Television

Remake of Roots Doesn't Sugarcoat the Evils of Slavery

A modern audience won't be shielded from the violence.

|

"Roots"
"Roots," History Channel

Roots. History Channel, Lifetime, A&E. Monday, May 30, 9 p.m.

It's practically impossible to describe the concussive impact of the original Roots, a miniseries following four generations of a slave family in the Deep South, when it appeared on ABC in January 1977. At a time when television drama treated social and political flashpoints as a live minefield to be tip-toed through if they couldn't be avoided altogether, it took a head-first leap into the question of race that its own executives feared was suicidal. The immersive programming strategy—12 hours over eight nights—wasn't intended to boost Roots' exposure but minimize it. ABC desperately wanted to get what its executives believed to be the biggest bomb since Hiroshima out of the way before it could destroy network's performance in the crucial February ratings sweeps.

Instead, Roots held the nation mesmerized for its entire run. Thirty million households watched every night, the audience steadily growing until an astonishing 71 percent of TV sets in use were tuned to the final episode. (In a parallax-view irony defying the use of adjectives, that performance broke the previous record of 65 percent—for the first television showing of Gone With The Wind.) Newspapers were abloom with stories quoting white viewers about how Roots had given them a whole new understanding of slavery, which though arguably a damning indictment of American public education is also a testament to one of the fundamental purposes of art, to see the experiences of others through different eyes. Almost incidentally, Roots remapped the television landscape, encouraging the networks to drop their bland-leading-the-bland programming approach and making the blockbuster miniseries a TV staple for the next 15 years. (Among them, Roots: The Next Generation, a hugely popular 1979 ABC production that follows the family's descendants into the 1960s.)

The point of remaking such a landmark show, at first glance, is far from clear. Whatever may be said about the Black Lives Matter movement or the eight White House years of America's first black president, we clearly suffer no dearth of national conversation about race. And, following the dissolution of the old three-network television cartel and the economic model that went with it, it's inconceivable that the new Roots that airs four consecutive nights starting on Monday will achieve either the ratings or the financial success of the original. (Not for lack of trying; the show will air simultaneously on three networks of the A&E cable empire.)

For all that, this Roots is, at least in certain respects, superior to its ancestor. Judging TV shows or films outside the context of their own time is always risky; it can be difficult to appreciate the fact that I Love Lucy invented the template for the television sitcom while you're watching an old episode in which Ricky gleefully spanks his wife.

Roots defied so many conventions of its time—focusing mainly on black characters in a story in which the principal villain is America itself—that it seems somewhat churlish to criticize it for the ones it observed. But there's no denying that the 1977 Roots doesn't play nearly as well today, marred by sentimentalism and overeliance on Hallmarkish romantic moments. Roots pushed the TV-drama envelope hard, but it didn't run it through the shredder.

This new production, by contrast, is relentless in displaying the totalitarian brutality of American slavery. Whether limbs are being shattered, or families, there isn't a frame of Roots that isn't colored by the ghastly dynamics of a system in which one set of human beings is owned by another. For all the appallingly greusome scenes of whippings, lynchings, murders and rapes, the most heartbreaking single scene to me was one in which a little white plantation daughter's owner comes to the defense of her playmate, the child of her slave maid, who's being threatened by an unhinged and possibly pedophilic religious fanatic. "Leave her alone!" shrieks the white girl. "She's mine!"

Like its predecessor, Roots is based on the best-selling 1976 book by journalist Alex Haley that was originally presented as the tale of his own family tree, derived from oral histories. (After a slew of plagiarism lawsuits and unfavorable archival investigations, it's now widely regarded as a historical novel.) The story follows a young West African warrior named Kunta Kinte kidnapped by a rival tribe in the mid-17th century and sold into the North American slave trade. Surviving—barely—the passage to the New World, he finally lands on a Virginia tobacco plantation.

Each night's episode revolves around a different member of the family line and his or her resistance to slavery. Kunta Kinte (BBC veteran Malachi Kirby) practices an open defiance that is wearied, but never quite broken, by the plantation's brutal response. His daughter, Kizzy (played by newcomer Emyri Crutchfield as young woman and The Good Wife's Anika Noni Rose as she ages), counts on escape through her friendship with a white plantation heiress. Grandson Chicken George (British stage actor Regé-Jean Page) hopes to buy his freedom with his winnings from gambling hustles. And great-grandson Tom (another newcomer, Sedale Threatt Jr.) bobs and weaves through competing demands of the Union and Confederate armies as the Civil War begins.

What remains constant, no matter which character takes center stage or what strategy is being employed, is the crushing hopelessness of the situation. When Kunta Kinte, pondering escape, asks another slave which direction is north, the reply is succinct: "Just follow the dead niggers hanging from the trees." After learning the literal truth of that aphorism, Kunta Kinte resigns himself to a resistance that's intellectual rather than physical. "Why are you running so fast?" he murmurs to an unruly horse consigned to his care. "All you'll find is trouble."

The bottom line in Roots is that whites, regardless of economic class, political circumstance or seeming propensity to simple human decency, believe their economic and physical security are inextricably tied to slavery, and they have no compunction in its enforcement. One of the most striking differences in this Roots is that nearly all of the original's sympathetic Caucasian characters, who were mostly invented to make the TV production less assaultive on white viewers' sensibilities, have been eliminated. RIP, Captain Davies, the oxymoronic slave-ship-captain-with-a-conscience played by Ed Asner in 1977.

The result is that, particularly in its first hours, this Roots can feel lethally claustrophobic, a total emotional and intellectual onslaught. That's reinforced by another change from the original, the explicitness of the gore. When Kunta Kinte was savagely whipped by an overseer in the original version audiences were conceptually horrified by the injustice and pitilessness of the act. They were mostly too distracted to take a close look at his back and see it was actually unmarked. In this production, the strips of torn flesh fly; the blood splatters; the camera lingers; the gorge rises. The many close-ups of maimed limbs and sizzling, branded skin are a constant reminder that the atrocity of slavery was not just spiritual.

It's not until midway through the second episode, as Kunta Kinte grudgingly forms emotional bonds with other slaves he's previously dismissed as submissive partners in their own victimization, that Roots starts to lose the faint whiff of a snuff film and turn into drama that is genuinely affecting, rather than merely horrifying. There are moments—for instance, when he launches a marriage proposal with a formal proclamation of his good horsemanship, in the custom of his tribe, only to be counseled by a bystander to start over and "try talkin' 'bout somethin' else"—in which it is actually funny. And that, of course, reflects the real triumph of the slaves: that amidst so much inhumanity, they retained theirs. Roots' greatest service may be in reminding us that, as we blunder through the ugly turmoil of present-day American race relations, we've survived worse.

Advertisement

NEXT: Break Up Big Seed!

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Whoever thought they needed to remake this is a racist. It was great the first time though, I believe it did affect all of us.

    1. AFAIK, it’s the son of the guy who directed the original and LeVar Burton who are responsible for the sequel.

      1. remake, not sequel. duh.

        1. A sequel would be more interesting.

          1. They already made one.

            1. Unless you mean a 3rd Roots movie which stars Sophia Coppola. I cannot endorse that.

              1. Just when I thought I was out…they pull me back in!

            2. New Jack City?

              1. “I wanna shoot you so bad my dick’s hard.”

              2. Roots: The Next Generation in 1979, and then Queen, in 1993, starring a pre-Thorton’d Halle Berry.

                And don’t mock NJC… It gave us Wesley Snipes, a true libertarian hero.

      2. and LeVar Burton

        “set phaser to love me.”

        1. “You don’t have to take my word for it”

    2. Meh. More money-grubbing than racist. Hollywood likes to remake things every generation. That’s enabled by the “eeewww, that was made like a hundred years ago” mindset.

  2. Is the remake going to be 100% fiction like the original?

    1. If I remember correctly, it did show that Africans were captured and sold off by other Africans.

      1. If they do a miniseries about the Africans and their descendants that were sold to middle eastern societies it would be 14 hours of sand blowing across an inconspicuous mass grave.

        1. Middle-eastern societies had both black and white slaves for centuries. They were dependent on them, but you’ve got a couple of comments here about them all being dead.

          IOW, what are you on about?

          1. Arabs took more slaves out of Africa for a longer period of time than Europeans did. The males were castrated and any offspring were culled, as the Arab societies generally feared the purported sexual prowess and licentiousness of the African men. After being worked beyond the point of utility, slaves were killed out of hand. Especially the African slaves that were considered unfit for breeding. If a slave had to go west or go east, his life expectancy and prospects for freedom were FAR better going west.

            For as many slaves as they took, did you never stop to wonder why you don’t see the descendants of those slaves in the Levant today?

            1. I see.

              Not sure what your purpose is, but if it’s a “white people treated their slaves better” argument, that’s a sword that swings both ways.

              IOW, people will go back and forth eternally over whether and why breeding a racially marked caste of slaves is better/worse/more-racist/less-racist than castrating and capping off the un-preferred race.

              Because – it’s worth noting – ME societies didn’t castrate/kill off all their slaves before reproduction . . .

              But these points get a little fine, in the end, don’t they?

              1. Not sure what your purpose is, but if it’s a “white people treated their slaves better” argument, that’s a sword that swings both ways.

