My Dear Patsy in ’12 Years A Slave’

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I recently watched the film 12 Years A Slave, which chronicles the life of Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York who is abducted and sold into slavery in the 1800s.

The turning point for me occurred when Patsy, a slave favored by her master for his drunken lust, leaves the plantation to find a bar of soap (which the mistress had denied her) to wash her body because she can’t stand the smell of herself.

Solomon is sent to fetch Patsy who is brutally beaten for her misbehavior until there is little skin left on her back.

Overcome by this, Patsy begs Solomon to end her life. She asks him to hold her head down in the nearby river until she stops struggling, until she gets the only kind of freedom that seems within reach. That day is described by Northup as "the darkest day of mankind."

This particular scene evokes heavy emotion both in the book and on/off screen. Patsy is traumatically bonded to the people who caused her the most harm. She loathes them but loves them at the same time. And, her pain resonates throughout the film.

It is important for us to remember that the events depicted in 12 Years A Slave are very real and remain with us today. Like the plantation oaks witnessed slavery, the weeping willows today bear witness to human trafficking. 

Millions of girls and women all over the world are trapped and calling out to us.

Let us unify for our dear Patsy.

- LISTEN to the entire audiobook of Twelve Years A Slave by Solomon Northup for free: at

Dr. Kim

Dr. Kimberly S. Clay, aka Dr. Kim, is Executive Director and founder of Dallas-based charity, Play Like A Girl!®. On a mission to inspire women and girls across the globe to live a happy, healthy and active lifestyle, Dr. Kim has set out to finally triumph in her own struggle with obesity by creating what she calls her "best me yet" in 2014-15. Sisterbration is the space she has dedicated to documenting the journey and her musings.

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