This was one of the most absurd shows that I've ever watched. And that's saying something, because I've seen lots of shows from many different countries.
This Spanish-language Netflix series, Always a Witch, is the coming-of-age story of a beautiful, good-natured young witch named Carmen (played by Angely Gaviria, shown to the right.)
Carmen Eguiluz is an enslaved afro-Columbian living in Cartagena in the mid-1600s. She has been accused by one of her white enslavers of being a witch because her enslaver's son, Cristobal De Aranoa, is "in love" with her. Her enslavers are convinced that their wElL-bReD, ashy son couldn't possibly love her if he was in his right mind, so they are convinced he has been bewitched. When we meet her, she is being burned at the stake.
Time is warped a lot in this show. On the day of her execution, Carmen meets a more experienced wizard who gives her instructions about how to time-travel in exchange for her doing him a couple of favors. Aldemar (the wizard) tells her that she might be able to achieve her goals (of saving herself and her mom) along the way. A quick study, Carmen uses her time-travelling powers to escape being burned to death. She finds herself in the future (present-day Cartagena), amidst strange technologies, social customs, and clothes. She adjusts quickly and flourishes. By defeating her adversaries and passing through a series of trials, Carmen realizes her potential as a top-tier lineage witch. She also fulfils her heart's desire to rescue her mother (also a top-tier lineage witch) from being killed.
There are lots of ways in which racism played itself out in this series, but I'm going to focus on the racism in the inter-racial relationships built through slavery in Season 1, Episode 8 below:
From this scene, we can pinpoint four race-rooted transgressions/issues:
1) The Entire Clip: This scene supports the one of the most beloved pieces of racist disinformation of all time: that slavery "wasn't that bad" or that some enslaved people "had a good time"/"were treated well". (In fact, I recall a teacher saying so to me in a high school classroom.) Need another example? You can see this disinformation in the Disney film: Songs of the South.
Let me make this clear. And I'll tell y'all like I told that teacher of mine in high school: It doesn't matter if an enslaved person was raised in Buckingham Palace with a silver spoon in their mouth. Enslavement is enslavement. It is the most derelict, horrendous, and pathetic space for a human to have to exist in. Nothing else even comes close.
2) The White Female Enslaver Gives A Gift (A Necklace) To One Of The Enslaved: This scene highlights another favorite racist (capitalist, too) tactic: disproportionate compensation for service. The talking point goes like this: "I just gave you a gift! Don't say I never did anything for you!" Another popular rendition of this tactic is: "Hey, don't complain! We pay (compensate) you! Just keep your mouth shut!"
Sound familiar? It should, because this is what many BIPOC in entertainment, (especially in sports) are told. People of Non-Color feel that when they cOmPeNsAtE BIPOC, that they have put a gag-order on them as well. LMAO: It's like a non-disclosure agreement isn't it?
Here's an example from Laura Ingram telling Labron James to "shut up and dribble":
Here is our former president's (Donald J. Trump's) arguably more subtle version (an implied "shut up and play"). He was referencing the kneel-at-the-national-anthem movement started by Colin Kaepernick:
3) The Propaganda That There Is An Positive Linear Relationship Between Temporality and Morality: I'm not one to really support the weak talking point that as time moves forward we (humans) get more morally "sound". However, I do think that it's true that as time goes by, we get more evidence of what is not morally sound (just from the sheer number of recorded social transgressions and the subsequent outrage over these misdeeds). It's information that's out there. Why shouldn't it be put to good use? This drama was released on Netflix as an original series in 2020. It's clear that there must not have been any research on what shouldn't be done, or any acknowledgement of social climate when this scene was created. This is the 5th or 6th Spanish-language drama that I have seen in which the producers/directors showed themselves to be social troglodytes.
4) The Propaganda of Incremental Change Over Time To Shift From Overt Oppressive (More Authoritarian) Systems To More Covert (More Egalitarian) Oppression Systems Being "Meritorious": We see the young white man walking with one of the enslaved men. He's making (what turned out to be) false statements about how he's going to free them all when he becomes the master of the house.
Let's decode that.
What he's really saying is this:
"You know what? I like y'all. And because I like y'all, I'm gonna do yall a favor: I'm gonna free y'all one day. Just you wait and see! When my parents (likely, my dad) dies, I'll free y'all to show my magnanimity! Just be patient, and continue to be a good slave until then, alright? It'll all pay off!"
We also see the young white male exercising two whitemanisms: 1) He put his arm over the shoulders of the Black man (a subjugation move when it happens between whites and non-whites). After saying the nonsense that he did about "freeing them all", he: 2) kissed the enslaved Black man on the head! (Let's not get into how sick it was that they instructed the Black actors to appear merry during this ridiculous party.) In what world is kissing a grown man on the head not a form of subjugation--or at least a comment of superiority in a hierarchy in the Americas???
Let's wrap up with portions of some other (astute) observations from others about the show: