Legendary filmmaker Ava DuVernay explores how our justice system has been driven by racism in a new Netflix documentary, "13th."
In an interview with Democracy Now!, DuVernay explained her film, saying, "13th is the jumping-off point for a conversation, a wide-ranging conversation, that gives you a tour through the history of racism, oppression and subjugation in this country of black people as it relates to the criminal justice system. 13th is speaking about the 13th Amendment, specifically the criminality clause, which states that slavery is abolished in this country, except if we decide that you’re a criminal."
The United States accounts for 5 percent of the world’s population, but 25 percent of its prisoners. In the documentary's trailer, Senator Cory Booker states, "We now have more African Americans under criminal supervision than all the slaves back in 1850s."
Although The Atlantic reports the United States has almost 1.8 million people behind bars: about 100,000 in federal custody, 1.1 million in state custody, and 600,000 in local jails, DuVernay does see some hope. "...there’s black joy amidst all of the black trauma. You know, all of the years of violence and oppression, subjugation, prejudice, all of the years of not being able to live fully free in this country as full citizens with all the rights and freedoms, it is—there’s still joy there. There’s a survival there that still allows for there to be a light, and that is such a strength, that is such a beauty, that whenever I see black people gathered, more than one, gives me hope.