So, I Just Saw 12 Years a Slave Movie

My mother came to visit me today and we saw 12 Years a Slave together. For those of you who do not know, it is based off of the true story of Solomon Northup, a free Black man who was kidnapped from our Nation’s capitol and sold into slavery in the south. Solomon is a well-educated man and  a talented violinist who has a wife and two children. He is lured into slavery in the south by two men claiming to be members from the circus. They say they want him to perform at a party, but he is tricked and sold into slavery.

SPOILER ALERT!!!!

This is where the trouble really starts. Northup is sold first to a “Master Ford,” who is relatively benign, although he still owns other human beings, but later he is sold to a cruel “Master Epps.” Solomon endures such hardship, he is verbally, emotionally and physically degraded in some of the worst ways. He has his name stripped from him and his rights denied him. At one point, he is almost hanged, but survives only because he is considered the “valued property,” of a white man.

One of the most sickening scenes in the movie is a scene where a young enslaved woman named Patsy is violently beaten by Epps and Solomon (who was forced to whip her). It was an intense scene. I was so disturbed that I guess my mother could tell and she attempted to cover my eyes like I was 5 years old again. Mind you, I’m 25.

I was uncomfortable the whole time. For lack of better word, I felt like a coward because I couldn’t wait for the movie to end, not because it wasn’t well-done from a theatrical or artistic point, but because it’s so damn heartbreaking to watch. I got up to go to the bathroom at one point and walking to the bathroom, I felt very funny.

I felt funny because I just kept thinking here I am walking to the bathroom freely and this is something I take for granted. 150 years ago, although they didn’t have flushing toilets like today obviously, I wouldn’t have been able to use “The necessary,” at my leisure. I would have been someone else’ property, I would have been working constantly and subject to harsh treatment and held in bondage. Actually 50 years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to go to the bathroom freely because of Jim Crow. We weren’t slaves 50 years ago, but I would have had to go around to the back of the theatre (12 Years a Slave wouldn’t even be allowed to be shown) and would have had to go to the “colored bathroom,” or out back.

It just reminded me of the things I take for granted. I thought about my third Great-Grandmother, who was enslaved in South Carolina  and I thought about my maternal ancestors who were enslaved in North Carolina and the Eastern Shore of Maryland and I thought about the things that perhaps they might have gone through and it made the movie hit closer to home because I know that as an African-American, my family suffered through that bondage too.

There were also a lot of white people in the movie theatre. The movie is in limited-release right now, it won’t come out for wide release until November 1st, so my mother had to trek  1.5 hours out of her way just to see the movie and I met her halfway. So, we were in a disproportionately white area and there were not as many African-Americans there as I had hoped for.  I’m not going to lie, I felt very uncomfortable being one of the few Black people in the theatre…watching a movie about slavery. I got emotional and felt so uncomfortable.

The movie made me want to learn more about my family history and it made me realize how I’m fortunate just to have my freedom and it made me put things in perspective. I complain a lot about the rude things that people say about Black women today (and yes, they are racist things), like the nappy-headed hoes comment. It hurts to hear things like that said about Black women today and part of the reason it hurts is BECAUSE of this history that we have, but at the same time….if we think about the things that Black women went through during slavery and how so many were treated like livestock, abused and such…it’s no wonder that some people TODAY would have hurtful things to say about us, look at the history we come from. Look at the horrible history and the stain of bigotry that slavery has left on this country. But as hurtful as words may be, it can’t compare (obviously) to actually having to live through that hell. To actually having to have all the hate channeled not only as words, but as acts of violence and terror.

After we were watching the movie, I remarked to my mother that the scene with Patsy was horrible, they were horrible to her and she said….”yeah, there were many Patsy’s during that time,” and she was right….there were.

It was just intense, that’s the only way to describe it. Even though I read the book, seeing it on screen was difficult.

And one more thing to say, Reparations… why did they never get any???

15 thoughts on “So, I Just Saw 12 Years a Slave Movie

  1. “I complain a lot about the rude things that people say about Black women today (and yes, they are racist things), like the nappy-headed hoes comment. It hurts to hear things like that said about Black women today and part of the reason it hurts is BECAUSE of this history that we have, but at the same time….if we think about the things that Black women went through during slavery and how so many were treated like livestock, abused and such…it’s no wonder that some people TODAY would have hurtful things to say about us, look at the history we come from. Look at the horrible history and the stain of bigotry that slavery has left on this country. But as hurtful as words may be, it can’t compare (obviously) to actually having to live through that hell. To actually having to have all the hate channeled not only as words, but as acts of violence and terror.”

