Tag Archives: slavery

12 Years A Slave

Video Linked Here

Watch the awkward video above. It’s so funny, especially when you think of hit NBC comedies like FRIENDS, which went without a major POC character even though it was set in the middle of New York City. Crazy to think what type of mentality leads to these “oversights.” After going to see 12 Years A Slave, I believe Steve McQueen is a hit-maker in his own right, and hopefully a certain company I like (WB, cough cough) will scoop him up for television show or plenty, and a few films. Below, I offer my own reflections from my experience of 12 Years A Slave.

TRIGGER WARNINGS FOR RAPE CULTURE, GRATUITOUS VIOLENCE, AND WHITE SUPREMACY, AND LASTLY, SPOILER ALERT!

I was in a rush to get to the movie theater. It’s right across the street from my weekend retail job, and I had 20 minutes to get from there to the movie tavern. As I rose up the escalator, I felt the 3:55pm showtime pass, I was nervous. Not that I wouldn’t get the seat, but that there wouldn’t be any trailers and they would go right to the movie. Um wrong. I chose my seat, I was the last person to purchase a ticket, it was middle-middle, all though closer to the front, but always, middle-middle. Perfect. The movie trailers featured casts with black actors and even a black church movie promoting the politics of respectability UGH! I was surrounded by a diverse audience but it was predominantly white. A black family had brought their toddler into the movie (um what?, yeah). I planned to only order a Sprite, because seriously, who is going to be able to watch a movie like this and eat. Not my neighbors. They ordered a ton of food, and let’s just say their plates were basically full and got cold at the movie’s conclusion. A few people left after the first 15 minutes of the movie. Predictable.

First, I would like to start with the discussion of the character Patsey, played by Lupita Nyong’o Nyong’o ‘s performance was awe-inspiring. When we talk about the enslavement of African persons on U.S. shores, historians and average persons both like to forget that this system was built on profaning the family and rape culture. In this film, Patsey is the best cotton-pickin’ slave (literally) that Master Epps (who I will get to later) owns. She is precious in his sight both as a cash cow and a sex object. While this movie is about the pain of black men similarly to Mel Gibson’s “Passion Of The Christ” addresses the pain of white men, in order to fully understand McQueen’s message, we must remember the narrative of Patsey. The anguish of Patsey leads her to becoming suicidal. She is the Sally Hemmings of Epps’ plantation. Master Epps considers himself blessed by God’s grace even when he sends away all of his slaves (due to his cotton crop being diminished by the boll weevil) and starts being “steady” with Patsey (what he calls ‘righteous living’). Patsey is rendered physically disabled as the movie moves on, her scars in her eyeballs and the marks on her back are poignant history lessons for audience members who had bought into whitewashed versions of history. Patsey a monstrosity because of her gender, race, disability, and social position. Steve McQueen’s writing (and Lupita Nyong’o ‘s acting talent) confront the oppressive gazes of his audience with intersectionality in a way that we have no choice but to weep.

Master Epps played by Michael Fassbender, what can I say? he was terrifying as he was pious. MAGNETO’S execution of this role is exactly what acting is all about. I don’t have to go to see another horror movie this film season because Master Epps just frightened me. The way he so easily read the Bible and then added his own “text” so as to make the enslaved Africans believe that a master giving them 140 lashes for not meeting the 200 pounds of cotton a day picked limit was “Scripture.” The scene where we are introduced to Epps exposes the dirty little secret of Biblical Studies, that recognizing the interpreter as subject is crucial to the task of reading the Bible in community.

