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Over the weekend, I saw the new movie The Birth of a Nation, which is the story of Nat Turner and his slave rebellion. The movie theater I saw it in was practically empty (myself and two others) and I'm told that attendance at this movie in general was low. That's a shame, as the movie is quite good.

Although it's advertised as the story of Nat Turner's slave rebellion, the actual revolt doesn't happen until the last quarter of the movie. The first three quarters are about Nat's life in particular and life in the antebellum South in general. One scene I found particularly enlightening.

Nat is standing outside a store by a wagon, waiting for his master to return from settling up with the owner inside. As he's waiting, a small white boy walks by and drops his doll. Nat calls out (respectfully) to the boy's mother and returns the doll. The father of the family immediately shows up and starts hitting Nat with his stick for "talking to my wife." His wife, attempting to explain, is immediately silenced and ignored. Fortunately, the beating stops when Nat's master arrives.

The moral of the little scene was clear. The antebellum South was organized, directed and structured to the benefit of white men, preferably those of property. Everybody else was at best a second-class citizen.

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