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  • Gareth Crook

13th (2016) - 8/10

Part of me wonders if I should be watching and writing about this. I always feel that I come across as anti-American. Lots of counties have a lot of issues of course, pretty much all of them sadly, but America does seem to have more than it’s fair share. It makes up 5% of the global population, but also a staggering 25% of incarcerated people… in the world. I’m not going to go too deep here, but the 13th amendment of the US constitution guarantees freedom for all, abolished slavery… except for criminals. What this documentary explores is the huge loop hole exploited to enslave largely black people… for profit. Slavery is alive and well in America in 2022. Land of the free my arse. This isn’t new. Slavery was abolished 1865 and was immediately followed by a crime boom of black people being arrested for minor offences. It’s a story of white supremacy, the KKK, segregation laws and how it’s shaped and still shapes US society. Oh but America doesn’t have a race problem! Bull fucking shit!! It’s a country with it running through its DNA. The voices telling this story are professors activists and authors. Intercut interviews, that guide us through history. Nixons ‘Law & Order’ of the 60s, the birth of mass incarceration and Reagan’s picking up the mantle with his war on drugs. They’re not all black voices, there’s a mix. But the narrative of history is all controlled by white voices. White politicians. White media. It’s hard not to watch this and not be angry and I’m a white bloke in England. What is it like to watch this being black in America today… or any day. US laws are draconian. I mean it’s terrifying stuff. Mandatory sentencing. Three strikes (federal charges) and your locked up for life. No parole. The bail system. 97% of people in prison NEVER HAVING A TRIAL. On and on. Clinton’s thirst for votes, accelerating the issues with his crime bill that paved the way for the SWAT teams in local police departments and megaprisons that are so commonplace in the US today. They’re battery farms. Human battery farms. There’s some shocking stuff I’ve never heard of. ALEC a hush-hush group of corporations AND politicians, proposing and implementing laws. Including the birth of private prison facilities. Which has lead to over 2 million people being in US prisons today. 40% of which are black despite being only 6% of the US population. “Corporations operating in prisons and profiting from punishment”. It’s not easy to watch. It’s not supposed to be. It’s supposed to make those of us who’ve not lead this life understand what it’s like not to be white in America.



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