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Piper Kerman & ProPublica’s Ginger Thompson to Discuss Pop Culture Portrayal of War on Drugs

How does Hollywood shape the public’s view of the drug war? This question will be at the center of a talk on Saturday, Sept. 10, at the Brooklyn Museum between Piper Kerman, author of the memoir Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison, and ProPublica senior reporter Ginger Thompson.

Entitled “The War on Drugs: Onscreen and Off,” the event kicks off the fall season of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art as part of the ongoing program series, “States of Denial: The Illegal Incarceration of Women, Children and People of Color.” Kerman and Thompson will discuss the war on drugs in the United States and abroad – what it’s really like, how it’s portrayed in popular culture (including the Netflix series Orange is the New Black and Narcos, HBO’s The Wire, and the film Traffic), and whether those depictions contribute to cynicism around the issue or spark reform. The event is free with Brooklyn Museum admission.

Kerman’s memoir, in which she describes serving 13 months in prison for drug trafficking, was turned into a hit Netflix show that recently began its fourth season. She has also used her experience to advocate for reform, currently serving on the board of the Women’s Prison Association and teaching creative writing to inmates at two state prisons in Ohio. Thompson has written extensively about the drug war, with much of her work focusing on the secret, and largely unsuccessful, roles Washington has played in stemming the flow of illegal drugs around the world. She spent more than a decade reporting from Latin America, including as the Mexico City Bureau Chief for The New York Times. Their combined experiences offer a look at the drug war from some of its most compelling and complicated angles.

WHAT: The War on Drugs: Onscreen and Off

WHEN: Saturday, Sept. 10 at 2:00 p.m.

WHERE: Brooklyn Museum’s Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Auditorium, 3rd Floor

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