After seeing the movie 12 Years a Slave, I was reminded of what happened after Barack Obama was elected the first African-American president of the United States. No. It was not a joyous movie to watch. Nobody was smiling at the end, but some of the reaction afterwards was kind of the same. Everybody felt the need to hug each other and cry. We all knew we had just seen something incredible, something we had never seen before. Of course the Obama occasion included tears of joy but with those joyous tears were tears of incredulity. The American population was ready to take a step that in most people’s minds was an impossible dream.
The movie 12 Years a Slave kind of gave me the same feeling. Not the part where our jaws were on the floor at the end out of shock, well kind of, but the fact that we were all crying and felt the need to hug each other. Yes, it was a difficult movie to watch. I will admit I am a lightweight. Hallmark commercials make me cry, even if I’ve seen them fifty times already. The director Steve McQueen does not shy away from the truth, and we all know how horrific slavery was, which is why we haven’t been able to honestly talk about it, not really anyway.
Black and white alike should be in awe that African-Americans, I guess I should say Africans and their decendents survived that physical and psychological terror. Here’s some more good news. We are at a point where someone can make a movie with a very real depiction of slavery, which means that everybody survived. One more secret out of the closet of humanity.