Django, in chains

Editor’s note: Jesse Williams is an actor/producer who plays Dr. Jackson Avery on the TV series “Grey’s Anatomy.” He is a Temple University graduate and former public high school teacher. Williams founded the production company, farWord Inc. and is an executive producer of “Question Bridge: Black Males.” Follow him on Twitter and Tumblr. Note: This article contains offensive language.

(CNN) — Films such as “Django Unchained” carry with them an uncommonly high concentration of influence and opportunity. Due to the scarcity of diverse and inspiring representations on screen, Quentin Tarantino’s latest movie casts a longer shadow than many are willing to acknowledge.


4 thoughts on “Django, in chains

  1. Andy Hou

    Django Unchained not only contains a series of racial disparity, oppression, and dehumanization of African Americans during the slave trade era of the 1800s. The film itself contains abundant background of the socio-economic status of the people of color at that time, in addition to black people systemically betrays his own group for a better condition of his life and role as appears in front of white supremacists. For example, the character Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson), is the perfect example of being a black renegade who ingratiates toward white folks. I personally don’t know if such thing exists during the slave trade era in United States. But, evidently white supremacy inflicts tremendous trauma among people of color for which almost no one can bear, especially durin the harshest slave trade era, before black folks have developed the ideology of fighting against racism.
    Django is the characer who has come to well-being (better than virtually all other black people in the movie) under the support of Dr. King Schultz, who systemically promoted Django to the social status indifferent from a white male. This movie contains not only the historical perspectives of the lives of African Americans in the United States, but also signifies the emerging power from African Americans, or simply the people of color. The film ends with a fierceful vengence initiated on the white people by Django for their past tormentation on black people in general. Could this movie be also an uprising of the African Americans and their continuous persistence to defeating white supremacy?

  2. AdamD

    Quentin Tarantino shows a complete misunderstanding of the history of the causes, and lasting effects of slavery, as well as racism as a social construct. His pompous ego is a bit out of whack when he makes claims such as “Violence on slaves hasn’t been dealt with to the extent that I’ve dealt with it.” While that comment may be related to the “30 years” comment, he doesn’t realize that slavery and the legacy of slavery has been a huge issue since the time of slavery, and that includes the last 30 years. He also insinuates that black men need revenge, so he gives them that on the screen.
    Revenge is the wrong path in that it will make truly civil rights and total abolishment of white privilege a nearly impossible goal. that is because revenge is simply one wrong action in a chain of wrong actions that is difficult to stop. Not only is Quentin selling the idea of revenge to black people, there is a very important view he is not thinking about. That view is that a white man is giving black men a hero and revenge, not a black man giving black men a hero or revenge, so how are black people going to see this?

  3. Charlii Smith

    Alongside with Andy and Adam’s P.O.V. I completely agree with the statement that Tarantino was completely out of line with this film. Not only does he not have a grasp on the reality events of slavery but he is not really in any “valid” position to speak on behalf of this time era. It is frustrating even more so the fact that he picks and chooses to depict slavery in a way he feels comfortable with! I.E showing plantations as a brushed up version of reality, YET using “Real” language that was used in this era in the film. Also agreeing with Adam , Tarantino depicts black men as very negative vengeful people. Tarantino makes it seem as though black men cannot be happy or satisfied until they seek revenge on whites.

  4. Ravenna Napp-Shapiro

    “Tarantino rightly claims that the abundant use of “nigger” in the film was authentic and of the time.” This might be a valid claim if Tarantino had portrayed plantations in a way that was also of the time instead of “nearly empty farms with well-dressed Negresses in flowing gowns, frolicking on swings and enjoying leisurely strolls through the grounds, as if the setting is Versailles, mixed in with occasional acts of barbarism against slaves.” Although Tarantino states that by making this movie, he has successfully sparked Americans to talk about something they haven’t for 30 years (slavery) the problem falls when people talk about slavery in an inaccurate, victimizing, and disrespectful way.

    Django Unchained encourages the misrepresentation of slavery and allows the continuation of racist comments today. After seeing this movie with four of her white friends, my housemate and friends went out to eat. For the next hour, her friends proceeded to loudly quote Django Unchained in the restaurant. Unfortunately, quoting the movie meant saying “nigger” multiple times and recounting horrific slavery scenes in a glorifying fashion. As Jesse Williams writes early in his essay, “people see what they are shown, and little else,” my housemate reflected that because the movie used this language it allowed her friends to do the same even though most scenes in the movie are extremely offensive when we compare to our understanding of what it is racist today (the bar is still extremely low). What we choose to engage in makes up the majority of our reality. When we have to really search for an accurate and honest message, it’s no surprise that my housemates friends saw nothing wrong with reliving the movie.


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