About Nicholas Kristof

Nicholas Kristof, a columnist for The New York Times since 2001, writes op-ed columns that appear twice a week. Mr. Kristof won the Pulitzer Prize two times, in 1990 and 2006. In 2012, he was a Pulitzer finalist in Commentary for his 2011 columns that often focused on the disenfranchised in many parts of the world.

Drug Dealers in Lab Coats

For decades, America has waged an ineffective war on drug pushers and drug lords, from Bronx street corners to Medellin, Colombia, regarding them as among the most contemptible specimens of humanity. One reason our efforts have failed is we ignored the biggest drug pushers of all: American pharmaceutical companies. Our policy was: You get 15 people hooked on opioids, and you’re a thug who deserves to rot in hell; you get 150,000 people hooked, and you’re a marketing genius who deserves a … [Read more...]

Susan Burton: A Modern-Day Harriet Tubman

She was 4 years old when her aunt’s boyfriend began to abuse her sexually. Then at 14, she had a baby girl, the result of a gang rape. Soon she fell under the control of a violent pimp and began cycling through jails, prisons, addiction and crime for more than 20 years. Yet today, Susan Burton is a national treasure. She leads a nonprofit helping people escape poverty and start over after prison, she’s a powerful advocate for providing drug treatment and ending mass incarceration — and her … [Read more...]

A History of White Delusion

In 1962, 85 percent of white Americans told Gallup that black children had as good a chance as white kids of getting a good education. The next year, in another Gallup survey, almost half of whites said that blacks had just as good a chance as whites of getting a job. In retrospect, we can see that these white beliefs were delusional, and in other survey questions whites blithely acknowledged racist attitudes. In 1963, 45 percent said that they would object if a family member invited a black … [Read more...]

When Whites Just Don’t Get It, Part 2

n my column a week ago, “When Whites Just Don’t Get It,” I took aim at what I called “smug white delusion” about race relations in America, and readers promptly fired back at what they perceived as a smugly deluded columnist. Readers grudgingly accepted the grim statistics I cited — such as the wealth disparity between blacks and whites in America today exceeding what it was in South Africa during apartheid — but many readers put the blame on African-Americans themselves. “Probably has … [Read more...]

When Whites Just Don’t Get It

After Ferguson, Race Deserves More Attention, Not Less ANY white Americans say they are fed up with the coverage of the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. A plurality of whites in a recent Pew survey said that the issue of race is getting more attention than it deserves. Bill O’Reilly of Fox News reflected that weariness, saying: “All you hear is grievance, grievance, grievance, money, money, money.” Indeed, a 2011 study by scholars at Harvard and Tufts found that whites, on average, … [Read more...]

Inside a Mental Hospital Called Jail

he largest mental health center in America is a huge compound here in Chicago, with thousands of people suffering from manias, psychoses and other disorders, all surrounded by high fences and barbed wire. Just one thing: It’s a jail. The only way to get treatment is to be arrested. Psychiatric disorders are the only kind of sickness that we as a society regularly respond to not with sympathy but with handcuffs and incarceration. And as more humane and cost-effective ways of treating mental … [Read more...]