The documentary “13th” directed by Ava DuVernay and distributed by Netflix was released in 2016. It sheds light on the way the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States changed America and turned into a state with “the highest rate of incarceration in the world” (Thirteenth Amendment Documentary). According to this amendment, all people of America, including ex-slaves, were free, all but for one group – criminals. The following documentary demonstrates that, in many aspects, the thirteenth Amendment aimed not at liberating people but transforming the form of slavery for Blacks Americans.
At the present moment, more than two million criminals are kept in American prisons, and most of them are Black. However, this data does not reflect the actual crime rate in the state but instead demonstrates how, in the course of history, politicians used the law to pursue racism and impose fear on people. After the Civil War and the abolition of slavery in the United States, more than four million Black people gained freedom. At the same time, the country faced a severe crisis and needed labor force to strengthen the economy of the state. In fact, America needed its slaves back, and the government created a rather exquisite way to realize it by sighing the Thirteenth Amendment. Just after it was proclaimed, the number of Black criminals started growing rapidly. People were arrested and encaged even for minor offenses.
Those who got to prisons had to work at factories and plants for free that, in fact, was similar to slavery. However, next presidents of the United States realized the manipulating power of the amendment and used it as a tool of racial control. The number of Black prisoners was growing every year, and the media and politicians created an image of a Black man as a rapist, murderer, and thief that only escalated interracial aggression.
Till now, prisons serve as a source of free labor for huge American corporations manufacturing goods and bringing income for them. At the same time, American prisons remain the places of violence, inhuman conditions, and mass deaths: many prisoners are either killed by other criminals and guards or commit suicide being unable to endure abuse. The American government, however, continues using this death machine to demonstrate its power.