The scene with the slave auction, which felt more like a very formal dinner party than any auction, but the thing that stood out to me beside the use of the “N-Word” was the separation of a little black boy and his mother. Another interested enslaver asked the boy to show how high he could jump, and after the boy proved them how much potential he had, the white men called this kid “a beast.” White supremacist logic makes the elites the foreordained predestinators of where black bodies ought to go. The stereotype that all black people are athletes, or that we all know how to play the bass (South Park reference) means that we are just here for everyone’s entertainment. Blacks are only acceptable when they fit the roles that white supremacist society has chosen for them. This is the essential problem with our protagonist, Solomon Northup, he is literate, but as a slave, he please his masters by keeping his mouth shut, and playing the fiddle. The beginning of Solomon’s enslavement is his belief that his role for the circus is to do concerts. Yes, he is musically successful, but the only way that white supremacist society will let him share the stage with white folks is if he can entertain them. What makes both hip hop AND professional sports as part of contemporary plantation system is that they have convinced black boys and girls, that their choices are limited, it’s either sports, music, prison, or poverty. This is why fighting for public education is a good thing, because we can open up so many other worlds of possibilities for all of our youth.

AND NOW FOR MY CRITICISM OF THIS MOVIE.

#1. This movie is way way way way too graphic that it could be triggering for a lot of persons who are victims of rape and physical abuse.

#2. I am sick of “The Critically Acclaimed Black Film” from Glory to The Help to Remember The Titans to Coach Carter to Lean On Me to The Butler, why does every “black film” have to have negative tropes to define black people in prescribed racial roles. From where I am standing, “black films” are only acceptable if they show black people as being either subservient, or angry or criminal. Like Steve McQueen asks in the video, where are the RomComs with blacks and Latinos from New York? My props for McQueen for giving us a history lesson in this movie, but look, he shouldn’t have to. If it weren’t for whitewashed histories being taught in social studies classes, McQueen and other POC directors wouldn’t have to do movies like these.

#3. This movie has white Saviordom written all over it. First, we had Benedictine CucumberSandwich play a moderate, “good” Southern gentleman so that we could all have the sympathy that good white enslavers had in saving the lives of their property. Awww how sweet! BTW, I really didn’t see the difference between the logic that JJ Abrams had in justifying whitewashing Khan and Master Ford’s approach to Northup as an “exceptional negro.” The concept of “the exceptional negro” while it might sound like white supremacist society is open and inclusive, it really reveals its exclusion, the colored bodies that WS disciplines out of its presence. And really, did Brad Pitt have to play the abolitionist who saves the day? Really? Really? We couldn’t have some obscure actor to do the job? Ugh. Just. Ugh. STAHP. IT!

On The Eighth Day, God Made A Plantation #Dodge #SB47

Some people have reported confusion about the outrage over the “God Made The Farmer” ad during Super Bowl XLVII. Imagine if there had been a commercial for Apple computers, promoting their commitment to independence, and the quotes they used were from Governor Orval Faubus. I think the comparison is legit.

Paul Harvey was an unrepentant defender for the enslavement of African Americans. While many Americans look in horror at the institution of chattel slavery, Paul Harvey made it clear that slavery was necessary to make his Amerikkka great.

And he being quoted:

We didn’t come this far because we’re made of sugar candy. Once upon a time, we elbowed our way onto and across this continent by giving smallpox-infected blankets to Native Americans. That was biological warfare. And we used every other weapon we could get our hands on to grab this land from whomever.
And we grew prosperous. And yes, we greased the skids with the sweat of slaves. So it goes with most great nation-states, which–feeling guilty about their savage pasts–eventually civilize themselves out of business and wind up invaded and ultimately dominated by the lean, hungry up-and-coming who are not made of sugar candy.

For more, see this link: Paul Harvey’s Tribute to slavery, genocide, nukes

So no, this black rage isn’t feigned. It’s the racists who always & continue to bring up racist histories. It’s the antiracists who end up being called “racists” for “bringing up” race. That’s what happens in a racist society, when racism and bigotry gets challenged, the general backlash is both a claim to innocence & pseudo-intellectual contrarian arguments of reverse racism.

I leave you with this parting quote:

“The problem with this advertisement is more than simply some overly sensitive Black man seeking every opportunity to inject race. No, beloved…this oversight is the underlying source of the problem which led to critique from supporters of immigration reform and the rights of temporary workers.

If society can ignore the glaring reality of the American Slave and sharecropper, their importance to industrial farming and the need to promote the rights of the slave, sharecropper and descendants, how can we expect anyone to truly show concern and compassion for the Temporary Worker and the rights of that worker?

