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Traces of the Trade

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


I've had several opportunities to screen this film in the last few months, but kept putting it aside. When I know a movie is about any of these three topics: War (any war), Blindness or Slavery, I tend to steer clear of it as long as possible and more often than not, just never see it. However, my church, (see website in "Pedicure" section of blog) chose "Traces Of The Trade" to screen at our first movie night, so I went.

This is actually a documentary written and directed by filmmaker, Katrina Browne, a woman whose ancestors (The De Wolf's) were once the largest Slave Traders in the country. After delving into this family history, Ms. Browne was compelled to reach out to known and unknown family members, she wrote letters asking them to take a journey with her to examine what this legacy means to their present lives, to the lives of present African Americans and what if anything should be done.

Their physical journey starts in affluent Newport, onto Ghana where the slaves were actually purchased and finally to Cuba where many slaves where taken to work sugar and molasses plantations, commodity's needed to make the De Wolf's chief export -rum.

As an African American raised in a predominately white neighborhood, I've always had mixed feelings about race in general, and often hate talking or thinking about slavery (hence my aversion to movies dealing with this topic). More often than not, I'm of the opinion, it didn't happened to me or my mother or even my grandmother, so although it was cruel and inhumane, and even though my ancestors suffered unspeakable miseries, perhaps it's best to leave it in the past as yet another terrible period in history.

This film has me rethinking my position. I was very surprised to witness true pain coming from the ancestors of the De Wolf's. Pain of guilt and responsibility. By going on this journey, they were made to come face to face with knowing that their current wealth, affluence and Ivy League educations would not have been possible without the back breaking, degrading work of many, many, black slaves. Which allowed me to truly realize no healing has ever taken place with regard to slavery. The spirits of African American ancestors, after so much bloodshed and humiliation, continues to haunt this country.

That being said, all the senselessness that happens every day in Black communities, can't all be attributed to us not having a "level playing field" however, much of it can, and reparations made to bring equal power to the Black race is still required. With our country on the verge of electing a mixed race President, this needed healing may be close at hand. At which time, I believe a sequel to this surprisingly thought provoking documentary will be in store.

Rating: Pretty Big Toe

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is about discovering what I find pleasing in screening & eating - in case you missed it, the name is a play on Tinseltown using the Tines of a Fork.

Feel free to send me info on a film or new restaurant you'd like me to highlight.
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Will there ever be a cap on movie prices?

Will we one day pay $20 a pop?

Why don't we pay on a scale?

A crap movie like everything Adam Sandler has ever done should cost about $4.50.
Big action movies like"Lord of the Rings", "Iron Man," "Transformers" are worth $10.
Woody Allen movie or something like "Silver Linings Playbook" $6-$7.
A chick flick or light comedy $5.75 and most Indie Films $5.25.

You could even do it by seasons - all summer block busters from May to August - $10
Sept - November 15th $3.50 - $4
Back to $10 for Thanksgiving and Christmas etc...

Or you can do it by A Actors ($9 - $10), B Actors ($6 - $7) TV actors on the big screen ($3.50 - $4)

Surely I'm not the first person to realize this makes sense. Has it been voted on in the Motion Picture Industry and then vetoed? If so, why?
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