“12 Years A Slave,” The Character Of Patsey, And Why I Wish Death To The Term “Negro Bed Wench”

62 comments
October 25, 2013 ‐ By Charing Ball

12 years a slave

Mid-way through 12 Years A Slave, I started to ask myself, “Who exactly is this film about?” Was it about Solomon Northup (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor), later renamed Platt, the talented violinist and free black man, kidnapped and sold into slavery? Or was it really about Patsey (Lupita Nyong’o), the jet black enslaved cotton picker and bed warmer of the Epps plantation, who had never tasted freedom in her life and probably never did long after Northup stopped being a slave?

If you ask me, it’s Patsey.

[This post contains spoilers, so be advised]

Throughout the film (by way of Northup’s own memoir), we learn that Patsey is a favorite of Massa Edward Epps (Michael Fassbender) and a thorn in the side of Mary (Sarah Paulson), the mistress of the house. In one scene she is receiving special accolades from massa himself for once again, out-picking all the other field hands, including the men, by picking almost double the quantities of barrels of cotton. A few scenes later, we see Patsey dancing center in a circle of other enslaved black men and women, who all have been roused from slumber in the middle of the night to dance a jig, play music and entertain their owner. Massa Epps pays special attention to her, which causes Mistress Mary to fly into a jealous rage and bash a defenseless Patsey in the face with a cognac goblet, barely missing her right eye. Then the Massa and Mistress argue over her body – literally and figuratively speaking – as she lay howling on the floor in pain and agony.

The scene brought a slight chuckle from a small handful in the mostly black audience at the screening I attended here in Philly. Perhaps the chuckle, which seemed out of context, was out of discomfort at what was, thus far, a truly heavy-handed film. However, the light-heartedness, which some were taking from what they were seeing, became even more ill-fitting when in the next scene, as Massa Epps chases Northup around the plantation for daring to hold Patsey’s secret from him, someone in the row behind me, chuckled and then opined loud enough for others around her to hear, “Patsey musta put it on Massa…”

Even though what we were watching on screen is probably a very accurate depiction of what many of our people experienced through the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade, you can sort of understand the cavalier nature in the way some of the descendants relate. First one, some of us feel as if we are so far removed from the atrocities of being treated like actual property that the images on the screen are just as foreign as if this was a film about life on another planet. And secondly, and probably most importantly, we really haven’t done a good job as a country, nor a community, in telling the truth – and the entire truth – about the founding of this great nation of ours. And it might be with intent as it seems that most folks want to forget about slavery all together. Even Morgan Freeman said recently in an interview with The Daily Beast, about why he’s not going to see 12 Years,“I don’t want my anger quotient exacerbated, you know? Things are bad enough as they are. I don’t want to keep punching myself in the face with it.” And this is coming from a guy who played a man whose sole character’s motivation was to drive around and be a hired companion to some ole’ racist lady named Miss Daisy.

However, our continued desire to forget the past is also why we have this black Tea Partier equating food stamps to the scraps from the master’s table. Or why renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson thinks that giving people public healthcare is akin to slavery. And it is also the reason why we have so many of our own folks believing that the enslavement of black women was of less importance or severity as what happened to black men. That black women had options including using their “sexual prowess,” aka vag*nas to somehow escape the worst of it. This collective twisted consciousness of black women and enslavement can be seen within the thinking of social commentaries done by the likes of Touré, who once remarked about the “brilliance” of enslaved black women, who “were sharp enough to trade that good-good for status or liberation.” It can also be seen through the viewing of the Russell Simmons-backed Harriet Tubman sex tape, which turned rape into some whimsical caper, in which Tubman too used her body for extra perks, like starting the Underground Railroad. And it can also been seen through the often divisive screed of Tariq Nasheed, film producer and so-called historian behind the popular documentary series Hidden Colors, who troll the Internets with his declaration of death to the “negro bed wench.” According to Nasheed, who has led several discussions on the term, including this most recent Ustream-cast entitled Tariq Nasheed Challenges the Bed Wench Movement, a modern-day Negro Bed Wench models herself after her predecessors during slavery, who he alleges volunteered to sleep with Massa in exchange for special perks and favor. He also suggests that it was the Negro Bed Wench, who actually liked slavery (because of all the free stuff she got) and snitched on the other slaves, who were trying to escape to freedom.

