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a disappointing reality

Ava DuVernay's "13th" is an extremely important film for it chronicles the persistent racism in the United States against African Americans. The title refers to the 13th amendment which was a way to facilitate the incarceration of slaves who had now been emancipated.

Beginning with the mass incarceration of freed slaves after 1865 and moving on to segregation and painting of blacks as dangerous and naturally criminal, there has been a consistent effort to marginalize this community.

DW Griffith's famous film “Birth of a Nation” depicted African Americans as rapists and dangerous killers and even glorified the Klu Klux Klan. This film saw the invention of the burning cross which, in an example of life imitating art, saw its adoption by this fringe extremist group as a new way to terrorize.

The US has 5% of the world population and yet currently has 25% of the world’s prisoners; a healthy portion of whom are black. This is a staggering and troubling statistic.

The Republican Party's first real influx into the Democratic south began in the early 1970's with Richard Nixon's appeal to white voters to join him in instilling law and order. This was code for keeping the anti-war peaceniks at bay and controlling movements like the Black Panthers.

This was followed by Ronald Reagan’s war on drugs in the early 1980’s which escalated the incarceration of young black men for sometimes minor offenses. Beginning in this period, the jail population truly exploded.

In the end it was another way to control and subjugate the black population; one which had been troubled and marginalized for many decades and was more often than not vilified and persecuted.

This film also clearly depicts the Machiavellian nature of politics and how one maneuvers in order to get elected. I suspect if you are well meaning and honest you won't get very far. I only need think of Jimmy Carter as a prime example whose humanitarian efforts continued well past his tenure as President but whose legacy will be viewed by many as being steeped in abject failure.

That recent social media posting about Michelle Obama being an "ape in heels" by a school board official who has, since the Trump election, regained her position is likely the tip of an uglier iceberg that lurks beneath.

This is essential viewing and you will find it on Netflix.


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