                It’s not my purpose but that’s not wrong either. I’m not saying that any form of slavery, ever, was anything other than morally reprehensible. But compared to slavery as it was historically practiced and considering from whence the abolition of slavery eventually came, it’s clear that European societies had more moral wherewithal regarding slavery than any other society in history. It’s worth mentioning because according to the popular tally, Europeans finish last on that score.

                1. It’s not my purpose but . . . it’s clear that European societies had more moral wherewithal regarding slavery than any other society in history

                  The first part of your statement does not comport with the second very well.

                  To be clear – I sympathize with your point that Europeans didn’t invent slavery, and in fact have been one of those forces combatting slavery in the world (at times.)

                  Your crediting Europeans as being the only society to ever swear off slavery, and with having abolished slavery from the whole world (which has not yet in fact happened), is a bit revisionist.

                  1. Your crediting Europeans as being the only society to ever swear off slavery, and with having abolished slavery from the whole world (which has not yet in fact happened), is a bit revisionist.

                    According to that standard, slavery has never been abolished and could conceivably never be abolished so long as there is one single person anywhere forced to labor against their will. But on the realistic standard, that slavery is in effectively illegal everywhere on the planet, even if it’s not technically true to say there are no slaves. Notwithstanding the existence of North Korea et al.

                    Europeans, in fact, are the ones who pushed to abolish slavery everywhere on the planet, the British in particular, and had the ability to project their power across the globe. I can’t think of any other societies that did so or would have hypothetically done so were they in the technologically dominant position the Europeans were in at the time they did this.

                    1. Europeans, in fact, are the ones who pushed to abolish slavery everywhere on the planet, the British in particular

                      But this is exactly the collectivist thinking that has you on the defense here. The British went on a crusade against slavery, yes. The Americans resisted said crusade.

                      I think at root we agree that whole races of people are not responsible for the behavior of individuals.

                      I personally have never been responsible for enslaving even one single person. Nor have I ever been personally responsible for freeing even one single slave, no matter how effective the British navy may have been for stamping out the slave trade (and whatever their motivations may have been).

                      I think there’s legitimacy to pointing out that the current narrative that “there was no such thing as slavery until the evil Europeans invaded Africa and captured them all” is an utter falsehood, but to go to the opposite pole and constantly point to other societies whenever it’s mentioned and refusing to put European/American slavery on the same moral plane as other forms of slavery is, I think, what is chafing on people here.

                    2. But this is exactly the collectivist thinking that has you on the defense here. The British went on a crusade against slavery, yes. The Americans resisted said crusade.

                      I’m not on the defensive. I’m assaulting the “Europeans bad” historical narrative.

                      The Americans resisted said crusade.

                      And fought the bloodiest war this hemisphere had ever seen to resolve a dispute that started with the issue of abolition.

                      Nor have I ever been personally responsible for freeing even one single slave, no matter how effective the British

                      And I’m not condemning you or defending you, I’m standing up for the reputation of western civilization, which has a stellar record in basically every moral issue you can think of.

                      constantly point to other societies whenever it’s mentioned and refusing to put European/American slavery on the same moral plane as other forms of slavery is, I think, what is chafing on people here.

                      What I’m pointing to is a false narrative about the insurmountable evil of western civilization. The stain of slavery is on every civilization in existence, just less so on the Europeans than just about any other broad category of civilization. I hope it does chaff people. Chaffing them leads them down a road of gaining knowledge on the topic. Almost no one is aware of the Arab slave trade while basically everyone is aware of the European slave trade.

              2. Because – it’s worth noting – ME societies didn’t castrate/kill off all their slaves before reproduction .

                Correct me if I’m wrong, but that slave caste you mentioned was primarily taken from Christian slaves in the Balkans, Caucuses and Southern Europe more generally. It was the African slaves for whom outright genocide was generally reserved.

                1. Correct me if I’m wrong, but that slave caste you mentioned was primarily taken from Christian slaves in the Balkans, Caucuses and Southern Europe more generally. It was the African slaves for whom outright genocide was generally reserved.

                  Yes – that’s exactly what I’m saying.

                  The point that your garden-variety prog will raise in contrast to yours is that the North Atlantic slave trade dealt only in blacks and classified the whole race of people as essentially chattel. In the ME, slave was a social status, and more like Roman slaves, it wasn’t even necessarily that low of a social status – you could be not-a-slave and still be lower social class than someone who was a slave.

                  So my point is: it’s a fuzzy and nit-picky and ultimately probably irresolvable argument as to which civilization’s reprehensible behavior was the most reprehensible.

                  But you are correct that they were both racist against blacks.

