WW ’17: Seniors view “13th” documentary
February 7, 2017
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As the senior class filed into the theater on Wednesday, they had no idea that the film they were about to watch as part of Winter Week, Ava DuVernay’s documentary “13th,” would be powerful and emotional enough to bring some to tears.
The film focuses around the question of whether the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution genuinely abolished slavery. DuVernay looks at mass incarceration and its effects on Americans of color.
“It was important that we watched it. I think it really informed people that didn’t know much about the topic,” said senior Nyah Webb, who is a member of Wayland High School’s METCO program.
Many speakers throughout the film explained how racism did not end after the Civil War and how it still persists today. The film showed graphic details of police brutality, life inside prison and the general divide amongst Americans today, especially regarding Donald Trump’s election as president.
“When they compared the racially unjust scenes to Donald Trump, I thought it was a powerful aspect of how we ‘evolved,’ how we see America now versus back then, and how history sort of repeats itself,” senior Max Adelman said.
In the second semester of some senior psychology classes, students learn about race and its effects on American society. Mass incarceration is a unit in these classes, and seniors take a trip to a Massachusetts prison to see and learn about what life is like for inmates.
“I think I’ll have a better understanding [of mass incarceration] and have an outside perspective of how this ‘new Jim Crow’ came about, because in the constitution, it states that if you’re a criminal, the amendment doesn’t apply to you anymore,” Adelman said. “It just goes to show [that] we are still living in the past, [because] there’s still racism everywhere.”