ROOTS by Delina Hill-Brooker

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There’s been some conversations and debates about the remake of Alex Haley’s Roots. I’ve done a live Facebook video discussing some of my thoughts, but I wanted to address it here as well.

For the record, just in case you were wondering, I’m not an angry Black woman, I’ve just been informed and enlightened and once you’ve experienced a change such as this, you simply just can’t let it go or turn back.

Some argue that Roots is, just another movie about slavery. Let’s talk about that. Are there really that many RECENT movies about slavery? It used to be that the only roles that Black people could get were those of slaves or in a domesticated role. We are still lacking in a lot of the lead roles in Hollywood, but we have come a long way from where we were. Other than Underground, 12 Years a Slave and the remake of Roots I can’t think of any recent movies or TV shows that are out (excluding documentaries). There’s a few points to make here:

If these are the only recent shows the younger generation is not likely to watch the older movies. I’ll come back to more about the younger generation later.

Even if there were an over saturation of slave movies, what’s wrong with one more, especially one that’s based off of a true story? But if we’re being honest, there’s an over saturation of everything BUT the truth about our people. Sports, not so reality – reality shows, politics, crime, religion, homosexuality, scandals, Lauryn Hill being late and Beyonce getting in Formation with hot sauce in her bag!

I agree, there needs to me more positive shows about Black people and with Black people in the leading roles. But let me ask you this, do you faithfully go out and support independent and big screen films written by or staring Black people? If not, instead of complaining start there. Money follows the demand. If we aren’t supporting what’s already out there the majors won’t be willing to put up the money for these productions or others. (If you’re not part of the solution then you’re part of the problem).

Why is it even a discussion? Why are so many people so upset or vocal about this? We should be honored that we can grab ahold to a little bit of truth even if it may not be from our direct blood line. We should be happy that even though they tried to hush us Kunta’s story, our story keeps living on.

Some argue that it’s more of the same thing that they already knew. To that I say this, when you read your Bible, do you not learn something different? This version of Roots was totally different than the others. They kept a lot of certain “popular” scenes, but there was a lot more historical content about Kunta, his tribe in Africa as well as more in depth facts about things that were going on in America like the war, free slaves. Even if you know a lot about Black history, American history, your history, you can always learn more. Doctors, lawyers and teachers are always learning more, and a reminder or refresher is good. It’s not to dwell on the past, it’s so we never forget, don’t get too comfortable, and remember how far we have to go. You never get tired of hearing I love you over and over, you should feel the same way about your history. We should watch it so that we won’t go back and not let it happen to others. The world, Americans and especially African American’s are still living through and suffering from the residual effects of slavery. I’m not sure if we will ever catch up.

This Roots made me feel so connected and in tuned with my ancestors – just like the original one. Yes some of the scenes were graphic, very graphic, like rape, beatings and hangings, but how else would you give the story justice without visually showing the truth? There’s inappropriate content in everyday radio and television that can be uncomfortable to see or hear, especially in front of our children.

When I was in school I got the watered down version of slavery and Black history. I can only imagine what they are getting now. This generation needs a “new” perspective so they can also hold a version of the truth. I did not let my 8 and 10 year old watch, mostly because of the rape scenes. I will and do discuss parts of our history with them and I go more in depth the more that I feel that they are able to effectively absorb.

Plants need roots in order to grow and flourish. A relationship without roots will not last. You need roots when you’re networking roots. Roots are essential to our survival as people. And if you don’t know where you’ve been, then you definitely don’t know where you’re going.

I am thankful for Roots for many reasons, but the biggest one is that rather you watched it or not, it sparked a conversation. That’s EXACTLY what we need. More conversations.

Share your thoughts with me. Let’s talk.

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