These Sally Hemings/Thomas Jefferson romance fantasies, which folks like to conjure up about black enslaved women offer a distorted and revisionist version to the harsh realities of what it meant to be chattel. There was no free will in slavery. An enslaved black man or woman had no more control over their lives than livestock having a say in if and when it will become hamburger meat. And although some were fortunate enough to figure out a route to freedom, the only choice most ancestors had was life or death. Everything else was out of your control, including what could or could not happen to your body. And as noted by writer Shafiqah Hudson in this essay about the use of the term to berate both the Olivia Pope character on Scandal and the real life female viewers who enjoy the show: “Controlling Black women’s behavior through name-calling and shaming is nothing new. Invoking something as somber and tragic as slavery to do it, while also nothing new, is shameful.”

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  • Tuppennyworth

    Well said. Patsey’s story deserves to be heard. She represents all the others who suffered a living hell on earth. God rest their souls.

  • ceqoubuck1985

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  • Caribbean Gal

    Your article has capsuled what many have failed to see… that while slavery was a horrible act against us as blacks we have long forgotten what brought us to this point… we have taken the position as that was then and this is now.. but that mind set has also put us in a position where we think little of raising our children with minds to think and be proud of the freedom they have which is now given openly without blood or sweat…..

    TYAS made me look at how black women were treated then and how we are treated today… I watched this with my 11 year old daughter and when she saw the brutal treatment to Patsey she asked if this was how black women were treated as slaves … I said YES.. and worst.. make no mistake that slavery of Blacks was HORRIBLE in both the US and Caribbean….
    in the Caribbean because there were even less places to hide the brutality was often worst for runaways and women….

    The foolish talk by respected black icons saying they will not see TYAS makes one wonder if they have either forgotten who they are or are uncomfortable with how we as blacks came to exist in the Americas…

    I have journey to Cameroon and when I ask of how the selling of so many ancestors impacted them (as Cameroon was one of the nations where slaves were gathered) they have said that the knowledge that many sisters and brothers were sold and never will be seen again was a burden passed on from generation to generation … maybe we have also never looked at how the selling of sons and daughters impacted them as a people…

  • jotavares

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  • ConsciousBM

    Um this article isn’t really enlighten it’s just a feminist rant aim at gender division. There should be a level of empathy for all victims of slavery even those forced into a sexual relationship with their owner after all that’s rape. What Tariq refer to is women with Stockholm syndrome that willingly engage in relations with the master in exchange for power which is much different from a forced relation. What the author is trying to do is typical of feminist, they seek to hide behind other all black women when you bring up some black women. Not every women force into a sexual relationship was a bed wench. A bed wench is define by their mentality not by their sexual history. Conscious black men are not bitter idiots and we are not against black women exploring their options we are against them doing so with a jaded corrupted view of black men and our concerns for a better black community. So I’m sorry that the author had a bad time at the movies but to try to claim black men feel like we alone suffered from slavery in a impactful way is nothing short but absurd. Where is your proof for such a claim other than a poorly made video that wasn’t funny to no one but it’s created and didn’t even feature a “Negro bed wench” within the context your talking about? Why even bring up Tariq, he doesn’t believe any of the stuff your saying he does and any one who listen to his videos will clearly hear him say so. This whole article is nothing more than black feminist dribble, not saying black feminism isn’t without merit but when it’s used to attack people who are trying to help the community instead of addressing actual racism, sexism, and discrimination.

