Ava DuVernay’s shocking documentary 13th hit like a raging storm when she first revealed it in the autumn 2016 film festivals. Donald Trump had not yet been “elected” President of the United States, but already, the shock of him ascending to the status of Republican nominee was unsettling.
With the recent homicidal police violence against black Americans, there has a been a huge increase in the support of the #BlackLivesMatter movement. The most recent death of George Floyd has flicked a spark across the nation and globe in regard to the mistreatment of black people. Protests have occurred all across the world in regard to this movement and people are properly starting to educate themselves now.
This film, 13th, is a primer on one essential basic of Black American History and of understanding America: this is about how America didn’t really abolish slavery at all. It shows how it was transformed into a form that allowed for deniability and the soothing of the collective white conscience.
Documentary’s ability to draw emotion
The show makes you feel uncomfortable as it makes you want to deny the fact that some of these actions were carried out. This is for those who want to deny that the construct of society in America derives from a lot of these deeply engrained issues. The film’s name refers to the 13th amendment to the US Constitution, ratified by the nation in 1865, which states:
“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, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”
A fast forward to the 21st century shows America having the highest rate of incarceration in the world. And whilst America only has 5 percent of the world’s population, it has 25 percent of its prisoners. And take a wild guess at who the ethnic majority is in those cells.