To Whoever Runs AmazonVideo’s IG Account, Your Comment on the Underground Railroad Was Highly Offensive

I don’t watch slave movies.

I don’t like seeing white people play slave masters. I feel like the white actors enjoy saying “nigger” too much. I know that’s not true, for the most part, but still. The way it rolls off their tongues seems too easy - like they were just looking for an excuse to use the word with a sly slavemaster smile.

I don’t like the sound of whips. I’ve had nightmares about them.

I’ve had periods of time where whenever I closed my eyes I saw the image of an enslaved man with the scars across his back from the beatings he took for god knows what offense. The image that shows up in my dreams is named “Whipped Peter”. I wonder who gave him that name. I wonder who gave him those scars.

I don’t watch slave movies because it’s damaging to the psyche of Black children for the main reflections of themselves in the media be through the lens of historical torture. I don’t watch graphic tales of freedom fights in the civil rights era for the same reason. I cannot consume these depictions of my people being brutalized over, and over, and over again. It serves me no purpose, especially when there is so much violence against my people now, I don’t need to consume fictionalized versions of it.

Recently Amazon Prime’s Instagram account posted the following comment under a post by IndieWire:

“So on board the Underground Railroad train (train emoji)”

The comment was in response to IndieWire, a news organization that covers all things film and television related, posting images from renowned filmmaker Barry Jenkins’ newest series “Underground Railroad.” A fictionalized telling of enslaved Afrikans passage along the escape network.

The journey was a harrowing one filled with fear of re-capture, torture, imprisonment, and death. It took an unimaginable amount of bravery to embark on that search for freedom.

Which is why the Instagram comment bothered me so much. It showed a level of insensitivity I feared the overexposure to depictions of violence against Black bodies has bred.

I know these stories without having to watch them on a movie screen. As a Black child born and raised in the United States, race, racism, and their history play a major role in my everyday life.

I wake up in my Black neighborhood, keenly aware of the historical implications of redlining that determine the skin color of the people on my block.

I see the white boy jump the trainstyles while the Black boy waits patiently for a swipe - knowing the consequences of being caught are different for him. I sit on the subway and observe the tired Black bodies coming home from graveyard shifts while white men in suits sip their first espressos of the day.

I know.

I know these stories. I know them because I have to, because they are my own. I know so much about the brutal enslavement of Afrikan people and all the injustice that followed because it still follows us.

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