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December 25th, 2012
01:47 PM ET

Opinion: Quentin Tarantino creates an exceptional slave

Editor's note: Salamishah Tillet is an assistant professor of English and Africana studies at the University of Pennsylvania ­and author of "Sites of Slavery: Citizenship and Racial Democracy in the Post-Civil Rights Imagination." She is co-founder of the charity, A Long Walk Home Inc., which strives to end violence against girls and women.

 

By Salamishah Tillet, Special to CNN

(CNN) – Quentin Tarantino set out to make his newest film, “Django Unchained,” to avenge Hollywood’s amnesia of slavery.

“How can you ignore such a huge part of American history?” the director recently told Newsweek magazine. “Hollywood didn’t want to deal with it because it was too ugly and too messy.”

On this point, he is right.

Unlike the preponderance of movies on other historical atrocities including the Holocaust, which Tarantino tackled in "Inglorious Basterds" there have only been a handful of Hollywood films made on American slavery. And none were directed by an African-American.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of those movies were racist.

Dating back to D.W. Griffith’s “The Birth of a Nation” in 1915, white slave masters were heroes and formerly enslaved African-Americans were villains.

“Gone With the Wind,” the 1939 box-office smash, did no better as slave characters like Prissy, Mammy and Uncle Peter appeared as docile and happy servants.

These two films alone dominated all subsequent Hollywood representations of slavery until late 20th-century movies such as “Glory,” “Amistad” and “Beloved” depicted African-Americans as resistors.

But films on slavery have never been about the past alone.

They are influenced by the way we see our racial selves in the moment and also help shape those images. More often than not, slavery is the historical backdrop against which filmmakers and audiences can gauge their own racial problems or progress.

“Django Unchained” is no different. Though set two years before the Civil War, the movie is very much Tarantino’s 21st-century racial fantasy.

Actor Jaime Foxx opens up on his role as Django

There is much to criticize in this film: the excessive use of the N-word, gratuitous gun violence and its male dominance. Women are objects of apathy or sympathy and are not as nearly as complex or charismatic as any of the male characters. This is very much a movie about how men, white and black, navigate America’s racial maze.

And there is much to defend.

The slave-turned-bounty hunter Django, who rescues his wife from slavery, is an African-American hero never seen before on the big screen. He alone is capable of the brilliance, moral courage and swagger needed to resist slavery.

And yet his exceptionality comes at a price: Unlike "Amistad’s" Cinque or "Beloved’s" Sethe, he seems to exist in a vacuum. Most of the slave characters he meets are not his equals; they are flat, naive, and as in awe of him as the audience. And they barely dent racial stereotypes.

The emphasis on black exceptionalism is not just in Tarantino’s film. It has been a problem in the post-civil rights era, one that should be defined as much by the everyday killings of youths such as Trayvon Martin as much the re-election of the first African-American president.

Instead, racial progress is too often determined by the exceptional success of people such as Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey.

It is true, as Princeton professor Imani Perry writes in her book “More Beautiful and More Terrible,” that “the African-American figure of note and achievement is evidence for, and in some instances a sign of, the chipping away at the infrastructure of white supremacy.”

But our constant celebration of their individual success as the only proof of racial progress is too risky.

Perry warns: “Either the person or people are seen as role models and lauded for their attainments and transcendence of the 'bear' of race, or they are viewed as inauthentic, illegitimate, and threatening.”

Conservatives tout “exceptional African-Americans” to deny contemporary structures of racism, and liberals applaud them for transcending race. In both cases, the ongoing racial inequities that affect the majority of African-Americans today are seen as a thing of the past, as a bygone of the era of slavery.

Clearly, most Americans, much less African-Americans, will ever be able to become Obama or Oprah. But in our modern era, their achievements become a stand-in for all African-Americans. They prove how easy it is for all people to attain the American dream or how deficient African-Americans are when they don’t.

We should be aware that “Django Unchained” is a film that could not have been made at any other racial moment. But by privileging the few, we do not have to deal with the severe racial inequalities that most African-Americans confront in education, employment, health care and the criminal justice system.

As we cheer Django on in his revenge, we ought to ask ourselves: What happened to all the other slaves in America? Those who had neither Django’s guile nor guns? If we are serious about avenging the past, we must deal with the legacy of their lives in our present.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Salamishah Tillet.

Posted by ,
Filed under: Black in America • History • Pop culture • Race • What we think
soundoff (130 Responses)
  1. Michele Galloway

    I still haven't recovered from the audiences perception of this movie and the empathy and pride it engendered in me to see played out on the screen an small clip of what the ancestors of African Americans went through to see that we had some semblance of life in this great country. I am in awe of the strength of those who came before me, and I am glad that tarrantino tried to give a glimpse into the horror that our ancestors survived. Having said that. I disagree with the author of this article. Ophra Winfrey and Barak Obama are not the story. It is me, as Senior Business Analyst, My friend Lisa, a DB2 Database Administrator and one of the most brilliant minds in computing today, My friend JP a Database Architect, My friend Sandy, a Quality Assurance Manager, My friend Gloria Haithman, Barabara Solomon, Michael Preston, Academic Scholars, Dr. Alfred H Haynes, Cancer Researcher, President of the first African American Post Graduate Medical School in Watts California, Maxine Waters, Venus and Serena Williams, William PInkett, and my hero Bryan Stephenson of EJI. You must recognize progress and stop being myopic about the true progress of the race. That is not to say that we don't have a long way to go... Treyvon Martin and Tremaine McMillian indicate that the journey for equality and justice is not over.

