2013/11/02

12 Years a Slave


Very inspiring to see how tough and resilient some people can be. Horrible to see how inhumane others can be. As with Django Unchained, it's made clear that slavery wasn't something you just walked away from. It was a very powerful and dehumanizing institution that was so difficult to escape that masters and mistresses had no problem telling a slave to go to another plantation or to a shop in town to do an errand. There was no easy escape.
I read James Michener's Texas many years ago and one passage really struck me. It concerned how some just-freed slaves made an arrangement with their former owners. They agreed to stay with the people who were now their employers, they agreed to keep doing the same work, but they insisted on a corner of the plantation to be their own property. They commuted to work each day, but now got to go home to their own property each night. It wasn't the work or in many cases the people that slaves found intolerable, it was being owned and not being able to make decisions about their own lives or being able to build up something for their future or to arrange anything for their descendants.

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