Reviews of Movies, TV shows & metro Detroit Restaurants

Short movie & TV show reviews and metro Detroit restaurant reviews

Friday, March 3, 2017

Movie Review: 13th

I have been participating in a group at Kensington Church in Troy, Michigan called "Race, Theology, and Culture" which was formed to explore the racial divide in our country from a religious perspective. We have been meeting monthly and it has been very eye opening. In January, a black pastor from a church in Detroit spoke to our group along with his white wife. He was an excellent speaker and had many great things to say regarding racial tensions & his experiences. He suggested that we watch the movie 13th (the title is influenced by the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which abolished slavery). I did proceed to watch it and I must say, my eyes were opened up even more.

This movie is about the prison system in the United States and how it is most decidedly unequal with regards to race. It was directed by Ava DuVernay who directed the Oscar nominee Selma. One key element to this movie is a little-known provision in the 13th Amendment which states: "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist" (a provision I personally did not know existed). This movie proves that this provision is the crux for the racial inequality in U.S. prisons today and thus the perpetuation of slavery in spite of its abolishment. The movie uses overwhelming facts and prominent activists to further prove this point. It takes us from post-Civil War America through the present day demonstrating the depths of racism and racial inequality that have faced this country. When laws were created to attempt to thwart this racism, new laws were created to continue the oppression. It also goes on to show how even though the crime rate is declining, the rate of incarceration continues to grow dramatically. To quote Tom Long of The Detroit News: "It's all very alarming and upsetting and terrifying."

This is a powerful documentary that I think needs to be watched. What this movie portrays is astounding and as I've already stated, it opened my eyes to behavior that I consider abhorrent. If it weren't for the documentary OJ: Made in America (which I also think is fantastic), I believe 13th would have won the 2017 Oscar for Best Documentary. This is a movie that will challenge the viewer...9.5/10 stars.

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