    July 4, 2013 at 1:34 am | Report abuse |
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    June 12, 2013 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
  3. PWEST

    Again people this is a FANTASY movie. Just like 95% of the movies made. It was not suppose to be rooted in fact it was for entertainment purposes only. Is Batrman real or Starwars? Why is it that Black people cannot have an Fantasy Hero who looks like us? How many of you have fantasized about what you would do if you were a slave, and your outcome was very similar to this movie. Lighten the hell up! Every movie ain't Malcolm X. Also Reginald Hudlin is one of the producers, he is Black.

    December 31, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  4. josh

    Im black and i have to say shame on you for writing this article. Sadly there are people who will agree with this article..and that is the problem

    December 30, 2012 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Roxanne Norgaard

    Wow, incredible blog structure! How long have you been blogging for? you make blogging glance easy. The full glance of your website is great, let alone the content material!

    December 29, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  6. GardenVarietyGnome

    Isn't the creation of an exceptional protagonist just a result of the conventions of linear narrative filmmaking? That being said, Django's exceptionality isn't something specific to him as a character. Most protagonists of films that employ a linear narrative are "exceptional."

    December 28, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  7. BelladonnaCove

    Haven't seen 'Django U.' yet... should I ?
    As far as making money... slavery isn't going to get alot of attention; due to the nature of the subject.
    BTW. slavery still exists in some underdeveloped , poor countries - like Saudi Arabia.

    December 28, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Xorax

      Slavery still exists in the US. It's called minimum wage and no benefits.

      January 15, 2013 at 10:01 pm | Report abuse |
  8. i__no

    African Americans are more racist than white people will ever dream of

    December 27, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Carlos

      Sadly this is my experience too. This article is yet another evidence, if you read between the lines.

      December 27, 2012 at 7:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • HCW

      I wonder what have them the reason to be???

      December 28, 2012 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |
      • HCW

        (Correction) I wonder what gave them the reason to be???

        December 28, 2012 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |
      • Allene Swienckowski

        I'm certain that you were not responding to me. I am certain that some people are truly without racism of sort. Regardless of one's race or reasons, people are people despite the color of their skin, gender or religion, all identifiers that make too aware of "the other." Pretty sad commentary on the human race!

        December 28, 2012 at 7:52 pm | Report abuse |
      • HCW

        I was responding to whoever made the dumb comment about black people being more racist than any white person would ever be. To answer your question, if you posted that, yes I was talking to you.

        December 28, 2012 at 8:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • jcbrownproductions

      America is a racist country. Its called equal opportunity racism

      December 28, 2012 at 8:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • BlackHeywood

      Really HOW racism is about having the power to oppress and control the lives of someone of a different race. Tell me what power does any American Black person have to alter your life. This bandying about the word racism is used to lessen the sting of actual racist atrocities that American Blacks suffered by the hands of our own government. Perhaps you should learn the difference between racism, prejudice and bigotry before accusing Black folks of being racist.

      December 31, 2012 at 8:41 am | Report abuse |
  9. Eric E J Johnson

    These were Racist times in American history...how can a story be told that isn't Racist? That makes no sense to me. Blacks were not considered human beings, so how can you make a movie about this era without showing the mistreatment, abuse and the outright atrocities that we committed on the Slaves at that time. Everyone wants a rosie picture but to be honest these were sinfully ugly times for African Americans. We need to know and understand all the things that the HiStory books will not tell you.

    December 27, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
  10. EVN

    There is no doubt that movies don't portray blacks even handedly, or for that matter that most blacks on TV are characatures and stereotypes.

    However, (and this is not to say all blacks, or even a majority, or a substantial minority are this way), if the was a movie or television show to portray gang banging blacks, fathers who haven't got a clue that being a father means more than a sperm donation, the dysfunctionalaty of much of some black American families you can bet that all sorts of complaints would be raised. Again, I am not saying all blacks, or even most fit the above, but there is no denying that there are serious problems in the black community, and that blacks themselves have some responsibility regarding the mess. The problem is no one likes seeing themselves or their race portrayed in less than a good light, even if there is truth to it, and blacks are no exception. Remember the flack Bill Cosby got when he addressed fatherless black famalies and that black males need to step up and take responsibility?

    December 26, 2012 at 8:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Allene Swienckowski

      You speak about the "dysfunction" within a sector of the black community as if the same type of "dysfunction" does not exist within white America. Herein lies a major issue that separate the two races – every negative that you can point at that is supposed to represent being Black in America, can also be identified as a white problem in the same society We are not a separate piece of American reality. Our lives are just as woven into the fabric of this country as are those who hail from a decidedly white experience.Don't you think it is high time to recognize our similarities instead of trying to inaccurately define our differences?

