I have spent a lot of evenings recently watching the rebroadcast of the Roots television series. Many people my age claim they can’t watch the series because of the way our ancestors were treated in the fictionalized show that depicted the early days of writer Alex Haley’s family.
Well, I say the way Blacks were treated on Roots is pretty much the same way African Americans are treated today. We’re still regarded as inferior, we’re still regarded as lazy and shiftless, we’re still regarded as unintelligent and we’re still regarded as being less of men and women than our white neighbors in America.
I watched Roots to see how we survived slavery. On the show and in real life, blacks were beaten, hanged, lynched, castrated, decapitated, whipped, raped, slapped and scorned.
We survived in spite of slaves who loved their slave masters more than they loved themselves. We survived in spite of slaves who would help the slave masters more than they helped each other.
And, we survived even though our families were bought, sold and separated from each other and never seen again as a complete family.
As strange as it may seem, the characters in Roots came to life on the screen and many of those same type characters are living today. Too many African Americans right now think they can’t do anything without the blessings and assistance from the offspring of slave masters.
We can’t work unless we work for the white man, we can’t speak unless we speak the words of the white man and the way the white man wants us to speak. We can’t stand unless the white man wants us to stand and we can’t fight unless the white man wants us to fight.
Yes, we have some Fiddlers, Toms, Jemimas and Jezebels running around today telling us to bow down and accept whatever treatment people in power want us to have.
They tell us every day to turn the other cheek when we’re slapped with oppression, when we’re hit with exploitation and when we’re punched with brutality by the very people who swore under oath to protect and serve all Americans.
I don’t expect people my age to watch or to like the Roots television series but you should encourage Black children and youth to watch the show on TV or DVD.
Everything is not cool! You can say your white friends and co-workers are not like the whites portrayed on Roots. But you can also say that many white people and white families benefited from slavery via free labor, land grabs, unsolved killings and denial of voting and other basic human rights.
My children know about my past and the past lives of other African Americans who were subjected to the terrible times of slavery because I told them about it.
If you’re afraid to talk to your children about black history and African history at least you can let them watch Roots. Perhaps they will be motivated and inspired to be strong, brave men and women and to never give up because the struggle continues even after the TV show is over.