Happy Confederate Memorial Day!!

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Hello from Alabama, where it is “Confederate Memorial Day!” Here’s how I am celebrating:

WGN has announced that they are renewing their awesome show that depicts the realities of slavery in the Old South, and the desperate measures that slaves took to survive the institution that the Confederacy seceded to maintain. Viva Underground!

Here’s a great opinion piece that demonstrates EXACTLY why I have been insisting that recent movies about slavery have failed us to some degree because of their depiction of slaves as totally dominated and degraded peoples, and why certain new shows and upcoming movies matter.  The author, Evette Dionne describes herself as a “Black Feminist culture writer, editor and scholar,” yet tells us that she has avoided watching pop cultural depictions of slavery because “seeing brutality wielded at Black bodies prove[s] too much for me.” However, she decided to give Underground a try “on a whim,” and has been pleasantly surprised and encouraged. “It presents a nuanced story about the slave experience, ” she writes, and she is glad “to see them smile” and to “show love outside of the violence inflicted on them.” Most importantly, “For once, we see enslaved people as human instead of chattel.” Indeed, she appreciates “having the opportunity to see the enduring and unbreakable spirit of enslaved people. Their will to be free could not be broken, and Underground presents that alternative.” PRECISELY!! Furthermore, the upcoming film about Nat Turner’s revolt has her excited because it will show “African-Americans fighting back, and not in the a-historical way ‘D’jango Unchained’ attempts to tell this tale.”  She is excited to know that director/produce Nate Parker is “committed to telling the truth about American slavery without cradling white people’s feelings. That matters.” Indeed, and it gives us something to ponder on “Confederate Memorial Day.”

The first episode of the remake of Roots was premiered at the Tribecca Film Festival, and apparently shook the audience up. As in the original, the first episode takes place largely in Africa and depicts the strong and proud culture from which many African Americans originate. In this article, one of the producers explains why he felt it was necessary to remake the series: “I don’t think [younger generations of African Americans] know that they’re direct descendants of warriors in Africa who survived, who then were put on [slave ships] and had that passage and survived, and then were sold into slavery on American soil with all the atrocities that we saw and survived. They’re the descendants of the survivors.” Yep. The survivors of an institution that the Confederacy was created to protect.

Excellent article here  by Kevin Levin in which he demonstrates that Harriet Tubman will not be the first African American to appear on currency in our country. The Antebellum South frequently placed slaves on their bank notes, but it was during the first year of the Civil War that the Confederacy placed many slaves on their currency to “highlight the importance that Confederate leaders placed on the preservation of slavery and white supremacy to their new nation.”

Happy Confederate Memorial Day, everyone!!

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