Unfortunately, BET’s miniseries “The Book of Negroes” did not get as much fanfare as say the “Love and Hip Hop”, “Real Housewives”, or “Bad Girls Club” franchises. I have to admit the only reason I heard about it was because I watch “Being Mary Jane” and “The Game”.
For those of you who have never heard of it, “The Book of Negroes” is a 3 part miniseries based on the true life of Aminata Diallo, an African woman who was kidnapped as a child and sold into slavery. What is unique about Aminata is that she wrote The Book of Negroes, a ledger of free Blacks that lived in New York, most of which sailed to Nova Scotia to escape the injustices of America. Aminata was an educated woman who was not afraid to back down from anyone. In a time when slaves were to “know their place”, she demanded respect.
This miniseries is one of the best things I have seen on television. It was well written, included amazing acting, and was well produced. For me, it made me think about the Black community as a whole and how we are looked at by other cultures. Of course, the first thing that came to mind was the separation of the Black family. Chikura, a young African boy that Aminata met right before she was kidnapped, found Aminata once they were adults on plantations in South Carolina. They ended becoming husband and wife, only to be torn apart NUMEROUS times. And both times Aminata gave birth to their children, they were not together. The great thing is that Chikura ALWAYS found her, which to me shows that even though their family was not always together and was broken many times, Chikura never gave up on her. Not to mention Aminata never had eyes for any other man. Something else I noticed were the enslaved Blacks. It’s no secret, if you know the history of the US, that whites commonly referred to slaves and Blacks as “animals”. Watching slaves in chains, practically dying from thirst and starvation, I couldn’t help but think that there was something animalistic about them. When given water and/or food, with no utensils but their fingers…how else is one to act? I wonder how non-Blacks would think if they saw (or knew) that their ancestors were placed in chains, having to use the bathroom on themselves, using their fingers to eat. It’s a super disheartening and disturbing sight.
There are some of you, a friend of mine and Southern Dad included, who believe that “I’m tired of slave movies” or “I don’t want to see anything like that”, and you have no interest to watch “The Book of Negroes”. The thing that I will say to you (and the same thing I said to them) is that this miniseries is SO much more than a slave movie. It’s an opportunity to learn about our history and heritage and a story that is not widely known and that was not shared in any history class you had in school. So, if you’re snowed in (like I am today), you should definitely start watching it. Or look up the actual book. You will learn so much.
Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city.