12 Years A Slave Should Inspire Us and Hollywood

As reported on the Root, “the brilliant, yet brutal 12 Years A Slave made history Sunday night as the first film directed by a black man, with a predominately black cast, to win an Oscar for Best Picture.” The film also won an Oscar for best adapted screenplay.

In addition, Lupita Nyong’o won an Oscar for best supporting actress for her role in the film. Congratulations Ms. Nyong’o. Congratulations to director Steve McQueen, actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, the other actors and the whole crew. Those awards were well deserved.

"12 Year A Slave" director, Steve McQueen
“12 Year A Slave” producer, Steve McQueen

Clearly, slavery films are difficult to watch. Such films tap into African Americans’ genetic memory and force us to briefly relive the traumatic and horrific experiences of our ancestors. However, we cannot negate our history. Like to Jews, we must never forget our holocaust.

If you have not seen 12 Years A Slave, I strongly encourage you to do so. It is a powerful, compelling, brutal, painful, depressing and yet inspiring film. It is a tale about the triumph of the human spirit over despair and hopelessness.

Hopefully, the success of 12 Years A Slave will inspire Hollywood to produce, finance and support more quality films about the African American and African experience. We need films about Nat Turner, Denmark Vesey, Gabriel Prosser and others. In addition to slave narrative films, we need more films about African life before slavery and colonialism. We need to bring more African kings and queens to the big screen. We need to do more films about black inventors, black scientists, black doctors, black civil rights attorneys, black business leaders, black doctors, and black teachers. We need films about Marcus Garvey, W.E.B. DuBois and countless other outstanding black leaders and figures.

Lupita N'yongo, Best Supporting Actriss 2014
Lupita N’yongo, Best Supporting Actriss 2014

When those kind of quality films come to the big screen, we must support them. If we can support the Madeas, we definitely should support the Solomon Northups.

[Originally posted at New Possibilities]