African Americans have never been free even after the emancipation.

13th The Documentary

Amyiah Burton

History 232-06


African Americans have never been free even after the emancipation. The ratification of the 13th Amendment was a chance for slave owners and supporters to draft a law that had loopholes to keep African Americans in chains, literally and figuratively. The clause shifted the definition of slavery from a legitimate” business to a legal method of punishment for lawbreakers. African Americans are suffering from the legacy of slavery almost two centuries after 1867. The institutionalization of slavery, the wide racial and partisan disparities, mass incarceration, and the position of African Americans in this society have been nothing short of slavery. America boasts of these lofty ideals, but on the other hand, it has subjected Negroes to second-class status with the political elite selecting the nobility of their civic creed at the expense of social arrangements that have been in existence for many years. This essay discusses the prevalence of oppression, disenfranchisement of the rights of black people, and the return of institutionalized slavery.

The 13th documentary is a film that references the 13th Amendment and presents an account of race and the criminal justice system in America. In the film, director Ava DuVernay weighs on the topic of mass incarceration since the enactment of the 13th Amendment. Her argument is powerful, eludes to the experiences of many minorities, and has a provocative effect on others. The way the justice system uses mass incarceration is an extension of slavery and a model of racialized control. There is no better way to introduce the idea that a quarter of the world prison population is in the United States. DuVernay does an excellent job of educating people that have no idea of the return of institutionalized slavery through mass incarceration after the 13th Amendment. It educates and provides a broad knowledge base on the criminal justice system as it currently is and as it has been for many years. Besides covering this epic event in history, the film is gorgeous, reminiscent, and infuriating exploration powers, roots, and permanence. The use of the 13th Amendment as a basis for this film creates a path that allows the film director to exhaust the evolution of prejudice against black people over the years.

The black race in America is subjected to extreme stereotyping, economic inequality, and stigmatization for their way of life and isolated by the society. Their purported criminality has resulted in racial profiling by law enforcement to the extent that innocent black people are arrested, and many of their rights violated in the process. There have been documented and undocumented cases of black people being physically beaten by the police during arrests and held at police stations beyond the requirements of the law. Over the years, a cycle has emerged where when one method of subservience-based injustice and terror subsided, another rose in its place, including the Jim Crow era, lynching if black people, Nixon’s race for the presidency, Reagans War on Drugs, President Clinton’s three strikes, and the compulsory sentencing rulings and the cash-for-prisoners in effect today. The cash for prisoners is a model that bail and incarceration firms use to generate millions of dollars.

Finally, the founders of this nation in rebellion to the British legal system sought to create a system that protected citizens from government abuse. They created ten amendments in quick succession to protect the rights of convicts and the accused, and it was the model justice system. However, because of the nation’s commitment to slavery, the legacy shifted to one that haunts it years after, particularly people of color. The rate of incarceration of black people is five times that of whites, and in some states, even ten times. The reason why many African American Americans are jailed than whites is mainly variations in offending on the basis of skin color to biased decision making by the justice system. The government, despite a decline in crime, enacted harsh punishment policies, which disparately affected black people. Three eras of policymaking since 1973 expanded the use of imprisonment for reasons or felonies observed in the black community that did not necessarily warrant this kind of action. Drug offenders who were mostly users were given long jail terms instead of enrolled in supportive programs or released after a period of reform in jail. 1995, which marked the third era put emphasis on prison likelihood and elongated prison sentences for activities observed in black communities that were defined by these policies to be felonies.


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