All Articles Tagged "slavery"
“Why do we need movies to remind us of where we used to be? We should be doing things to encourage us where we are right now…” She continued, “I guarantee you, if I go to the bookstore and pick up 12 Years A Slave, I’m not going to just read about the beatings. I’m not just going to read about people calling each other ni66ers. I’m going to get the full story of an African American man, living in a certain time period; a story about how he met his beautiful wife and created his wonderful family. It seems that the movies only depict the negative.”
Steve McQueens work on awards-season favorite12 Years A Slavehas caught the attention the worlds oldest human rights organization.
According toreports, the famed director was named an ambassador for Anti-Slavery International this Black History Month. The committee, which works to remind the world that slavery is not just a thing of the past, was set up in 1839 to lobby against the phenomenon.
McQueen accepted the honor in his hometown of London on Monday. Right now, there are Solomon Northups in every region of the world who have been taken away from their families and placed in slavery, he said at the charitys headquarters.
Read more on Steve McQueens accomplishment at HelloBeautful.com
I Was Screaming & Crying For 15 Mins: Michael K. Williams Talks Emotional Toll of Filming “12 Years A Slave”
I know slave movies aren’t everyone’s cup of tea and there have been plenty of critics, mostly black, of Steve McQueen’s latest, award-winning effort, 12 Years A Slave. But personally, that film affected me in a profound way. I remember leaving the theater with a headache because I thought so much and cried so hard.
I attribute my reaction to the film to the astounding effort the cast and crew put into this project. You could sense just how serious it was to these people long before there were cast interviews and press junkets. A recent Arsenio Hall interview with Michael K. Williams confirmed what I already knew to be true.
Williams has a smaller part earlier on in the film as one of the free men captured with whom Solomon, (Chiwetel Ejiofor), first meets on the slave ship.
Williams described a particularly emotional scene that caused him to not only break down but lose himself.
There was a scene unfortunately it didn’t make the film…We were shooting this scene where my character Roberts is being dragged to the slave ship and he was revolting, he was frailing, he was going crazy. Around the fifth time that we shot it, Steve yelled cut and something came over me I don’t know what it was…I fell to the ground, I couldn’t stop crying and screaming…I couldn’t even get up off the floor. It was surreal
The stunt coordinator he got on the floor with me, white man and he cradled me in his arms, and he rocked me and he kept saying, ‘It’s okay Mike let it out, let it out.’ And I screamed at the top of lungs, for what must’ve seemed like 15, 20 minutes. Like a cloud passed over me and I got up..I was like okay let’s go. I think what happened to me was that I was given a glimpse into what out ancestors must’ve went through.
You can watch the clip of this conversation that brought Arsenio to tears in the video below.
“Given her well-established reputation as a world class idiot, it’s not surprising that she chose to mention slavery in a way that is abominable to anyone that knows anything about its barbaric history,” Bashir began. The British journalist then offers a primary source that describes the torturous days of slavery — the diary of Thomas Thistlewood, a plantation overseer who kept notes for over 39 years.
“In 1756, he records that a slave named Darby was ‘[caught] eating kanes. Had him well flogged and pickled, then made Hector, another slave, s**t in his mouth… ‘This became known as ‘Darby’s Dose’, invented by Thistlewood, that spoke only of his savagery and inhumanity,” he revealed. “When Mrs. Palin invokes slavery,” Bashir added, “she just doesn’t prove her rank ignorance, she confirms that if anyone truly qualifies for a dose of discipline from Thomas Thistlewood, then she would be the outstanding candidate.”Bigger ouch! A few days later, Bashir apologized for his caustic insults and offered a two-minute speech of sincere regret for his comments on Palin:
“I wanted to take this opportunity to say sorry to Mrs. Palin and to also offer an ‘unreserved apology’ to her friends and family, her supporters, our viewers and anyone who may have heard what I said,” he said. “Upon reflection, I so wish that I had been more thoughtful, considerate, and compassionate, but I was not…I deeply regret what I said.”However, few seemed fazed by Bashir’s biting words towards Palin. “Bashir’s mistake was thinking Palin ‘needed’ someone to s**t in her mouth. She’s fully capable of producing fecal material with her mouth and needs no assistance,” a reader noted under The Wrap’s article. Your thoughts? You can watch the apology and the offensive criticism after the jump.
