Racism and the Prison system in America: the 13th Amendment.

The title of Ava DuVernay’s extraordinary and galvanizing documentary 13TH refers to the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which reads “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 progression from that second qualifying clause to the horrors of mass criminalization and the sprawling American prison industry is laid out by DuVernay with bracing lucidity. With a potent mixture of archival footage and testimony from a dazzling array of activists, politicians, historians, and formerly incarcerated women and men, DuVernay creates a work of grand historical synthesis. Now Streaming on Netflix. (Youtube)
How could there still be Racism in this country today? Follow this question back to the beginning of it all, Slavery in the U.S., work through the history all the way up to today, and there you will find your answer.
It’s never too late to bring greater awareness into your understanding of this world, but now would be a really good time as a great deal of the world stares in bafflement at the man who was just elected President of the land of the free, and elected by those who perpetuate a long-standing strategically created myth that those of color are savage, dangerous, criminals, second class citizens, thugs; violent and lesser. People of Color in this country have been living under terror and trauma generation after generation after generation as a country bares down spitting the falsities of a sinister image to protect a crippling economy:
The truth being that the abolishment of slavery allowed every slave to be released of their forced labor, the backbone to the southern economy. The South faced a terrible economic depression. If something was not put in to replace the now dissipated work force, the southern States would face a economic collapse.
Thus, the 13th Amendment was enacted during Reconstruction, and between that time, leading all the way to the Jim Crowe laws and segregation, all the way up to the American privatized prison system of the 21st century, between all this time, People of color were selectively criminalized, thrown into prison, where they, as criminals, lost their rights as free citizens. This was a loophole discovered in 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, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”( Amendment XIII, Section 1 of the United States Constitution).
The South gained back its free labor force as propaganda was spread of the criminal nature of African Americans, and countless, once free men and women, were thrown back into slavery as punishment for their crimes. These convictions were often such things like petty theft or even made up entirely for the purpose of quickly rebuilding the southern economy after the civil war.
The image stuck in the minds of the White as they saw many colored men and women being carried off to prison for “deviant acts”. The propaganda worked so well that White people in the south started to believe it as truth: that these are people not to trust, to stay away from, and to fear.
Can you imagine? a majority of people that you have to live with every day of your life, sending such negative energy your way? It was terrorism. No other way to explain it. And that terrorism turned into trauma, that ever since has been passed down from generation to generation. Trauma – learned behavior often associated with a violent event that was, or perceived as, life-threatening. Nearly every African American, if not all, from the period between Reconstruction and WWII legitimately experienced their lives being threatened each and every day.
In fact, that inherited trauma gets re-lived with each generation. It is my learned behavior, INHERITED behavior, as I watched and observed so keenly with my newly forming conscious mind, the behavior of these adults surrounding me, and with that observation, even as I hear the words “we are all equal, I INHERIT behavior that says, “Do not trust African Americans”. So is the same for the other side: “Your life is in danger.”
This great lie born in America has caused both races to fear each other, to believe that the other wishes them harm. This is human programming. A computer can be programmed. A human mind can be programmed. A collective mass of human minds can be programmed. The reality of the very real racism that exists today is born from a lie told 170 years ago, over and over and over again until we all believed it, and we acted out the belief as if it were true, we created the reality of this intentional lie.
And it is still being played out by us all.
SO how do we stop the lie? How do we heal centuries of slavery and racism? We speak the truth out loud, and we do not falter, we repeat it over and over, and we do it in great numbers, so we cannot be ignored, and we shout BLACK LIVES MATTER because that is the TRUTH, and the more we shout it, express it, the greater this reality based on a lie will change, and we will live a reality based on truth. And we will all forgive ourselves now that we have found this Truth, and we will move on to a more Just future.
Stand Up. Act Out. When done in massive enough numbers, the country will change. Find solidarity. Find some message that you can connect with, find others who share that connection, and empower each other to Stand Up and express it!
Nothing changes if we stay silent.

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