Thursday, January 16, 2014

12 years a slave and other things

I am noticing more and more black women make unconventional choices.

Maybe not unconventional re the rest of the world but re black women themselves and the fact that they have largely limited their range within the wider world and the broader context. Because of our experiencing hurt and heartache at a time from the wider society, we pulled back from it, but the times of comfort within black boarders has ended and what we can observe now is that black men have been busy building links and making contacts. They are now able to convert these links and contacts and even broader goodwill for their betterment.

If a black man is not making it it is very likely because he has set himself against the wider society, deciding against education, delayed gratification or choosing to go the wrong way (bling and criminality). I say this because most black men can now rely on the liberal left to champion him as the victim of white men and white society and thus open up opportunities that are even denied black women. You even see white society frame the issue of oppression in such a skewed way that it facilitates black men's move in society and provides a stumbling block for black women.

Speaking of framing of the issue of oppression, I went to see the film '12 years a slave.'

I had some misgivings about seeing the film in part because we have talked about only supporting films that are made by men who support black women. Of course the issue of the lead actor of 12 years a slave and of course the producer (and who knows who else in the cast), being married interracially (and thus funnelling the money out and away from black women) was raised about this film. However as soon as the film was released in the UK a rash of articles appeared about it, and one of them essentially changed my mind about not seeing it.

It was an article in the Guardian written by a white female journalist acknowledging that the film had opened her eyes (or made her admit) to the role played by white women in brutalizing black women during slavery (the name of the author of the article is Hadley Freeman and you can google her article). Not only was this the first mainstream acknowledgement of this dirty little secret that keeps being 'white washed', that I had come across, she linked it to the resulting difficult relationships that continue to exist between black and white women re feminism. And the comment section warmed my heart even more because it became evident that many folk had long since given short shrift to the popular framing by feminists that white women were 'oppressed' alongside black men and women by white men during slavery, or that they had very little social power to do much more than watch the brutality meted out impotently, or that if they victimized black women, it was under instructions of the white slave master which they had no choice but to carry out. My oh my here were folk commenting (mostly white), that white women not only supported the system of slavery because they were invested in the wealth it created for them and their children, but that they participated in the brutality and even egged on their 'masters' in their vile joys, just as the film portrayed. For the first time the brutality of white women to their black female slaves was thoroughly captured on screen so much so people had begun to comment on this particular angle whereas before it would have not have been in anyway delineated.

Wow, blow me away with a feather!

So I duly bought my ticket and took my seat in a packed cinema.

I wont give anything away but I want to personally thank the director Steve McQueen for brilliantly illustrating how harrowing the whole slavery thing was for black women in particular. You cannot come away from that film feeling black women had a jolly ride as a few folk have tried to claim in recent times. You came away knowing that black women had it worse. They got it from both ends and no one watching that film will come away feeling how impossibly untenable the situation was for a black female slave.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is the message we have been trying to get across. We have been trying to buy black women some sympathy, at least consideration if anything. We have been trying to shine a light on the situation for black women which has been callously overlooked or pushed to the back ground until it has fostered this notion that black women can come out of anything unscathed. With one film Steve McQueen has changed the narrative of black men suffering the worse during slavery to one where there is a dawning realization that 'Hang on, black women experienced the middle passage, the starvation, the fields picking cotton and as women their sexuality was readily and easily also exploited'! Call me a fool but I am happy for black women to get some due sympathy at some point.

And there was no 'light skin' heroine to engage the sympathies of black and white folk (because you know we cant feel no black woman's pain unless she is lightskinned). Light skinned women were so for a reason in the film (to show the link between slaves children and their masters).

God bless Steve McQueen! He dared to show white women there alongside the slave mastered brutalising with physical violence, with cruel denial of food and drink, soap, heartless disregard of the heartbreak of black mothers grieving over their lost children and maybe worse of all selling freed black women back into slavery!

He Steve McQueen is probably the only interracially partnered black man who consistently pays his dues to black women, deliberately choosing to highlight dark black women positively (in Shame the only woman Fassbender falls in love with is a black woman, the actress Nicole Behari) or tell their pains . So yeah props to Steve.

on another note this woman is 30 but looks like a darn teenager! Black don't crack for real!


Next blog post 7th Feb

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