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Sunday, August 13, 2006


M Amendment 13th

Section 1. 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.
Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
(Ratified December 6, 1865)

To many, the 13th Amendment is recognized as an act of liberation for blacks in America. Being passed to outlaw slavery in the period following the Civil War, which many consider a war fought to end slavery. The 13th Amendment has long been celebrated as a positive footnote in African American History. Few have paid enough attention to notice the negative aspects of the Amendment; Negative aspects which provide a loophole that could lead to the re-enslavement of Blacks in America. I’ll highlight the areas of concern as I overview the amendment. Neither Slavery, nor involuntary servitude, EXCEPT AS A PUNISHMENT FOR CRIME WHERE OF THE PARTY SHALL HAVE BEEN DULY CONVICTED, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction. CONGRESS SHALL HAVE POWER TO ENFORCE THIS ARTICLE BY APPROPRIATE LEGISLATION. I look at the part that states (Except as a punishment for crime where of the party shall have been duly convicted) which basically means that slavery is legal as a means of punishment of convicted criminals. Now, many may perceive themselves to be safe from this law as a result of what they’ve come to associate with being a criminal and crime. This is where I take the time to enlighten those that do to the true definition of crime and criminal.

Crime – 1. Illegal act: an action prohibited by law or a failure to act as required by law, 2. Illegal activity: activity that involves breaking the law.

Criminal- 1. Someone acting illegally: someone who has committed a crime

Many have come to view the term crime as a representation of major criminal acts and the term misdemeanor as a separate entity representing minor offenses to the law, not recognizing the fact that any violation of the law is recognized as a crime and any person that violates the law can be deemed a criminal. My reason for concern with the 13th Amendment is the fact that it provides a legal loophole for slavery and is unspecific in its terms of what leaves an individual susceptible to the punishment that can be inflicted through its use within the judicial system. Now, Crime is a pretty general term that can be used to represent anything from J walking to bank robbery, Imagine being enslaved for loitering, littering, j-walking, disorderly conduct, or speeding; then imagine it being perfectly legal.
The reasons that I have for being concerned with this law and its danger to the black community are as follows: Racial profiling of African Americans, rising incarceration rates for African Americans, the rate in which blacks are being arrested and targeted by law enforcement officials, and the promotion of individuals from predominantly black poverty stricken neighborhoods as criminals. The statistical fact that an African American individual is five times more likely to be convicted than a Caucasian on trial for the same offense implies that we do have somewhat of an unfair judicial system. Having an amendment that states that an individual can be legally enslaved as a means of punishment for a violation of the law, with African Americans being dominant in arrest and convictions is something that I find extremely alarming. The tendency of people to be unsympathetic towards the punishment of criminals, creates an opportunity for this amendment to lead to the re-enslavement of African Americans, as people will view it as nothing more than a criminal being punished for a crime committed. Many fail to view court appointed community service as a form of slavery for the reason I just stated, when it is a modern form of slavery. The only difference between slavery through community service and the slavery that was experienced by Africans in the history books is that rather than picking cotton we’re cleaning city parks and scraping graffiti off of subway walls, but it’s still forced labor. Maybe my concerns are invalid, for the fact that if you don’t commit a crime your not susceptible to the amendment, but you take a look at what can be defined as a crime and tell me that in all cases slavery would be fair punishment. Now, I could be a conspiracy theorist, I could be just another black man trying to exempt myself of accountability of my actions, and maybe all this could just be paranoia, but to quote the basketball player Charles Barkley when he said “, I may be wrong, but I doubt it”


© S.Folk

Now here’s the chance for you to voice your opinion. Is this justified paranoia or just another Black conspiracy theory? You be the judge, post comments below
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