                  1. The point that your garden-variety prog will raise in contrast to yours is that the North Atlantic slave trade dealt only in blacks and classified the whole race of people as essentially chattel. In the ME, slave was a social status, and more like Roman slaves, it wasn’t even necessarily that low of a social status – you could be not-a-slave and still be lower social class than someone who was a slave.

                    If you don’t think the Arab slave trade was racist then you really missed the boat (pun intended). That whole part about how African slaves were put down like a sick farm animal once they’d lived out their usefulness tells you that race was a component, a particularly callous one. The European’s moral philosophy was clearly different from that which predominated in Islamic societies and clearly to the benefit of Africans relative to that which they lived under in the middle east.

                    1. If you don’t think the Arab slave trade was racist then you really missed the boat

                      It helps to read all the way to the end of the post you are responding to.

                    2. Though obviously still immoral, black slaves in the west were highly valued, if you pay a lump sum for X, you try to get the most out of that purchase. When you have the Irish who you “pay as you go”, you get them to do the shittiest of the shittiest of jobs, because you haven’t lost anything.

            2. Hat tip Thomas Sowell.

      2. And that’s what’s important.

        1. Since 99% of what you hear about slavery is “white man bad, black man good”, I don’t think it hurts for him to point it out.

          1. Since it means accepting the premise of collectivized racial guilt, I’d say it actually does hurt.

            But it’s more the repeated insistence that makes it hurt. Even to a generous, neutral observer, it can start to look like it’s meant as an excuse.

            1. You have it exactly backwards. It doesn’t accept the premise, it shatters the whole premise that one race is categorically the victim of another. It’s just not that simple. The fact that a neutral observer sees it as an excuse says more about the supposedly neutral observer than it does about those whom it supposedly excuses.

      3. Except for Kunta Kinte. The crackers caught him.

    2. No, not 100% fiction. I know the descendents of some of the characters depicted.

      1. The fictional part was mostly Haley’s claim that they were HIS ancestors, if i recall correctly.

  3. Guess what Irish won’t be watching.

    1. He’ll fast forward to whipping parts.

      1. “Your name is Toby!”

        “I am Irish Commente!”

      2. With a bottle of lotion and a box of tissues handy

  4. Oh good, something on race. Was worried that we might lose sight of it on account of us being in that post-racial society and all. A reminder every 15 mins outta do it

    1. Post-racial apparently just means obsessing about transgenderism anyway.

  5. WHYCOM DOZ THEM FAGGOTS SAY SLAVRY WUZ RACIST?????

    1. You are a butthurt little prog, aren’t you?

  6. Is there any Trump angle to this? Trans-slaves?

    1. There is a black Trump who tried to build a wall around Africa to keep white people out.

      1. Didn’t work so well, did it?

      2. Black Trump? Like a jack of clubs?

      3. What was done to Africa for so many years sure seems like it could be told as another cautionary tale about the dangers of unfettered immigration.

        1. What was done to Africa for so many years sure seems like it could be told as another cautionary tale about the dangers of unfettered immigration.

          Are you under the impression that African tribes of the 17th-19th centuries were welcoming to foreigners?

        2. Colonization != Immigration

          1. I’m not sure how you can say that people who enter into America today illegally and without consent are immigrants, but people who did the same in Africa centuries ago were colonists.

            We’re supposed to have real principles here.

            1. I’m not sure how you can say that people who enter into America today illegally and without consent are immigrants, but people who did the same in Africa centuries ago were colonists.

              Do you honestly not know the difference between an immigrant and a colonist, or are you just being disingenuous?

              1. Go ahead and explain the difference between the examples he gave.

                1. An immigrant intends to join an existing nation, while a colonist intends to establish a new one or extend an existing one to new territory.

                  1. I would say that colonists are a subcategory of immigrants, myself.

                    I wonder, though, how many of the current wave of immigrants to Europe are also colonists, at least in their own minds.

  7. I’d just like to reiterate the point that Kunta Kinte is kidnapped by black Africans and sold into slavery by black Africans. I’d also point out that this was British slavery not American.

    1. All white people are the same.

      1. Even the black ones.

    2. Yes, they once again covered up the complicity of Jews.

      Phase 1: Capture Negroes
      Phase 2: ?
      Phase 3: Profits!

      1. Arabs. But thanks for inserting your me-tooism into a conversation which was going perfectly well without that.

      2. Well, to be fair, the question mark in Phase 2 does look quite a bit like a whip being cracked.

    3. You don’t have to be defensive. You’re among friends.

      1. You don’t have to be defensive. You’re among friends brutal savages that will rip you limb from limb at the merest whiff of weakness.

        If we like you.

        /FTFY

  8. I like that they are re-making it. That way we can see that a sideways glance perceived as a microagression or the fact that the Victoria’s Secret Angels don’t look like a picture of America is totally the same thing as the depredations suffered by Kunta Kinte and his family.

