By: Delonte’ Neal
Photo: Bronze Magazine
Campus Events recently held a program entitled “The 13th.” Students were granted the opportunity to watch this Netflix original documentary directed by Ava DuVernay.
The movie focused on the inequality acts performed against African Americans in the criminal justice system. Centered on race in the United States criminal justice system, the film is titled after the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which outlawed slavery (unless as for a punishment of a crime).
DuVernay’s documentary argues that slavery is being effectively perpetuated through mass incarceration. This movie was a big success and talked of so highly. It has even received an Oscar nomination. The cast includes important activist such as Angela Davis, Jelani Cobb, Henry Louis Gates Jr., and more.
The movie started off very powerful with the statement: “One out of every four African-American males will serve prison time at one point or another in their lives.” From here viewers were already shown that it was put in place for African-American males to be incarcerated.
In the movie several persons were interviewed and gave their opinions and thoughts on the 13th amendment and how they analyzed it. Some felt as though there was some sort of loop hole in the law.
It was said that all slaves were free meaning they didn’t have to be punished by working for the “white man” unless they were found guilty of a crime. So it basically stated that African-Americans would be free unless they committed a crime. The movie goes into depth how these punishments were cruel and unnecessary.
It explained how fighting and protesting for equal rights and laws sometimes in fact did nothing but cause more people to be incarcerated. African-Americans were labeled as criminals before they could even commit a crime, regardless of who they were.
It was stated in the movie that at one point only white people were human and deserved to be treated correctly. Because white people felt this way, laws were put in place to restrict the African-American community from so much.
When African-Americans did commit crimes, they were punished with extremely harsh penalties. For example, large numbers of people were given long sentences for engaging in the activity of selling cocaine or crack. Prisoners were often too poor to pay the money to post bail which resulted in them spending long periods of time in prison.
To add on to the harsh punishments, once these people were considered felons, they were not allowed to vote. This means that less and less African-Americans were allowed to vote to help change laws that were affecting the African-American community heavily.
All in all, the movie focused on the horrible acts done to the African-American community. After completely analyzing the movie, it leaves viewers wondering if the 13th Amendment actually freed African-Americans.
In today’s society there’s still very high levels of racism. It affects the African-American community when it comes to them getting jobs, purchasing homes, cars, etc. The proper question at hand is “Will there ever be a day when blacks and whites are truly equal?”