“Soon, though, I began to hate my Addy doll. First off, she was a slave. Slavery scared me when I was a kid. Hell, to be honest, learning about it still scares me, hence why I refuse to see 12 Years a Slave. Addy’s books, as wonderfully written as they are, were sad and cold and dangerous. They weren’t filled with happy people suffering temporarily like Molly’s, or people with lives of comfort struggling with societal pressures that I only vaguely understood like Samantha’s. Secondly, her clothes. Like, really? All of the miniature accessories that you’ll undeniably lose the next day are 85 percent of the reason any kid even wants an American Girl doll and I just couldn’t get with Addy’s. All the colors were muted, all the patterns were ugly. There was no sass or pomp or shine. There was no fun.Teal went on to explain how she dressed her Addy doll in mostly contemporary clothing (with exception of Addy’s signature gold hoop earrings) to disconnect her from her historic roots but yet how traitorous she still feels to this day for “bashing Addy’s right to exist.” She writes:In short, she was depressing as hell. Putting Addy in an America where she was effectively denied the privilege of being a child made it impossible for her to embody all of the qualities for which early American Girls were known—free-spiritedness, a defiant personality and the courage to defy expectations. The penalty for girls with a strong personality in any of the other books may have been a stern look or a menial punishment. For Addy, historically and in the books, if she had been any of those things the penalty would have been far greater.”
“My discomfort with Addy probably has less to do with her, her books and her clothes and more to do with the possibly unavoidable discomfort of being a black girl in a country that still doesn’t really know what to do with me. I am strong, too, because I have to be. There were aspects of little-girldom that were denied to me because, in some ways, I had to grow up faster and know more things than white girls to thrive in this country, just like Addy. I am brave, like Addy, because the act of living in a hostile environment requires that. But, most of the time, I wish I didn’t have to be so strong and so brave and maybe Addy just reminds me of that.”Blackness-related exhaustion is real, folks. I can’t count how many times I’ve heard over the last few weeks, a person ask with the same annoyance ‘why do we have to keep talking about slavery?’ As if we really talk about slavery? I don’t know about the rest of y’all’s secondary educational experience but the only academic discussions around slavery we had centered around the politics of it, most particularly how the government eventually did black folks a solid and made it illegal. And in the last 20 years, I can only think about three or four films on the subject, and those films just so happened to have been produced in the last couple of years (including 12 Years A Slave and Django Unchained). In fact, the only time I hear black folks nowadays make any sort of slavery-reference is when we are demeaning each other with so called slave-archetypes like Mammy or Uncle Tom or Negro Bed Wench. So the idea that the national conversation is saturated with proper introspection and reflection of how our great nation used actual human beings as chattel and then denied those same human beings justice and equality for years thereafter, just kind of rings hollow to me. Or at the very least, insecure. If it was just slavery, black folks might not be so uncomfortable about contemporary conversations around the personalization of the institution however a discussion of slavery ultimately brings about a discussion about the generations of black folks after enslavement, who had to suffer, struggle through and ultimately bare the humiliation of second-class citizenship. And that, in turn, may bring about feelings of insecurity and inferiority, especially in the face of a reality of our history. Or as Jerry Large writes in this archived article entitled About Slavery: No Need for Embarrassment from the 1996 Seattle Times:
“As a psychologist might say, there was no closure. The wound is still open. Most people throughout history have had the luxury of creating a romantic myth of how they got to be who they are. Jews, Aztecs, Romans, white Americans, Zulus. But not black Americans. White America protects its myths as true history and rejects the incipient myths of black Americans as revisionist pap. Afrocentrism is bad, Eurocentrism is good. (How much Chinese or Japanese literature did you read in school?). Black Americans are not all descended from kings and queens, but neither are white Americans. Bad luck brought us both here, some running, others dragged.”However, in the midst of all this wanting to forget the bad stuff, are much richer and complex stories – not just stories of survival in the face of dire circumstances but of camaraderie. Take for instance the actual background narrative to the Addy doll. According to the American Girl Wiki page, outside of hard labor as an enslaved nine-year old black child (and eventually a free child in the North), Addy Walker is also described as a proponent of fairness and a questioner of the status quo. Moreover:
“Addy tends to leap before she looks; so far, this has yet to get her in any trouble. She is also curious and wants to surge ahead. She does feel she can trust people before she meets them more often than not. Watching anything – people or animals – suffer bothers her. In her heart, she is an optimist and thinks good of people. However, due to her young age, she is easily influenced and upset by other people, especially her classmate Harriet. Addy is also very upset and sometimes ashamed of her poverty status, especially in comparison to Harriet, who has the kind of life Addy expected in freedom. Addy has a lot of pride at times. She wishes her family did not have to work so hard to make a life for themselves in freedom.”The irony, of course, is that Teal and the Addy doll have lots more in common than she likes to believe.
