12 Years a Slave (No Spoilers) by Delina Hill-Brooker

Chiwetel Ejiofor

 

Friday, my husband and I went to the movies to watch 12 Years a Slave. Although I hadn’t had the chance to see it when it first came out, it was a movie that I definitely wanted to support while it was in the movie theaters. The previews, and the posts that I had seen on social media let me know that it was something that I had to get ready for. Some people (who watched it, some who didn’t) complained that we had yet another “Black” movie that focused on one of the worst times in America’s history. Another reminder, and account of slavery. I also took that into consideration before watching the movie – to have a balanced thought process about it. Even though I LOVE Black History, and can’t seem to get enough of it, there could be some truth to what they were saying.

Let me just say, I have seen a lot of actors play slaves and former slaves, in movies; some of my favorites (as far as depicting the characters) Denzel Washington in Glory, LeVar Burton and John Amos in Roots, and Halle Berry in Queen, and lastly Oprah Winfrey in Beloved. (Just to name a few). But, Chiwetel Ejiofor’s performance in 12 Years a Slave exceeded any of my expectations. Everything that I thought, knew and heard about the movie were just barely scratching the surface of real depth of the acting and storyline in this film. This is a movie that you just have to see for yourself; everyone at some point should see this movie especially after so many watered down versions and stories of slavery. This movie made me feel it. Even though those movies were great and groundbreaking in their own rights, they pale in comparison to 12 Years a Slave.

I could never imagine being a slave, but in my opinion the only thing worse than being born a slave and that’s all you know, is being born free and put into slavery. And since Solomon Northrup is not the only one this happened to, it makes me really wonder how many others fell victim to this. There is no way to tell. It is not fair for them to not have a voice.

For the life of me, I can’t understand how anyone can justify themselves enslaving, beating, mistreating anyone to that degree. Where was the mindset for so many people to be “OK” with slavery at the time?  How many lies did they have to tell themselves to make them comfortable enough to do the things that they did?

Solomon Northrup was one soul, who had a great beginning, and a completed end. I say completed because of how it ended, but I can only imagine the psychological effects on him and his family in the aftermath of all of this. Which brings me to today; the sick sense of entitlement that the whites had back then was a learned behavior that has bled into all of the following generations. I’m not saying that to be mean, but look at it like this. Even a poor white person who goes through the exact same financial, educational struggles as a black person, but it’s still different because even though they may feel less than adequate, it has not been reiterated to them throughout generations, history and in life. In essence the “same” struggles are in fact NOT the same. Even when we were segregated, the “lowest class” of White people still had it better than the “upper class” Blacks.  When we were brought here, we were treated inhumanely, looked at as property, sold to the highest bidder, beaten, separated from our families, stripped from our language, our names, our history and our religion. We were fighting for freedom even after we were freed. Even now that we have been afforded better opportunities the repercussions of the psychological mindset that has been embedded in our heads, fused into our DNA is still there. Some, not all of us still feel like we have no control over our lives. Look at the fathers who are not with their children, and SEEM not to care. Not caring for someone you helped bring into this world is not normal, but IN MY OPINION as a people we got so used to being torn from our loved ones, in order to survive we had to learn to have some type of detachment. And just like Solomon Northrup, there are always exceptions to the norms for both Blacks and Whites.

Let me close by saying, I knew this blog will be deep, but not as deep as it is until I got to writing it. I am not trying to generalize anyone, or any race, and I am most certainly not trying to offend anyone, but there is truth to what I am saying. If you haven’t already, watch the movie, share it with your children who are of age. (It’s amazing how younger children were not shielded from the harsh realities of slavery when it was happening, but now we make it lighter than what it was when telling children, yet there are sex, and risque visuals in almost all of the cartoons, TV shows, commercials and children programming). Buy the DVD when it comes out and read the book. (I haven’t yet, but I will soon.) This is just one way to acknowledge those who we can never acknowledge by name. For those of you who are tired of the “same ole’ Black movies” give it a try. This is not your average “Black” movie. This is a visual reminder that shows exactly where we (Blacks and Whites) came from, and it just may push you harder to push yourself to get to where you need to be. It just might make you have more compassion for others. It will absolutely make you think. We have come a long way, but we have so much further to go. This movie gives a voice to the voiceless, a remembrance of the forgotten, a name to the nameless, and face to the faceless. Black History is part American History. We all played our parts, we’ve come a long way, we have so much further to go.

Please feel free to comment, but PLEASE be respectful to others opinions as well. This is a touchy subject, but EVERYONE deserves the right to express their feelings and be heard. Thank you.

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2 comments so far

  1. LionessDelina on

    P.S. My ONLY regret is not seeing this movie earlier. And there are 2 specific scenes that still show daily in my mind. I will never forget. I’m sure that was the purpose, it would’ve been mine too if I would’ve directed the movie.

  2. Christina on

    I enjoy the film as well, my only issue with films such as 12 Years A Slave is that people will avoid reading the actually book or reading the history themselves. The film was powerful, yet it did not remain true to Northup’s narrative. The book should be read, it was more powerful than the film and with the film being out I feel as if people will avoid reading the book.


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