Such is the argument used in the documentary movie 13th, the trailer of which I’ve just watched. In the trailer they put forward the view that in the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery and involuntary servitude except as punishment for a crime, the exception was used as a tool to keep as many blacks in slavery as possible. They also speak of the ‘mythology’ of black crime.
I find this a very hard, in fact impossible, argument to accept. I do recognize that African-Americans are locked up out of all proportion to their numbers but of course there is an historical reason for this. When slaves are freed, freed into poverty and discrimination, it is natural that many of them will turn to crime. Society often left them no option. One might say they were liberated a long time ago but liberty and equality are two completely different things and African-Americans have still not achieved equality.
All this I grant but that blacks were purposely imprisoned in an effort to keep them enslaved I do not buy at all. Nor do I buy the ‘mythology of black crime’ concept. Mythologies are by their very nature fictional. Black crime is very real. It can be argued that there are good reasons for disproportionate numbers of blacks committing crimes and I understand that and I think that far too many people, including African-Americans, are being unnecessarily locked up for non-violent crimes, especially those involving drugs.
But violent criminals (and I don’t know whether blacks are disproportionately represented in this category or not) need to be locked up and color is irrelevant to this and it has nothing at all to do with purposeful enslavement.
So what do you think? Do either of these notions hold water, ie imprisonment of African-Americans is a continuation of slavery or that there is a ‘mythology’ of black crime? The incarceration of so many blacks in the US is certainly troubling but if they are violent criminals what other option is there? People, including other African-Americans, need to be protected from them. Equating imprisonment with slavery is as wrong as it is unhelpful. It can only further embitter blacks and make any solution of this terrible problem even more difficult.
…it would help to watch the actual documentary, not just the trailer. If you want to understand this “very hard, in fact impossible, argument to accept” then it is incumbent on you to watch the actual argument in the first place. Let us know when you’ve watched the documentary. It isn’t very long.
Or, you could read the book “The New Jim Crow” where a similar argument is put forward.
And the whole book, not just the blurb on the book cover. You may not be convinced, but it does make sense to at least know and understand an argument before you counter it rather than going after what you think the argument might be based on a movie trailer.
It may be an “outgrowth” of slavery, but it is not an “extension” of slavery.
A hell of a lot of racial problems today stem from slavery, from reconstruction, from Jim Crow, from the opposition to the Civil Rights movement, from the Republican Party’s Southern Strategy, and a bunch-load of other causes. Slavery is the first domino.