    ^^^^ THAT’S WHY I DON’T UNDERSTAND WHY BLACK PEOPLE ALIENATE BLACK WOMEN AND DEVALUE BLACK WOMEN. I GUESS WE WERE CHOPPED LIVER THROUGHOUT BLACK HISTORY. THAT’S WHY A LOT OF BLACK WOMEN ARE SO ANGRY, MAD AND FRUSTRATED BECAUSE IT’S LIKE NO ONE WANTS TO HEAR OUR STRUGGLE BUT EXPECT US TO SIT AND LISTEN TO THEIRS. IT SUCKS. TO SOME PEOPLE WE’RE STILL NOT WOMEN, TO MOST WE’RE NOT EVEN HUMAN.

  2. I won’t see this movie but yes it is hard to imagine what our ancestors went through, and how they coped. it’s amazing to think that if they didn’t survive I wouldn’t be here, I wouldn’t be alive, just imagine if they died and their bloodline didn’t survive we wouldn’t be here. we come from a long line of survivors. Things like this put our lives into perspective that yes we still have issues to overcome but if our ancestors survived even worse then damit we can too.

    “And one more thing to say, Reparations… why did they never get any???”

    Idk how many times this will be asked before we realize they never had any intentions to compensate our ancestors, it is why they enslaved them in the first place for free labor. if they paid them that would defeat the whole purpose of enslaving them to build this country for FREE. I’m more concerned with why are the ppl that say they had nothing to do with slavery, why do they not want the slave descendants to receive compensation if they didn’t own any slaves then their paycheck won’t be affected. idk maybe its the whole omg they will come after all of us and the ones that did own slaves are the ones that make the ones that didn’t own any think beware they will come after u too so say no to compensating them.

    • @mstoogood4yall
      “it’s amazing to think that if they didn’t survive I wouldn’t be here, I wouldn’t be alive, just imagine if they died and their bloodline didn’t survive we wouldn’t be here. we come from a long line of survivors. Things like this put our lives into perspective that yes we still have issues to overcome but if our ancestors survived even worse then damit we can too.”
      I agree 100% with this post mstoogood4yall. Sometimes, I do think about it. First my African ancestors had to survive at the holding posts for slaves in Africa. Then they had to survive the passage from Africa to the Caribbean(many slaves died on these boats). Had they not, I would not be alive. So yes mstoogood4yall, we have to honor our African ancestors for their strength to preserve their genetics, reproduce and give us life. In my hometown of NYC, there is an African burial ground memorial in Manhattan and I visited it a couple years ago to pay my respects to the African slaves that long passed away but indeed left their footprints on this Earth. This is the Wikipedia page on it.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/African_Burial_Ground_National_Monument
      The sad part mstoogood4yall is that even if our African ancestors were not caught and brought as slaves, the blacks that did remain in Africa did not have a walk in the park either under white rule from the British, French, Germans, Portuguese, Italians and so forth. Colonialism was harsh in Africa as shown in the Congo, South Africa with apartheid and Rhodesia(modern-day Zimbabwe). I read this article that said that during colonialism in Rhodesia, black people could not even walk on the same sidewalk as a white person!
      Mr. Made said most of the world minimizes the suffering Blacks experienced under White minority rule.
      He said, “There’s all the talk about democracy, but we are the people who were denied the right to vote. We are the people who were told, ‘You don’t come through the front door, you go through that rear door.’ That was the system that operated here. We could not sit on the same bench with a White person in a park. The Black workers could not go on the same lift (elevator) as White people. It was in this city where you could not walk on the pavement—you had to walk where the cars were driving—as a Black person. We fought and on the day of independence, the Black people walked on the pavement en masse. That’s how the law was repealed.”
      http://www.finalcall.com/artman/publish/World_News_3/article_9912.shtml

  3. It is hard for me to see movies about our history. There have been quite a few since 2011. The Help, The Butler and now 12 Days a Slave. Django was fictional, so I’m not counting it. It was disrespectful to our ancestors like the Harriet Tubman Sex Tape put out by Russell Simmons.

    I would much rather read about how we put Amerikkka together. Why-te men still want us to be enslaved by them like we were then. I keep that in mind when hearing about films like this. As usual, you can expect then to be in the Theater.