      December 28, 2012 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • BlackHeywood

      fathers who haven't got a clue that being a father means more than a sperm donation,

      You can say that about the White Slaveholders who raped African Slaves and sold their own children into Slavery. They are the original Dead beat Dad, or does that not count in your world. The dysfunction in some pockets of American Black communities can be linked back to Jim Crow (1867-1964) and Slavery. Remember NO TOOLS were afforded American Blacks after being given our Independence on July 2, 1964 the day the CRB became law to heal from the psychologically scars and damage that oppression done to Blacks . When you go on your hate rant about Blacks just remember where all of this generated from.

      December 31, 2012 at 8:47 am | Report abuse |
  11. John

    Slavery was an awful period in America, no doubt whatsoever. So what can be done about it at this point? What can be done to "avenge" the past, as the author calls for? Reparations, perhaps?
    What should be done? Should white people living today be punished for the actions of those decades, or even centuries, past? Should a white teen today be told "Nope, you can't have that scholarship or get into that college." because that scholarship or entry to college is reserved for a child of another race?
    Isn't that exactly the opposite of what Dr. King called for when he challenged us all to judge one another not by the color of our skin, but by the content of our character?

    December 26, 2012 at 7:56 am | Report abuse |
  12. TC

    Well said Jay..........

    December 26, 2012 at 7:09 am | Report abuse |
  13. uncdig

    Any platform for CNN and it's editors to put their sensationalism style of "journalism". Let's first address movies & her complaint of Hollywood's "amnesia of slavery". Movies like any other commodity is based on supply & demand. They make movies to make money, pure & simple. So if there is a lack of movies, it's because their is a lack of audiences. Second, she want's portrayals of blacks as happy & successful during a period of history where that was not the case. This is just another attempt to try and create race divide where it is not. Sensationalism at it worse.

    December 26, 2012 at 7:06 am | Report abuse |
    • BelladonnaCove

      Interesting point.

      December 28, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dezmond

      Did you actually read (and comprehend) this article? Rhetorical question; you obviously did not.

      January 3, 2013 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Brad

    Want more exceptionalism? Be more exceptional. It's hard to be a hero when you are constantly the victim.

    December 26, 2012 at 6:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Big Shiz

      The biggest hero in America is a black man.

      December 26, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Allene Swienckowski

      Your statement begs a query? And just how exceptional have you been in your life?

      December 28, 2012 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
  15. fasteddy

    I bleed for Afro Americans racism is much more rampant for Native American.Is racism reserved for blacks only? How many native people do you see on tv in a year? Rather strange i see a lot of black people where are we the Native Americans? Baseball, football teams logo's? In every bloody Western that Hollywood put out we are the bad guys the killers of women and children.

    Indian is equal to the N word, yes blacks were slaves probably better than NATIVE Americans bieng victims of Genocide.

    December 26, 2012 at 5:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Dezmond

      Well instead of negativity, I'm just going to comment on the article itself and say that this is probably the most interesting article I've read about the movie so far because it brings up both the invisibility of all women, especially Black slave women, in the film and also talks about the narrative of Black exceptionalism that the film borrows from and reproduces in this "post-race" America. I just don't understand why criticisms about historical inaccuracy and lack of complexity are taken more seriously in other reviews but not with this one. I suspect it's because people find this author and her work threatening.

      January 3, 2013 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
  16. Byst1nder

    Question : When Salamishah Tillet says, and I quote "Most of the slave characters he meets are not his equals; they are flat, naive, and as in awe of him as the audience". Isn't that historically accurate? I would like to point out the realistic view here that blacks at that time are not given the proper education and were not raised to think that they are equal to whites?

    December 26, 2012 at 4:58 am | Report abuse |
    • hinterlandsofmydevotion

      And how is that different today? Are we now being given a proper education or being taught that we are equal to whites? How and where?

      December 31, 2012 at 9:43 am | Report abuse |
  17. Emile_Mervin

    Are Black critics of this film saying that Jaime Foxx lacks critical analytical skills so he could not determine he was being used to play an erroneous role in a film about slavery made by an Italian? I recall years ago Spike Lee was trying to make a film about the slave trade but could not find financial sources to fund the film, so is Lee's recent public statement that he will not see the Django film his way of lashing out at Hollywood for refusing to help him portray the slave trade and slavery from his perspective? How about Oprah, Tyler Perry, Bill Cosby, Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and all the other Blacks who made it big, helping him make his film?

    December 26, 2012 at 4:30 am | Report abuse |
    • PWEST

      Reginald Hudlin was one of the producers and people tend to forget this.

      December 31, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
  18. JC

    Jamie Foxx is a lousy excuse for an "actor". That aside, this story would've never happened. We barely allowed black people to eat in diners some 40 years ago. Back in the 1800's men, women, and children would have jointly beaten this rebellious N-word to death , just to make the day that less boring. So honestly, this movie is making fun of black American slaves.

