Confronting My History

This is what happened when I decided to confront my history in one day.

January 18th 2016

Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I had the day off and decided I wanted to watch all the black historical films that I’ve been avoiding since 2012.

First, let me explain my avoidance. These films as a black person are just hard to watch. They are completely necessary to watch but hard nonetheless. I take on the emotional burdens of these historical films depicting Slavery or the Civil Rights Movement. My mind does not allow me to separate between this being a movie, made by Hollywood, from the fact that this Hollywood made movie is a depiction of actual events and occurrences that took place in the past and so I watch these films as if these movies are real and I am  emotionally burdened by it all.

In spite of this, I just decided I wanted to be radical and not just watch one of these movies but all of them in one sitting. I wanted to watch D’Jango Unchained, 12-Years A Slave, The Butler, and Selma (if I had time, I would throw in the Malcom X movie). I dived headfirst. I started with Selma because it was MLK Day. Selma had a few rough scenes that shook me to my core and made me cry. The police ruthless beatings with the batons, the violence, the hatred, the disrespect, it messed with me but I kept on going.

Next up, I tried to find 12-Years A Slave. I couldn’t find it on Hulu or Netflix. My friends later told me, God spared my mind because that movie is a hard one. One day I will come back to it.

Then I watched D’Jango which was interesting. I liked it. It showed a black man empowered during slavery even though he was a murderer…hmm. What I hated most about this movie was the dog scene where a runaway slave was torn apart by dogs. This was a practice of slave masters during slavery, it just hurt so bad to watch.

The Butler, was next on my list. I was surprised by how great this movie was. It’s really powerful. The opening scene is a tearjerker. The rape and murder of Cecil Gaines parents illustrates how dehumanized black lives were during this time. Cecil Gaines worked hard and made his way into the White House, but he resented his eldest son who was a part of the struggle. His son was apart of the civil rights movement, the freedom rides, the Black Panther movement, and the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa. These historical references added so much substance to the movie and illustrated just how challenging the times were. Certain parts of this movie hurt to watch. Cecil constantly fought to get paid equally as the other white butlers and was shut down and told he could quit. His work as a domestic although underestimated and looked upon as “uncle tom’ish” made a huge contribution to the plight of our race and I thank him for his work and the work of many black domestics of our times just trying to make a living for their families.

January 19th 2016

By the time I watched all three of these movies I was emotionally beat. I tried to go to sleep but I couldn’t. Continue reading “Confronting My History”

Movie Monday: Selma

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Ava DuVernay! You did great work with this movie. The first 10-minutes captivated me. You see a well-dressed Martin uncomfortably receiving a Nobel Peace Prize award, but what comes next sets the tone for the whole movie. We are not sugar coating anything with this film are we? Its clear this movie is addressing the reality of black lives in the 1960s, south. Four little girls walking down their church steps, talking about things that these girls would most-likely be talking about and then the bomb goes off, and their pretty little shoes, their hair bows, their dresses, blown away like vapor. Their lives taken from them because of the brutal hatred for their black skin. This scene is followed by another very powerful scene with Oprah Winfrey attempting to gain her right to vote. We see how demeaning those voter registration tests were and it brought on the first of many tears in my eyes. Watching this movie, I had a cathartic cry. It was one of the most emotional tears I’ve ever shed, filled with pain and peace at the same time, I can’t describe it really but it was different. It was brought on by a scene where a black man trying to protect his mother and grand father was killed by police while protesting. I had to turn the movie off and just cry. This stuff really happened back then and it’s happening today, but why? Why are these senseless acts of violence so prevalent? Why is human life devalued so? Selma had an affect on me, and if you haven’t watched it as yet I encourage you to. Nothing that Martin Luther King did was in vein. He sacrificed his life so we could have the freedoms and liberties that we too often take advantage of.

Right now the movie is on Hulu, which is where I was able to watch it.

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