Ava DuVernay’s ‘13th’ Shows How Prisons In America Changed

The new movie ‘13th’ highlights the evolution of prisons in America and the country’s law enforcement tactics of incarcerating Black people.

Ava DuVernay’s passion for the present-day reality of Black life in America can’t be understated, but her sheer will to make people aware of America’s past in order to prevent its squalid history of mistreating Blacks from repeating itself is unrelenting.

The film director sheds light on the matter in her spectacular new documentary “13th.” In the movie, she looks at how the 13th amendment in the U.S. constitution, which put an end to slavery also came with a loophole that was taken advantage of and ultimately led to the present swelling number of Black people incarcerated in America.

“The 13th Amendment has a clause that is a criminality clause,” DuVernay explained in an interview with The Huffington Post. “It says that everyone is free in this country. No one can be held as a slave… ‘except as for punishment for a crime.’”

DuVernay believes that the 13th amendment has to be looked at due to the fact that “most people don’t know about that loophole,” she said. “We have no context for the current moment if we don’t know where we came from.”

According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, prisons in America hold 25 percent of the world’s prison population, 40 percent of whom are Black. The movie, which interlaces the voices of historians and activists together with the likes of Angela Davis and Michelle Alexander among others, makes America’s historical sordid treatment of the African-Americans  clear. They explore how Black people suffered as slaves to the twisted reality of the reconstruction era, which has led to the present day policing of Black people when so many African-Americans are incarcerated.

“You can’t talk about change if you don’t know what we’re changing,” DuVernay said, highlighting why understanding our past is critical to our perspectives of our present. “What we need to change is our overall collective thinking about this moment. That’s tied to [our] past… we don’t know what we’re talking about if you don’t know the history of it. It’s so important.”

The film highlights the aggressive laws proposed and carried out by Presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan respectively, who saw the increase in incarceration rates of Blacks, over-policing and the wide-spread perception of Black people as criminals and misfits. The film also highlights the tragic police shootings of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown to help give perspective on what led to the beginning of the Black Lives Matter movement.

The movie is a must watch, as it shows a lot of things that we as Black people have to know and understand in order to see things differently. Systemic racism has been here for donkey’s years and Black people are targeted: going from slavery to mass incarceration. All this is profitable for whites and they will look for ways to restore it by all means.

Source: The Huffington Post
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