The Nose Tackles Racism, Past and Present

Nov 8, 2013

As my friend Alex Beam said today, 12 Years a Slave has a way of taking things that were abstractions and making them real. It's one thing to talk about abolition, another to see the essential need for it. Even a figure like John Brown, says Alex, looks different when you see the true carnage of slavery.

We're talking about this astonishing new Steve McQueen movie today on The Nose and we'll find it pretty easy I predict.

To segue from there to the bullying scandal in the NFL which is still one of the last places where strong young men are evaluated like livestock, highly compensated livestock, but nobody familiar with the NFL combine will fail to hear echoes of the slave trade in what is said about young players. More than that, Miami Dolphins linebacker, Richie Incognito, and Michael Fassbinder as the slaveholder Epps, often seem to be speaking each other's lines. 

Leave us your comments below, email us at colin@wnpr.org, or tweet us @wnprcolin.

You can link to Jamil's endorsement here, Rand's here, Colin's here, and Tracy recommends donating to charity or buying friends an experience this holiday season. 

Leave us your comments below, email us at colin@wnpr.org, or tweet us @wnprcolin.


  • Rand Richards Cooper is an author, freelance writer, and restaurant critic for the New York Times
  • Tracy Wu-Fastenberg is the Director of Development at The Mark Twain House and Museum
  • Jamil Ragland is the Office Coordinator at Trinity College