There are many ways to enslave people – physically, emotionally, psychologically, economically, culturally. There are ways to do so without the slaves knowing they’re slaves.
The Book of Negroes miniseries on CBC, adapted from the award-winning Lawrence Hill novel reinforces how wrong slavery was and continues to be.
The Canadian title, The Book of Negroes, thought to be controversial in other countries, refers to a historical document containing the names of black people who served the King/Britain during the American Revolutionary War and could then escape to Canada. Ironically, even as The Patriots fought to free themselves from being slaves of The Tories, they didn’t also consider the black slaves should be free. It’s more common title, Someone Knows My Name, refers to the protagonist’s wish to be more than a slave. This document isn’t connected with the Underground Railway; routes and codes that helped slaves escape to Canada, starting in the 1780s.
People often say, I have no prejudices, I’ve actually said it, turns out I do. I have prejudices, but not against any race, religion, etc., just against selfish, cruel, arrogant, thoughtless, injudicious, idiotic people; those I find offensive.
This 6-part miniseries, directed by Clement Virgo is wincingly uncomfortable to watch, to see any person or living thing treated in such a callous, cruel, repulsive manner should always be unnerving to see.
The protagonist, Aminata Diallo is intelligent and ambitious, she yearns to be more, to break free, and to be known as a real person, not property. She realizes education is a strong tool to help. She’s proud of her name and wants to be known by it. I understand that, although my name was already a series of Nancy Drew-style books, also, the surname, Parker, well, we weren’t just proud keepers of parks, but also: slave owners, slave traders, and overseers. Hey, you can’t pick your ancestors.
The cast is so astonishing, where to begin, at the beginning, with Shailyn Pierre-Dixon, the extraordinary young actress who played Aminata as a child. She took us into this role; you believed she was the protagonist. I assume we’ll be seeing a lot more of her. Aunjanue Ellis continues the role to perfection.
Brilliant work from Allan Hawco (of course), Greg Byrk, Amy Louise Wilson, Sandra Caldwell, Louis Gossett Jr., Cuba Gooding Jr., Lyriq Bent, Jane Alexander, ok, the whole cast is amazing.
Hard to believe people are still sold into slavery.
How is that still a thing?
“She asked why I was so black. I asked why she was so white. She said she was born that way. Same here, I replied.” ~Lawrence Hill
Images courtesy of the CBC