Everyone I know who has seen 12 years a Slave has an opinion. Rarely is that opinion lukewarm. I suspect the movie will be the topic around many tables today, especially in the black community. Many of us cook the turkey and all the accoutrements. Very few of us are celebrating the founding of this nation. We remember it was built by the sweat of our brows and the stripes on our backs. Some of us acknowledge the theft of this country from the Native Americans by whites under the premise of some man-made manifest destiny BS. Of course Independence Day has issues for us as well but that will wait for another blog commenting on unalienable human rights.
My opinion of the movie 12 Years a Slave is that the people who should have seen it didn’t and probably will not. Those should haves include the under educated youth in our schools who are being taught by under educated teachers or educators who behave more like ostriches with their heads somewhere other than on solid shoulders. These are the non-educators who say things like some people became slaves willingly. (Read the wonderful blog The whitewashing of slavery in our schools. I've seen it myself. VIDEO). The should haves include the thugs on the corner selling drugs who think they are free and those using the drugs who know they are slaves. The should haves are the black people who think they have made it because they have jobs but don’t realize they are a paycheck or two from being homeless and yet look down on those who are already at that point.
Some of the people who did see the movie but had no understanding of it are those who complained about the many times we had to watch black men and women being beaten until flesh and blood mingled on the ground. If they think watching it was tough on the big screen think about the mothers of children being beaten by the overseer or the master in their big reality. Sometimes those mothers volunteered to beat their own children because they thought by doing so the child would survive the lash.
There are other people who don’t need to see this movie but they are the few among the many. This morning there was a story about a little black girl who was being expelled from school because her hair was “too puffy”. The school wanted her to straighten her hair because it was distracting. She stood up to the bullying from class mates and administration. Her story went viral and the school had to change their position. There is a similar story of a little black girl expelled from her school because she refused to cut her locks. The school relented but the girl and her family did not. The child refused to return to the school. These children don’t need to be reminded of the rights they deserve. They live it. Stories like this are not only whites attempting to enslave blacks to ideas of beauty based on some ridiculous standard. Our grandson was bullied by the black principal of his grammar school because our grandson had locks. My husband and I threatened the school board with a lawsuit after they had the nerve to tell us the principal had the right to demand anything on his campus. Fortunately the school board legal team informed them otherwise. I wonder if that principal saw 12 Years a Slave and on this day does he realize we black people have no reason to be thankful that is even remotely associated with some white folks in a boat who beat, shot and enslaved native people and us to bring the bounty of this country into reality.