    • debinbrooklyn

      Can you give me a definition of “black feminism”, when it came about and how black women have used it to help themselves?

      • ConsciousBM

        Black feminism first and foremost doesn’t have a definitive definition. It’s a school of thought that rightfully argues that race and sex are intertwined in such a way that being black and a women is a double negative to the dominate society and even with the black community there are unjust gender biases. That is valid, there is nothing about that statement I will disagree with but within this movement are a lot of lost sisters with the depressing train of thought that most black men are the enemies and accept the dominate anti-black power structure and wish to “sit at their table” at the expense of other black people but outwardly and hostilely towards black men.
        They don’t care about the vast majority of black women. They just want personal acceptance for themselves and those who agree with what they agree with. They will however use black women as a shield to hide behind when you call them on their anti-black idealogy because some within the movement don’t even believe in black relationships and want to promote women leaving for guys of other races because in their heads those children are 100% black because of the one drop rule yet better than black folks because of their mixed ancestry.
        As for when did the black feminist movement take off sometimes around 1970s but girls within the movement love to retroactively add women from history to their cause. How did black women use it to help themselves well since the movement as a whole doesn’t challenge the dominant power structure it was and is mainly used by sisters to find a support system of smart peers because as confused as they are, most self-identified black feminist are very academically smart and the less smart ones find a great scapegoat for all their shortcomings by waving the black feminism flag which the smarter ones let them do because once again they don’t care about black women and need the foot soldiers.

        • debinbrooklyn

          So there’s been enough Black women classified as “feminists” to do what? I’m sorry, I’m not understanding. As far as I’ve observed Black women haven’t given up on Black men. I’ve heard Black men express anger over Black women continuing to choose any array of Black men they (Black men)say are no good. Black women are getting beat up and killed within the home at rates 7-10x that of white women. Black women are victims of maternal homicide at rates higher than other women. Fetal distress from beatings to Black mothers is epidemic. Black women still get paid less on the dollar when all are working. They’re still likely to be the present parent when a breakup occurs. Black mothers are more likely to work right up to labor and return to work in a shorter time after. I’m just trying to understand who this thing of “Black Feminism” has effected and in what way. Are we talking about a very small group of “feminist” writers or has any significant number of black women really embraced this “movement?” And what’s the evidence that they’ve embraced it?

          • ConsciousBM

            The modern feminist movement is more of a African-American female think-tank and the ones I refer too are from the internet revolution (1900-2000s). I tell them apart from different generations of Black feminist by use of social media to propagate ideas to the masses. The black feminist movement is pretty large and it’s known members do well in corporate America and tend to do pretty well. I know this because I keep track and follow many popular self-identified black feminist.
            Most of the other stuff you wrote is more of a class issue instead of a race issue. I understand your confusion on the matter but whenever you have people on the low end of the income scale like many African Americans are then you will see those problems. Latinos often have the issues. Lastly women usually end up with the blunt of the child raising responsibility hence the “double standard” with a woman’s sex life when compare to males. Black women tend to be first to want a pat on the back for being a single mother but won’t uplift all the single fathers that do it all by themselves against gender norms and a society that wants to make black fathers invisible.

            • debinbrooklyn

              I know this because I keep track and follow many popular self-identified black feminist.

              Can you share some of their names here? And please include the ones who are doing well in corporate America. Thx.

              • ConsciousBM

                Sure my email is Blackmediawatcher@gmail.com send me a message if you genuinely want to continue this conversation. I maybe wrong but it feels a little like your just patronizing me for having a view different from the authors. I get that on a site like madamenoire a non-gender bias perspective is frown upon.

                • debinbrooklyn

                  How am I patronizing you by asking questions based on what you are saying? I asked if you could share some information HERE. I do genuinely want the information but no, I don’t want to email you personally.

                  • ConsciousBM

                    It comes across as trollish patronizing specifically because you single me out and chose to dissect every word I type. If I said the sky is blue for example, you will ask me to explain to you why I believe the sky is blue instead of just listening to what I am telling you and fact checking or researching my statements. Your clearly projecting an air of superiority because apparently I have to prove myself to you beyond a shadow of reasonable doubt while the words of the authors don’t receive no where near the same level of scrutiny. Also, you seem far more interested in having a crowd look at this increasingly long chain of dialogue instead of “genuinely wanting” the information. So no, even if I continue to cite known black feminist and identity women with the pathology of black feminism and list books I have on the subject you will just continue to deflect, trivialize, and demand more proof.

                    At this point if you want to publicly continue this discussion you have to contribute to the conversation in a meaningful way. Base on what I told you thus far what do you agree with or disagree with and why?

                    • debinbrooklyn

                      “….even if I continue to cite known black feminist and identity women with the pathology of black feminism…”

                      You can’t CONTINUE something you haven’t started. There’s no need for all of your “ifs”. I asked specific questions based on what YOU wrote.
                      ____________________________
                      “At this point if you want to publicly continue this discussion you have to contribute to the conversation in a meaningful way.”

                      Say what?

                      At any rate, since you refuse to answer my questions in any “meaningful way” this exchange is over.

                    • ConsciousBM

                      You are 100% right I did not start to cite but I was clearly willing too and still am as long as your willing to contribute to the conversation in a way other than questioning what I am telling you for the mere fact that I am the one telling you. I mean you want to prove that I am invalid and that I don’t make sense or know what I am talking about so first you ask me to define Black Feminism like any reader on Madame Noire wouldn’t be able to do so but since I am a black man I must be so stupid as too not look up a movement that I chose to comment and read about. That clearly didn’t work so then you started throwing around a whole bunch of stats that had nothing to do with Gender Equality or Racism but was really about Class. I told you that and so you went back to this whole “Who are the black feminist exactly and can you give me an exact number on their ranks” thing thats really just trivial and meant to further distract from the point I made in my first comment. That’s why I ask you for your input on what I told you thus far and your refusal to meet me even half way is all the proof I need that your only seeking to Troll. It’s just not fair or balance if my asking of your opinion is so out of line while you can spend comment after comment questioning me. That is not dialogue or a discussion. That is a trial and I am not on trial with you.

                    • Chanse

                      Wow you’re very manipulative, playing the victim. Incredible and indeed trollish! You’re singled out b/c YOU put yourself there, no one else. Take personal responsibility for once.

            • Chanse

              Dude you are about as ignorant as they come. Other women on this thread are appeasing you with “I don’t know what”, not me. It’s about time women, especially Black women stand up for themselves, and not wait for the White man or ANY man or other person for that matter to SAVE them. Black women should be able to DATE whomever they want, all other races do. Black men don’t have dibs on them, and everybody else too. And it always seems to be some dude trying to tell some woman how she should live. Why don’t you concentrate on trying to be a man, and let the women be who they want, b/c it’s not your business. Even if you have a GF or wife, how she lives HER life is not YOUR business.

        • Chanse

          something’s inherently wrong with your thinking. Oh yes, it’s slanted.

    • Chanse

      Sadly to say you seem to lack consciousness. Your words are in contradiction & hypocrisy by the very use of feminism as a division. The author is merely giving an account from a female prospective. None of which you dared to be conscious or empathetic to. You’ve seem to take it as an offense to your manhood. Dude get over yourself and try walking the words you speak.

