We’Ced Weighs In: 13th and the Road to Mass Incarceration

October 31, 2016 /

By We’Ced Youth Media

Photo Via Flickr


Editor’s Note: Earlier this month, the release of Ava Duvernay’s powerful documentary, 13th, garnered nationwide attention. Duvernay contends the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery, led directly to the mass incarceration and continual oppression of African-Americans. After watching the documentary, We’Ced reporters weighed in on the impact of the film and what the biggest takeaway message was for them. Read their responses below.



13th addressed a major problem still occurring in ‘America.’ Slavery in the form of mass incarceration, which mainly impacts lower income and poor communities of color.

It’s sad to see that these problems still exist today. And with people like Donald Trump, racism and mass incarceration will keep flourishing. We need to put our focus on helping and educating people of color instead of throwing them in jail.

– Nisa Salazar, 18

I would highly recommend this film because this is an issue that is affecting all of us. Black people being arrested at higher rates than any other population, especially white people, is alarming. African-Americans’ suffering is something we need to care about. Everyone deserves to live with dignity.

-Maria Dominguez, 16

The film suggests that the amendment freed the slaves, but only to make incarceration a form of slavery. Many civil rights leaders in the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s were the one voice, or hope, that African Americans had. But when these leaders were arrested, they felt hopless and voiceless. The most powerful thing about this film was that I knew most about what was shown, but I still live day to day ignoring it. I want to change that by recommending this film to people who still have a firm belief that racism isn’t alive in America. I would also reccomend it to my little brother who loves strong documentaries.

-Victor Estrada, 18

Modern incarceration has become a privatized business due to the 13th Amendment. However, mass incarceration is just a fancy term for a modern day slave trade that produces JCPenney clothing and vanity plates for the DMV. Today’s world activists are being arrested and killed, just as people were in the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s. If we are to follow Trump’s perfect America, we will fall back into the hatred-filled time of the 60’s.

-Cheyenne Chaddock, 18

The 13th amendment was made to get rid of slavery, but does not apply to those in prison. Due to this I feel we lock more people up to do free labor and use this amendment to get past human rights. There were flaws in the documentary — I don’t believe they portrayed the war on drugs correctly — but overall it brought up really valid points.

-Victor Seguin, 17

The documentary has well-structured evidence of why today the 13th Amendment has encouraged the imprisonment of Blacks. The African-American prison population is profit for big organizations. One in three black males are arrested in comparison to one in 17 white males. This is eye opening because we see information that many people don’t hear of. The documentary should be taught and presented in every history class.

-Layal Ornelas, 15

For every three  black men, one will be arrested, while for every seventeen white men just one will be arrested. The gap between these two are amazing and disgusting that they are so different. Another thing is how most victims of police brutality are black or Latino men. Meanwhile, most people who are not of color are voting for a man who wishes to degrade people because of their gender or ethnicity.

-David Macias, 18

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