April 9, 2014
With the critical successes of Django Unchained and 12 Years a Slave, stories of African American redemption seem to be en vogue. This marks a new direction in the tradition of film and hopefully forecasts the arrival of “new” stories of African American triumph. The trouble with telling our stories, however, is the trauma. How many times can we view the “same” narrative of victimhood and subjugation? This of course is the common query of those who wish we would avoid the theme slavery. I say the number is boundless, if only to address our historical amnesia, a condition that prevents us from understanding and solving the root causes our racial conflicts today.
So where should we begin? The easy answers are biopics of Frederick Douglass, Olaudah Equiano, Nat Turner, David Walker, and other men whose stories reflect strength, influence, and genius. But the more glaring vacuum exists with black women. Angela Davis realized this much in 1981 when she remarked, “those of us who have anxiously awaited a serious study of the Black woman during slavery remain, so far, disappointed.”
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