    December 26, 2012 at 3:17 am | Report abuse |
    • Big Shiz

      My great grandfather jack morgan minor lived in Georgia in the slave days. And some hooded men didn't like the idea of a black man having his own house so they came to hang him(most Likely kill his family). So he killed them,all five of them. He escaped and hid and died of old age. Racist people like you could not hold him down,can not hold us down.

      December 26, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • PWEST

      First of all this is a movie for fantasy like Star Wars and the Lone Ranger. Every movie that is made with Black folks as the main character DOES NOT have to be rooted in fact. Why is it we can't have fantasy movies like everybody else? People need to pick your battles better. Save em' for movies that are supposedly based in fact. Loosen up!

      December 31, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Allene Swienckowski

      Well JC, your comment clearly defines exactly where your alliances lie, "we barely allowed black people...." and t you make the statement as if being a racist is something to be proud of? "Django" is a movie, but be aware there were black cowboys, there were and are strong black men and although you may think black men and women weren't "free" until the white man allowed it...you better wake-up and think again. You are a sad and dangerous person! Be aware that black men and women died as slaves, as freed men and women, and not all bowed to your kind of sick, soul-sucking oppression. To be mean, heartless and a perhaps a killer does not a hero make.

      December 31, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  19. D;Carlo

    Lincoln didn't fight the civil war to end slavery. He didn't believe blacks should have the same rights as whites. He even offered the south a deal to keep their slaves and return to the union. Lincoln shouldn't get the praises that are given him. MLK on the other hand is a better example of a true american hero.

    December 26, 2012 at 3:06 am | Report abuse |
  20. D;Carlo

    Boycott this movie. It is not historically correct and it is ment to drive a divide between americans. Trying to split us up by race. How many times have you here white and black growing up. Now in the last year is is white black and brown. And the divide grows. Conquer the racism that is in your own heart first then try to help others. Color of the skin is no different from the hair color or the way we talk. What makes us different is our desire to be special and willingness to group up and gang up against people who are different from us so we can feel special. Go to any school and see who groups up at lunch and isolates themselfs from people who look different.

    December 26, 2012 at 3:04 am | Report abuse |
  21. Mike

    So how do you classify the black middle class? Secondly, I wouldn't depend on Hollywood or history books for an accurate depiction of slavery because it's hardly dealt with in it's true complexity in either format. The movie Lincoln would have been a lot more powerful to me had it added more back story about slavery and less grandiose speeches. Some of them where quite inspiring but others seemed like fillers.

    December 26, 2012 at 3:01 am | Report abuse |
  22. WCCT

    How dare a director make the main character unequal to characters played by extras!

    "Clearly, most Americans, much less African-Americans, will ever be able to become Obama or Oprah"

    What a disappointing thing to say. How many black children have to hear that same sentiment before it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy?

    December 26, 2012 at 2:22 am | Report abuse |
  23. Richard Wad

    Where is the category White in America?
    Are we not allowed to post in it?

    December 26, 2012 at 2:17 am | Report abuse |
    • Jane F

      I feel sorry for anyone who would subject themselves to anything Q.Tarantino would produce or direct.

      The poor man had talent at one time (Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction) but his talent reached it's limit (Jackie Brown) and he continued to direct drivel like Death Proof and the ultimate insult;; Inglorious Basterds.

      So tainted by the perception of his contribution to a "grindhouse" experience; one which has long slipped into the shadows. To credit him with any historical insight is a sad comment on the lack of credibility one can apply to the area of ethnic studies.

      He's playing with trite material in an expired format.

      December 26, 2012 at 3:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Dale

      It's fine to be proud of your heritage, I am as well. But you've got to acknowledge that being "white in America" is the default. To put it another way, using a video game metaphor stolen from John Scalzi, you and I are playing the game on the lowest difficulty setting.

      December 26, 2012 at 8:50 am | Report abuse |
  24. Jason

    So she is complaining that not every Slave is portrayed as a brilliant hero. No race is comprised of only supremely competent individuals. Apparently she has no concern for realism. I am not happy how my race and gender is portrayed by the media either, but I don't care enough to go complain about faux oppression perpetrated by someone who is attempting to glorify and deify one slaves story. I am outraged on behalf of all sane people.

    December 26, 2012 at 1:26 am | Report abuse |
    • corpsman

      She's not "complaining" about anything. Try again.

      December 26, 2012 at 2:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Alb

      "Did you know, despite being African-American, the fact that you are a liberal proves you are unaware of the ongoing racial inequities, that affect the majority of African-Americans today, are seen as a thing of the past?"

      NO LADY

      WE'RE LIBERAL BECAUSE WE'RE AWARE ongoing racial inequities that affect the majority of African-Americans today are seen as a thing of the past.

      DANG GIRL YOU CRAY

      December 26, 2012 at 2:17 am | Report abuse |
  25. Eric

    CNN congrats on yet another fine example of your allowance of all things anti-white. In your eyes it is ok because racism is not a two way door.

