Who Is Afraid of ‘I2 Years A Slave’?

I am.

Or I have been. Since rave reviews hit the web and CNN would not stop. As if all that chanting was not enough, Award season has been hellish. Lupita Nyong’o has captivated the world with her talent and her toned bod and there’s absolutely no hiding place for Chiwetel Ejiofor. Don’t get me wrong. I love these two and what they represent to me and every one who gets told that the era of opportunity is dead. It is so not. If you keep working at it. or worrying at it. The way I worry at my poor lower lip.

Don’t even let me get started on Michael Fassbender…(*Eyes rolling to the back of my head- in a good way)

Yet even all the noise about Lupita’s fashion brilliance has not made me watch ’12 Years a Slave.

Because I am afraid as I was of The Butler which to this day I have avoided watching. I’ve heard people prescribe meeting that which you fear headlong and so I guess that means I should watch these movies but I can’t. I watched Django Unchained and I loved it. It was everything a Quentin Tarantino movie should be. I loved the petit dentist and the period clothes. I was all for the action figures too but they completely fell through. All that …… even managed to get me to overlook the scene where Kerry Washington’s character, Broomhilda gets whipped and stripped buttnekid and stuffed in a hole.

Yup, stuffed.

But there’s none of those distractions in 12 years a Slave or so I’ve gathered. Serious actors don’t come better than Ejiofor, Fassbender and Lupita.

Nope they don’t.

12 Years a Slave is another telling of the oppression and suffering but I have come to realize that while others may watch those movies and turn over to switch their nightlights off, it will lodge in my chest, a piece of yam. I will worry at it. it will bite at me.I might nurse it and if I nurse it then it will grow. Into a resentment burning a hole in my chest and spilling out, burning the innocent. Because that’s what movies like Lincoln, The Butler and Roots do to me. I’m afraid of that kind of resentment. It’s the kind that holds back and threatens equality. I’m incredibly happy that Hollywood is having a long, black moment and all that but I wish to see great Black movies that tell of a newer kind of victory. A rising out of a place of resentment, drugs, drive-by shootings and illiteracy. Respect to the movies about slavery and all of that. They keep Africans and African Americans reminded of just how far they have come and how far they can go. Yet I cannot watch the degree of violence and disrespect meted out on human beings without believing that it is harmful for young generations of African Americans as well as other races who should move past (not forget) slavery and work on building their self worth and making America just as much theirs. Freedom Writers is a great movie and I can’t get tired of watching it.

I really needed to write about this especially as Black History Month comes to an end and especially when I remember a conversation I had with an African American Woman I met at the clinic. I had listened to her rant about her mistrust for white doctors and then her disgust at the uppityness of the white nurses and then when I dared to not share her sentiments, she also expressed a deep anger for ‘them Africans’ and that morning I was Africa’s ambassador. (if only I was getting paid for my troubles!) Our sin: We hadn’t fought for them and we had sold them into slavery while we basked in the African sun.

Hmmm….feel the power of the spoken word? The way resentment can be passed from generation to generation? Note her speak? Like she and I were best friends playing in the sandbox before I sold her out for a pretty mirror and a spoon of salt?

Basked in the African Sun…

Fantasy fantasy.


3 thoughts on “Who Is Afraid of ‘I2 Years A Slave’?”

  1. Brilliant my dear Abbey. More ink in your pen. I share your thought on this. Great films about Africa shouldn’t always be about Slavery. We can move past and postulate in the future for better concept about Africa. We have enough films and books to keep slavery into history. Even without all that,oral tradition will always protect the slavery days in history. Keep up babe.


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