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Two days after seeing “12 Years a Slave,” scenes from the movie still play over and over in my mind. I’m not entirely sure that I needed to see two hours of the chilling varieties of inhumanity Blacks in slavery endured for hundreds of years. Though it’s a mostly accurate depiction of Solomon Northrup’s 1835 memoir of being abducted into slavery after years as a free black man, my soul is having a hard time finding any redeeming value in the movie.

I did appreciate the stellar acting from Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Lupita Nyong’o and Brad Pitt as well as the artistry of British director Steve McQueen, but “12 Years a Slave” hardly counts as “entertainment” in the general sense. For me, the truth about the brutal physical and psychological conditions of slavery is nothing new.

I’ve read much of the history and fully understand its devastating impact on not just those who came before us, but those who are still dealing with its legacy. For people, Black and white, who don’t have a sense of the profound dehumanization Africans endured in the slave trade, “12 Years A Slave” may be an eye-opening experience.

For others, the movie may just be too much to take. There are some folks who may be affected by it more than others and for those as I outline here, I suggest exercising some caution. Here’s a list of the people who may want to think hard about whether or not they want to see the film.

1. Children

Elementary school age children are exposed to a lot of things at young ages, but this is a particularly difficult film for many adults to take, much less a child. I would not recommend this for any child under 13 unless the child is sufficiently prepared and wise well beyond their years and even then, I’d say give them time. Teenagers will understand the movie’s underlying themes much more and may not be as traumatized by the searing brutality.

’12 Years a Slave’: Can You Handle It?  was originally published on

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