Slavery

’12 Years a Slave’ spotlights shameful past and calls to mind hidden present

March 7, 2014 

Film 12 Years A Slave

This film publicity image released by Fox Searchlight shows Benedict Cumberbatch, left, and Chiwetel Ejiofor in a scene from "12 Years A Slave." The film won multiple Academy Awards.

JAAP BUITENDIJK — AP

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Continued Slavery

I was deeply moved by the Academy of Motion Pictures Award’s best movie of the year. It is a true story taken from a biographical book published in 1853 (which sold 30,000 copies to become a national best seller) called “12 Years a Slave.” I

believe everyone who is over 18 years of age should see this movie. It’s true that it is incredibly violent, but it’s not like the silly, nonsensical violence that makes up most movies these days. The credible violence in “12 Years a Slave” is needed as a powerful part of our cultural heritage. (For instance, my relatives owned slaves in North Carolina, and large numbers of people from the South have relatives who were slaves.)

This movie documents this gross, tragic deviation in the evolution of our species, and opens up to us what slavery really was, and how it happened.

As I sat watching, I was shocked that humanity could sink this low, until it hit me that, in slightly different ways, it’s still going on. People still enslave and abuse other people as sex slaves (where mor than 1 million women and children are kidnapped and taken across international borders, and millions more are enslaved by abuse), as economic slaves (where 1 percent of the people own 46 percent of the wealth and half of the world lives in the slavery of poverty), and as war slaves (where there are now 45.2 million displaced people coming from 15.4 million refugees, 937,000 million asylum seekers, 28.8 million forced to flee within the borders of their own country, and more lost, unaccompanied children seeking asylum last year than ever before).

The presence of slavery around us is washed over, escaped and ignored, just as the slavery of Africans shipped unmercifully to our shores was ignored in our all too recent past. To fight slavery in all of its many forms, and live for the freedom of all living beings, should be one of our chief goals.

This must be done not just for the liberation of others, but also for the liberation of ourselves. When will we realize that we are all in this together, and what happens to one happens to all?

The writer lives in Murrells Inlet.

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