An important and alarming look at inequality in the Western world today

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Section 1. 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.

Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

By Jay Hunter13th is the new documentary from Ava DuVernay (Selma) which claims that the 13th amendment was constructed with a loophole. Allowing compulsory servitude as a forfeiture for crime, a clause which was then directly exploited once slavery had been abolished. Providing an in-depth look at the prison system in the United States the documentary manages to affirm the nation’s history of racial inequality with unequivocal vigour.

The abolition of slavery, through the chain gang labour that reinstated it, along with apartheid and “the mythology of black criminality”, serve as a precursor to a delineate track leading from the Nixon instilled “war on crime and drugs” to present day mass incarceration. Perhaps most startling is the big business of privately run prisons and conglomerates such as Victoria’s Secret which use convicts for cheap labour. DuVernay administers a narrative which deconstructs the amendment and leaves it bare as little more than a instrument to profit from African Americans.

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Images: Netflix

A documentary of this nature could easily be dismissed as tin-foil hat propaganda, however well-researched chronicle’s and ardent one-on-one interviews means the claims that are presented are entirely plausible. No doubt leaving a sour taste in the mouths of the right.

Memorable blurbs affirming that the US penal system is worth around $600 billion a year stain the memory and will not be easily forgotten. A heartbreaking final scene which you may have seen being shared on Facebook recently, punctuates an important movie with a hard hitting reminder of inequality in todays world.

13th

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