    December 26, 2012 at 1:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Radtad

      This article is certainly pro-black and lacks proper foundations for its argument (whatever it may be - still not clear), but I don't see anything explicitly nor implicity anti-white about it

      December 26, 2012 at 1:21 am | Report abuse |
      • bhimscho

        it is implied in several instances, most notably "if we are serious about avenging the past"

        December 26, 2012 at 2:22 am | Report abuse |
    • indiegrl

      The age of widespread reverse racism toward whites has arrived in the US. It was the politically correct undercurrent in Obama's re election campaign. The "Evil Greedy 2%ers" Obama targeted to energize his base to the polls are repeatedly depicted as Old White Guys and personified by Mitt Romney.

      December 26, 2012 at 4:45 am | Report abuse |
  26. Eric

    Quintin is a moron. I was a fan of his work until he couldn't admit HIS violent movies are as much a part of the violence problem in this country as any other. He is a fool and until he is man enough to admit his films are at least partially responsible to our violence problem I will never watch any of his work again.

    December 26, 2012 at 1:10 am | Report abuse |
    • Jihoon

      This is one of the many trite and uneducated responses I've read in the comments section. If we say out loud to ourselves that movies and/or video games are the result of violence in our society then we are nothing but lemmings. You have a choice to decide to do right and wrong. Viewing violent art in any format shouldn't affect the choices you make in your daily life. If you are this type of person then I probably don't know you anyway.

      December 26, 2012 at 6:24 am | Report abuse |
  27. Radtad

    I'm sorry - but what exactly is the hypothesis of this article? Is this just another article about how white people can't understand black hardships?

    I don't deny this is this case, but what is Tillet proposing be done about it? She is like a cultural tea partier - full of complaints but short on solutions

    December 26, 2012 at 1:02 am | Report abuse |
  28. DKL

    Salamishah, I'm going to make a suggestion you should strongly consider. While you may feel this way (and I understand why) you should stay silent. If you continue to teach our next generation of African Americans that they are different, then they will be – but not in a good way. If a door closes for our kids, or is never opened, and you've taught them it's because they are of African decent, they will never do the soul searching they might otherwise have to do to learn from their failures. I.e. please stop teaching our kids they're crippled, when they most decidedly are not. Merry Christmas!

    December 26, 2012 at 12:59 am | Report abuse |
  29. samson

    So you're saying it's okay for Jamie Foxx to go on SNL and praise murdering white people,

    Who's the racist now...?

    December 26, 2012 at 12:47 am | Report abuse |
    • james

      It's funny how he was demonizing violence in movies but doesn't denounce his own.

      December 26, 2012 at 12:57 am | Report abuse |
  30. KaptainSk

    Things I don't care about: This person's opinion. Now folks, its time to enjoy a Quentin Tarantino movie, with all its lovely attributes.

    December 26, 2012 at 12:29 am | Report abuse |
    • corpsman

      Things I don't care about: Your opinion.

      December 26, 2012 at 2:04 am | Report abuse |
  31. Lizard Lance

    Rich white people, whether they call themselves Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, Islam, or whatever, who live inside the safety and security of gated communites have no sense of empathy toward those who were not as fortunate in life. We see it today among Congressional Republicans, among the leaders of the Tea Party, and among corporate executives. They wish to pretend that all in life is well for everyone and that they earned every penny they made on their own hard work and nothing else.

    Thus, slavery and oppression of African-Americans is dismissed.

    In fairness, many African-Americans have hurt themselves educationally and socially. Gang-banging, criminal activity, and flunking out of school is very hurtful in the African-American community but we keep seeing it more among in that sector than in any other.

    December 26, 2012 at 12:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Jimmy-James

      Today slavery is dismissed because no one alive, in this country, has been subjected or a part of it. No one cares about the castration of young boys for singing either, because it doesn't happen in this country today even though the last castrato lived into the 20th century. It was also a cruel testament of the bad than can happen in society. As long as we cling to the past we are forced to relive the burdens of it. Let it go. You're not a slave now. Be happy.

      December 26, 2012 at 7:43 am | Report abuse |
    • John

      I'm positively amazed at how many mind-readers there are among those who protest racism; they know the motives of others, and can be sure of the lack of empathy others have. Stunning, really. Think about the message sent by saying that not every African-American child can be an Obama or Oprah. It's true- but no more true than saying that not every white child can be Steve Jobs or Bill Clinton. It's belittling. Telling African American youth in high school that they can't do as well on SAT's, and so they get points to make up for it- that's not affirmative, but negative. End the culture of victimization and free the African American community from its last chains.

      December 26, 2012 at 7:47 am | Report abuse |
      • Stella

        Well stated. Stunning indeed.

        December 28, 2012 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
  32. Ken Montgomery

    Django maybe a great box office thriller. But next year a movie that is move realistic is coming out. I know because was a stand in and extra in it. It called Twelve Years a Slave. It is a true story and true to form. I suggest everyone get the book and read how slavery really was.

    December 26, 2012 at 12:15 am | Report abuse |
  33. chica

    I think all white folk should have at least two slaves don't You?

