Can you believe I actually struggled with whether this was okay to post? On. My. Blog. I don’t even know why. I kept going back and forth in my mind that perhaps this wasn’t the place to voice my reactions. Then I slept on it and woke up thinking – but this is MY place! MrsTee (that’s me) Love Live Laughter – I describe my Blog all the time as the place where I give my inner voice a place to be heard – place to share my Love, Life and Laughter. Well my inner voice is screaming about this epic story being told and it definitely needs to be heard. So that said, here is my reaction to the BET Mini-Series The Book of Negroes Episodes 1 & 2.
In this first episode of the series we are introduced to Aminata who will become a young heroine destined to make a difference in the lives of those around her. Aminata was a child born into a tribe in Africa with pride, courage and strength of character. Her father instilled this strength, determination, independence and courage in her in the short time she had with him. Throughout her life it brought her through situations and times that many (including myself) could have never come through.
As I watched, I repeated how I know that even as an adult I could not have endured the trauma, abuse and fear this little girl came through. Not only did she endure it but she showed a level of selflessness that served to help inspire and uplift those around her. Aminata took everything she had within herself and used it to help, protect and empower her people. All as a child who had just been ripped away from the only life she knew while watching her parents be murdered in front of her.
Say My Name
At one point, the other captives on the ship asked Aminata to “Say My Name”. This moment struck me and even now I can see it within my mind’s eye over and over.
“Say Ny Name Sis…”
The simple act of hearing their names spoken by someone who was like them have them courage and hope. Their names allowed them to remember WHO they truly were despite WHERE they were.
The power of your name is undeniable. We have seen before in accounts of our history where removing a captives name was a way for their captors to try to remove any remnants of who they were as a person – as a people. Yet the insistence Aminata showed in remaining true to who she was, who her parents knew her to be and who she would become all tied into her name and the names of those around her.
The Sounds of the People
I am always fascinated by the role of music and lyrics in our history. How the sounds of the people put to music can uplift, encourage, announce, celebrate warn and even mourn. Here the captured used music sang in their own languages to plan a revolt against their captors while still in the midst of their captors! They sang of Aminata and how she used every opportunity to help them and what they would do with the tools she gave them, they sang of Fanta and how her abuser would be the first to die. They would resist at all costs.
Fanta is a girl who initially showed no concern for Aminata as they both sit in chains. Instead she had thoughts of self-preservation yet she became Aminata’s comfort and the catalyst for the captives revolt. Fanta showed a courage many would not have had after the ordeal she had already come through. Yet was her first act of rebellion against their captors that set things in motion. Her actions and ultimate sacrifice left an impact on Aminata that would help guide her through her next journey.
The Power of Women
In each phase of Aminata’s life the power of the women around her is undeniable. Her Mother, Fanta, Georgia, Mrs. Lindo. These women left an impression on who she became Aminata took pieces of them with her on each new path she faced. This is a lesson we of this generation need to grab hold to. It has become a thing of the past to pour out our strength into the women around us.
Instead we have become as Fanta was. Concerned with self-gain, self-preservation while all the while ignoring our abilities to add to the success of the women around us. Yet Fanta changed. She realized that her strength could become Aminata’s. She was able to put aside her pride and stubbornness for the good of them both. Do we have the insight to change as she did? To realize that our survival may impact the survival of those around us. That perhaps just as Aminata said to “I have only you” in a moment when Fanta wanted nothing but to resist for her own sake there may be women around us who have only us to be their strength when they have none of their own. In those times will we share our strength?
I have seen too many women in my life take their power and keep it solely to themselves refusing to encourage or empower this coming up around them. Our children – our youth has but us to look to for examples, strength and inspiration. Do we teach them those core values that will bring them above adversity? To care and feel for those around them? To rely on that inner source of strength no matter the outside situation? To believe in themselves, their history and their destiny? Or do we simple expect them to learn for themselves and worry only about ourselves?
She Spoke Her Destiny
Aminata kept her dreams of returning to her home as her inner strength. She spoke her destiny and made it her future. No matter what her present situation was or even what her captors told her her future would hold she knew what she knew her future to be…“She would return”
I Know I Had A Daughter
After overcoming the abuse from her Master and his unwanted attention Aminata was able to find love with her fellow sojourner Chekura. This young man had taken to her immediately and throughout their different situations he always found his way back to her.
Their love was one that Aminata knew to be true and she wanted it to be so in every way including marriage. Despite being forced to marry in secret they stayed true to each other and were blessed to have a baby girl that she chose to name May. Now we all know that as a slave the birth of a child did not make that child their own. So when Aminata’s owner took her baby away in the night and sold her off to another family there was little she could do.
Still the strength that she showed in not allowing herself to become loss in her grief but instead draw from the only mother figure she had, Georgia, and live on is to be admired. Aminata was determined to find her May and find out what happened to her.
Aminata may not have found her daughter in the way she hoped BUT in finding out how her daughter had been taken from her she learned another lesson that she would use to empower her and her journey towards her spoken destiny.
The Story Is Not Over
I am excited to see the continuation of Aminata’s story and her impact on the stories of those she encounters. Learning our history and the power one person – one women – can have gives me hope for our future despite what our present situations may be.
I see The Book of Negroes not as a negro story. No, this is a human story. It holds a lesson in it for each of us. Lessons of strength, compassion and selflessness. Each character can teach us something we need to know as a human being whether in example to follow or example to beware of. How we apply those lessons is what matters now and I am excited to see what unfolds next in this story of courage, love and strength.
Did you watch last night?
What are your reactions?
Will you watch again?
**Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
Lifestyle Blogger & Media Influencer
Tiffany is the ‘ Tee’ behind TheMrsTee. Tiffany is a BlogHer VOTY Award Honoree as well as a Contributing Author with Modern Social f/k/a iBlog Magazine and BlogHer. Growing herself as a Brand and Influencer are always at the center of Tiffany’s passion. As a Brand Ambassador, Tiffany has the opportunity to promote and support the brands she loves the most with her own unique perspective. Tiffany has extended her presence beyond her URL to Television as a Panelist for the MomsEveryday TV Show for 2 Seasons and to the stage as a Cast Member of the Finale Season of The Listen To Your Mother Show.
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