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There is a din of disgust and disappointment coming from many African-Americans at the success of recent films The Butler and 12 Years a Slave. Not surprising that well written, well performed films that tell the disturbing truths of American history stir emotions on both sides. As with so many things, the issues are not cut and dry, there are valid arguments on both sides:

1. Yes, it is important to keep the horrid truth of The Middle Passage slavery alive and in the hearts and minds of people everywhere because we all know the results of these horrors still live with us disguised as many things. How can we change the present and future if we let these truths of the past fade?

2. And yes, like any other culture, American black culture is not one-dimensional. Nor should our representation on the big screen be the limited buffet we’re accustomed to, leaving us hungry for a black depiction of everyday stories of the human condition—not abscent of race, let’s be real, we know that’s not possible in our post slavery world—but rather inside of race, where we live, love and laugh;  hurt, heal and know what the stories are. Therein lies the challenge for us writers: to continue to tell these stores in a ways not yet seen. The war against cliché never ends.

The world is a big place. There’s room for ALL the stories.  I understand the frustration in the din. It rises out of the imbalance of stories out there.  I feel it too. But let’s not attack the beautiful work on one side of the scale because the other is side is lacking.

Below is a link shared by follower Judith in Brooklyn. See the films, join the conversation. That is also how we begin to change what needs to change:

Avoiding films such as 12 Years a Slave would only silence their voices when many of us are finally willing to listen. — Kirsten West Savali

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