    1. Ta-Nehisi Coates hardest hit.

  9. African Americans take zero responsibility for the years they participated in slavery.

    Where as the native American died before becoming the white man’s slave, the African was willing to be a slave for over 400 years.

    Had the African American slave had any self respect, he would had died along with the native Indians.
    We wouldn’t have Obamacare today.

    1. This guy really gets it.

      1. What do you call the opposite of “whitewashing” something? I’m afraid the answer is probably pretty racist…

        1. Jesse, please post a link to that Japanese Laundry commercial.

          1. Crusty wouldalready did below.

            1. It’s not his gift to share.

              1. You know Crusty. He takes and he takes and he takes.

                1. Just like Winston’s mom.

          2. God, you can’t even tell different Orientals apart from each other!? That’s racist, dude.

            Chinese detergent ad

              1. The Chinaman is NOT the issue!

              2. Lame. The proper response was

                Princeton: Brian, buddy, where ya been? The term is Asian-American!
                Christmas Eve: I know you are no intending to be, but carring me “Olientarr”… offensive to me!

            1. First you-tube comment:

              still not white, wash it again.

              I giggled.

              1. Youtube commenters.
                Is there any bigger hive of scum and villainy?

                1. (looks around nervously)

              2. Remember when Abercrombie and Fitch got in trouble for this gem?

          3. Chinese.

        2. What do you call the opposite of “whitewashing” something?

          This?

          1. Nice.

            I like how both the label in the video and the description below it get ‘to’ and ‘too’ confused, but in opposite ways.

        3. What do you call the opposite of “whitewashing” something?

          Smearing it?

      2. He’s right. They totally “participated”.

    2. the native American died before becoming the white man’s slave

      Not all of them . . .

      Native Americans just weren’t considered to be any better for working cotton & sugar cane fields than white people were, and were also considered “capable of receiving civilization.”

      1. Africans were more resistant to malaria than either Indians or European indentured servants, both of which died in droves as soon as the English accidentally brought malarial mosquitoes to the American southeast.

  10. the 1977 Roots doesn’t play nearly as well today, marred by sentimentalism and overeliance on Hallmarkish romantic moments

    True stories of Racist Cat Names = we named our black housecat “Mr Tibbs“, but the original proposal was “Toby”

    I was innocent of their implications at the time, but i am guilty of finding it funny now.

    1. marred by sentimentalism and overeliance on Hallmarkish romantic moments

      It would never have gotten made if it didn’t have some redeeming moments. White America was not yet ready for Django-level depictions. “Roots” did more to improve race relations and spur a genuine reflection among white people than anything since.

      1. White America was not yet ready for Django-level depictions.

        By Django-level, I assume you mean, ‘Retarded Blaxploitation-meets-Spaghetti Western‘?

  11. The original series was awesome, I guess I should call it TOS?

    I mentioned to a black friend that I’d watched it, and she said, [in paraphrase] “OMG that’s such a white-person cliche.” That wasn’t meant as a compliment, but consider the significance of so many white people watching and appreciating a drama about the horrors of slavery – to such an extent that it becomes a cliche! That last work to do this was Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and Lincoln blamed *that* for the Civil War.

    Roots didn’t start a war, but it made awareness of slavery fairly commonplace.

    Now the question is between those who say things Haven’t Really Changed and we’re still under a reign of White Supremacy, and those who say that the contrast between now and then is the contrast between day and night, and on this specific issue, we’re light years ahead of early America.

    1. We’re light-years ahead of every society and every culture of ever color on every continent for the first 5,000 years of human civilization when it comes to slavery and human rights. That’s an invalid opinion because I’m just the oppressor class though, I guess.

      1. The Arabs aren’t oppressor class though. They didn’t let any of their slaves or their descendants live long enough to complain about oppression. So they get a pass.

        1. Yeah, the Arabs sucked even worse. Not sure why that needs to be mentioned repeatedly every time the subject of slavery in the Americas and the Atlantic slave trade comes up.

          1. It a) absolves white people somehow and b) makes sure to remind you that Muslims are scary. It’s a twofer!

          2. To show that white people even do slavery better! Duh.

              1. I say quitting means white people still did it better.

          3. Zeb, the reason the involvement of Arabs in the Triangle Trade is brought up so frequently is that it is often, pardon the phrase, whitewashed out of the narrative. The hardcore anti-white racist blacks (ie, Nation of Islam) claim that this is all the fault of the white man (by which they specifically mean ethnic europeans) and give a total pass to the arabs.

            Sug, this has been going on since before 9/11, so not about anti-muslim animus so much as ensuring that everyone gets his fair share of blame. The complicity of black african chiefs and kings in this trade has also been conveniently forgotten.

