Watching Birth of a Nation While Black

Scott Woods Makes Lists

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I cannot recall when I have ever dreaded viewing a film. I’ve attended numerous 24-hour horror film marathons during which I knew I would be subjected to films handpicked to twist the knife of political sensibilities, films so graphic and nihilistic I cannot give their titles in unguarded company. The guilt from even accidentally convincing anyone to watch such fare would be too great, and yet I did not shudder in anticipation of their rape scenes or their violence. I have been anxious about films as they spooled out, but never before one started.

And then, attending a screening of Nate Parker’s Birth of a Nation last night, I spent much of my day cycling through every life decision that brought me to that place.

I have an abnormally high tolerance for offensive things: police abuse videos, bad films, racist microaggressions, Howard Stern, the average person on the internet. It…

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