by Laila Muhammad
In the pre-Civil War United States, Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery. Facing cruelty at the hands of a malevolent slave owner, as well as unexpected kindnesses, Solomon struggles not only to stay alive, but to retain his dignity. In the twelfth year of his unforgettable odyssey, Solomon's chance meeting with a Canadian abolitionist will forever alter his life. British born Director Steve McQueen who also directed acclaimed films such as Bear (1993) and Shame (2011), has retold the story of the 1853 autobiography of the same name by Solomon Northup. The film tells the story of a free black man who is kidnapped in 1841 and sold into slavery, working on plantations in the state of Louisiana for twelve years before being released.
Largely unseen in Hollywood, this movie actually depicts a small portion of the brutality that Black people faced during this to tumultuously period in history. It sheds light on the not so known facts that Free Blacks were tricked, kidnapped, and sold into slavery, in the North and interestingly enough only a few feet from the Nation’s capital. Steve McQueen, on the CBS show responded, Turning to discussion over the film's brutality, said if you're doing a film about slavery "there's not cutting corners here." He added, "It's necessary. ... It's a huge part of history and a part of history that needs to be visualized, needs to be told." This is exactly what this film does.
Solomon Northrup, (who is played by Chiwetel Ejiofor) a well-educated carpenters, Musician, and Eloquent speaker, he’s a father of two beautiful children, and married to a beautiful wife, residing in Saratoga Springs, New York. He meets two White con artists who persuade him to travel with them to make extra money playing the violin while his family is out of town. They drug him and sell him to slave buyers. We follow the story of his life as he is forced to hide his true identity. He is given a new name. And his skills at playing the Violin are exploited for his owner’s entertainment. Throughout his 12 years in captivity, he is shipped to different plantations, he witnesses the rape of our women, the selling of children, the tearing apart of families, and his propensity to survive and return to his family is the only thing keeping him alive.
One interesting fact was a white slave owner who was married to a Black former slave in the south, and she had slaves herself. She seemed to struggle with the notion that she was propagating the same injustices that was done to her. In her response to why she would marry a Slave Owner, she said because she never has to work a day in the field, pick cotton, or get beat again.
There are a lot of questions on the graphic scenes and brutality of the film and some may ask if children should see it. I would undoubtedly say yes. This is our History, we can’t have a watered down view of Slavery, because we won’t appreciate how far we have come, and how much further we have to go.
If you are expecting a happy ending, then I’m sorry to disappoint you. Though Brad Pitt who is against slavery, and confronts Solomon’s Master on the injustice of it, when Solomon seeks his aide, he is afraid to help him. But he ultimately does. Solomon is returned to his family, to two adult children, and an aging wife, he attempts to seek justice, but the Law states that you cannot testify against White folks, so he eventually helps in the abolitionist movement, his time and place of death are unknown.
Steve McQueen did an excellent job, this movie is nothing like Sankofa, Amastad, Django, or even Goodbye Uncle Tom. It is more, so much more than can be explained by words. You will have to see it for yourself. I suppose when one sees this movie, the common emotions are anger, and overwhelming grief. And we are reminded in graphic detail, the racist ideology and degrading conditions faced by Africans under slavery. Bring a box of tissues with you, I cried throughout the entire movie, while others yelled at the screen, and a few people couldn’t bare it so they walked out. Whatever emotions you may feel upon exiting the theater, I promise you, that you will never look at history or slavery the same.
By Laila Muhammad
The Urban dictionary defines Ratchet as being ----A diva, mostly from urban cities and ghettos, that has reason to believe she is every man’s eye candy. Unfortunately, she's wrong.
Now don't get me wrong I love our People. But there comes a point in every conscious person’s life when we have to take a stand, voice our concerns, and call our people out. I love Black women, we work hard to support our families and struggle everyday just to keep our heads above water. Sometimes we are doing this alone or with very little help. But then you have those of us who give Black women a bad name. And we all have encountered them before.
1. A ratchet chick is always loud, especially in places where silence is appreciated, like libraries, movie theaters, and grocery stores. And if by chance you ask her to quiet down or shhh her she will get louder, and start spouting negative innuendos out loud.
2. Ratchet chicks, are always so negatively flamboyant, they will be seen wearing a variety of animal prints mixed with bright colors to gain attention. They well come to school meetings wearing six inch stilettos, miniskirts, blonde, red, blue or green hair that will coordinate perfectly with their long acrylic nails and toe polish. They will be seen donning Virgin Indian hair, or lace front wigs. They will wear fishnet pantyhose’s and be very offended if you mistake them for a street walker or call girl. They will always make sure that no matter what they are wearing their tramp stamp is always visible.
3. Ratchet chicks are loyal fighters. They fight for what’s theirs. If they see you talking to their "man" regardless of the circumstances they will start bobbing their heads from left to right, throw their fist in the air, perform long dramatic drawn out motions to get everyone’s attention. Use the "B" word incessantly when referring to you, and tell everyone in the vicinity that they are "about that life" and use terminology like "turn up", "turn down for what", "I gets it in", and "YOLO" at the end of every sentence. If your and their children are playing at a park and pushes each other around Ratchet chicks will attempt to fight your child and then you. No matter how much you apologize and try to have the children make amends.
4. Ratchet chicks will beat the hell out of their children any time or place and will dare you to say something. If you attempt to intervene they will cuss you out, and tell you to mind your own F'ing bizness. They will open up chips, candy and groceries in the store as they are shopping, and complain about the price of everything to the cashier. They will hold up the line as they order their children to run to the aisle to get them some “flaming hots”.
5. Ratchet chicks hang out on corners, in front of liquor stores, front porches, and sit on other people’s cars. They will dance to any song that comes on the radio. And watch cars as the roll down the street. They laugh loud in front of men, and use phrases like "aw hell naw", "that’s my ish" and will jump in a rotation of about 5 blunts being passed around. They take pride in being able to smoke "Cush" and "dro"for free. And they think they are classy because they drink Moscato and love to talk about "popping molly’s".
6. Ratchet Chicks love the movies…. In fact they will talk throughout the movie, and if they have seen it already, will repeat it line by line or tell the audience what’s gonna happen next. They will text on their expensive Iphones, and eat candy out of their expensive knock off Louis purses...but will refuse to pay their light bills.
7. Ratchet Chicks love men, not just any men, thugs, and they take pride in knowing that they have the most thuggish Negroes in the hood. The ones with the five different baby mommas, the ones who wear Timberland boots in the summer time and oversized white tees with everything. They will give them their food stamp cards or sell them to the corner store.
In the event that your paths cross with a ratchet chick…do not pass go, do not collect two hundred dollars…about face and avoid direct eye contact, they can smell fear and if you look at them any kind of way…that is grounds for a fight.
TO BE CONTINUED.......