I saw 12 Years a Slave last night. Here are all the thoughts I care to share on the movie.

  • Benedict Cumberbatch cannot maintain a southern accent to save his life.
  • Man, screw Brad Pitt (you’re going to have to see the movie / read spoilers if you want an explanation for this. You might not be as cynical to his role in the movie as I was. As it stands, I retain my distain for his role in the movie).
  • Chiwetel Ejiofor is incredible. There are at least three points in the movie where he breaks my heart just by the look he puts on his face or the way he uses his voice.
  • There is a point in the movie when Patsey (Lupita Nyong’o), inarguably the most poorly treaded slave in the movie, begs Ejiofor to kill her. Later in the movie, he faces terrible consequences for his actions. It is the most heart wrenching scene in the movie and I can’t stop thinking about it. Someday I will, because everything leaves, except…
  • …I don’t want to stop thinking about it. Not yet.

My friend and I had a conversation recently about Kanye West selling clothing adorned with rebel flags as part of his tour’s merchandise. My point, in a nutshell, was that as a white northerner, I am not allowed to tell anyone what that flag does or does not mean, and I am not allowed to comment about who uses it and how. I think it’s cool that a black man is taking a symbol that, heritage aside, is associated with America’s greatest sin and turning it to an empowerment symbol (albeit for his own personal profit), but I don’t really get to have an opinion on this matter.

In the same way, I don’t get to tell people when it’s time to “forget about slavery” and “move on as a country.” I only get to decide for myself what it means and I have decided this: not enough time has passed, not nearly enough, for the “let’s just move on” argument to hold any water with me. America destroyed generations of families, warped the minds and bodies of a legion of people, created a situation where self-hate was the only way to survive and then, less than five generations later, expected everyone to move on and be happy. I reject that idea wholeheartedly. I do not know how much time has to pass before slavery can be just an ugly part of our history and not a current, throbbing boil on our national identity, but I know we’re not there yet.

You don’t ignore the tumor growing on your back. You address it and try to heal.

I think you should see 12 Years a Slave.

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