I know I’m extremely late about this topic but I still feel the need to talk about it. The day that Birth of a Nation came out, I went and saw it. I just want to point out a few things that I saw.
First off, I like that the movie starts off with Nat Turner, a slave rebellion leader, learning how to read, especially the bible. When he grew up to teach it at other plantations, he noticed that the other slaves were getting mistreated terribly and also being taught the word of God..WRONG. That brings me my first point. People will tell and even teach you something wrong just because they don’t think you’ll research or look more into it. The slaves were being taught to obey their master because it was supposedly in the Bible, until Nat Turner came to them to preach the actual word of God. That showed me that when you start speaking truthfulness, people will try to shut you up and even kill you; which brings me to my next point.
Nat’s master was around his age and they somewhat grew up together until the little boy’s father passed away and made Nat go work in the cotton field. Since the two had known each other since they were kids, the master was a little more lenient on Nat, until he had something to prove to his fellow white owners that he can be aggressive.
When Nat went to the other plantations to preach, not only did he notice that they were being taught the wrong word of God but he saw how terrified and in bad shape the slaves were. It made him look as if he was being treated way better than them, even though he was still a slave. That’s another correlation to today’s society; just because you may not face adversity, abuse and discrimination, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t go own…like police brutality against black people.
This movie had quite a few comparisons to modern society like “Where’s your pass at, you don’t belong over here?” translating to black people getting pulled over by the police and getting asked “where is your driver’s license [pass]? What are you doing in this neighborhood.” Another, when the slaves were fed up and wanted their freedom, equal to today’s society of US wanting to speak up and speak out about issues like the police and even the government wanting to shut us up. As I said before, when you start speaking truthfulness (Nat’s preaching), people who are against will try to shut you up, an example is Dr. Sebi; the man who had cured AIDs and some forms of cancer and all of sudden he dies, but that’s another story.
When I was in elementary, middle and high school, I had never heard about Nat Turner. The only abolitionist that I heard of was Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, and Sojourner Truth. Maybe there were more but that’s all I REALLY remember. I wonder if I or many others didn’t learn about Nat because he rebelled against slave owners and the other abolitionists didn’t (that I know of).
Analyzing my childhhood learning, it seems that we, or maybe just the people in my class, didn’t learn about Nat Turner because the individuals in charge of the curriculum (board members or whatever) didn’t want to teach us that rebelling against higher authority, per se, we’re okay. BUT back then African Americans valued their freedom so much it was crucial for them to start fighting back, just like Nat and a few others during that century.
I find it extremely odd that this film flopped during the opening weekend. The film only grossed $7.1 million and came in 6th place with other competing movies. All in all, it’s still a good film to see, because of its comparison with modern society and I encourage people to go see it.
Features photo credit:thedailybeast.com