The Summary of Storytelling in the 13th Documentary

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The film conducts a concrete research into the American system and comes up with shocking statistics. The director relies on several liberals and conservatives whom she interviews to (replace-to) dig in about the African American society has been affected by the prison complex in the country. I would like to argue that in this case, according to Netflix “The 13th, over the race, justice and mass incarnation in the United States. This states that slavery is illegal except as a punishment for a crime Duvernay documentary gives us a compelling view on how the modern-day prison/labor system relates to slavery and is framed by the Black Live Matter movement.

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The film is quick to highlight the integration between Blacks being imprisoned and the economy of the nation. The 13th Amendment shows how white supremacists can hide their true intentions of controlling and destroying Black people through legal rhetoric. Notably, although the convicted parties are questionable, most of them are imprisoned unlawfully which can be related to the increased need for the labor. In the film, a number of sensitive events could be noted. The director is noted to present Reagan’s War on drugs, Bill Clinton’s Three Strikes among others as the turning points for the continued cash for prisoners structure that is resulted into the generation of millions of bails and incarceration firms, these events have and are continued to evolve into the modern prison system. The Thirteenth Amendment states “Except for criminals, everybody else is free.” (3:49). These simply means that unless you’re criminalized, you’re free. Well now if you’re criminalized, that doesn’t apply to you. (3:57/58). In the year 1972, the prison population was 300,000 which have increased to 2.3 million today. The united states now have the highest rate of incarceration in the world (doc 0.51sec).

The documentary begins with an alarming statistic: One out of four African American (will) serve prison time at one point or another in their lives. According to – The 13th, Duvernay exhibits how slavery has been maintained in practices since the end of the American Civil War through actions such as criminalizing behavior and enabling police to arrest poor, freedmen. African American were arrested for very minor reason or crimes such as loitering or vagrancy (4:00). They were jailed and made to do work. They had to provide labor to the state. The documentary describes mass incarceration in the prison system as a negative reaction to the civil movements. The prison system continues to be racist and violent, however in ways that are continually evolving. There was rapid rise the number of prisoners in jail. They had to provide labor to rebuild the economy of the south after the civil war. Alternately, laws were passed that relegated African Americans to a permanent second-class status (9:17). In addition to that, the film kicks off with shocking statistics that one out of four black men are likely to go to prison in his life. Henry Louis Gates Jr. mentioned in his speech, that being arrested by white people was worst nightmare for African Americans, (11.47). If one investigates American history then he/she can find that African American i.e., black people had to and are still struggle for equality in this country. The same time when civil right movement was gaining steam, crime rates were beginning to rise in united states, (13:27). Which simply means, after civil war African American were arrested in mass introducing first prison bloom, (3:39). With slavery being banned, white people took it into their own hands to find any other possible way to shame Africans and make them lesser human beings. Blacks were and called “super predators” which is just another way to make African American seem as if they were inferior human beings or even animals. White people always took advantage of African Americans by disenfranchisement, lynching’s and Jim Crow. This was also around the time politicians declared a war on drugs, which weighed more heavily on minority communities, leading to mass incarnation in the united states. Slavery ended in 1865.

The documentary touches on the subject on policies and politicians and how they have largely shaped incarceration. The 13th heavily investigated Nixon’s presidency who was the one who began the movement that started mass incarceration of African Americans. His “war on crime” led to Ronald Readan’s”war on drug” which was systematically orchestrated to creating a fear of blacks and basically saying that this “war on drug” was a result from them and that they needed to lock up. This is an abuse of the 13th amendment. The documentary covering lots of ground also showed or brought other important things in our watch such as terrifying videos of the endless list of African Americans being shot by police or folks who supposedly “stood their ground.” On her journey to this point, DuVernay doesn’t let either political party off the hook, nor does she ignore the fact that many people of color bought into the “law and order” philosophies that led to the current situation. We see Hillary Clinton taking about “super predators” and Donald Trump’s full-page ad advocating the death penalty for the Central Park Five (who, as a reminder, were all innocent). We also see people like African American congressman Charlie Rangel, who originally was on board with the tough on crime laws President Clinton signed into law. It was easily examined from the documentary, when one method subservience-based terror falls out of favor, another takes its place. The list feels endless and includes lynching, Jim crow, Nixon’s presidential camping, Reagan’s War on drugs, bill Clinton’s Three Strikes and mandatory sentencing law and the current cash-for-prisoners model that generates millions for private bail and incarceration firms. The political commentator Van jones, who’s partnering with Gingrich on criminal justice reform, explains in one segment how the history of white leadership in the United states could be told without making of FBI once. All the myths of black men as rapists was ultimately stemmed by the reality that the white political elite and the business establishment needed black bodies working, (6:03).