Yes indeed, God made a farmer…and that farmer made a slave.

That farmer also aided in the creation of the market for Temporary Workers that immigrate legally and illegally to the United States looking for opportunity. So, in some respects ignoring the slave dooms America to repeat the egregious mistake of dehumanizing another of God’s children…wringing their bread from the sweat of other disinherited men and women.”

For more I highly recommend God Made The Farmer, and Farmer Made the Slave at Jah Bread

Arkansas State Rep Jon Hubbard: Our NeoConfederate Of The Week!

CONFESSIONS OF A FRUSTRATED WHITE SUPREMACIST

“And perhaps the most important pledge I can make to the people of District 58, the citizens of Arkansas, and to myself, is to do whatever I can to defend, protect, and preserve our Christian heritage. Regardless of one’s religious beliefs, if we as a nation continue to turn away from those Christian principles and values upon which this great nation was founded, we will have truly lost everything worth saving!”- Jon Hubbard, on his website, Jon Hubbard for State Representative: Jon Hubbard4Arkansas.com

“American Christians are assuming a similar stance as did the citizens of Germany during Hitler’s rise to power.”= Jon Hubbard on the coming race war, from The Arkansas Times.

While a lot of folks have put the writer/politician, Jon Hubbard, in question, as some fringe lunatic thinker, I don’t see what’s so “fringe” about his writings. The policies that he is advocating and the arguments he makes are mainstream!

In fact, suffice to say, Hubbard’s virulent white supremacist arguments are only the expositions of what is going on in reality. So no, Joel Watts, this just isn’t a case of some idiot who got self-published. Let’s look at a few of his comments, and then look at the numbers that back them up.

For example, Hubbard argues, according to a post about “Republican Extremists”: “But, to the great disappointment of everyone, the results of this theory worked exactly in reverse of its intended purpose, and instead of black students rising to the educational levels previously attained by white students, the white students dropped to the level of black students. To make matters worse the lack of discipline and ambition of black students soon became shared by their white classmates, and our educational system has been in a steady decline ever since.”

Certainly, on the surface, Hubbards argument has no merit, so there’s no need to act on it, am I right? Wrong! The presuppositions behind many school suspensions, including kids constantly being late for class, is that students of color, mostly black and Latino males, are more likely to face harsher school discipline than whites. Why is that? The assumption is, in order to justify the prison-industrial complex, that black and latino boys need discipline. While we have an African-American President whose Education Secretary called education “a civil rights issue,” black students with special needs continue to be targeted for the injustice system.

Another mainstream argument has to do with Hubbard’s approach to Africa: Blacks “understand that even while in the throes of slavery, their lives as Americans are likely much better than they ever would have enjoyed living in sub-Saharan Africa.” […] “Knowing what we know today about life on the African continent, would an existence spent in slavery have been any crueler than a life spent in sub-Saharan Africa?”

Now, in many churches, Africa is seen as the helpless victim of its people’s own ignorance and backwardness. Aside from the fact that Hubbard gets history wrong, that black Americans were traded from out of West Africa primarily (location and historical facts do matter), and that there are a number of West African countries with strong religious ties to Christianity (Ghana, for one). White Savior Complex Campaigns such as “Stepping Into Africa” ala —->

The black face that is farthest from you is safer than the one next door. As if there is not an HIV/AIDS crisis here in the United States. According to the CDC, African Americans, here in North America are the racial/ethnic group most effected by AIDS/HIV (see link for the numbers. As of 2009, 44% of new HIV infectants were African American, but we only make up 14% of the population. As if there is no complicity on the part of people outside of Africa’s borders for the political problems in the continent of Africa, let alone its problems with HIV/AIDS.

So, as I conclude, no Jon Hubbard is not an extremist, but his insights are truthful to the practices of mainstream racist practices in the U.S.A.

For more, see Arkansas State Rep: Slavery May Have Been A Blessing In Disguise For Blacks via Gawker

as well as

Jon Hubbard, Arkansas Legislator: Says Slavery May Have Been a Blessing In “New Book” by Huffington Post

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