    They are there to see if we are there. The yt man has a sexual attraction to my Sistas. The same goes for yt women and Black Men. They are obsessed with us. They understand that the Black Man was made for the Black Woman. The Black Woman was created in the image of Our Creator. Because the yt man and woman know that, they stay together to avoid rejection. Together they hate the Black Family. Being a woman, the
    why-te woman only sighs at the sight of the Black Family. The yt man is the one doing everything he can to eliminate us. It is true that Margaret Sanger’s brainchild was Planned Parenthood. The yt man does far more damage to our community. It is him who takes the lives of our Brothas and sometimes Sistas. That yt man who shot Darius Simmons wanted Darius dead for just being a Black Man. He was trying to think of an excuse to take Darius’ life.
    The yt man is naturally an enemy to the Black Man. They cannot stand knowing that Black Men exist. So, it’s safe to say that all yt men (minus the gay ones) hate Black Men. The liberals hide it better than the republican types. A yt man is a yt man. As yt men get older, they get angrier.

    The yt man is our worst enemy out of all of the non-black men. All of these non-black men envy Black Men. Because they have evolved from us and not our albinos, they have self-love. A Mexican man is capable of staying with his Mexican woman without pining to be next to a Black Woman. That is not the case for the why-te man, unfortunately.

    • @Starla

      My family is from Trinidad and Tobago and I read about this development. If Im not mistaken, the Prime Minister of Saint Vincent is pushing this development. Like the U.S., other Anglo countries like England did profit off of African slavery in the Caribbean. Heck, those big banks in London did profit off of the pain of African people.

      Do I think this is going to work, the reparations battle for Afro-Caribbeans? Maybe Im just seeing the glass as half empty but Im assuming the top proverbs from Europeans regarding slavery will come out again-Get over it, it was in the past, you are the hater! So call me negative but I dont think this reparations thing will go through. Maybe I might be proven wrong though?

  4. @Peanut

    Thank you for this movie review. I am thinking about seeing this movie, time and money permitting of course. I dont know if I would be able to handle the graphic images of slavery because it would blow my mind to see the things that my African ancestors in the Diaspora went through. Nevertheless on PBS, Henry Louis Gates has a special-Many Rivers to Cross, the African American Experience. The first show was good and I will watch the rest of the series.

    From my understanding of American history Peanut, after the Civil War and the end of slavery, African-Americans in the South did enjoy some success. The ReConstruction period allowed blacks to have a decent economic and political standing in the southern states. However this period was short-lived. After this period, the South went back to its racially harsh origins with the rise of white supremacist groups like the KKK. This forced many African-Americans to seek better fortunes in Northern & Western cities(the Great Migration) which lead to blacks moving to cities like Boston,New York, Philadelphia, Detroit,Chicago, St. Louis and Los Angeles. The irony is that while blacks did find some decent employment and security in these cities, the quality of life for most African Americans was still poor as they were forced into the ghettos of these cities as the white groups such as the Irish, Italians, Jews, Greeks, Polish and Portuguese dominated these cities and knew how to keep the blacks in check(e.g. police brutality, poor schools in the inner city, poor housing,etc.)

    So Peanut, you ask about reparations? Right now, I am reading a book called Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. It is about the genocide of Native Americans as white settlers continued to expand into America. In fact, in 1973, there was a standoff between Native Americans and government officials-http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wounded_Knee_incident and from my understanding some African-Americans(e.g. Angela Davis) even supported the Native Americans in their right for self-determination. Anyway Peanut if America cannot even honor the treaties with the first peoples of this land, I highly doubt that black folks are getting reparations. Being of Afro-Caribbean heritage, I know there is a movement in the Caribbean to try to get some European nations to pay up but I highly doubt it will be successful.

