The key to understanding racism/White Supremacy
is to stay focused on it and not be side tracked into arguments
over the consequences of it such as slavery, "racial profiling",
discrimination… Racism is pregnant with these and many
other chronic unjust conditions. The best strategy is to focus
on causes and cures instead of constantly attempting to treat
a long and possibly endless number of debilitating symptoms
which affect non white people under White Supremacy.
AMISTAD is the dramatization of a true story
of a group of African slaves (victims of racism) on a slave
ship sailing for the Americas, who launch a rebellion, kill
all but 2 of the White crew and attempt to sail the ship
back to Africa. Through an act of deception (duuah) the 2 White
crew member pretend to sail east but actually sail west towards
America where the Africans are recaptured and imprisoned
while assorted White men mount court battles over who gets to own
The opening scenes of the movie begin with the rebellion
aboard the slave ship; Africans freeing themselves and commencing
to kill the White Supremacist, for
some, this is the best part of the movie. However, most of the movie
is designed to showcase the "American" judicial system and herein
lies the main message of the movie: that White Supremacy can be eliminated
through the use of laws.
The Africans sit in court and observe the proceedings as various
White men and governments fight amongst themselves over who gets
to own them. A down
and out White lawyer (Baldwin) agrees to represent them and begins to work
on their defense with the spokesman for the Africans, A guy named Cinque.
Cinque is an African with a strong sense of Justice and he begins
to understand that
this whole "court thing" is supposed to be about producing Justice,
so he begins to get very involved in the strategy and tactics of his defense.
But as time goes on, he begins to lose motivation because he sees that this
thing called White Supremacy is a "law" unto itself; rules get changes…judges
get replaced…evidence gets thrown out…
As this is happening, Cinque's lawyer, Baldwin, has to try to explain
to him how things like this can happen in a so-called court of
Justice. Cinque is
asking very good questions and Baldwin can't give him straight answers with
out delving into the inner workings of the system of White Supremacy, which
he never does.
Finally Cinque basically says, "fuck this shit!" White people talk
a good justice game but when it all comes down, White people do what they want
to do and besides, Im at this position because my ancestors brought me this
far for a reason… kay sorah sorah… two tears in a bucket… stop playin these
legal games and either shit or get off the pot.
By this point its looking grim for Cinque and the other Africans.
Not only does it appear they are heading back to enslavement, but
some of them may even
get convicted of murder. But wait! In the closing arguments, former
president John Quincy Adams reluctantly comes out of retirement and gives
speech about the inalienable characteristics of Justice. He does such a good
job of it that none of the opposing White people can really challenge it.
As a result, the Africans are acquitted of all charges and released.
The are last seen sailing back to Africa in clean new tunics. The
movie ends with the
British navy shelling the slave castles on the coast of Africa and thereby
putting an end to slavery once and for all.
By the end of the movie, White people look good, Black people look
good and we can all hold hands and sing kumbya right? Wrong!
The concept of using the law to eliminate White Supremacy is very attractive
to the victims, but it is based on the premise that White people want to
produce Justice, a premise that appears to be flawed. White people do not
need a law
to stop themselves from practicing racism, they could just decide not to
I highly recommend Amistad if only because it allows Black people
to see what their ancestors went through to get them where they
are today. I commend Speilburg
on some of the very brutal and graphic scenes in the movie but he left out
two very important historical facts.
Rats and Sharks.
Rats had a feast on slave ships feeding on the dead, dying and
living. Soft tissue was their delicacy. Eyes, tongues and internal
organs were the first
to go, dark, cramped below deck floor slick with urine, feces, blood and
vomit; bodies packed back to back. The perfect environment for
rats. Crewmembers were
not keen to spend too much time down there for fear of catching something
or getting bitten.
The dead slaves were simply thrown overboard. Sharks followed slave ships
out of habit and British warships followed sharks to catch slave ships.
The movie Amistad does not directly deal with the issue of racism but if you
are codified you can observe how the White people in the movie "talk
around it." It is quite useful to understand how they do this.