Cato's Way: Diary of An AWOL Colored Man’s Cash Money Overdose All Over the World
Like the previous trio of episodes, episode 4 opens with Daniel risking his neck for literacy. Last episode, Daniel read from Sojourner Truth’s 1851 speech, “Ain’t I A Woman.” This go-round Daniel reads a newspaper notice about John Brown’s imminent havoc upon the South. Daniel’s chunk of screen time is quickly overshadowed by the flashy eclipse that is Cato...Powell!
Cato is a baller, a shot-caller, a brawler...literally. He’s globally free, ruthlessly rich, and beyond borderline disrespectful. There was no learning curve for Cato, he jumped head-first into freedom and cursed karma (we still remember when he took out the big homie Zeke).Even so, in the white world he navigates, he’s little more than an invader, an intruder. He’s a glitzy glitch in the white system because he’s an international colored man with long money and dozens of muted white folks working for him. He wears paisley vests and velvet suits and sports a cocky part in his hair. He’s an aberration according to America because he’s not a slave and he’s not a beggar. He disrespects the traditional curriculum by thriving openly and brazenly. This is one colored man who ain’t never scared!
Meanwhile, Elizabeth is introduced to a new circle of radical friends who are obviously John Brown sympathizers. who believed that violent insurrection was the only way to end slavery in the United States. Brown’s inclination towards violent revolution directly conflicted with the nonviolent abolitionist movement of the North.It goes without saying that Elizabeth and her friends talk a lot...a lot. Their dialogues on-screen are lengthy (almost tedious), but they are not meaningless. To be sure, the abolitionist movement was largely and most importantly an evangelical movement focused on organizing the language of sin and repentance into an appeal aimed at persuading southern slave owners to set their bondspeople free and thereby redeem their own souls from imminent hell.
As a colored man, Cato lives in a world that pays him in pain, now he pays it back in cash. He descends on France and England and hooks up with a British Indian woman named Devi. Their relationship is both immediate and abrupt. When Devi randomly volunteers Cato for a boxing match, I immediately question her motives. I’m thinking to myself, who does that to their man? At any rate, Cato goes for it and thereafter routinely engages in fight clubs.
At the same time, Noah, who has been made instantly free, is ill-equipped for Cato’s grand shenanigans and reads him for truth when he says: “You can fool everyone else out there in the civilized world; you can fool everyone up in here, but you can’t fool me!”At the outset it appears that Cato dabbles in slave-owning and slave-selling. Yes, it is a historical fact that there were hundreds of free people of color in the United States who engaged in treason by holding in bondage their own skin kin. In fact, in owned 13 enslaved people. Metoyer’s family collectively owned 215 slaves. who collectively owned 2,195 enslaved people. By 1860, in Charleston there were 137 black slave-owners who collectively owned 544 slaves. Even if it’s hard to fathom the racial treason in which black slave-owners engaged, it is still important to remember that while slavery certainly existed as a moral blight upon the nation, this ugly institution was also a profitable business for anyone in the world willingly to dabble in the bloody enterprise of bartering flesh.
As corrupt as Cato might seem (in fact, I was ready to throw Cato in the trash after he dared Noah to trade his freedom), he has both an odd conscience and a confrontational sense of justice. Cato appears to be using his wealth in favor of his bonded brethren….to set the captive free.
We already know that Cato is an AWOL colored man binging on ego and overdosing on pride and flashy, pretty things. He’s cocky and off-the-chain with a swanky side part in his hair. This free colored man intends to sabotage the system by infiltrating it.
We await the juicy pop off because it’s going to be 100% Cato’s Way and obviously less than kosher.