Octavia’s Kindred

Blog Assignment # 6
Brandon Hughes

I had a few different reactions to Octavia E. Butler’s graphic novel, Kindred. At first I was enjoying it. The pace much more to my liking than her slower paced novel Fledgling and I appreciated that. I appreciated the concept of the story too, going back in time and whatnot. My strongest reaction, however, came when Dana was beaten the first time. Then the second. Envisioning us getting beaten beatings bothers royally. That’s why I feel when anyone mentions they hate “slave movies” what they are really saying—at least in the conversations I’ve had with people who say this—is they are tired of seeing ANY movie with black slaves in it. They are tired of the reminder. Tired of seeing themselves beaten, degraded, belittled, submissive to the white man’s authority. They get it, or think they do. The visual is painful, and they don’t want to watch how we used to be, no matter what the movie is ultimately about.
When I think of slavery in America, one of the first things I think of is how we were whipped, tortured physically by another person. Now I’ve had discussions with many people—I’m talking ever since elementary school—about what we’d do if we were ever beaten by white slave masters. And we’d always say, “Man, if that was me I woulda,” or “That wouldn’tna happened to me, shoot.” Now, given our young minds, our few years of life, maybe we wouldn’t have known what we would’ve done. However, after reading Kindred as an adult and knowing how Dana was able to travel back in time as a grown-up, I can say I have more of a grasp on what I would do, based on a more seasoned mind.
With Dana’s ability, she was able to bring her husband with her just by them touching one another. There is nowhere I can think of in the story where she could not have brought people forward in time with her. Like the slaves. This would have been one of the first things I would have tried, thereby changing the whole story.
When it came to the whippings, I, Brandon Hughes, would have certainly fought back and did my best to kill the oppressor and hide the body. I would have smuggled more than a knife like Dana did. Where’s the chopper? Hand me the .223 I would have went to each plantation, gathering men and women who were down for the cause, with more artillery, more weapons, and an advantage because I know how some of history turned out ahead of time. And Rufus could kiss my ass.
There is so much new-age medicine and poison that we know about (even in the ’70’s) that could’ve been taken back in time to kill these slave masters, man. And if I could smuggle the slaves forward in time, I would’ve assembled a plan. Like Nate Parker’s Birth of a Nation. Not only would I have fought back, but there were some who did. Salute.