  • FromUR2UB

    It’s a shame that the movie requires explanation. I didn’t get to see it this weekened, but I’m sure there was some inappropriate laughter at some of the more uncomfortable scenes. I heard that when I saw ‘Django Unchained’. Though I understood that people were laughing to overcome the discomfort of watching the abuse, I couldn’t help but feel a little angry that the laughter trivialized it. These were grown people, so lets face it: some people are just idiots.
    I suspect that the only people who romanticize the Sally Hemming/Thomas Jefferson relationship, are those who want to believe that any involvement with a white man must be preferable. They’re the ones who come out in droves to support the “Why Black Women Should Date White Men” articles that have frequented this site. Common-law wife? How about: comfort-law wife? Whatever little benefits she received were still going to be crumbs from a table. She would be offered tiny incentives to assuage the abuse, because the alternative was to be abused and get absolutely nothing for it. The favoritism was a way of conquering through division. Whenever you want to breed resentments among people, all you have to do is single one of them out and appear to treat him/her differently from the rest. You know, house ni**ers vs. field ni**ers. The peculiar thing about that, is the resentment people feel will always be directed toward the object of the favoritism, not the person who dispenses it. This seems to be true in all cases, between siblings, in the workplace or a classroom.

    • FromUR2UB

      I think that black people can’t afford to forget about the atrocities of slavery, because I genuinely believe there are people in this country who want to revive it. They block measures to improve schools, to provide assistance to people to obtain higher education, and they don’t even want people to have access to healthcare. If you don’t have a job, you still have to eat, but they try to strip your access to food stamps, and then they throw obstacles in your way to ensure that large numbers of people won’t be able to vote them out of office. So, then, what do you do with all these people who can’t work, can’t eat, and can’t vote? I believe that if things proceed as they are, those people, at some point, will try to implement “work farms”. Sooner or later, some of them iare going to try to pass a bill requiring people to report to locations to work for extremely low wages, in exchange for room and board. They’re going to make it sound like something intended to help people, but it will only ensure a servant class. That’s probably why they don’t want to help illegal immigrants become legal, because as long as you have a group of people trying to stay below the radar, you can take advantage of them.

      • bkabbagej

        Oh my Goodness, you are too RIGHT!!! But the sad part is we can’t get African Americans to see this; Their either Too self involved; (I got mine and they (the poor, uneducated and down trodden in life) just need to get theirs), or too busy; (the so called rich) trying to be accepted in their (white) world where as long as you have money or something they want, most of the time it’s MONEY they’ll let you in partially, GOD help you when the money is gone) and lastly the unaware; they just don’t think something like that could ever happen and sadly that’s most of our children because they’ve never been given a real history lesson on slavery in the African American community, they don’t know our heroes and she-roes, some of our poor children don’t know their own intimate family history. Just plain ignorant to any important African American history and what’s really sad is that they don’t really think it’s important to their lives And as the it’s said if you fail to remember, you bound to repeat!!!

        • FromUR2UB

          I went and saw the film tonight, and whew!! It’s rough. I’m glad that it was taken from a true memoir because the truth is much more brutal and horrific than anyone’s imagination can conjure up. There were moments when there was no dialogue or narration, no speech at all, but the characters emotions “spoke”. I can’t recall when I’ve seen a movie like this. It’s an extremely significant piece of work.

          • http://www.charcoal-ink.com Kagem

            Your comments were really englightening. I just want to say I also saw the film and I agree at how significant it is. Amazing film and it will be remembered for decades.

  • COCO

    My stomach roiled during her scenes. I mean I needed something to settle it because when she was beaten my stomach was so sour. I swear that was a hard movie to watch. Much worse than any that have been made. It is a must see though as you should never forget and this movie is as raw as it gets. Kudos.

  • Nita

    Keep in mind that these same black men who think of this as a “loving” relationship and will speak ill of black women for “allowing” it, have no problems with promoting the women who birthed these men over black women.

    • Angela

      …Or the children that resulted from it. Go figure!

    • ConsciousBM

      ignorant people will be ignorant. Conscious brothers know the difference between a bed wench and a victim of rape. Don’t match ignorance with ignorance like the author did. We can be better but not if we engage in divisive gender war or a black girl pity party.