    December 25, 2012 at 11:54 pm | Report abuse |
  34. Stepnfetchit

    Slavery......blah,blah,blah. Another film from a self-hating white man. If racism is sooooo pervasive, why not leave people to associate with whom they wish? How come the Federal government has to force people to live with people they don't want to? The US is just another Commie kuntry and soon it will end like Yugoslavia. Then the racism crybabies will get a dose of reality.

    December 25, 2012 at 11:51 pm | Report abuse |
  35. NOTtexan

    dude if you spent half hour typing a comment in.. there something wrong with you. oh wait .. youre from texas.. thats your problem.

    December 25, 2012 at 11:49 pm | Report abuse |
  36. Jovani

    This article is just an ad for that anti-white book she mentions by Imam Perry. Shame CNN could not see this blatant product placement.

    December 25, 2012 at 11:46 pm | Report abuse |
  37. nvmature

    I read this article, but I am not sure what it is saying. Reads like a poorly explained thesis for a Master's (no pun intended) degree.

    December 25, 2012 at 11:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Radtad

      Yep totally agree - while her assertions might not be incorrect, there is no clear premise or conclusions laid out... just high brow erudite language that reads as an endless maze of useless academic speculation.

      December 26, 2012 at 1:12 am | Report abuse |
    • corpsman

      Maybe you need to improve your reading comprehension.

      December 26, 2012 at 2:05 am | Report abuse |
  38. bribarian

    Another Jamie Foxx, Straight-to-DVD piece of garbage. Why did CNN think this awful movie needed a second article? It's ironic that racism is fine when it's directed at whites, that gets CNN's mark of approval. The cherry on top is this clown Foxx asking for gun control while releasing a movie playing a racist bounty hunter. /bravo.

    December 25, 2012 at 11:14 pm | Report abuse |
  39. martin

    Slavery just doesn't fit in with American Mythology so it's swept under the rug. Home of the brave, land of the free. Give me liberty or give me death. All men are created equal. With liberty and justice for all, etc. None of that had any reality for millions of slaves and millions of blacks subjected to post-slavery discrimination and violence.

    December 25, 2012 at 11:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • bribarian

      Another Jamie Foxx, Straight-to-DVD piece of garbage. Why did CNN think this awful movie needed a second article? It's ironic that racism is fine when it's directed at whites, that gets CNN's mark of approval. The cherry on top is this clown Foxx asking for gun control while releasing a movie playing a racist bounty hunter. /bravo..

      December 26, 2012 at 12:17 am | Report abuse |
      • Onco

        I'm not sure you understand the concept of 'Straight-to-DVD'

        December 26, 2012 at 12:35 am | Report abuse |
  40. Where's the movie review

    Wow. Just wow, Ms. Tillet. I stopped when you mentioned Trayvon Martin. I'm for some reason not surprised that CNN allowed this implied racism.

    December 25, 2012 at 11:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Radtad

      While I too think this article is rubbish for other reasons, I don't really see any "implied racism" ... radicalization of truths, perhaps, but racism? No.

      December 26, 2012 at 1:17 am | Report abuse |
  41. Paul

    Interesting that NOBODY EVER calls the British on the carpet re slavery. They introduced it here, managed it for hundreds of years and profited by it (cotton and tobacco). Yet everyone wants to blame people like Jefferson and Washington for it. Why do the British get a free pass???

    December 25, 2012 at 10:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      You should know, as most do not, that as far as slavery goes – all scholars on the subject roundly agree that the American form of slavery was the most destructive and pernicious. Other slave societies required the owner to educate, or free his slaves eventually. Some societies required both. Take a look at the actual state laws in the Antebellum South – they required Blacks to be beaten, murdered, and always be uneducated. These are just a few of the examples I recall from a class I took (graduate school at a the no.1 in the nation) called: The Educational Experiences of African Americans.

      December 26, 2012 at 12:30 am | Report abuse |
    • corpsman

      Good point.

      December 26, 2012 at 2:06 am | Report abuse |
    • evensteven

      How often to we see Black Africans themselves as the wholesale slave dealers, shipping Blacks captured from other tribes to be sold as slaves. What the slave dealers received as payment? Strings of beads . . .

      December 26, 2012 at 5:00 am | Report abuse |
  42. Paulwisc

    Yeah, sure, they should make the best of a situation where you and others make your decisions based on race while pretending it doesn't matter.

    December 25, 2012 at 10:15 pm | Report abuse |
  43. Bif

    See how the racist, name-calling, hate-filled, people spew their mental filth. Over something as benign as a movie. Opening up their "virtual" mouths to express stark ignorance about history, let alone slavery. Their mean-spirited, and hateful thinking is literal proof that the effects of slavery still exist. Proof that remedies need to be put in place to protect society from hate; and we all know what the Bible says about hate. We also know what Santayana said about forgetting the past. So we will never forget the past. Never stop talking about the past. One day God – the only supremacy – will correct those who hate. I can't condemn the haters; God will judge. Hate-filled people live in their own reality. It was a movie people. You know like "2012."