I will say that as a kid, who took pride in her collection of 32 Barbies and Ken dolls of all varying hues and made up backgrounds, one thing that I most look forward to was the ability to conceptualize my dolls in all new identities, particularly when it came to restyling their hair. And by styling, I mean making uneven and raggedy bobs with kindergarden scissors. I could be rough in play with my Barbies in a way I couldn’t with my more cultural dolls without it feeling like abuse. There is a delicate balance of educating kids about a history, which often gets neglected and whitewashed over in school and just letting kids be free to explore their creativity on their own, which many of us haven’t master. And a slavery themed toy doll is pretty damn heavy no matter how you try to dress it up.
“Nobody Ever Says There Are Too Many Holocaust Stories”: Alfre Woodard Responds To “12 Years A Slave” Criticism
Slave narratives.. “are vital for us to have our feet on balanced ground in the future. I think it’s a chunk of our history that we are in denial about and that we don’t accept. And it is the root, I would say, of our contemporary domestic problems.”Read more of Woodard’s wise thoughts, here. What do you think about what she said?Nobody ever says… “There are too many Holocaust stories,” or “There are too many gangster movies.” But we tell three stories [about slavery] and they want us to be done. Today… “there are more slaves held around the world, sexual and domestic, than even in the mid-1800s. But that’s all in the shadows, and it’s right in our suburbs and everywhere around us.” If you’re a racist… “or not is absolutely off the point that the manifestation of 300 years of a slave economy is present in everyday [life]. If you’re going to deny that, you’re going to be constantly wondering why you’re anxious and off the tracks.” Post-racialism… “brought the boil up. And now we just have to lance the boil, clean it out and heal the wound. People [mistakenly] thought, Now I don’t have to feel like I’m carrying the weight of something [that] happened when I wasn’t even alive. We are now forced into conversations. If we don’t have them, we’re going to be really sick. Django Unchained is… “to 12 Years A Slave [what] the Atlantic Ocean is to the Pacific Ocean. We need a lot of oceans. One does not negate the other, and one occupies a different territory. And [they are] fed by different rivers. They’re absolutely different genres; they’re absolutely different filmmakers. And they’re different stories.” Pictures like 12 Years a slave… “give us a common language, a common emotional experience, whether you’re British, West African, West Indian or American.”
Former Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin popped up at an event in Iowa and compared the federal debt to slavery.
“Our free stuff today is being paid for by taking money from our children and borrowing from China,” she said at the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition’s fall fundraiser at the State Fairgrounds Saturday night. “When that money comes due – and this isn’t racist, but it’ll be like slavery when that note is due. We are going to beholden to the foreign master.”
Palin drew an audience of about 750, smaller than the 1,500 she attracted in 2010 for a Republican Party of Iowa dinner.
She told the Iowans, who have the ear of presidential candidates, that they reflect what’s good about America. “You’re unpretentious, hardworking, humble, very candid. You tell it like it is and you’ll tell a politician exactly what it is that you’re thinking,” she said.
Conservatism, she said, is partly about “moving the poor and the underemployed out of poverty and out from the shackles of dependency on government.”
“We’re not wards of the state but free men and women who can live good and productive lives without D.C.’s appointed best and brightest telling us what to do,” she said.
Palin got extra applause when talking about how moderate Republicans have failed grassroots conservatives.
“Remember their promise that they would do everything in their power to fight against socialized medicine, against Obamacare?” she said, as the crowd jumped, cheering, to its feet. “When it came time to stand and defund it, they waived the white flag of surrender and they threw under the bus the good guys who did stand up and fight.”
Read more at EurWeb.com
From The Grio
A Nevada assemblyman came under fire Monday after a YouTube video surfaced in which he told a Republican gathering he would vote to allow slavery if that is what his constituents wanted him to do.
“If that’s what they wanted, I’d have to hold my nose … they’d probably have to hold a gun to my head, but yeah,” Assemblyman Jim Wheeler told members of the Storey County Republican Party at a meeting in August.
His comments were swiftly denounced by Republicans and Democrats alike.
“Assemblyman Wheeler’s comments are deeply offensive and have no place in our society,” Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval said in a statement. “He should retract his remarks and apologize.”
U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., called Wheeler’s comments “insensitive and wrong,” while the Assembly Democratic caucus said they were “reprehensible and disgusting.”
Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson, R-Henderson, on Twitter said Wheeler’s comments are “outrageous, they are embarrassing and they are just plain sad.”
“It’s time for Jim Wheeler to find a new line of work,” Roberson said.
Wheeler, a freshman lawmaker representing District 39, said his remarks were taken out of context and that he was trying to make a point that he was elected to represent his constituents.
