Netflix, why do you invest in Black oppression media but remain silent about slave revisionist propaganda in public schools? It is because there is no profit in unity. There is more money in war than peace, yes.
Slavery still matters in 2017. And let me start by saying that I’m just as sick of talking about it as you are. But, alas.
The world is full of problems. If you’ve turned on the news anytime this year, you know that people make six figure salaries and beyond by causing, identifying, arguing about, and every once in a while, solving any one of said problems. I always have a mile long to-do list because of these issues, just like everyone else on this planet, but guess what? Despite the fact that my attention is desperately needed elsewhere, like the fungus that it is, slavery still finds a way to make its presence known. Slavery doesn’t matter because I choose to remember the original source of my oppression in the midst of said world problems and mile long to-do lists. It matters because it’s literally everywhere, just frolicking jubilantly alongside its bosom buddies – segregation, oppression, and white privilege.
I’ve become immune to the buildings, streets, and highways named after slave owners. The monuments rewriting civil war history are agitprop decorations, but those participation trophies erected in the name of white privilege won’t ever be the reason I lose any sleep. I’ve even become immune to the ignorant rhetoric and racial epithets from buffoons in the White House because I can’t reach my full potential if I allow myself to become frustrated every time someone exposes their ignorance, senselessness, or blatant lack of home training.
But, guess what new movie is featured across the banner of my Netflix home page, infiltrating my most beloved, sacred act of self care? Mudbound – a movie detailing the challenges of racism and life after war for two men returning home to work a farm in rural Mississippi.
Just. Like. That. Slavery became relevant again. What an execrable fungus!
In all fairness, Mudbound is not about slavery. However, this banner does not give that impression. The movie looks like it’s about slavery and that is completely intentional so y’all gon’ get this rant on today, Netflix!
If there were never another Black oppression period project ever produced, it would be one hundred million lightyears too soon. The brutalization of Black people is tired. Segregation is tired. Black struggle is tired. Non-white people deserve better than being relegated to playing these roles for academy recognition. White people don’t ever need another opportunity to call schadenfreude entertainment “courageous” or “honest,” let alone the opportunity to deem Black oppression “important work,” an “achievement,” or “a story that needs to be told.”
Netflix, these projects do not help us become a more tolerant and empathetic society. They assuage white guilt for having benefited from white supremacy. They are condescending to Black audiences because slavery and the resulting segregation is not ALL of our history, nor is it ONLY our history to claim. India, China, Pakistan, Russia, Libya, and Thailand have participated, and still to this day do practice, slavery. Movies that show white people learning valuable lessons about themselves at the expense of Black struggle, allay white consciouses, not bigotry or prejudice.
Netflix, while shows like this get backers and banners, slave revisionist propaganda gets secretly littered throughout the history and text books that are being used in classrooms today. In an ongoing revisionist history effort, Southern schools and churches still pretend the Civil War wasn’t about slavery. In an ongoing act of disingenuous erasure, textbooks still lie about what slavery actually was and why the European practice was the most evil, barbaric act of humanity to ever occur. And, in the most blatant act of systematic oppression, K-12 classrooms are still teaching Black history as having begun with slavery instead of having been interrupted by slavery. It’s permitted when Americans attack Black psyches with falsehoods by feeding us information in spaces like public schools. Spaces where we believe there should be authentic intentions. However, it’s a terrorist attack when Russia does it.
Netflix, I don’t want to be angry. I don’t find joy in calling out privilege or division. I don’t want to constantly have to think of new ways to fight the Black generational curse of racism, but here we are. All any of us want, despite our heritage, is the opportunity to live up to our fullest potential and craft lives that we’re proud of, with those we love most. We want the privilege to be children, then teens, then young adults that can flail, fly, flop, and then flail, fly, and flop again. We want to survive our growing pains so that we can support our children through theirs. Racism takes this away from people of color. More than just diminished opportunities, racism takes away our time. Time that we’d all much rather spend elsewhere.
Racism is present, in the time that Black households have to spend educating their children about how to navigate life as Black people. Persecution is in the time that we spend researching our history, digesting our reality, and recovering from the fact that being Black in America is circumstantially beneficial to society. It’s the time that Black women have to spend learning to love their darker skin and textured hair. It’s the time that Black fathers spend explaining our history with police. It’s the time that Black daughters spend mourning their brothers murdered by law enforcement or visiting their family members unjustly incarcerated. It’s even the time that Black people spend establishing careers that help them protect younger generations from injustice’s extraordinary ability to evolve and wield its intergenerational attack.
Lies in textbooks do more than rob us of our history, they create public distrust and birth psychopaths like Dylan Roof and Devin Patrick Kelly. The conflicting narratives create suspicion that manifests in oppressive individuals, attitudes, infrastructure, and policy. So please understand that it costs more than money to be oppressed. But in this world, perpetuating division is more profitable than perpetuating peace. It’s even more profitable than the ever present option of remaining silent so as not to do more harm.
Netflix, another Black oppression project does not contribute anything to society but annoying think pieces- like this one. The money for this show, and every other slave show you hold licenses for, should be funneled into your amazing education initiative, which could then go to vetting classroom information. Or, the money could go to literally any of the other media projects on your platform that educate us or move us to create positive social media trends.
Just do better, Netflix. Just do less harm.
And to Dee Rees, the Black female creator of this film. You didn’t need this film to do anything for your career. You didn’t need to tell this story to launch you to a place where you could focus on your work in Black queer media. You just wanted to capitalize on the wave of racial division to bring new audiences to your previous work. I get it, but I don’t agree.
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