    December 25, 2012 at 9:43 pm | Report abuse |
  44. Nedsicle

    If you are a male of Junior High School Age, this is the movie for you!

    December 25, 2012 at 9:35 pm | Report abuse |
  45. Matk Peterson

    . A resister is a person who resists. A resistor is an electronic component

    December 25, 2012 at 9:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • David

      Grammar Nazis are annoying.

      December 25, 2012 at 11:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • End Religion

      Stupid people like David are the most annoying of all.

      December 26, 2012 at 3:11 am | Report abuse |
  46. bart

    Michael, it is a Tarintino movie, for gods sake? So yes, violence? Cheech and Chong movies deal with Marijuana. Bugs Bunny deals with humor?

    December 25, 2012 at 9:18 pm | Report abuse |
  47. Wondering

    What I am wondering is – it seems there will never be an end to to the claims of discrimination and racism. If there were no Barak Obama or Oprah Winfrey, that would be because of discrimination. Now that they (and others) have succeeded, the country is accused of "Exceptionalism", holding up the success of a few as proof that they all can succeed. Well, what is wrong with that? Their success is evidence that whatever barriers were believed to be in place are going away, and can be overcome. It also shows that more than half of Americans (voters, at least) are willing to be led by a non-white. When will people start to admit that the history of slavery – which ended about 150 years ago – should no longer be pushed as a major excuse for lack of success in today's America?

    December 25, 2012 at 9:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mysticdog

      When racism no longer holds people back. Duh.

      December 26, 2012 at 2:40 am | Report abuse |
      • KG

        I don't see racism holding people back. I see individuals and black society holding people back. I live in a mixed race area and the only people I ever hear using the "N" word are black. The only people holding black students back are other black students who criticize any who excel in acedemics as selling out or being "too white". Until the black community holds itself at least partially accountable for their current situation, then no progress will be made. It's time they take responsibility for their own future and stop blaming others for perceived inequalities.

        December 26, 2012 at 5:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Stella

      > When will people start to admit that the history of slavery –
      > which ended about 150 years ago – should no longer be pushed
      > as a major excuse for lack of success in today's America?
      Hmmm. When people are no longer stopped by policemen / shot by 'community watchmen' for driving / walking while black?
      When prison sentences for drug use are no longer disproportionately applied (offensively so) to the black community?

      December 28, 2012 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
    • JoeSmitters

      But slavery is the problem. The best thing is for blacks to be 'normal' and not have it lean either way. If they do well, then we expect all blacks to be that or better. Like how it's SUCH A SUPRISE if an asian person isn't a doctor or engineer.You can come in 50 shades of gray. Blacks can't. Black people are not individualized unless they achieve greatness. Whites don't have that problem. That's why you have the term 'hillbilly' for poor whites. Or white trash. But that's not applied to the ENTIRE race.

      January 2, 2013 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
  48. ishiibrad

    Is this the first Tarantino movie you`ve seen ?

    December 25, 2012 at 8:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Havoc

      Must be

      December 25, 2012 at 9:36 pm | Report abuse |
  49. Seriously now?

    D.W. Griffin? I think you must mean D.W. Griffith. His movie is monumentally racist but you don't set yourself up as an authority when you don't even get his name right.

    December 25, 2012 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • okie

      That's pretty petty of you. She's pointing at the moon and your staring at her finger.

      December 25, 2012 at 8:58 pm | Report abuse |
      • Havoc

        you're

        December 25, 2012 at 9:36 pm | Report abuse |
      • JimT

        Griffi 'th', you"'re". People stop nitpicking on semantics and focus the issue being discussed. For real.... (or should I say "really")

        December 25, 2012 at 9:58 pm | Report abuse |
      • End Religion

        The point is that it can be difficult to immediately understand what someone is trying to say when they misspell or have trouble constructing a simple sentence. And then they say, "you know what I meant," refusing any responsibility for their own stupidity.

        We all make mistakes, but it is two different matters spelling 'turtle' as 'trutle' versus 'terrtell' - one is a mistake, the other is ignorance. Ignorance should be corrected, whether you like it or not, and since either your mom or your teacher didn't do it for you, there are others of us that will continue to point it out.

        December 26, 2012 at 3:20 am | Report abuse |
      • Seriously now?

        her greater point is valid, but that doesn't excuse shoddy work. I know that's not what you want to hear, but it's true. This is an internationally-read news agency. Getting people's names right is literally the least you can do.

        December 26, 2012 at 5:52 am | Report abuse |
  50. Gaslamptim

    Dear Spike Lee,

    Your opinion are just your opinions and do not represent all your fellow African-American brothers and sisters beliefs. So please stop talking like you represent everyone of your race by criticizing Mr. Tarentino's film.

    December 25, 2012 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • ishiibrad

      Thank you. I seem to remember a few of spike Lee`s movies not being very positive towards (stereotypes) blacks also.

      December 25, 2012 at 8:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Qodex

      How does criticizing a movie make him a spokesman for all blacks (or any group)? How does Roger Ebert criticizing a movie make him a spokesman for all whites?

