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Ava Duvernay and Her Documentary, 13th: Picture of Slavery and Racism

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I was triggered after roughly 10 minutes into the documentary. The constant feelings I had were sadness and anger. I knew some aspects of US history; however, the film opened my eyes more to the subjects; of racism and inequality which people are still experiencing, even today. In 2020 – which to me is insane. Moreover, it slightly changed my not-so-good opinion of America more negatively.

After the Civil War in 1865 slavery became prohibited in the US as the 13th Amendment states. Even though it’s illegal, America made it somewhat legalized due to a small loophole in the Constitution. The documentary, 13th, not necessarily gives new information to some people but helps them to see and be aware of the pattern that has been happening for decades behind the justice and political system of the US; “The land of the free”.

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Later in the documentary, Nixon quoted Lincoln “No one is above the law. No one is below the law”. On the other hand, I felt like white people always benefited one way or another compared to black or Latino people. When Trayvon Martin, 17 years old, was shot in 2012 the perpetrator was not charged because of the “Stand your ground” state law. If I’m being honest, if this situation would have ended the other way around, the court would have found other ways to charge the shooter, even if he was just using “self-defense”, simply because of his skin color.

The most shocking for me was how the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is involved, which is an organization, dedicated to government principles and has a so-called “public-private partnership”, with the prison and justice system. Members (usually global corporations) of ALEC vote behind closed doors about state laws and tries to rewrite them for their revenue gain. As I researched this topic further, I found that more than 98% of its profit comes from corporations, corporate trade groups, and foundations. They must pay an annual fee between $7000 and $25000 a year with some additional fees. The bills they are voting for might seem like tough legislation for public safety, however, the incomes are more important.

Finally. I was aware of prisoners who are working for really small incomes, twenty cents an hour compared to the US National Minimum Wage ($7.25 per hour), but by the time they might get out they won’t have anything from those incomes – usually the,y would send the money to their family or get heavily taxed, so basically they are working for free. According to ALEC’s employment legislation (depending on a state by state allowed the replacement of public workers for prisoners could contribute to lost jobs, unemployment, and lower wages while profits for the corporations are flowing. 

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