            I shouldn’t have to say this, but none of the above is to be taken as a defense of, or apology for, the horrors of slavery. This is about wanting an honest conversation.

            1. Couldn’t agree more. If people want to talk about history, then talk about history. Don’t selectively carve pieces of the story to make for a convenient narrative.

            2. Sug, this has been going on since before 9/11, so not about anti-muslim animus so much as ensuring that everyone gets his fair share of blame.

              I know. I mean now it’s a twofer. Look at DD flipping out down thread.

            3. And if someone is whitewashing the story, then it should be pointed out.

          4. The narrative that white people basically invented slavery can’t be destroyed fast enough. Though the progs who love to wallow in victimhood, like the posters in this sub-thread, just can’t fathom that the Atlantic slave trade isn’t the worst thing in the history. The west had the moral wherewithal to abolish slavery world-wide, much to the chagrin of societies and tribes in the middle east and Africa.

            When I see blacks protesting, demanding recognition and making movies about how their brethren were treated so poorly in the middle east, then I’ll forgo telling anyone about the particularly acute horrors of the Arab slave trade as I get my millionth dose of white guilt spoon fed to me.

          5. Well on the other hand, the institution is still technically condoned in some societies/countries – unlike the West.

      2. right? I don’t know how everybody misses that. It is fucking embarrassing that with a founding document declaring everyone’s equality it took a couple generations to recognize black people’s humanity, but at least in comparison to the population at the time most people have been slaves for most of history. you could almost say that slavery is man’s natural state.

    2. Inform your friend that she probably would not be your friend, and probably not able to have that convo with a white person if it wasn’t for “Roots” and the actual soul-searching that series enabled in many white people.

      1. What do you think they found in their souls?

          1. “This Jeff Beck album really cooks!” [sips from glass of 2% milk]

        1. Sadness and a bit of queasiness, at least for me.

      2. I haven’t seen it. Is my soul beyond redemption?

        1. Depends on how old you are. If you are under 50, having seen Do the Right Thing counts.

          1. Ugh, no wonder I’m libertarian

      3. This is seriously retarded. White people just wouldn’t talk to blacks if it wasn’t for a 70’s miniseries. If only there was a way to check and see if whites and blacks ever talked before. Guess we’ll never know.

        1. Actually they did – some of us anyway.

          1. Does “Toby, you better pick more cotton or we’ll whip you again” count as whites and blacks talking?

  12. I am so glad to see this. I had almost forgotten that I can never be cleansed of the original sin of American slavery even though my grandfather’s grandfather came to the US in the aftermath of the great Irish famine and had nothing to do with owning or selling blacks in this country.

    1. I had almost forgotten that I can never be cleansed of the original sin of American slavery

      Not only that, but white people get ashy skin too, you’re just gross and you pretend you don’t.

      1. I have been educated. Thanks so much for that one. Ashy season is over, next comes salty season. But I will remember this when the next ashy season starts.

    2. …same here, even though my grandfather’s grandfather was driven from North Carolina to Oklahoma on the Trail of Tears (by President Obama’s grandfather’s grandfather ironically enough).

      1. And by one of Elizabeth Warren’s ancestors.

  13. Hollywood needs to keep making slavery movies. What other roles are there for black actors?

      1. Foreign racism. Nothing better to put homegrown “racism” in perspective!!

    1. I hear Jello needs a new spokesman.

  14. I think instead of a repeat following a black families history from slavery to the 60’s it would have been much more interesting and relevant to follow a black family from the 60’s to today.

    1. They could just do a biography of Bill Cosby.

    2. I’d say extend that back a bit further, say from 1915 or so until the election of the current president.

    3. If they did that, they’d have to admit what an abject failure the War on Poverty and Drugs has been.

  15. The makers of the movie Robots should sue. All they did was take the b out.

    1. *Something, something* and inserts the D
      /cues laugh track

  16. The real and most important life lessons to take away from the history of the trans-Atlantic slave trade:

    1) Wide open and undefended territory is extremely dangerous, and leaves you highly vulnerable. Always make sure your tribe/property/country/borders are very well defended against hostile, outside aggressors.

    2) It’s better to die on your feet than to live on your knees. Life as a slave absolutely sucks, so make certain nothing like that ever happens to you.

    3) Corollaries to both 1 and 2: being personally disarmed leaves you extremely vulnerable. Always be armed with the best available weaponry you can get your hands on. That way, when some dirtbag comes to try and take away your personal liberty and freedom without your due process of law, you have a much better chance of killing him instead.

    1. Your fantasies are so lurid.

      1. Pot, kettle…LOL

      1. Would if she were more stout.

      2. Eddie I for the win!

        And, I’ll take cake, please.