  5. I thought my post went through, WordPress is interesting sometimes. Anyway

    @mstoogood4yall

    “it’s amazing to think that if they didn’t survive I wouldn’t be here, I wouldn’t be alive, just imagine if they died and their bloodline didn’t survive we wouldn’t be here. we come from a long line of survivors. Things like this put our lives into perspective that yes we still have issues to overcome but if our ancestors survived even worse then damit we can too.”
    I agree with this comment 100% mstoogood4yall. If our African ancestors did not survive and biologically reproduce, then we would not be here. First, our African ancestors had to survive at the holding posts for slaves in Africa. Then they had to survive the passage on the Atlantic Ocean(many slaves died on the boat). Then they had to deal with coming to a completely new world(you and Peanut’s African ancestors were shipped to the USA while my African ancestors went to the Caribbean) and deal with the pain of slavery. We have to honor our African ancestors because they indeed gave us the gift of life when their own lives was ruled by a culture of death. In my hometown of New York City, there is the African burial ground near the Financial District of Lower Manhattan. I visited this place a couple of years ago. Even though it is located in the busy Downtown district with some of the most famous NYC landmarks(e.g. Brooklyn Bridge, Wall Street Stock Exchange, the World Trade Center,etc.) it is a beautiful place to pay tribute to our African ancestors that have long passed away but left their mark on this Earth. If you mstoogood4yall, Peanut or anyone else visits New York, I highly recommend going to this place. This is the Wikipedia page for information-http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/African_Burial_Ground_National_Monument
    The sad irony mstoogood4yall is that even if our African ancestors did not get caught as slaves and shipped to the New World, their lives in Africa was still hell. The black people that remained in Africa had to deal with the brutal system of white colonialism from the British, Germans, Portuguese, French, Italians and so forth. Whether it was in the Congo, the apartheid system in South Africa or in Rhodesia(modern-day Zimbabwe). In fact after reading this article, Rhodesia was no different than the Jim Crow South as black people in their native homeland of Africa could not even walk on the same sidewalk as a white person! Here is a part of the article-
    Mr. Made said most of the world minimizes the suffering Blacks experienced under White minority rule.
    He said, “There’s all the talk about democracy, but we are the people who were denied the right to vote. We are the people who were told, ‘You don’t come through the front door, you go through that rear door.’ That was the system that operated here. We could not sit on the same bench with a White person in a park. The Black workers could not go on the same lift (elevator) as White people. It was in this city where you could not walk on the pavement—you had to walk where the cars were driving—as a Black person. We fought and on the day of independence, the Black people walked on the pavement en masse. That’s how the law was repealed.”
    http://www.finalcall.com/artman/publish/World_News_3/article_9912.shtml
    Even though I might not see this movie, as people of Black African ancestry, we must know the strength of our African ancestors in their fight for the right to life. Their fight has inspired other groups of people, from the Native Americans with the Red Power Movement in the 1960′s to our dark-skinned cousins in Australia, the Australian Aboriginals, who modeled after the Freedom Riders in the South-http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_Ride_(Australia) to the Black Power movement in Sydney during the 1970′s-http://epress.anu.edu.au/aborig_history/transgressions/mobile_devices/ch02s05.html. Its a fight to battle a system of death called white supremacy.

    • @Adeen

      They make these movies because why-te men (in same race relationships) long for the “good ole days” to come back. Just last week, Nevada state assemblyman Jim Wheeler said he would vote for slavery if his constituents demanded it.

      Why-te men are our albinos. They have no respect for us. They do not like seeing the black family together. During slavery, they got to see us more and do whatever they wanted to us. We would get killed or exiled for rebelling against them. Now, they see us at work for eight hours (or more) and go home afterward. Some of them are upset to see Brothas in the ghetto doing nothing. They know in the back of their minds that black people have every right to live off of the government because of what they did to our ancestors for 400 YEARS plus. We deserve to live happily together wherever we want in Amerikkka without the injustice. The why-te man is not happy to go home to a why-te woman. They would much rather have a Sista like all men. The Sista gave birth to all of humanity, so all men are most attracted to Sistas. Many of them see how black women go for black men and vicea versa. So, they stay to themselves to avoid rejection. That is not what they really want. They did not want to stay in the Caucaus Mountains, either. They made the best of a bad situation by closing their eyes and inbreeding.
      Slavery gave them what they wanted as black albinos. They got to beat into us that we were subhuman, literally. The men got to see us in chains, being whipped, lynched and shot. Because we were uneducated, the men felt better about being albinos. With their currency, they were able to break up families. By owning a black woman, the yt man was allowed to see her whenever he wanted to. They had total control over us. Whereas, now, some of start businesses and stay to ourselves away from them. They want us all to have the “white is right” mindset instilled in us.

  6. @Adeen

    I will admit that watching things about slavery is probably not the most wonderful thing in the world to watch(Right now, Im watching the PBS special by Henry Louis Gates, Many Rivers to Cross-African American Experience) but we have to understand our history in order to combat white supremacy. Trust me, a lot of Negroes are indeed lost souls!

  7. Actually Adeen, the more we study about the ways that white supremacy destroys black folks, the better off we will be. As a health professional, after reading this article, I could honestly say that white supremacy will literally send black folks to their graves!

