The subsect of the American populace that remembers “VeggieTales” is unlikely to consist of today’s most enthusiastic cannabis consumers.
Starring characters like Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber, the story places anthropomorphized vegetables into biblical life lessons. The property now includes shows, films, books, games, and more. Originated as a 1993 video series, VeggieTales continues to release new content to this day. Putting aside the admitted appeal of mixing THC with a series in which animated vegetables have kooky adventures, cannabis and VeggieTales are two things that one might assume have absolutely nothing in common.
Enter Phil Vischer.
As the founder of VeggieTales (and the voice of Bob the Tomato), Vischer has cultivated a large following. Consistently presumably of mostly Christian families with young children, this fanbase is about as ideal a demographic as one could hope for when it comes to enlightening the masses when it comes to the role the war on drugs played in supporting and systemizing racial injustices across the country.
In a video posted on June 14, Visher speaks for nearly 18 minutes about the ways in which black Americans have been marginalized and disenfranchised throughout history. The clip, entitled “Holy Post – Race in America” also spends some time specifically focusing on anti-drug laws on the ways in which they have disproportionately targeted communities of color.
“Throughout the 1970s,” Visher explains at one point in the video, “white America became increasingly concerned by images of black violence shown on TV and in magazines. Drugs were the problem. Drug dealers and drug users were the enemy. So we decided to treat the drug epidemic not as a health crisis, but as a crisis of criminality. And we militarized our response.”
Later in the talk, Visher also points to the ways in which Democratic leaders must bear the burden of past drug policy, wisely positioning the matter not as partisan but instead as an issue of human rights.
“[It] might seem like we’re picking on Republicans,” Visher explains, “so now it’s time to pick on some Democrats.”
Visher then goes on to illustrate how under the Clinton Presidency, funding for public housing was cut by $17 billion while prison funding increased by $19 million.
Other salient points addressed in his post include financial incentives for arrests, the rise of the U.S. prison population from 350,000 to 2.3 million in 25 years, and bone-chilling statistics like the fact that “the United States currently imprisons a higher percentage of our black population than South Africa ever did during apartheid.”
Everything Visher is saying is absolutely true, but it’s still rather remarkable to see a person in his position speak on these matters in a direct and informative manner. When one compares what he’s done with the countless examples of empty social media posturing and corporate justice jargon being thrust at us in all directions, the difference is abundantly clear.
Even if Visher is not regarded as a leading authority (well, at least on matters not involving virtual cabbages on Noah’s Ark), the precedent he’s set with this new video is one others can use as an example of a great way to convey difficult information in a safe setting. It doesn’t require an advanced degree, just some research and conviction. Tragically, all one honestly requires is an honest accounting of U.S. history and you should have everything you need.
Truth is, we’re going to need a lot more Phil Vishers to start speaking up. Hopefully this is the first crack in a dam ready to burst. In any case, kudos to the guy who makes religious vegetables come to life for being one of the first to the podium.