Kareem Abdul-Jabbar recently wrote, “Racism in America is like dust in the air. It seems invisible — even if you’re choking on it — until you let the sun in. Then you see it’s everywhere.”
Our world is hurting from the injustices that have gone unchecked and the silence from too many. I am yearning for understanding, and for me, I default to books and movies. I think it was Ice Cube on Twitter that said, “if you want to understand, watch 13th, When They See Us, or Selma instead of The Help. Ignore the Disney shit.” I figured Mr. “Fuck the Police” has a pretty good idea of what’s going on right now, so I sat back and paid attention.
The 13th Amendment of the Constitution states, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” 13th, the Netflix documentary explores the history of that loophole in the middle that has kept a form of slavery alive and well through our justice system. After slavery was abolished, we had Jim Crow laws, then the Civil Rights era of the 50s and 60s, to the mass incarceration of the 80s, and the 1994 Crime Bill that lead us to today.
It’s almost embarrassing to state how much information was new to me. So much history that I wasn’t taught or thought to research on my own until now. There is still lots to learn, but even this small amount is convicting. There are signs of hope out there that things are changing for the better. With more listening and learning, I believe we can get there. Justice has waited too long.