Falling down a rabbit hole – looking back at slavery after watching ’12 Years a Slave’


This is a revised draft of part of my assignment – the column on a news story – which I decided to write on the issue of black people’s slavery perpetrated by white men. This was after the release of ’12 Years a Slave’ movie.

I wrote a first draft, now revised after watching the movie and being completely taken by it. The movie is very harsh but that reality was harsh. What black people went through, the sufferance, the humiliation and the psychological damage, were brought to life very convincingly. What has happened is shameful and the effects are still around us; as a society I believe we should look at this and try to remedy it. Here is the new draft. I am happier with it and will send it to my tutor. If you have any views/comments please share them with me. Thanks.  

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It is impossible for those who have watched the movie Years a Slave’, not to feel a deep sense of empathy but also shame about a dark part of our history. And that is common history for the western world not only for America, as is often misunderstood.

Many are hoping that director Steve McQueen will give us another exceptional movie about the slave trade and Britain. In the meantime, Chiwetel Ejiofor the movie’s main actor has invited us to look at Britain’s role in the slave trade.

“There is this reflex fear that once you expose something, once you talk about it, you are really talking about your society. That is why we do not really investigate what Bristol or London or Bath would be without the slave trade”.

Although not immediately welcome as a topic for public debate, looking back at slavery can only help better understand a number of issues.

First, the movements of population between Africa, and America and the Caribbean as part of the transatlantic slave trade. And later in more modern history, between the Caribbean and Britain when many Afro-Caribbeans came to live in the UK.

Second, the immense contribution of black African people in the making of modern Britain and other European countries. Acknowledging this would be restoring some long-due justice to their historic role.  

Third, I cannot think of many worse forms of abuse than psychological damage, which has long-lasting effects on entire generations of people. We need as a society to remedy our past mistakes and find solutions to improve life chances for those left on the margins.

Chiwetel said, he fell down a rabbit hole with the book of Solomon Northup, the story of ’12 Years a Slave’. He has certainly gone through a journey into the heart of darkness, something we should all do to find the truth at the other end.

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