Birth of a Nation: not the slave movie you asked for.

But, it is definitely the one that you needed, that we all needed. I know, that there is a lot of stigma surrounding this movie. Whether it has to do with Nate Parker’s past, he was accused of rape, but was acquitted, because the details of the case were murky, or maybe you read some less than favorable views. I’m here to tell you, NONE OF THAT MATTERS! The thing that DOES is seeing this movie. Birth of a Nation was seriously one of those films that not only sets out to tell an important story, but is a piece meant to incite a real movement. At least that’s what I think.

For those of you who don’t know, Birth of a Nation is he story of Nate Parker, who organized the first large-scale slave revolt in Virginia. If that already sounds like an amazing movie, it get’s even better. The movie really explores the slave culture and the culture of black people at that time. It’s not some washed up action slave flick, with a thin storyline just to hold up violent fight scenes or scenes of over dramatics. The vehicle of he story is not only driven by the main character, but it is driven by a passion of a people who were oppressed for so long. And the movie did not shy away from its subject matter. Its depiction of the torment that black people went through during slavery was, by far, probably one of the most realistic, I’ve seen. And it wasn’t one-sided. It showed the harshest and the least harsh conditions. It discussed how black women were treated in such a way, that I can only describe as gut wrenching. To see these women used as tools for sexual pleasure was disgusting. To see how men were broken down and forced to cower and obey, was difficult. To see how dehumanized we were as a people, left me speechless.

I went to see the movie with a white friend, a white friend who definitely is an ally and uses his privilege every chance he gets to right the wrongs of the world. I said to him when we walked out of the movie, “I am not the same BLACK man who I was when we went in.” And it became very evident to me that I was a black man living in a world, where I am still seen as less than. And although I am not literally enslaved, I  am in away. I am enslaved by the assumptions made about me, when I walk into everywhere. I am enslaved by the fact that men who look like me are being killed everyday for no reason, I am enslaved by a culture  that cannot see me as part of the “norm”.

Another aspect of the movie that stood out to me was its heavy spiritual influence. The movie never felt preachy, but spirituality was a very important to black, because it was one of the few things we had that was special. I think the message of stepping out on faith is very important for black people to hear. I feel that we’ve let ourselves get too complacent. We have to go out here and continue to make things happen! We are a people anointed by God to do special things. I wouldn’t call myself a christian, but I do believe there is a God, and I believe that God is for us, as long as we’re here trying to do good and seeking counsel with her. And one thing that this movie reiterated, was the fact that God is there always.

I won’t spoil the films ending, but I must say it was one of the most powerful movie endings I’ve ever seen. The sequence before the ending is art! Again I don’t wanna give too much away, but the imagery combined with song “Strange Fruit” was haunting. It was like being thrown into a nightmare, yet also a beautiful dream. It was one of the most affecting film moments I think I’ve ever experienced.

The film also has a very interesting exploration of organized religion and how people will use the word of god to make things the way they want them. Nat Turner was a preacher. He learned to read at a very young age, and was the only black man nearby who could read the bible. He was made to go around and preach obedience to the slaves other owners. That was it. He himself was only allowed to read certain parts of the bible, but once he read the rest, realized that his people were being held captive by their own ignorance; that the bible wasn’t condoning slavery. A powerful look at how people will only use the parts of the bible that suit them. This still happens today.

The movie is a black love story. And i don’t think I’ve ever seen such a beautiful love story as the one of this movie. You were allowed to get swept up in their love and it wasn’t any drama or anything. It was just a simple love story. Black love is beautiful love. Nate and Cherryanne had a storybook love, until of course tragedy happens. But, even through that their love remains steadfast.

There’s so much more I could say about the film itself, but the most important thing I want to say, is that this movie is a move of God. It is the beginning of a spiritual movement. I’m telling you, it’s the movie to see this year!

Live to laugh another day,

Jaybo (the somewhat peckish artist)

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