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Documentary on Racism’s History Comes to Quinta Loreto


By Jim Carey

13th is a must-see for every citizen of the world curious about how the US ever became the country we are living with today. The title of galvanizing film by Ava DuVernay refers to the US Constitution’s 13th Amendment, which prohibits slavery and involuntary servitude, except when used by the state as punishment for crimes. The film focuses on African Americans and the systemic oppression and racism they face in a country where one in three black American males can expect to be imprisoned in their lifetime.

The criminal punishment exception to this Constitutional clause was exploited immediately in the aftermath of the Civil War. DuVernay argues that it continues to be abused to this day. 13th makes clear that racism has been a systemic part of inequality since English citizens landed at Plymouth and that it pervasively and tragically still makes daily life especially difficult for people of color. A Kaiser Foundation study looked at US poverty and found that only nine percent of poor people are white, while 22 percent are black and 20 percent Hispanic.

The film covers the aftermath of the Civil War, from the abolition of slavery through the chain-gang labor that replaced it, through segregation policies and the mythology of black criminality, through the war on crime and the war on drugs, and, most recently, to the rise in mass incarceration and the big business of prisons.

After this artful movie, you may wonder if things can change. To quote the late Ursula Le Guin: “We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings.”


Meeting and Film

Occupy SMA presents

13th: Ava DuVernay’s Documentary

Mon, Feb 5, 1pm

Quinta Loreto Hotel TV room

Loreto 15, Centro





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