      • Chanse

        ConsciousBM your words come across a defensive in themselves. The term bed wench is demoralizing to any person. Why can’t we feel sympathies for those who are in that situation, whether that situation is their conscious choice or not. The majority of the time it is not. And even if it is, it is not our place to judge their choices in life. JS

  • dancelover51

    What was the point of calling her jet black?

    • Ami-ah

      I think Patsey’s “jet black” color lends weight to the some of the reasons why Epps fetishized and raped her. She could very well be considered “exotic” because of her darker-than-the-norm hue and was therefore hypersexualized by Epps. I tried to look for other female slaves who were just as dark as Patsey but I couldn’t find any. Eliza was probably the closest in color (which is probably why she was also repeatedly raped by her master).

  • JerkJackson

    “Patsey must have put it on Massa”
    ???
    They should be ashamed of themselves.

    • http://chelebelleslair.tumblr.com paisleystars

      That’s exactly what I was thinking when I read that…to be that lascivious…wow. Just wow.

  • Yanez

    Very good article. I will not go to see this movie or any other movie where we are depicted as slaves, servants, gang members, etc. Black people in this country have done other things throughout history and for some reason Hollywood can’t see a black person in any other role. I haven’t seen Scandal either and I don’t plan on ever seeing it. I haven’t forgotten what black people have been through in the U.S., I just think we can play other roles in tv and film. More diversity in roles please!!!

    • bkabbagej

      When Jews, make countless movies and tell of the atrocities that were perpetrated on them and tell their history every year to the younger generations to “always remember and never forget”. It is for historical as well as to instill some respect and uplift the community, so that you will feel tied to your community and want prove to the world that what happened in your community’s history doesn’t impact the success of future generations and nothing Hitler or anyone else could do could keep them down.
      African Americans are ashamed of a history we had no control over, a situation we were forced into and considered not even humans beings because of only the color of our skin, they thought they were taking our destiny away (so they thought, but humans are so resilient). But instead of telling and teaching our children exactly what American slavery was and how impacted our lives for generations, and exactly what happened during the 400 years and after (during the Jim Crow era (so that it can never be repeated, in ANY form) and also celebrating the fact our ancestors could never imagine, dream or pray for the type of accomplishments we’ve made to and for this country through slavery (we never stopped and never will), and that if they (our children) only work and dream half as hard as our forefathers did we can continue to prosper and contribute. Our American slavery history is and must be a learning experience for the whole world but especially for us, descendants of Africa born in America with many stories to tell including the shame and pain of slavery..

      • Yanez

        I am not saying the black experience shouldn’t be told. You mentioned Jewish people so i’ll use that as an example. Yes we know about the Holocaust but their story of Genocide isn’t the only narrative known about their culture. What are black people known for in mainstream society? Servitude, slavery, poverty, criminal conduct. Those are the roles we constantly see in film and the media overall. There is more to black people than those things. You can not compare the Jewish experience and the black experience in the U.S. Jewish people run Hollywood, the financial market, the U.S. sends Israel $3 billion per year. That experience is not the black experience and their are viewed more positively in the media. The black experience can not be compared to anyone else’s. Do we need accurate depictions of black history? Yes. Do we need diversity in black roles and how we are portrayed to other cultures in the mass media? YES, YES, YES!!!

        • bkabbagej

          Yes, we do need diversity and we have it there are movies being made from all our perspective in life but your mixing apples and oranges. I was speaking of African Americans that have a hard time looking at and accepting our history. I think it’s something to be proud of to come from that part of our history and achieve the things we have in spite of. I was also talking about the fact that our children have no clear understanding of where we came from (our African and American history) and exactly how we achieved as much as we have in comparison to the way Jews never allow their children to forget any part of their history. As far as African American financially supporting our own endeavors, that’s our own fault. If we invested in African American issues and stop trying to be included in places were they really won’t and don’t accept us but will take our money (a fool and they’re money), we too could own a part of Hollywood and tell our own stories, if we STOP spending some of the billions we on crap they make us think we need to allow them to be able to send $3 Billion to Israel, then maybe we could tell more of our stories. ALL TYPES of African American Stories!

