Personally, I rarely watch movies that pertain to inflicting pain and suffering on an entire people because it hurts too much to feel. While I am positive the movie barely scratched the surface of what it must have been like to be born into incarceration so deeply ingrained into a culture that even the lack of bars and chains could not set you free, its clear message still permeated my entire being. The being that knows that we still live in a hierarchy-driven world with individuals who would willingly subscribe and justify their conformity to physical slavery if it benefited them and was a norm.
The movie is brought in with the local african-american pastor holding a brief message outside the front door of the plantation, where the slaves stood on the ground and the owners sat in the corner of the porch (much like a pastor and first-lady would in a traditional baptist church). He referenced a miniature bible about how slaves should obey their earthly masters, with a co-signed ending from the slave owners. The slaves sang and were sent along their way. It isn't until after Minty (Harriet) asks for her freedom because she wants to have children that are born free. Naturally, the slave owner appears upset and insulted and his true colors of bigotry and evilness seep through as he sends her away with unanswered prayers. This is where my thoughts began....
If physical slavery were still a 'thing', would the sentiments, just be patient and obtain your freedom the legal way still be heard in the echoes of social media posts, yahoo comments, and private conversations? Would there be justification for checking 'freedom papers' of freed slaves who traveled to the south, just as there is justification for checking the identification due to suspicion?
Back to the movie. The writers attempt to give the audience an authentic glimpse into Harriet's serious personality and her connection with God, which was much different than the typical christian's depiction today. I appreciated how they highlighted the discrepancy of how the pastor behaved in the presence of the slave owners and when he was with Harriet, who clearly went against his earlier preachings. Toward the end of the movie, Harriet was shown telling her former owner that God did not intent for people to OWN other people. I rather liked those moments in the movie because throughout history, we have used biblical writing to coerce others into being under our control and for deliberate oppression, while not holding ourselves to that same standard.
Lastly, there was a speech given in the movie by Harriet, after the fugitive slave law was passed and other members if the underground railroad wanted to halt their mission until things settled. Harriet speaks up, stating that halting may seem appropriate for those born into the privilege of freedom, but not for those who know the pain and suffering of slavery. She was not willing to allow the mission being more dangerous deter her from what God sent her to do. My take away from this scene was that, privilege allows us to judge the path (actions) others take without knowing what they are running from.
Overall, the movie did just what I had been avoiding time after time, it forced me to feel the pain AND the worth of my ancestors. This was a phenomenal depiction of strength, loyalty, courage, spirituality, human betrayal and disregard, fear and change that resulted in the freeing of over 700 slaves by an uneducated slave that refused to believe that she was capable and worth what the southern culture tried to make her believe she was worth.
I struggled with the title of this post because there is no beauty in the "letting go" of things and beliefs that have driven your actions, thought process, and overall self-esteem throughout life. I found there was only release, and a struggle to, at that. It is difficult to confront the things that bring us discomfort, yet we continue to practice.
About six months ago, I came to a fork in the road where I had to choose to continue living the thoughtlife that I had been conditioned to live, or choose a new path that came with uncertainty but had the potential for more peace and freedom to slaw away at years of beliefs and practices that brought me discomfort. I chose the new road, visible to me only because something had been preparing me to see it for about a year or more.
I began the process by quitting dieting slowly and practicing positive affirmations. At first, my affirmations were about my body being healthy and burning fat (envisioning being smaller), being wealthy, loving my job and doing God's will, etc. Then it dawned on me that I was just really trying to travel a parallel road to the one I had decided to leave. I needed to begin to accept myself for what and who I was, accept where I was and acknowledge the want for change in some aspects, and understand that I had been given adequate income that could remain the same, decrease or increase, and I would still be COMFORTABLE. The more fear I attached to those things, the more they fleated. I then became open to endless possibilities for change, but simultaneously I had to be fine with things remaining the same as well. It's the neutral spot in life.
Currently, I can't say that I don't struggle to dismiss old beliefs of how I should act, feel, or look, but it is getting a lot easier to love myself the way I am, not feel pressured to be a certain way, etc. I can try on a pair of pants that I can no longer fit, and feel disgusted or upset. I just slide them off and put them back into the closet or discard them to charity. It feels good to slowly free myself of constraints that hinder happiness. I have applied this way of thinking to my marriage, parenting, and approach to life overall.
I pray that you have the courage to break free from any aspect of your life that no longer serves you well. This journey has been so eye-opening for me and my family, as it allows for more peace and acceptance.
With Love and Care,
I am a 36 year old wife and mother of three children. I love all-things creative and writing thought-provoking posts. I began documenting #MyEarlyMorningThoughts about two years ago and have since received many requests to begin blogging and to continue posting about everyday life, growth, maturity, and christian concepts. Don't be shy, feel free to comment your life experiences and wisdom on any post.