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Documentary shines light on racism, slavery

Addressing social issues in the world today in a polite yet firm manner seems nearly impossible. However, similar to writing a research paper for a class, the facts do most of the talking for the belief or idea they are behind.

On Thursday, Jan. 19 APSU’s Wilbur N. Daniel African American Cultural Center hosted a viewing of the Netflix film “13th,” a documentary by Ava DuVernay that points out the harsh reality of life for African-Americans and other minorities as a result of the loophole that was placed in the amendment that abolished slavery. The documentary featured authors, activists and present and former government officials that gave their professional opinion on the amendment and minority treatment.

“This documentary is important because it gives us an insight into raw history. It allowed for slavery by another name. History is laced with problems as a result, and some of them are still occurring,” WNDAACC director Marcelius Braxton said.

According to the documentary, the 13th amendment allows for slavery as a punishment. The documentary argues that the American government incarcerated African-Americans and used them for slave labor shortly after their release.

Many of the authors and former activists credit the War on Drugs during Nixon, Reagan and Clinton’s presidencies for the increase of African American inmates each year.

The documentary quotes Nixon’s domestic policy chief, John Ehrlichman, as saying, “We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities.” The documentary also addresses the then popular opinion that African Americans were all criminals, and the abuse they faced because of it. The documentary exposes the origin of racial issues according to the perspective of the experts it includes. It acknowledges the country has come a long way, but addresses the minority abuse that has carried over into the present.

The screening was free, and all APSU students were welcome to attend. Instead of telling the audience what to think, the documentary presented the facts and left the audience to come up with a conclusion on their own. For some students the experience was eye opening. “I learned that not everything is as it seems. There’s always more to the story and it’s important to have both sides,” freshman political science major Evan Golondzinier said. The documentary was a presentation of facts to the students of APSU; it left room for them to not only draw a conclusion but act on it.

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