Film Review: Birth of a Nation

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Peace! It’s been a minute, as you’ve probably noticed. Life is flowing in abundance for the God! I had the opportunity to check out Birth of a Nation, produced by Nate Parker. I made a promise to boycott any and all “slave movies” a few years ago (here’s why). I broke my vow and made an exception to see this one. For one, I wanted to support brother Nate Parker. He has his flaws, but generally seems like a decent brother and I didn’t like the way feminists went so hard attempting to sabotage his film. All in all, it was a good movie that was well produced with nice clues and messages that I picked up on. At the same time, I kind of wish I didn’t have to see it.

Psychologically, as people we have to realize that anything that kills your vibrations is causing you harm. Psychological warfare is just as damaging (even more so) than physical because it can affect a wide range of people for generations. The negative imagery in a lot of these movies and in the constant executions being carried out by police is destroying our vibrations on a daily basis. That’s not even including the music and the foods that most of us are consuming…MOVING ON! Here are some high points from the movie that I noticed:

I liked the brief snapshot they showed of Vodun/Voudou in the beginning, when Nat Turner was recognized as a gifted child. The ancient customs of our ancestors are significant, so it was nice to see this included. Vodun wisdom is as old as it gets; there isn’t a religious or spiritual tradition more ancient, and many religions knowingly or unknowingly borrow facets of their existence from it. It’s a foundation for many spiritual customs across the globe and is still quite powerful to this day. Don’t be fooled into thinking it is barbaric or evil, those are false teachings meant to distract.

When Nat learned how to read, his mother’s immediate response when questioned by the wife of her master was to deny her son’s gift. She attempted to downplay his abilities and purpose, and when confronted with the truth she threatened to beat him for attempting to learn. This may be brushed off by some, but this mentality still persists in some ways today. Have you ever seen a mother downplay or become overly modest about the success or abilities of her child? How much fear is still ingrained in us to this day? Nat was fortunate to have a master who embraced his gift, was willing to teach him, and allowed his abilities to flourish. Of course, the only book he was allowed to read was the good ole Bible. With a huge fresh painting of Cesare Borgia (otherwise known to many as “White Jesus”) behind him, Nat was allowed to read the Bible as much as he desired. There were strategic verses he was given, which were historically used to promote slavery (1 Peter 2:18, Ephesians 6:5, Luke 12:47-48, Exodus 21:20-21 and many others). However, over time Nat Turner began to find other stories that provided inspiration for the slaves to defend themselves and fight back (David, Joshua, Sampson, Daniel, Isaiah). In one particularly difficult scene, I was reminded of one of the many reasons that I abandoned Christianity and ultimately organized religion altogether. One of the slaves had recently gotten married to a beautiful female slave on the plantation (played by Gabrielle Union). After a major event with lots of guests and heavy alcohol consumption, the slave’s wife was requested to come entertain several white men with sexual favors. Three slave men waited outside of the plantation house in an agonizing state, until she finally returned. I don’t need to describe the pain and sadness that ensued. While comforting his hysterical wife, the husband asked Nat Turner (by now a well respected preacher) “Where is your God right now?”

Movies like this are hard to watch. I found it especially difficult watching as a father, as I pictured the scenarios with my own wife and child and the reality hit too close to home. Nat had to talk his master into purchasing a woman he was attracted to, calling her a “wench” that would be helpful to him and his wife. She had obviously been abused severely by her previous owners, and was later raped and beaten to a pulp by 3 white men. When Nat sat at her bedside, he begged her to tell him who attacked her so that he could plot revenge. Instead, she quoted a bible verse and told him to “leave it with the Lord.” The irony and fury in Nat’s eyes pierced through the screen; he realized the flaws in the message he had been teaching to so many people. He was “lucky” that his wife and child only lived a few miles down the road with his master’s sister. When Nat was a child, his father was killed for sneaking out to steal some food for his hungry son. Let’s contrast that with my son throwing food he doesn’t want over the table for our dog to eat, who by the way lives and eats better than the slaves of this time period. Some viewers may find the rebellion welcoming and pleasing as some sort of “revenge” after sitting through three quarters of the movie watching the slaves suffer. However, even this was so gruesome that my pregnant wife actually had to step outside. Of course, in the end the movie ends just as we all knew it would. It was moving to see Nat’s courage throughout, especially when he brushed off punches and assaults while facing his final lynching with no fear and strong pride. There is plenty of content in this movie to reflect on for greater understanding. Much can be applied to dynamics that are still felt today. Police departments were originally founded for the purpose of catching slaves, and the intense brutality felt by black communities is no coincidence. Roger Guenveur Smith’s dead-on portrayal of the house slave is a concrete reminder of the self hating people still present in our communities today. However, it’s the environment and culture we live in that needs to be destroyed and rebuilt. Then, the people will either adapt to it or fade away. Ultimately, that will leave our descendants with a better world to live in. Until next time…. PEACE!

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