The 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, ratified in 1865 in the aftermath of the Civil War, abolished slavery in the United States. The 13th Amendment 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.” (Source: https://www.history.com/topics/black-history/thirteenth-amendment)

Before watching the Netflix documentary, you should revise a little about slavery in the US. Then watch this to learn about the impact of the 13th amendment.

Discuss the power of the media: Super predator. Criminal. Think about the power of media and the power of words. Discuss media and how words impact the perception and criminalization of people of color, both in the past and the present (animalistic, violent, to be feared, threat to white people, criminals, etc.). Give modern-day examples.

Discuss prisoners for profit: Were you aware of the Prison Industrial Complex and how corporations are profiting from incarceration?

Were you surprised to know about ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council—a committee of politicians and corporations influencing laws that benefit its corporate founders and pushing forth policies to increase the number of people in prison and increase sentences)?

Talk about CCA (Corrections Corporations of America, leader in private prisons that is required to keep prison beds filled—the leading corporation responsible for the rapid increase in criminalization) and how that impacts our communities. The film argues that there is a direct link between American slavery and the modern American prison system. What is your take on this argument?

“Noone in the hood goes to trial.” Discuss your understanding (or what you learned) about bail, plea bargains, and refusing to settle your case. How did the story of Kalief Browder impact you?

“You immediately become numb. That’s what jail does to humans, that immediate dehumanization, and sensory deprivation that nobody can really understand unless they live through it.” Discuss the impact this has on those currently incarcerated and what this could look like upon release.

Source: https://schd.ws/hosted_files/nywcmemphis2017/7e/13th%20Film%20Discussion%20Guide_By%20Amy%20Williams.pdf

Comprehension questions:

  1. What is the 13th amendment loophole?
  2. What was the Birth of a Nation? How were colored people portrayed?
  3. Explain what the Jim Crow laws were.
  4. Which president signed the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Act? When?
  5. What was President R. Nixon’s main aim?
  6. Explain what the Southern Strategy was.
  7. Who initiated the War on Drugs and what was it?
  8. Why did the presidential candidate Dukakis lose the presidency, and to whom?
  9. What bill did President Bill Clinton ensure? And what were its consequences?
  10. What is Stand your Ground and where does it take place?
  11. Who was Emmett Till?
  12. Source: https://schd.ws/hosted_files/nywcmemphis2017/7e/13th%20Film%20Discussion%20Guide_By%20Amy%20Williams.pdf i

Practice vocabulary from the documentary by working on this: https://www.vocabulary.com/lists/2811635

Write a blog post where you list three ways this documentary has impacted you. What did you learn? What insights did it provide? What questions do you still have?

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