      3. +1 Executive Transvestite

    2. 1) The problem came from people already INSIDE the border willing to enslave you and sell you to people OUTSIDE the border.

      3) Weird, until you reminded me here, I had totally forgotten all about 15th century tribal Africa’s strict and rigid gun control laws.

      1. I had totally forgotten all about 15th century tribal Africa’s strict and rigid gun control laws.

        Don’t forget their open-borders policies!

      2. Traitors and collaborators should rightly be treated as the enemy, given that they’re working with the enemy.

        1. Traitors to whom? Most of the slaves sold by west African kingdoms were actually POWs captured in combat with rival tribes. This caused problems in, for example, Brazil, where Portuguese colonists discovered that their African slaves were often former military leaders who were willing and able to run off into the jungle and wage guerrilla wars that lasted decades.

    3. Buffalo soldier, dreadlock rasta:
      There was a buffalo soldier in the heart of america,
      Stolen from africa, brought to america,
      Fighting on arrival, fighting for survival.

      I mean it, when I analyze the stench –
      To me it makes a lot of sense:
      How the dreadlock rasta was the buffalo soldier,
      And he was taken from africa, brought to america,
      Fighting on arrival, fighting for survival.

      Said he was a buffalo soldier, dreadlock rasta –
      Buffalo soldier in the heart of america.

      If you know your history,
      Then you would know where you coming from,
      Then you wouldn’t have to ask me,
      Who the ‘eck do I think I am.

      I’m just a buffalo soldier in the heart of america,
      Stolen from africa, brought to america,
      Said he was fighting on arrival, fighting for survival;
      Said he was a buffalo soldier win the war for america.

      Dreadie, woy yoy yoy, woy yoy-yoy yoy,

  17. The story follows a young West African warrior named Kunta Kinte

    I thought his name was Toby. *ducks*

  18. So black people in America a hundred fifty years ago were treated exactly how millions of black people in Africa are treated today by other black people.

    1. THEY DO IT TO THAT MAKES IT OKAY.

    2. Time for a March to the Sea Madagascar?

      1. Probably not, since Madagascar was originally settled by people from Borneo.

    3. Yep and whites in North America treated Indians the same way Indians treated other Indian tribes, but it was only evil when whites did it.

      It’s like hate crimes on a larger scale. If you’re going to commit a crime you better make sure they’re the same race as you.

      1. Unless you’re German….

  19. When Roots came out, I was all of six years old. But, I can understand the significance Garvin is talking about. Until then the prevailing culture didn’t talk much about how awful slavery was.

    Now let me ask a question. Is that at all the case today? Or have we been bludgeoned over the head to the point of numbness with never-ending discussions of race in America? Remember all the talk about how electing a black president was going to mean that we’d finally achieved a post-racial society? How’s that worked out for us?

    It seems to me the interminable discussion’s only made matters worse.

    1. If we’re always told to be on the lookout for impacts of racism and slavery, guess what we’ll always be able to find?

    2. I think you will find that the most anger about this comes from people resenting those who have moved on to that post-racial society. Because a post-racial society has no permanent victim class.

      1. I think you might well be on to something. If you’re running around a college campus throwing a tantrum about how you’re systemically oppressed, maybe you ought to think over your definition of oppression.

    3. How do you know how much it was talked about if you were 6. Most people probably don’t talk to 6 year olds about slavery. I’m also not sure how talking is such an accomplishment. There is plenty of talking about gender, not much talking about the Irish famine. The one not talked about seems to have healthier attitudes, or at least not be inundated with crazy people.

  20. Judging TV shows or films outside the context of their own time is always risky; it can be difficult to appreciate the fact that I Love Lucy invented the template for the television sitcom while you’re watching an old episode in which Ricky gleefully spanks his wife.

    Alpha Ricardo.

    1. That’s Longtorso’s primary ‘bate fuel.

    2. So you’re saying they have some…
      [dons sunglasses]
      …’splaining to do.

    3. Ricky gleefully spanks his wife

      YouTube clip, pls.?

  21. Are Lonesome Dove and The Day After going to be remade as well? What about some of those educational afterschool specials? My point: this is racism, straight-up.

    1. Or the Very Special Episode of Diff’rent Strokes when the pedophile from the bike shop is after Arnold.

      1. I like it. Change “bike shop” to “national sandwich chain” and you have yourself a remake.

    2. What about some of those educational afterschool specials?

      Kristy McNichol? Jodie Foster? Kari Michaelsen?

      yeah, I fapped to those.

  22. See the true nature of capitalism on Roots by watching the History Channel, Lifetime, A&E, starting Monday, May 30, 9 p.m.

