Disclaimer: Spoilers, I guess.
So, let me begin this post by saying that I have not seen Kasi Lemmons‘ Harriet movie yet. In fact, the current plan is for my wife and I to see it at some point this weekend. Side note, I know that I’ve previously expressed my exhaustion with slave movies. But, I also said that I still wanted to see this film. In any case, after hearing about the inclusion of the Bigger Long character, I was slightly taken aback, son. All in all, I don’t know what to make of that storyline, man.
Ok, for those who are unaware, the internet is currently divided on what to think about Bigger Long’s presence in the Harriet movie. Now, in regards to the plot, Long is a Black bounty hunter who was hired to catch Harriet Tubman by her slave owner, Gideon Brodess. Moving on, despite being the catalyst for Long’s pursuit, Brodess ultimately kills him before he can harm Tubman. With all of that being said, a number of people, including myself, are thrown off by the fact that a White slave owner ends up saving a Black woman from a Black man.
Now, to be fair, I’m fully aware of the fact that there were Black bounty hunters during slavery. Sadly, there were a couple of reasons why a former slave would take up this profession. First, there were individuals who were looking for a way to provide for themselves and ended up selling out their own people in the process. Second, there were just some evil ass bastards who inexplicably hated their own kind. Either way, it was a fucked up way to live, fam. Moving on, the main issue with the film is the fact that no one can find a record of anyone like Bigger Long in Tubman’s history.
Look, let’s keep it a buck, bruh. Shit, against better judgment, people tend to take biopics at face value, son. Meaning, it’s easy for folks to just blindly believe what’s being presented to them. So, for anyone who isn’t willing to do the research for themselves, they’re going to leave the movie theater thinking that a Black man was trying to kill a Black woman and a White man saved her. I mean, no matter how Lemmons tries to justify it, that’s exactly what that scene means, man. Now, I’m not going to sit here and pretend like that’s the crux of the story. Mainly because I haven’t seen the movie yet. But, why add this dynamic to a story that didn’t require it, fam? Like, it’s not as if Lemmons added some random ass friend to the plot. She added an entire Black villain, kinfolk. Listen, Tubman’s life was wild enough without the added racial ambiguity, brethren.
In the end, I’m not sure if my issue is with Lemmons or Hollywood, in general. Ultimately, Black people always campaign to be represented by major studios. However, when we get the chance, our stories are dramatized in unnecessary ways. Then, to make matters worse, the community is guilt-tripped into supporting because “we might not get another opportunity.” So, we’re forced to deal with inaccuracies in fear of getting nothing at all. At the end of the day, I’m fucking conflicted, son. Like, I want to see the movie, but I don’t want folks, even women like Lemmons, to take needless liberties with our history. *Sigh* I don’t know, man. Frankly, I’m just thinking out loud, fam. Honestly, I’d like to hear other people’s take on this, bruh. Holla at me. That is all. LC out.