Police Brutality In Ava Duvernay's 13th And Frederick Douglass

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Both Ava DuVernay’s 13th and Frederick Douglass’s narrative draw many similar parallels between the systematic oppression of black people in modern times and in the 19th century. The scenes of police brutality in 13th especially reflects Douglass’s influence on DuVernay’s perspective. In these scenes, we see black people violently, and sometimes fatally, attacked by the police, who are meant to protect people. This random violence against the black community leads to an overwhelming sense of fear and distrust of authority. This fear mimics the fear Douglass felt when he witnessed the Captain’s cruelty during the scene of Aunt Hester’s torture in Douglass’s narrative. Both scenes show how white culture not only physically suppressed blacks,…show more content…
Douglass explicitly outlined the details of Aunt Hester’s torture and used vivid phrases, such as “heart-rending shrieks” and “blood-clotted cowskin” to get accross the horror and fear he felt as a child. Likewise, DuVernay pointedly chose clips of police brutality that would create the greatest impact and invoke the most emotion. The video of Eric Garner’s death and his iconic words of “I can’t breathe” contrast the brutality of his death with the innocence and hopelessness of his words. Their matter-of-fact presentation of the torment of black people forces their audiences to realize the situation of black people, while the disturbing visual presented evokes feelings of disgust and horror. In conclusion, both 13th and The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass focus on the systematic oppression of black people in America. Douglass’s description of Aunt Hester’s whipping influenced DuVernay’s use of the montage of police brutality because both represented the physical and mental restraints that white authority had placed on black people. DuVernay’s documentary draws influence from Douglass’s narrative through similar scenes and emotions of horror for the conditions of black
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