With the stroke of a pen, the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery unless you are a criminal. The Thirteenth Amendment 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 its’ jurisdiction.” In America, African Americans make up 13% of the population, however, African American males make up 40% of those incarcerated.

DuVernay’s new documentary 13th, is about the continuation of systematic racism that plaques the African American community due to the Thirteenth Amendment and the formation of the Prison Industrial Complex. It analyzes  the effects that the War on Drugs and the 3 Strikes rule have had on the African American community. The film was released at the New York Film Festival and it was the first documentary to open at the festival.

In an interview with Democracy Now, DuVernay expressed how her film will would impact the current elections.  “I hope that people demand answers, demand some strategy, demand a plan. Neither one of them has really talked in great detail, or enough detail for me, as to what their feelings about this issue in a way that is going to make long-term change. There’s a lot of cosmetic talk, but I’m really interested in a full commitment to making change. And that can happen only if the people demand it.”

There are clips in the film that showcase Donald Trump talking about the incarceration of the Central Park 5, as well as Hilary Clinton, referring to young African American males as “super predators.”.

The United States accounts for only 5% of the world’s population and 25% of its prisoners.

In the documentary you will find interviews with Michelle Alexander, Angela Davis, Bryan Stevenson, Khalil Muhammad, Kevin Gannon, Malkia Cyril and more.

-Kerri L. Hill