13th (2016): A Powerful Exploration of Systemic Oppression in the United States

13TH | FULL FEATURE | Netflix - YouTube

     Ava DuVernay’s documentary is easily one of the best and most powerful explorations of the history of white supremacy and systemic racism directed at African-Americans here in the United States. This is a documentary that brings in multiple scholars and covers slavery up to school to prison pipeline of modern day. I highly recommend this documentary.

The documentary was written and directed by Ava DuVernay who co-wrote it along with Spencer Averick.

The documentary covers the oppression of African-American from slavery, lynchings and Jim Crow to the modern day systems of today like the school to prison pipeline.

The Pros:

The Interviews – The interviews are powerful and Ava chose great people to speak on the eras of history and modern day. Angela Davis, Bryan Stevenson, Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Corey Booker are a few of the people interviewed and I recommend checking out all their written work and interviews.

The Eras of History and Facing White Supremacism and Structural Racism – This documentary is thorough in how it covers each era of history and how each era leads into the next. Just because laws are passed does not mean racist ideology isn’t passed down through those in power and that is where post-emancipation you see why very little changes and instead all that has changed is the means of enslavement and oppression. This is explored in arresting or fining freed people until they are arrested and than forced to work once more for the plantations they were freed from. This happened years after emancipation and the racist laws of Jim Crow weren’t overturned until the 60’s and even then the ways of keeping African-Americans from voting were still in play through poll taxes and making voting stations unreachable. This combined with the disproportionate targeting of African-American communities during the “War on Drugs,” kept this system in check up to modern time.

Today – The exploration of the modern day oppression was explored in the interviews, especially through the lens that that Bryan Stevenson brought in the disproportionate actions from police, the school to prison pipeline, the “War on Drugs,” and how bias comes out in interviews and who gets hired by companies. It is amazing and ties into the Black Lives Matter and all the murders by police of African-Americans like George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and countless others. We are far from an equitable and just society and this documentary explores all the ways that is the case today.

There is so more I could say on why this documentary works but most importantly I think it is important to use this education as a call to action. Systems of oppression can only change with action and that is where I’m going to end this review with a few organizations worth investing in in the fight for Equity and Justice.

Final Score: 10 / 10

Organizations you can donate to, in the fight for Equity and Justice: 

http://www.arraynow.com/ – Ava DuVernay’s Organization ARRAY she founded for justice and representation.

https://socialjusticefund.org/announcing-the-eradicating-anti-blackness-covid-recovery-grant/ – Social Justice Fund fighting anti-blackness and for covid recovery.

https://eji.org/ – Equal Justice Initiative, an organization Bryan Stevenson is a part of.

https://act.naacpldf.org//o/6857/p/salsa/donation/common/public/?donate_page_KEY=15780&_ga=2.231342234.480782673.1591028794-1029022299.1591028794 – NAACP Legal and Education Fund.

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