          • Chanse

            Not only do most of the children of this generation have no true concept, nor accounting of the African plight to this country, their parents do not. We AA are the only culture that is untethered to our true roots. Our ancestors were uprooted from our Motherlands wherever that may have been (various cities & countries). Uprooted from their culture, families and sense of humanity. They who survived need their stories revealed from the shadows and acknowledge (honored) by their ancestors.

        • Caribbean Gal

          Until we are comfortable with the FACT that before we did awesome things we were SLAVES.. lets face some facts… in both the Caribbean and US blacks were considered lower than cattle… and our origins in this diaspora was due to Slavery… So until we can see that and acknowledge it the other stories cannot be told without erasing our history of being ….

      • Chanse

        Well said! I wasn’t going to go see the film b/c I knew it would hurt a great deal. I did see it, and it did hurt a great deal, more than I expected b/c of Patsey. I’m glad the writers chose to tell some of her existence. Very powerful, one that moves. All Americans especially Blacks (AA) should see it, remember our lost souls by honoring their existence as a stepping stone to our own presence. So it will never happen again.

  • Let It Be

    Charing, you need your OWN Youtube channel or something. You have become “above” MN now (I hate using the word ‘above’ but I couldn’t think of another word other than saying, ‘you are too good for MN’).

  • Mike Renell

    Best written article i’ve read in a long time… Thank You!!!!

  • Tonyoardee

    Saw the film last week, Patsy did take some of the light but her story needed to be told. I also noticed that the plantation wife mindset still resonates today especially with the jurors of the Trayvon Martin trial

    • noahz_mommie

      Kudos, very poignant and well written.

  • Shay

    wow….Very well written and eye opening.

  • stewie

    Men, the word censorship of this website makes it very very hard to post anything.

    Why is so many normal words censored ?

    • Val

      Disqus is a hater.

  • lockstress

    I intend on going to see this movie. Chiwetel is a glorious actor. I don’t how I’m going to feel coming out of the theatre but I am so HAPPY that an Englishman took the time to make a TRUE film about this abhorrent, barbaric, inhumane act that man inflicted on another.
    I don’t know how I’ll react to ANYONE laughing.

  • Val

    This is why I get so fed up with hearing about Thomas Jefferson and what a great man he was supposed to be. Great men don’t rape women and Jefferson started raping Sally Hemmings when she was a girl and continued to rape her for most of her life.

    I think these stories need to be told if they are going to accurately portray the atrocities committed against our people. (Unlike that silly Quentin Tarantino film) Unfortunately these stories haven’t been told accurately, which is why you have clueless people like Sally Hemmings’ descendants running around trying to be recognized as descendants of Thomas Jefferson. Who fights to be recognized as being descended from a rapist? Sally must be turning over in her grave.

    We need more accurate film portrayals of how we truly suffered and more people to write articles like this one.

  • Morpheos

    Just reading about the fools in theater, African Americans nonetheless, who laughed during this film makes my blood boil. In the past few weeks I’ve read so many tweets by African Americans that said “I’m not gonna watch TYAS” , because Django is- according to them- the epitome of what slavery was. I can understand not wanting to see the grimness of it. But It’s staggering how so many young people want to come to terms with what happened to the millions who endured, resisted, LIVED.

    Nice article.

    • Tracu

      That particular scene made me gasp as it was so unexpected. I can’t see how any audience would find humor in it… The film left me speechless and question what it was I just watched because it was so raw. I felt so many different emotions and it is a must see film as an African American Woman

  • RPS

    EXCELLENT article. Thank you…

  • cice1

    Thank you for this very well written article. It brought tears to my eyes.

