Toronto’s Haviah Mighty turns the pages back in history to dig deep into the roots of oppression in her new video for “Thirteen”. Animated by Theo Kapodistrias, "Thirteen" reminds us of what has led to centuries worth of damage in the Black community. Haviah poetically exposes how the 13th amendment, which ruled slavery no more in the US in 1865, serves to perpetuate racism by proposing that Black people need to be owned and manipulated, whether by the master, the media, or the incarceration system.
Haviah's uncut truths shed light on the realities of white supremacy, the prison system, slavery, and rape with a boldness that arises from being sick and tired of society's lack of progress. Full of lyrical gems, "Thirteen" contrasts the intertwined relations of the justice system and slavery: “I’ve always felt extreme parallels between the slave trade and the prison system – actively arguing that they look eerily similar, and later realizing that I wasn’t alone in these ideas.” Haviah shares with EARMILK over email. “As a Canadian, the day I stumbled upon the 13th Amendment, is the day I wrote this song.”
The video for “Thirteen” comes after the release of Haviah Mighty’s 2019 debut album, 13th Floor, which speaks powerfully on the realities of Black people in North America. Throughout the album, Haviah acknowledges that racism isn’t just a US thing, it exists in Canada and globally: “Racism is alive and well in Canada, it is simply more covert. The 13th Amendment may be specific to the US Constitution, but it is not specific to US ideologies. Racism is worldwide. The perception of black people has been destroyed globally.”
As Haviah has brilliantly demonstrated, the fight for racial equity begins with boldly identifying oppression at its root by acknowledging how it affected society centuries ago and how it continues to do so many years after slavery was legally abolished.
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