• Total male population of American prison inmates: 2.2million!
• Of this 2.2m males, 37% or 814,000 are non-Hispanic African-American males!
• Total percentage of blacks in the USA is 14.3% of the total population of just over 321.4m as at 2015.
Such a bold statement: yet once you have read my article and watched this powerful documentary, you will most likely share the same opinion. In the light of Black History Month and with the American (USA) elections approaching, I recently decided to take some time out and watch a documentary called 13th (only shown on Netflix as far as I am aware – do correct me if I am wrong). One thing I did learn immediately was that Slavery was and has never been abolished – yes in my opinion.
Carry on reading….
Director Ava DuVernay produced the documentary called 13th. It challenges and even dismantles the collective idea that we as a world believe in the word “progress”.
How does one define progress?
The 13th amendment: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States.”
The definition above gives the assumption that “all” American citizens are protected under the Constitution – yet when you watch this powerful documentary you begin to understand that really and truly, slavery was and has never been abolished in the USA! It has quite simply been amended to fit into the purpose of the people in charge of the so called free world.
A chilling fact is that the USA is home to 5% of the world’s population; yet 25% of the world’s prisoners are in the USA, with an even greater percentage either on probation or on parole! And guess what colour the vast majority of these prisoners, etc. are? The percentage of black people, compared to their total population in the USA – men and the poor who spend their lives in prison, on probation and on parole, was and is still horrendous. Simply put, the number and proportion of Black people imprisoned, on probation or on parole is higher than any other ethnic group – even though Black people are less than 20% of the total population of the USA! Some of the more damaging effects is that large numbers of households are headed by single women – resulting in even more children growing up without fathers or father-figures; thus, creating the perfect storm for perpetuating more poverty, poor education, lack of upward social mobility and consequent future incineration and recidivism! To think that the numbers are continuously rising is extremely disturbing!
The documentary covers the inescapable and undeniable connections of the legal and political systems to the mass incarceration of black people. It goes far back to the time of slavery and up to where we are now – with civil rights for black people. While it’s fair to say that the system appears to have changed, with you beginning to understand the use of language, you learn that there hasn’t been any real change in the structure and that the essentials and spirit of the legal and political system are still very much the same – keeping black people as “criminals”, and in chains! Its only more complex now; but the historical examples of slavery are still happening today! It’s sad to say but – You and I still live in an era of slavery!
The documentary brings the story of Kalief Browder 1993-2015 who was incarcerated on Rikers Island detention without seeing a lawyer or a Judge for 3 whole years and eventually released without charge? Kalief Browder committed suicide after 6 months out of prison at 22 years. There are many stories like this particularly in the Chicago area and they are illegal!
How is this still happening?
13th goes deep into breaking it down as to why this still happens and what the benefits are to the community of captors. One word – and that is profit! Which is exactly what it was all about during the era of slavery. The present private prison system earns millions in profits for its shareholders, simply from the head count of prisoners. So, it’s in the interest of the managers, shareholders and other beneficiaries to lock up as many people as possible – be it Black, Hispanic or anyone else who doesn’t fit “the real American agenda! “
13th is not just a documentary, but a demand. It is demanding that we know what has happened and how much our world hasn’t changed. Like I said in my last article, black history month: what for? With the American election, fast approaching (on Tuesday November 8, 2016), it doesn’t matter now who you vote for; the constitution and laws still stand!
Unfortunately, our history is still the same, only now just a different use of language!