Words Are Power- Night John

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Let me just say there were scenes in both the movie and the story that were hard to stomach, but it gave me so much more appreciation for the English Field I’m studying.

Words are power in this movie. Words bring education, it brings courage and insight. Words in this movie are forbidden because they could potentially unravel the order of slavery, but that doesn’t stop a few characters from learning them anyways.

It reminds you how powerful words still are today. I believe with education a man or a woman has the ability to change the world. It reminds you not to be scared and to have voice when people don’t allow you to have one.

It is a truly inspirational and moving movie and also an incredible book. It is said that the characters had no hope until they met Night John who taught them to be smarter.

*slight spoilers with sypnosis*

The movie is placed in the middle of the slave era on a southern plantation. The heroine is a curious little girl named Sarmy who’s mother was sold when she was a baby for talking back to the owner for his anger of not having a boy. There is a serious lack of empathy throughout this movie and the reason why I said it is hard to watch because it is an acute portrayal of what slaves went through. They are whipped, humiliated and not observed as humans and have no problem from their owners for having conversations in front of them like they are pieces of furniture, but I digress so I can get to the point of why this movie affected me.

Not all the white characters in this story are strictly evil, some have sympathy when the master does we called “Like training a dog…if you punish her later she wont even remember what for”However, there is only one

The Call and Response music in this movie was magical to see. For those who are familiar with musical history, Call and response singing is a traditional way of communication between the slaves. Often overlooked and a safe way for them to pass messages in the field. They can sing to each other if the master is coming or if they need to communicate.

The character Night John is brought into the story and the little girl is fascinated with his intelligence and demands to learn how to read and write. The other slaves who look out for her beg her not to because education is forbidden for them.

The take away is that education a gift that if known can’t be taken away. Priceless.

Night John does warn her that “Each time you make a letter you have to erase it.” White folks don’t want them to be educated. Knowledge is power. Huge way for slaves to show resistance.

I would say the girl in the story is a little reckless. She steals a bible in her growing urge to practice her letters and the youngest sons letter blocks.However, the more educated she becomes the easier it is for her to manipulate her owners.

In the movie it is shown that someone gets a thumb chopped off for being able to read, which just reiterates the fear of knowledge. Night John explains to Sarmy, “that learning to read is freedom because slavery is bounded by laws and deeds which the slaves cannot read.”

There is a scene when Night John takes the blame for the stolen bible and after he gets a finger cut off the master asks him if he has learned his lesson. He replies that he has and then begins to write the alphabet in the dirt. The letter he spells out is his name. He then tells Sarmy, “when one hand gets cut off, the other grows  back stronger.”

Sarmy is sold in the end, but because of John she has the ability to read and write. As the girl is joined to a line of other slaves, she asks if any of them have tobacco to trade. What has she to give in return? they want to know. And Sarny draws an A in the dirt. She sort fulfills the role in the end of teaching slaves how to read and write. Like Night John said “They have to read and write. We all have to read and write so we can write about this.”

 

P.S. if you have not yet seen the movie or read the book please do so. I do think this is a story that would benefit everyone. It’s packed full of lessons and history that shouldn’t be forgotten or ignored.

 

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There’s Still Hope

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The speech is annotated, borrowed from a motivational speaker, but I had to post, not only for myself and to say thank you for my own amazing support system; Alberto, my mother, my father, my siblings, my friends, but this is also for the people like me who hit the bottom and are trying to find a way back up. ❤

 

“I want you to close your eyes please. I want to ask you how are you? What heaviness are you carrying? What tears do you hold back? What pain, what fears, are kept inside?

The fear that we have is that we are going to be alone, because if they don’t like you then who will? If they don’t accept you then who will? And I started believing that I was not good enough. I started believing that I was a failure. That I would never be someone that people would like; that people would respect.

I want to ask you who are you going to believe in yourself? Are you going to believe every one else’s judgement of you? Are you going to believe when people say you’re a failure.

You don’t have to hold on to these fears. You just take one step at a time. not to say that these fears will completely disappear, but, can you forgive those who hurt you because that’s where healing starts. Every time someone puts you down, will you make the decision to bring someone else up?

Picture yourself in an open area where there are no bodies and no shelter and there is a storm above you. The storm represents the situations in your life. you don’t tell anybody what you’re going through because first of all they wouldn’t understand and second of all they can’t even help you anyways. You’re in this storm and you’re down on your knees, cold and you’re weak and you feel like this is the end.

What kind of purpose do we have to live? Are you just here to live to die? I mean is there not a purpose for me? Is there not a purpose in life?

Are you not still here?

There are some things in life that are out of your control, that you can’t change and you’ve got to live with. The choice that we have though is to either give up or keep on going.

And it’s not the end until you’ve given up.

You are still here. And just the fact that you’re here should persuade you that you have another chance to get back up.

You don’t have to do this alone. Hold on to that person who you think might help you. And imagine them right now saying that they can’t stop the storm right now, but they will hold you and keep you warm until the storm passes. Because when they hold you the storm is still there, but it’s okay because there with you all the way.

Don’t give up. There’s still hope.”