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Antebellum Movie is an Ominous Warning to Black Americans

If you are a Black American and you haven’t seen the movie Antebellum, I suggest that you do because it will remind you of why you shouldn’t be complacent about the rise in White Nationalism. Organize and arm yourselves now because as you party and play video games many racist Politicians and racist Radio pied-pipers are openly advocating for America to return to the glory days of the Antebellum South. It won’t be long until the events of this movie comes to pass.

This is not a movie review or a critique but merely a personal analogy and if you think I’m “reaching” then you don’t know history. We all experience things in different ways and different things are created so that different people will get a different experience or enjoyment from them. Antebellum is simply a movie that uses historical truth to deliver a message in a creative way. I did not enjoy the movie because I hate all movies with slave topics. However, I did find it intriguing, which is why I chose to analyze the messages that the movie is attempting to deliver.

Antebellum is billed as a horror thriller and it is played in three non-chronological Acts. The main actor is popular singer and actor, Janelle Monae and since most of the plot centers around her character I will focus on her experiences. The first Act introduces us to Janelle as a Cotton-picking slave who, along with dozens of other Black people/slaves are stuck in what appears to be a Confederate Army camp. White men in Confederate army clothes patrol the camp and oversee the slaves as they pick and process Cotton for shipping.

The cruelty of the soldiers towards the slaves is stereotypical of everything we’ve ever seen, read, or heard about slavery in the American South during mid 1800s. They kill, brutalize, and rape the slaves at will and the slaves are made to labor and serve them while being forbidden to even communicating among themselves. All the slaves seem to look up to Janelle for some reason, as if she had some sort of secret supernatural powers that is yet to be unleashed or maybe it was simply because she was the General’s concubine. Whatever she was, we could tell that she was just as scared as everyone else.

As Janelle laid next to the sleeping General, probably after her nightly raping, she stares hopelessly into the darkness. The scene cuts to Act two and surprisingly, we see that Janelle is now in modern day. She is not only happily married with a husband and young daughter; she is an accomplished author and academic professor too. Her life seems as hectic and rushed as any modern professional’s life would be as she tries to keep a happy home while faithfully pursuing the professional success offered to her through her belief in the American Dream. 

She jets off to Louisiana to attend the launch of her new Book but while there she is kidnapped by a couple of white people; one of them is the Lieutenant of the Confederate Army we saw before. At this point I thought of giving up on this movie because I thought it was corny as hell. 18th century ghosts are kidnapping Black people and returning them to slavery? This can’t be the horror that the movie was billed to contain, I thought but continued to watch.

Act three opens with Janelle back in the Army camp the day after we left her in Act one. New slaves are brought into the camp and the cruelty continues. Then after one of the new slave girls hangs herself Janelle and another slave decides that it was time to escape. She waits for nightfall and after getting raped one more time she also waits for the general to fall asleep. It was at this point that the horrific plot of the film was revealed. A cell phone rings and the General gets up, goes outside to his horse and answers the phone. The rest of the movie is the thrilling part but I’ll let you experience that for yourself

When the General’s phone rings it is here that most people will realize that the movie is not set in the past; it is all taking place in modern days Louisiana. You see, the General and all his Confederate soldiers are white racists engaged in Cosplay but while their costumes are fake, their victims and actions are 100% real. They are racists who believe in the greatness of the Old South Confederacy before it was defeated and dismantled by the Northern Union. This is the America that racists refer to when they say they want to Make America Great Again (MAGA).

All the Black people are captives from everyday society. They are upper-class professionals, Black activists, and people who white people either envy or don’t like. They were lured, kidnapped and held captive to play the role of slaves and servants. The camp they were held in was part of a vast heritage resort fittingly called Antebellum, which is a real term that refers to a romanticized view of the pre-Civil War South when white life was only regulated by minimal government, minimal laws, and white Christian values.  

If you as a Black person watch this movie and you do not see the potential for something like this happening in America given the current hyper racialized atmosphere, then I suggest that you go back to sleep. Go back to thinking that Trump and his MAGA movement involves you. Go back to thinking that white people are actually afraid of you instead of seeing that their supposed fear of you is just an excuse to get away with murdering you. Go back to your partying, Video Gaming, and drug smoking. 

Antebellum is an ominous warning to Black Americas that if Trump gets re-elected and white nationalism continues to grow unchallenged, you will soon begin to notice the disappearances of a lot of prominent Black people from society. These “trouble-making” Black people will end up as captives in concentration camps ran by white militias but while your concern will grow, law enforcement won’t do a damn thing about your fears because a lot of them are white supremacists themselves.