      December 25, 2012 at 11:01 pm | Report abuse |
      • Gaslamptim

        Because he doesn't just criticize it like Roger Ebert he goes on a political tirade using words and expressions that make him out to be a leader in the Black community

        December 25, 2012 at 11:37 pm | Report abuse |
  51. everything in Moderation

    …hhmmmm. You went to a Quentin Tarantino film…and didn't expect gore. Have you ever heard of Quentin Tarantino?

    December 25, 2012 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • commonsense

      THANK YOU!!!!!!! What did these people expect?!?

      December 25, 2012 at 9:32 pm | Report abuse |
  52. edgarallanpress

    I've always been troubled by the veneration of television personalities, pop stars and athletes. Their accomplishments benefit no one but themselves and the immediate families.

    December 25, 2012 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
  53. iluvpurple

    I'll extend this to say, in old slave movies and during these times, the N word was used excessively, so I'm not sure what she has a problem with. It's a horrible word, and should not be used as much it is today (black and white), however the usage of it in this movie is totally authentic to that time period. And yes, I'm saying this as someone who is black.

    December 25, 2012 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
  54. Excuse me while I whip this out...

    Inglorious Basterds and Django Unchained are entertainment, made to make money. How about we stop whining about the past and focus on stopping a very real current problem called human trafficking.

    December 25, 2012 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
  55. WoI Admin

    While I grant you black people have had more to overcome given the history of slavery in America, I disagree with the notion that you can attribute all of their wealth inequality to race. Just like whites, among the black community there are hard workers and there are lazy people. There are bright, ambitious individuals and there are ignorant fools. Nothing will ever enable the weak willed to succeed, it is their destiny to fail, it is a path they create for themselves, and they exist in every race.

    December 25, 2012 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pa10sion

      Wol Admin. While i grant you the right to your opinion, your comments are naive. The fiber and fabric of this country (bridges, roads, factories, etc.) were built by the sweat, blood and lives of African slaves who were brought here, used and thrown away like trash. Whites established business and built wealth for themselves. Blacks did not receive a dime for their sacrifice. They did not even have the right to vote until 1965. So when you say "nothing will help the weak willed to succeed" it sounds extremely ignorant.

      December 25, 2012 at 8:40 pm | Report abuse |
      • Jason

        They should have got some b*lls and fought back or died trying to be free.

        December 25, 2012 at 11:30 pm | Report abuse |
      • Sam

        Just wondering,, Do these bridges, roads and factories have names and locations or do you simply make this up as you go along?

        December 26, 2012 at 12:16 am | Report abuse |
    • JoeSmitters

      I agree. As a black male, I agree. The problem is that other communities have had problems too, but they worked together. For some reason, black people don't. It's like a plague. The day we have black people working together is the day you can go to an all black city and WANT to be there. Thing Harlem Renissance.

      January 2, 2013 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
  56. cobra

    What is the matter Dave, you can not handle truth, must be a left winger.

    December 25, 2012 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
  57. Marilyn

    Only a white man could write as Reality does....

    December 25, 2012 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
  58. Brandon

    Mistreatment due to the color of skin happens to white people more than anyone these days... thanks to other white people bc for some reason most of us victimize ourselves and dont stand up for ourselves thats why I am def glad I am not like that.

    December 25, 2012 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
  59. Mannycl

    And still will exist. Just do some travelling around the world and you will see even more that in the US. If you don't want travel too far away just go South of the border to Mexico. The lighter your skin the more acceptable the society will see you. Calling somebody 'indio' is an insult.

    December 25, 2012 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • HCW

      I've been to 15 countries around the world. I am African American but, not one person in those countries treated me any different than the white people there. If anything it was the opposite of what you stated.

      December 26, 2012 at 2:59 am | Report abuse |
  60. Mannycl

    Another meaningless movie. It seems that Americans relish racial division and we still see how Hollywood make a living of social stereotypes. Ms. Tillet is another example of people that thrive in division rather than unity just like Reverend Sharpton and rest.

    December 25, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  61. Brandon

    And one more thing... for a people that pride themselves on wanting racial equality you sure do like to lump all people together and call us (white people) racist....

    December 25, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shawn

      Brilliant insight Brandon. Awesome job on that.

      December 26, 2012 at 2:23 am | Report abuse |
  62. alvin

    It will always be the exceptional in any race to get something done. The question should be why blacks are conditions to hamper and condemn theirs?

    December 25, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  63. Duane -st.pete FL

    Waste of time movie,,,,,waste of time subject....boring.

    December 25, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • sqeptiq

      And yet here you are.

      December 25, 2012 at 8:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Robert

      Perhaps it is you who are boring. Go get yourself some fast food and a six pack of Bud Lite, and go watch Storage Wars or Honey Boo Boo. I'm guessing that this would be more suitable for a man of your prodigious intellect. Have you actually seen the movie? I didn't think so. No reason to let ignorance get in your way, though.

      December 26, 2012 at 4:53 am | Report abuse |