    “In terms of how this wicked policy of depopulation has affected Africa and the Third World: During my last visit to Zimbabwe, in southeastern Africa, we learned how the AIDS pandemic was killing 5,000 Zimbabweans a week—20,000 a month. And the biggest industry at the time in the capital city of Harare was the making of coffins … And although it was the Blacks who were dying of AIDS, I asked about the White population—were they dying of AIDS; and the answer was, “No, they were not.” I went to a luncheon sponsored by the Zimbabwean Department of Health, and a wonderful female doctor who was the Minister of Health was so proud to announce that every child in Zimbabwe was vaccinated with vaccines that had come from America and Europe.
    I grieved over the widespread death due to the poisons, not “un”-intentionally put in vaccines, but intentionally put in vaccines to limit the population of Black people in those countries and places in the world where America’s needs for their vital minerals and resources were deemed necessary—in her mind—for her national interests; to keep America in the world as the “No. 1 superpower.”
    Killing off tens of hundreds of thousands of people in Third World nations, because those nations trust the scholars and scientists of the Western world, White people, who claim to want to “help” them. While there are many White people who are sincere, they are the “fronts” that are used to open the door for the insincere Satanic Mind to enter, to practice evil under a claimed “noble motive.”
    http://www.finalcall.com/artman/publish/Minister_Louis_Farrakhan_9/article_100799.shtml

    • @TTNYC

      RWS already does send our people to Heaven everyday. Yts believe they are happy with the results, but they are not. If we are all gone, yts will just kill themselves off. The yt man has no respect for anything, including himself. They do not like being called albinos. That right there should tell you they hate being who they are. They like to believe they were black people who went to Europe. All non-whites know that is not the case. They only made things worse for themselves by going to the caves and doing all of the inbreeding. Yt men hate feeling like they are black men who can have what a black man can have, only to find out that they are albinos. He does not mind beating his woman around because he hates being reminded of his color. His color is the one thing that got in the way of having who he wants (our Mother-Sister-Queen). In the end, he would have nothing else to do but kill himself to be with everyone else. Most of them are trying to do it now by turning to meth, alcohol and cigarettes. They are not dying from it quick enough. They should be saddened by how we did not first attack them. Our people are a loving people. They went to the caves when they realized they were different. They would still not be happy if they were to condition themselves into believing that “white is right”. They would still be faced with the same challenges they have now. If you are going to be wealthy, it is stupid to believe there will not be robbers at your door. By killing our Zimbabwean sisters and brothers, they hurt themselves as our albinos in one way or another. Of course, they are going to throw it in our face that we lost Zimbabwean brothers and sisters to hurt us. Our people need to confront them. The truth is they should be taking their own lives with those vaccines. What are they living for?

  8. As a African American Woman who grew up in Missouri, I can honestly say many of out kind has lost touch with our roots and the struggle of our ancestors. In 2013 we are but a blink past The Civil Rights Movement and yes Slavery itself. Even after Slavery eas abolished, many slaves were forced to stay.
    My grandfather grew up on a plantation along with his many siblings. Grandpa would tell us how the property owners had free access to all light skin women. It was only after he came after my aunt did action take place. See the owner, my great grandfather attempted to rape his own daughter and my grandfather took care of the situation. The Midwest had no great industry to stimulate economic growth. Missouri had miles and miles of farm land.
    Once my grandfather secured the safety of his siblings he started a new life with a new name. He purchased land and became quite prominent in our little area of the Missouri Bootheal.
    Born in 1973 one would think that a child who is now 40 couldn’t possibly relate with a slave movie. My grandfather offered African Americans a way to earn without being hissed at or beaten through out the 1970′s and 80′s. Growing up I saw crosses being burned. I chopped cotton with friends on my family land. As a child I was the water girl; walking roles with two buckets of water until I could carry a hoe. I know my families history. I was given the ability to tap into my grandfathers wealth of knowledge and experience some myself. This is why I don’t understand why we (African Americans) treat each other so poorly. Knowing what I know and having had chopped cotton from sun up to sun down I have nothing but love for my fellow brother and sister. These movies bring to light the strength and courage of our race but still I know men who treat African American Women as if they are poison. America was built on our backs. So I ask of anyone who reads this Post to please strength your relationship with others in your race. Don’t be like Stephen in “Django Unchained”. Please

    • @Georgia,

      I loved reading your post. I never knew how slavery could affect a Black American family like that until I read your post. It is sad our slavery negatively affected Black family structure and still mentally affects us today. Sadly much of our problems does stem from slavery, Jim Crow and segregation.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s