Read more at TheGrio.com
Solomon Northup As A ManHe had this depth of spirit and passion, a kind of instinct for life, an absence of hatred. He was able to get rid of anything that wasn’t useful to him, and to only keep things that were gonna keep him alive and keep his mind intact. Hatred was just not gonna be useful. It would only eat him; he didn’t have any place for it.
How He Prepared For This RoleIt was stuff that I got from the screenplay, and stuff that I got from the book. But there were some things that you discover as you move through the process. You’re making all these decisions about how you’re gonna respond to people, how you’re going to interact, and how those things make you feel. And things come up—like this lack of hatred—which you don’t even necessarily acknowledge fully at the time. You’re inside the experience. You’re playing Solomon as you feel him, and it’s maybe only after that you really reflect on all the different aspects of the character.
Northup’s memoir 12 Years A Slave
I consider Solomon Northrop’s book a gift to the modern world. It’s expressing something in the past but it’s also full of elements we can relate to in our time. It allows us to understand the past in a slightly different way, teasing us into the future in a different way. The experience I had reading the book was the experience that I wanted people to have whilst watching the film—you start off watching the film or reading the book and you’re quite objective—you’re just looking at it—and then at a certain point it becomes quite immersive and you are feeling it as well. And I thought that with the book. So that’s the quality that you have to bring to the film.
Reenacting Northup’s life eventsThe process is multi-layered. Obviously, when you’re playing Solomon, you’re always aware that he is very alive to the sense that he shouldn’t be in that place. That’s the foundation of playing a character like that. Everything he witnesses is a reflection of that primary fact: that he knows a completely different life to this life. He becomes a conduit for the audience, who probably are experiencing what he’s experiencing in a similar way, whereas every other person in that environment is either accustomed to it or believes that it’s justified. So he’s closer to us, with a similar experience to the audience than anybody else in the film.
Slave Narratives In 21st Century FlimI think it gives us a completely three-dimensional picture of slavery, because it comes from really deep inside the slave’s experience. The things that we consider to be amorphous blobs of slavery, like the plantation system, were actually very specific. You had the sugar cane, and the cotton picking, and timber, and all of these created very different plantations. Also, the relationships between people were so specific, like the bizarre friendship that came up between Benedict Cumberbatch’s character, Master Ford, and Solomon, who became, kind of, strange friends. They recognized something in each other. The system had them both in a bond: Master Ford for financial reasons; Solomon, obviously, in slavery. So it’s a very complex system, and I think it’s very informative as to how these systems that compromise human dignity can come up through people who are, sort of, understandable. And I think that’s something that any era should really look at: those questions of human dignity and respect and what human beings are capable of.
The effect slavery had on Black peopleIn a way, it wasn’t my job to try and play it in a contemporary reflection of the story. I was gonna just tell the story—Solomon Northup’s story. I think once you look and reflect on Solomon Northrup and on the system of slavery, I think it has wide implications for society. How could it not? The events of this film were only 150 years ago, or something. It’s so recent. Of course it’s going to have a major impact on the way society is today. These things are going to take a lot longer to deal with. And the ways that they express themselves in society are varied. Some of them express themselves externally, some of them internally—not only the poverty, but there’s also mental health issues and education. There’s a lot of different things we can all find the roots of in that period. There was a devastated community and families and I think there are allegories there, for sure. But that’s not the way that I was approaching the material as an actor. That’s a reflection after.
The difference between Amistad and 12 Years A SlaveIt’s a very different kind of project. Amistad began with a slightly more familiar idea of looking at slavery from a slight distance, and looking at those events with a panoramic view, from the president to the slaves themselves to the lawyers that represented them. I think this is different in that it’s from the slave’s point of view, and I don’t think that we’ve seen that before.
Steve McQueen As A DirectorTo me, there are different kinds of Hollywood movies. I know what you’re talking about, but even without meeting the sort of generalities of the quintessential Hollywood movie, this film is not necessarily un-Hollywood. Certainly in terms of its cast, in its production value, all the people involved and who’s doing music—it’s people who are familiar with Hollywood. What Steve brings is he comes at it from a slight angle—a beautiful angle. He’s so exceptionally detailed. He has a very heightened and achieved sensibility for all the different aspects of filmmaking. To me it doesn’t make it art-house. It still obtains a kind of narrative that is quite recognizable to people.
His Thoughts on 12 years a slave’s endingI think his return was, obviously, wonderful. It’s an amazing experience to be able to reclaim himself and his family, and so that’s deeply satisfying, and obviously my heart leapt when I first read that in the book. I think that you can be frustrated by the other things that he wasn’t able to achieve—like bringing justice to the people that had done this to him—and also saddened by the fact that we don’t know much more about him and his life. But I certainly feel like it’s an incredibly joyous moment.
Have you seen ’12 Years A Slave’ yet?