This was a hard film to watch, especially as a white man living in a Southern state. A Southern state that will probably go for the self-described law and order candidate. Thirteenth is a documentary that horrifyingly depicts the long-term effects of a single clause in the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
The hardest thing to accept about this film isn’t the graphic depictions of blacks being killed at the hands of police at the end of the film. It isn’t the detailed narrative that traces the effects of the end of slavery through Jim Crow to the admission of a Nixon official that the drug war was wholly conceived as a method to end the 1960’s era of black rights activity, concluding with the election of Ronald Reagan, George Bush Sr. and Bill Clinton all under the coded language of law & order candidate, all promising and fulfilling that promise, to continue what we now know to be a racially motivated war on crime and drugs.
No, the hardest thing about watching this film was knowing that the group that would profit the most from this film would never sit down and give it a chance to change their minds.
The people who will go to the polls and vote for the lying real estate developer (but then I repeat myself) who speaks in coded language, language whose code is known by everybody by this time in history, promising to jail people whom we know are innocent, prosecute people who have done no crime, exclude people who are demonstrably dying by the hundreds. The people who will vote for that guy, the Orange Hate-Monkey, the Birther-in-Chief, the people who don’t understand that #MAGA means Misguided Appallingly Gullible Americans, Those people? They’ll never watch this film. They’ll never watch it because they are afraid. Afraid of being wrong. Afraid of having been wrong for longer than most people have been alive on this planet.
But they, above all other people, need to understand this film. Because when their candidate loses (and he will) it won’t be because the election was stolen from him. It won’t be because their voices weren’t heard. He will lose because the vast majority of Americans are not afraid of the future. We embrace it, as we always have. They need to understand that they are part of history. They are a part of history that we want to leave behind in history.