Run For It: Stories Of Slaves Who Fought For Their Freedom, by Marcelo D’Salete
This is the sort of book that is designed to appeal to contemporary sensibilities of self-hating whites and blacks who want to point to the dignity and bravery of Afro-Brazilians in the face of the brutality of slavery. I tend to have a strongly different political worldview than the person who wrote/illustrated this particular work, which takes Brazilian stories about slaves and turns them into manga. This book appears to be aimed at those who would want to read affirming and somewhat dark stories about the oppression of Brazilian slaves and their attempts to rise above it, mostly through flight and fight or some combination of the two, but who do not read too well and simply want to see dramatic and compelling images. As might be expected, this book paints the blacks as sympathetic even when they do terrible things and paints whites less sympathetically. This is lamentable and certainly blamable but not particularly surprising given the sort of mentality that people have these days when it comes to the way to frame issues like slavery. It is easy to make villains of slaveowners while not recognizing that it is not only power that makes men turn dark.
This is a book, therefore, that I cannot wholeheartedly recommend but one which I think is at least interesting in what it reveals about the way that issues like slavery are framed. I tend not to think of the characters here particularly well at all. One of the main characters kills his partner who feels reluctant about trying to escape and then drowns himself in the Atlantic Ocean while trying to swim back to his African homeland. Another almost kills another slave seeking freedom because the other slave doesn’t have anti-Christian tattoos and is viewed as a potential snitch on the revolt. That isn’t a brave or noble act. Still another one of the stories involves various stories about fictitious creatures that are present in the forests, and involves the burning of a plantation. The end result of this book is somewhat disappointing, in that it takes stories from Brazilian history and doesn’t do much to them except for turn them into a manga that is easier to read while preserving only their political message and not any sort of text that would make the material deeper or more compelling. There are certainly many who would like this story, though, and will appreciate its framing more than I do.