All history matters, especially suppressed Black history. The story of Nat Turner is one that America needs to digest as a microcosm of the lies history has told about slavery and the Black experience.
I recently attended a New York premier of Nate Parker’s Birth Of A Nation and it’s about time someone addressed these truths. It’s interesting Solange Knowles dropped A Seat At The Table in the same week because Birth Of A Nation left me feeling a lot like her song “F.U.B.U.” finally our stories are being told, our heros are being acknowledged.
Not at the expense of anyone else but because we’ve suffered and we overcame. There is more to American history than Christopher Columbus, John Smith, and Abraham Lincoln. No one can change history and the atrocities humans have committed against one another but we can acknowledge, accept, learn, and move forward.
Many individuals opposing the Black Lives Matter movement fail to realize, we’ve come along way but we suffer from the residuals and aftershocks of our 400 years of oppression. This movie helps define the plight and pain that many continue to deny and it highlights the strength and dignity a group of people maintained when even their bodies were not their own.
In 1712, Willie Lynch wrote a letter outlining his guaranteed methods to oppress Black people he stated, “I have a foolproof method for controlling your black slaves. I guarantee everyone of you that if installed correctly it will control the slaves for at least 300 years …. you must pitch the old Black vs. the young Black male, and the young Black male against the old Black male. You must use the dark skinned slaves vs the light skinned slaves, and the light skinned slaves vs. the dark skinned slaves. You must use the female vs. the male, and the male vs. the female. You must also have your servants and overseers distrust all Blacks, but it is necessary that your slaves trust and depend on us. They must love, respect, and trust only us.”
300 years later the offspring of the individuals forced to work for free yell ‘Black Lives Matter’ attempting to break the promise of Lynch to many deaf ears with full mouths who wish the Lynch legacy would continue. All live matter, which we know and accept. Nat Turner knew and accepted this truth when he agreed to baptize a white man because that man in the eyes of Turner was a child of God. But even this was an act unthinkable to Turner’s master who allowed him to preach the gospel when it was profitable but believed selectively in the word of the lord like so many others then and now.
In addition, to the strange fruit scene in Birth Of A Nation, the scene that struck me the most was Gabrielle Union’s character leaving the master’s house and reluctantly falling into the arms of her husband after being forced to give her soul to a stranger. The fact that this was as regular as fetching water from the well alone made the rebellion make sense. A man watching the violation of his wife, and Nat watching the physical recovery of his. This is the story of our Grandmothers. How can black men and women not hurt and weep for our sons and daughters in a world that turns a blind eye to how the state of black America came to be? How can America attempt to overlook generations of sexual abuse evident in the light hues of black skin and the exotic hair textures that some beg to touch and others attempt to imitate.
Open your eyes America!
Nate Parker rewrote history correctly, this is the real Birth Of A Nation. This film will undoubtedly birth a colorless society of aware revolutionaries that are unified by a consciousness our nation has never known because it hid and denied the history. The Americans that acknowledge and learn from Nat Turner will be the ones to make America great for the first time. How can we claim greatness when we deny the suffering of an entire group of people that picked the cotton, laid the bricks, birthed and nursed the babies, kept the home, and laid down their lives to give future generations a chance and freedom and a shot at the American dream?
It’s time to shine. Nate Parker’s film Birth Of A Nation, is fantastic from the historical accuracy, to the quality of the costumes and set, to the thought provoking lines in the script. This is a must see for every American 15 years old and up. I love to say, only great art comes from suffering and this film is a testament to that statement. Let’s allow the past be our professor and learn. Let’s open up the next chapter of love, respect, understanding, and freedom in our book of American history and life.
RIP Nat Turner.