thousands of Mexicans and blacks spent, in aggregate, millions of years in jails, in prisons, and on chain gangs, under brutal segregation laws that remained in effect throughout the U.S. until the 1950s and 60s. Hearst, through pervasive and repetitive use, pounded the obscure Mexican slang word marijuana into the English-speaking American consciousness. Meanwhile, the word hemp was discarded and cannabis, the scientific term, was ignored or buried.
The actual Spanish word for hemp is cáñamo. But using a Mexican Sonoran colloquialismmarijuana, often Americanized as marihuanaguaranteed that no one would realize that the proper terms for one of the worlds chief natural medicine, cannabis, and for the premier industrial resource, hemp, had been outflanked, outlawed, and pushed out of the language.
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