I am writing this post on a short film I found titled “I am a Free Man Not a Slave. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AZ6MQ5Dyfow
This short film in summary is about a white slave owner walking his slave through the woods (Ain’t no grave can hold my body down is sung in the background). The slave (Named Jeremiah) is weak and falls. When his master yells at him to get up Jeremiah argues back that he does not own him and that he is not a slave. The master retorts that he is the god and that the slave is the devil, Jeremiah wrestles the master’s gun from him and the short ends with Jeremiah pointing the gun at him and cocking the hammer.
This film brings to light many of the ideas we discussed in class. The idea of whites thinking they are superior is not new, and sadly in today’s society it is not completely gone. This false sense of superiority reminded me of the evaporation of the white race in the Anglo African gallery piece we read. Whites held slaves and became lazy and lost their humanity and physicality and through a lack of use of their “persondom” they vanished, and the world appeared to be a better place because of it.
The artist, Bernice, also overpowers his former master and imprisons him, turning the tables and reversing the roles. This is typical of slave narratives, those telling the story of successful escape overpower, or outwit their masters leading to a life where they can be their own people and make their own rules. Jeremiah is a particularly “pure” looking African character. Many slave narratives such as that of Frederick Douglas mentioned in class, include a particularly strong and “pure” person of African descent. This character often rebels and fights back overpowering the white masters, just as it is suggested that Jeremiah does in the short. The “pure characters” in slave narratives hardly ever reverse the role as Bernice does in the Afric Gallery, physically imprisoning his former captor for the rest of his days. Jeremiah is also an extreme case if we are to assume that as the hanging ending suggests, he kills his former master as well. Both of these pieces add very radical ideas. For the time in which it was written, particularly Bernice’s narrative within the gallery, it shows the extreme retaliation no doubt linked with the frustration and suffering brought upon his race as demonstrated in the Gallery pieces as a whole collective.