I read in Variety that 12 Years a Slave will now be taught in U.S. high schools. What an achievement. I learned a great deal from the film and am thrilled others will have the opportunity to engage in both the written form as well as the cinematic portrayal of Solomon Northup's story.
For most Americans, 12 Years provided a glimpse into the humanity that inflicted and endured the institution of slavery. For many blacks, however, the experience was a sort of out-of-body, first-person experience.
McQueen's unflinching revelation of Northup's struggle to maintain his dignity under the oppressive institution of slavery is a chance for Americans to engage the conversation we so desperately need -- the conversation about the "s" word -- "slavery."