    • KIR12

      I’ll go see this movie but one of my pet peeves is they show these field slaves clean with decent clothing. They had one pair of clothes for the field and if lucky one for Sunday. Most of those slaves walked around filthy, smelly in rags. Also, I’d like to see a movie about what happen after the slaves were freed. Most people don’t know it was a Black H0locaust. 1.2 million slaves died of starvation the first couple years after being freed. They were freed with no land, no tools, no money, nothing not even a handshake and a thank you. We’ve seen many movies showing 600k soldiers died during the Civil War but there has not been one movie showing 1.2 million former slaves dying of starvation.

      • KIR12

        Well, you certainly gave a lot of the movie away but I agree to a certain extent her options were few. I’ve often wondered how 4 or 5 white men could control a plantation of 50, 150, 200 slaves. Sadly, the only logical concussion is their had to have been collusion and cooperation from some of the male and female slaves. There’s just no other way it could have occurred. The settlers originally tried to enslave the Indians. They couldn’t. The Indians would run off, wouldn’t work and would sit down in the fields and be b e a t e n before being a sl@v3. I think the acceptance of religion which white men with an agenda use to manipulate and control blacks, the fear of dying and the false sense of importance given to a few favored slaves allowed blacks to be enslaved for 250 years and mistreated for another 150 years.

        • Tracu

          Stockholm syndrome is what they call it today? But, these men and women were brain washed to no end so they were too terrified to run away. AND not to mentioned it wasn’t common to see blacks strolling about on their own… Society was set to disadvantage blacks period.

          Lastly their clothing wasn’t “clean” to today’s standards in the film. But, they were kempt. I say watch the movie it was pretty damn real and I think some of questions will be answered.

        • pfeiffer87

          You also have to remember that Native Americans had lived there for centuries before Europeans came. They knew the lay of the land and so could run away and hide far more successfully than black slaves who had just been brought thousands of miles across the ocean to a new land. That’s why often you’d get black runaways making canoes etc to try and get home. So sad.

          • KIR12

            That would apply to the first generation Africans. Slavery lasted 250 years. 2&1/2 centuries

            • debinbrooklyn

              One of the first laws of codifying slavery was blacks could not have firearms. Add this to the SYSTEM of chattel slavery, this wasn’t plantation to plantation – it was the law of the land. I agree, blacks should have made it undesirable to have them as slaves by knocking off plantation owners left and right – but if that couldn’t be a mass effort and the enslaved on a plantation knocked off the white owners – then what? Northrup was “free” and got caught up.

              Then add in the mental illness of sheer shock at what other supposed “human beings” were able to do. It’s been happening for 500 years and so many black folk still can’t emotionally handle what their captors are capable of doing.

              P.S. Watch the Solomon Northrop story of about 20 years ago with Avery Brooks, directed by Gordon Parks. Many of the enslaved females literally lost their mind, as was depicted in this version as well but even more so in the first one. Many of the females were savagely raped as GIRLS and mentally gone by adulthood. Look at the mental issues we have to this day with black females feeling unprotected and black males feeling unable to protect and projecting that impotence. And we’re no longer on the literal plantation. How much longer are we willing to live like this?

              • Chanse

                P.S. statement is so true. Black people please stop beating your children, and belittling them. Empower them with your time & attention. Also, please take more responsibility into their education, rather than giving all that power to another.

      • sasha

        I don’t think it was the case that slaves’ clothes were smelly rags in the majority of cases on large plantations. My impression is that the slaves were kept clothed and fed. That was part of the (racist) paternalist argument for slavery: whites were able to take care of (infantile) blacks. (It’s also part of why slavery doesn’t make economic sense over wage labor.) Also, if your slaves are wearing rags, it probably makes you, the owner, look poor/cheap. In the film, it looked like like the slaves had a small amount of simple, cheap clothing that they washed and cared for carefully. Chattel slavery was an abomination, but the appearance of the clothing in the film was probably accurate.

        • KIR12

          G0ogle field slaves and look at the images