Discussion on the evolution of slavery in the U.S.


The 13th

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Why is the film titled after the Thirteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution? Explain the relation between the 13th Amendment and the formation of the prison industrial complex

The film describes the evolution of slavery in the U.S. since the American civil war ended when the Thirteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution abolished all forms of slavery. However, several systems emerged that practiced slavery in the form of convict leasing to mass incarceration. The film describes how this form of slavery disguised itself in laws that subverted black communities, such as disenfranchisement, Jim Crow, and lynchings. The 13th Amendment abolished slavery but left a clause that allows involuntary servitude in case of conviction. Private prison corporations use this clause to satisfy market demand for labor owing to increasing prison populations.

How did the rise of “law and order” legislation criminalize and punish specific populations? How was this a means of reinstituting “systems of racial control.”

Politicians and media campaigned for law and order by targeting civil rights activists and labeling them as criminals. Minorities, especially blacks, were increasingly shown handcuffed in the news, severely damaging their families and communities. The film explores how politicians demonized African Americans to serve their political ends leading to whites fearing minorities and problems with police brutality.  These practices socially constrained minorities to systems of racial control by affecting their social lives with whites. The system made it a nightmare for arrested whites and noble for black who found a way to get charged. The film says that individuals looking to reform the system received a pressure that either dented their activism or stopped it all.

How is the carceral system being refashioned in the age of globalization? What is ALEC, and how does this reflect a neoliberal agenda (privatization)? How are African American communities criminalized for profit?

The film demonstrates that slavery persists, although it is reborn in new mechanisms such as convict leasing, Jim Crow, to mass incarceration. The system criminalizes minor offenses to lengthen prison sentences and keep private prison contractors occupied by keeping prisons full. The American legislative exchange council (ALEC) supports the prison-industrial complex by drafting legislation that promotes the agenda while receiving backing from federal legislators and republican states. The agenda aims to privatize prison contractors who contract cheap prison labor. The criminalization of minor offenses and the existing stereotypes about African American communities suggests one in three blacks faces a likelihood of lifetime imprisonment, according to FBI records. In prisons, the blacks provide profit for private prison contractors since they form the majority of prisoners.

In the chapter, Politics, and Prisons, Angela Davis speaks to the contemporary abolition movement to decriminalize communities of color and abolish prisons. How is this issue fundamentally about democracy?

Angela Davis’ thoughts about decriminalizing communities of color describe a system that lacks representation of all races. Equitable representation of all communities of color represents a significant aspect of democracy in any nation. Decriminalizing communities of color gives these communities social safety to live peacefully with one another. Davis describes politicians criminalizing African American activists by altering the truth about blacks that portrays them with images of criminality. These accusations form a part of stereotypes of blacks as hostile and drug-abusers and crucially leads to them feeling emotionally safe in prisons. Davis’ calls for the contemporary abolition movement to decriminalize minorities have fundamental democratic messages to its audience.

Your thoughts about criminality? Does the film change how you think about “law and order” arguments, discourses about drugs and\or other “crimes” or even laws, such as anti-abortion laws? Conversely, does this film change how you feel about those deemed “innocent” or in need of protection?

I believe criminality is highly flawed in the current system that purports minorities as a threat to the existence of other majority groups. Stereotypes and myths spread throughout several decades, leading to the mass incarceration of minorities in the late 1970s until the present. The system does not judge individuals based on crime but color. The film significantly changes my arguments about “law and order” I now look at criminal cases involving people of color, profoundly ensuring that my argument does not interfere with justice. My insight about other laws, such as anti-abortion laws, does not change because these laws follow explicit and objective evidence. The film changes my feelings about the “innocent” because based on evidence of persecution of people of color and a system that disguises vices against the minorities, I now believe that maybe the “innocent” hold valid arguments for their innocence.

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