"12 Years a Slave" follows last year’s contenders "Django Unchained" and "Lincoln" into the Oscar race, marking a trend toward looking back at The Peculiar Institution: slavery. Steve McQueen’s taut drama adapts one of the most famed slave narratives, a … Continue reading →
Dear Thelma Adams,
I’m not trying to bite your head off. Unfortunately I have a Yahoo! e-mail account and saw your article there. I also, to my misfortune, read your article. I’ll just get right to it then.
Why do we need to continue to make movies about slavery in the same white-dominated capitalist industry that started this slavery in the first place?
Why is this entertainment? What is entertaining about watching a group of people be stripped, stolen from their countries, raped, tortured, forced into brutal labor, experimented on without consent, starved, malnourished, chased and running for their lives, hanged, watching their families killed off and sold, forced to have children to be enslaved, spit on, whipped to bloody stripes or beaten to death, abused, (shall I go on with the truth stabbing away in my head) living with only the choice of death or centuries of enslavement for them and their children?
Why do we continue to pat white people (or anybody) on the back for making money off of movies that remind the Black race of just how little our lives, culture, and autonomy mean to them?
Why do you people continue to tell the company lie?
And, specifically to you, why do writers like yourself continue to spread these delusions of progress. You’re a white woman writing about slavery movies for god sake. And I’d love to sit back and go, “How dare you, how dare you sit back and praise this travesty”, but I know its what I should expect from the same people who say slavery “wasn’t that bad” or even that it didn’t exist in the first place.
I was born an “American Southerner”, a Black, working class/poor one, and it was Black teachers who taught me about slavery and what I would face as a Black child and soon an adult in this country. In my worst nightmares, I couldn’t have imagined the torture and pain that come with the truth and how once you know it you can’t turn back. It wasn’t until I was older that I understood what movies about slavery really are.
The movie and entertainment industry is not the answer to facing the injustice and horror that is irreversibly part of America and the world, and it never will be. As long as we continue to consign these realities and dialogues to the hands of filmmakers, comedians, and other entertainers, we resign these very real realities, and very real and lasting consequences to fiction, cruel humor, and power-play fantasies. We leave it to people like Quentin Tarantino, who will stand up and boldly say that he’s the guy who got people talking about slavery—as if Black people haven’t been doing that for decades by creating, talking until our throats are sore, surviving, gettin’ beat down, executed, bleeding, and dying. Desiring to keep our honor and dignity, we’ve been struggled for centuries to get people to see us, our history, and our culture, as more than objects for sell.
While arguably disempowered and ignored Black peoples continue to suffer the lasting effects of enslavement, you get to prattle on about these insufferable movies.
Okay, I’m done,