In discussing the time between Bill Clinton’s presidency and the present, the film makes several significant factual errors: it states that arrests spiked after the 1994 Crime Bill when arrests have actually fallen since that time it shows a graph claiming that the prison population has expanded dramatically since2010, when incarceration rate have plateaued or even fallen since that time,; and it says that black men account for% of the prison population, which has not been the case for several years. Although Black people remain dramatically overrepresented in prison, the last several years have seen the number of black men in prion drop and the number of white and Latino men- as well as women-rise. According to my views, in the present day also there is no equality given to black people. These we see in our daily life and also guess out from the last compelling use of archival footage in the documentary, that includes raw clips of numerous recent police brutality cases. These sequences show police officers abusing their power over black men through excessive force, including guns, all of which resulted in the death of these black individuals. This footage includes Eric Garner being subdued by many police officers as he repeatedly says he can’t breathe, Sam DuBose sitting in his car as a worked-up police officer shoots him from the window, as well as Laquan McDonald, Eric Courtney Harris, and many others being shot and mistreated by police officers. While all of the footage included in this section is difficult to watch, one clip that particularly stands out is the video of Philando Castile in his car after he has been shot by a police officer. This section ends with a list of countless more black individuals who have unjustly died at the hands of police officers. The usage of those footages by DuVernay was not to sensationalize these tragic events but to shed light on this problem and make viewers think critically about the way America has time and again disenfranchised, persecuted, abused, and criminalized the black community.

The last major thing to discuss is over the onscreen graphic, keeping tally of the number of prisoners in the system as the years pass. Starting in the 1940’s, the curve of the prisoner count graph beings rising slowly through steeply. A meteoric rise began during the Civil Rights movement and continued into the protest for rights, the harder the system fight back against it with means of incarceration, profit become the major by-product of this cycle, with an organization called ALEC providing a scary, sinister influence on building laws that make its corporate members riche. The film explores ties between slavery and mass incarceration. In 13th, DuVernay incorporates interviews with many notable experts, scholars, civil rights leaders, politicians, and activists, as well as prominent opponents. Having this diverse range of voices makes the film more engaging and adds a level of complexity. Particularly those powerful voices lends insight the subjects of mass incarceration, the prison- industrial complex, etc., with the use of the media to and newspapers. The main motto of them was to make people know and aware of the things took place in United States. Also, the use of rapes in the documentary supported the theme of the documentary. Looking over one used in documentary at 18min 57 sec described the condition of blacks on declare of ‘war on drug’. The police were permitted to imprison and ‘terrorized’ whoever committing it. During that time blacks were police major target and also called them ‘niggers’. They were laid on there belly and put guns over there head. These clarified the conditions of blacks, who they were humiliated and incarcerated. It doesn’t last her. The blacks imprisonment indirectly or directly raised economic condition of the country. The condition is well described in rape added to documentary at duration 1hour 9min 10sec.

Basically, the storytelling in the documentary is didactic in form, and this didacticism is ultimately used to expose the reality that the further America runs from truth the sooner it finds her. In both content and form, this documentary sought to educate, inspire, confront, challenges, and expose the legacies of the 13th amendment in the hope that white American society will begin to humanize. 

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