Feeling a bit under the weather this week, I finally watched 13th, an original Netflix documentary on the history of race relations and the criminal justice system in America.
To put it simply: my mind is blown, and my heart is broken.
I’ve always sympathized with the Black Lives Matter movement and the recent outcries against police violence. I tend to believe that people with personal experience get more say on the issue than outsiders weighing in. How am I supposed to know what black communities actually face? I lived in middle class white suburbia my whole life. The only black people I knew were adopted by a white homeschooling family in Texas, way back when I was ten.
Even though I give a lot of sympathy to the movement’s concerns, I didn’t realize until watching this documentary how very little I understood those concerns. I had no idea mass incarceration was out of hand (or a thing, to be honest). I had no idea it was explicitly but covertly tied to keeping blacks down. I hadn’t given a good, hard think to how our country handles the war on drugs, or criminalizes people requesting a trial. I didn’t even grasp the extent of my own ignorance, how I, that compassionate, liberal-minded white person, still unwittingly bought intro black stereotypes. .
The credits of the documentary are photos of real black families, doing the same things photographed in my family — a big sibling holding a little sibling, kids laughing in the backyard on a summer day, a toddler running on the beach in her baggy swimsuit, and lots of photos of daddies with their kids.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen any photos of young black daddies with their children. I just see them dead on the news, the catalysts of a movement that, frankly, I as a white person will never fully understand.
I think everyone, liberal, conservative, and moderate, needs to watch this documentary before they open their mouth or their Facebook page on this issue again. If you’re worried about your particular political beliefs getting smashed, well, take heart that both Democrats and Republicans share an equal amount of guilt in this issue. This is a moral, social issue, not partisan politics.
Have you seen it? I’d love to hear your thoughts!