The 13th…

            Yesterday was the anniversary of the signing of the 13th amendment. 153 years have passed since the day the slaves were free from the clutches of the South.

Or were they?

When the thirteenth amendment was passed there was a simple clause added that goes as follows:

             “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” 

The last piece of this very sentence from the thirteenth amendment is alarming. It reveals that slavery is illegal unless, one is convicted of a crime. Why is this a problem? because it gave Whites power over the freed slaves. In the south, many black people were homeless and incapable of feeding themselves after the civil war. Liberated from the clutches of slavery, they had nothing to their names. This became even more problematic because the north decimated the south and left it in ruins. This gave Whites an extra incentive to put Blacks in labor in the south. With this simple clause in play, Whites in the south started making petty crimes and laws, such as loitering ” aka, being black on the street”. This incarcerated blacks at an alarming rate, forcing them into labor under the guise of “jail or prison”.

Returning to today, after many demonstrative laws and atrocities committed to the black community we see that 1 in 3 African American men are incarcerated, and 1 in 18 African american women are incarcerated. This compared to their white counterparts; 1 in 17 for white men and 1 in 56 for white women. 12% of the US population represents nearly 40% of the US prison system. In this day and age, African Americans are incarcerated at a rate that makes no sense. And it stems from one small clause in the very amendment that was said to free us. So the true question is are we truly Free? because we are still forced in to slavery by technicality as described in this clause when we are arrested. We lose our rights, and our freedom. Even our liberty when we are handcuffed. “except as a punishment for a crime” the words that signed away our demise before we could even get the opportunity to live free. Slavery was never abolished in America, it was altered.

 

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