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Emancipation Review

Ashanti Kafi

Jan 2, 2023

"The Lord is with me, I will not be afraid". These are some of the first words Peter speaks to his wife Dodienne in the opening scene of the movie Emancipation starring Will Smith. While seated in their home, then known as Slave Quarters, Peter continues to pray while he washes Dodienne's feet which is symbolic of reverence, humility and selfless love. He begins to speak to her in his native language, "You are the last drop of water in my mouth". Dodienne tenderly strokes his face and speaks back to him in the same language, "you are the sun that warms me in the morning". All of their children are there to witness and experience this profound exchange of love and devotion. Love becomes the through-line of the entire movie.

While more, such as self-determination, can be extracted from this movie, I want to take space here for a moment. This scene helps us remember that as people of African descent, we are naturally spiritual. Even when we don't know that we are, we are. As citizens of whatever African Country we were stolen from, reverence for God was in our every movement, the fiber of our being. God is the root of African Culture. "Through the ages, therefore, religion has been for Africans the normal way of looking at the world and experiencing life itself. For that reason it is found wherever people are". John S. Mbiti -Introduction to African Religion.

Love is a spiritual act. And not just the intimate energy exchange between a man and a woman. Although I would argue that this may be the closest some of us get to God in this lifetime. But Love of family, Love of community, Love of self are all rooted spiritually. Each of these requires a stirring of the Spirit. An Energy that comes from the Soul. Which then produces an outward action. In this movie it is Peter's Love of God, and Love for his family which enables him to endure the physical and spiritual battles of Slavery. It is Love energy `that stirs his spirit every moment on his quest to freedom. Which he ultimately wins by joining the Union in the Civil War.

I could go on about the historical portrayal and the survival of African people. These things are equally important. I would argue however, that without Love, what follows is not sustainable and becomes less probable. Love has a lasting impact. It lives in us even when we think we've long lost it or have no use for it. If you find yourself in this category, I urge you, seek it out. Find time to remember it in your bones. Slavery could not take from us this part of our culture. Allow space for Love to grow within you. Remember who you are. When you have it, come talk to the Black Slate about Nation Building.

I rate this movie as "Hella Inspiring".

Ashanti Kafi

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