  23. The point of remaking such a landmark show, at first glance, is far from clear. Whatever may be said about the Black Lives Matter movement or the eight White House years of America’s first black president, we clearly suffer no dearth of national conversation about race.

    The point is to keep milking “white guilt” for all it’s worth. Even though only about 5% of white Americans owned slaves doesn’t matter, there’s money to be made making all white people feel guilty. Although Muslims enslaved and killed more blacks than the Europeans did, they don’t feel guilty about it so there’s no money to be made from them.

    1. I’m curious – did any other group of people besides white Europeans enslave black Africans?

      1. Honestly I wonder if you asked a poll question like this what percentage would answer yes.

    2. Or maybe an American audience is more likely to be interested in American history than Arab history.

      I guess white guilt is part of the marketing strategy, but I just don’t get that. Why should people feel guilty about things that happened before they were born? We aren’t our ancestors.

      1. Or maybe it’s because society treats slavery like it’s white peoples original sin, and maybe a movie that just shows whites enslaving blacks furthers that extremely racist narrative.

        It’s like if someone did a mini-series on Jewish banking.

        BTW do we ever talk about white slaves in North America. Sure they may have been called indentured servants, but it was the exact same thing, and many of them endured harsher conditions then their black counterparts.

        We obsess over black slaves, we even built a holocaust museum in the United States despite the fact that it happened over in Europe, but the white slaves, these victims have been completely forgotten. Hell the Turks are probably more open about the Armenian genocide.

        1. Sure they may have been called indentured servants, but it was the exact same thing

          One small distinction: indentured servants were freed after a set period of years (generally seven), and their children were not born into servitude.

          1. True, but they were equally brutalized, in some cases worse because you only had them for such a short time, the African slave was considered more valuable because of that, and Irishmen aren’t exactly designed for cutting sugarcane in the Caribbean. Their trip across the Atlantic wasn’t much more pleasant, plenty died along the way too.

            And since we’re on the subject North American Indians were kept as slaves too, and they also owned slaves.

            Basically slavery in the Americas isn’t the black and white issue that it is usually treated as.

            1. Basically slavery in the Americas isn’t the black and white issue that it is usually treated as.

              Indeed – a good percentage of the black population of Oklahoma was brought there as slaves by relocated native tribes from Arkansas and Tennessee.

        2. Indentured servitude was more like temporary serfdom than actual chattel slavery. Chattel slaves are, effectively, livestock, not temporary serfs.

          It would be interesting to read an overview of the different types of servitude throughout history. My vague understanding is that different societies had different kinds of slavery that weren’t necessarily full chattel slavery.

    3. That and there is absolutely nobody alive today that owned slaves in the USA.

      1. I’ve heard some pretty skeezy rumors about some of your oil sheikhs and their retinues, even in the US. But that’s probably more “effectively” enslaved than legally chattel slavery.

  24. The problem with all of this is that whites were the last people to get involved in the African slave trade, and the first people to get out of it, but for some reason whites are supposed to take all the blame for it.

    1. How else are you going to attack free market? The facts show capitalism and/or free trade has brought more people more wealth than any government program in human history.

      “They” Must bash free market with anything that sticks and racism is a doozy.

      1. ‘Cause nothing says “free” like slavery.

        1. And nothing says slavery like government interference in free markets.

          You couldn’t have slavery without government suppression of the rights of man.

    2. While I agree that too few people really get the extent to which black Africans, Arabs and others were involved int eh slave trade, I’m not sure that’s a problem with Roots. It’s about Slavery in America. Which was absolutely evil, even if there were worse instances of institutionalized slavery in history, which there were. I think it’s OK to make a show about American slavery without including the world-wide history of slavery. People are interested in the history of their own countries and this is aimed at an American audience.

      1. They’re were white slaves that were part of that history, mostly during the early colonial era, but nobody talks about them. It’s been simplified in the public mind as literally a black/white issue. I feel like this issue has become almost a white version of the old Jewish blood libel. It’s treated too much like whitey’s original sin.

        And most of what the public knows about history comes straight out of Hollywood. People are dumb as hell.

      2. I think it’s OK to make a show about American slavery without including the world-wide history of slavery. People are interested in the history of their own countries and this is aimed at an American audience.

        But slavery wasn’t an “American” thing. It was introduced by the British (and the Spanish), and it was primarily a thing of a Southern elite of landowners descended from the British upper classes.

        It is difficult to see why American “whites”, who fought hard and sacrificed to end slavery, should continue to take the blame for the crimes of a Southern elite minority, in particular since the vast majority of whites today are descended from immigrants who arrived in the US entirely after slavery was over.

        1. What difference does it make if it was introduced by the British? That’s like excusing the Soviets for communism because it was invented by a German.

          1. What difference does it make if it was introduced by the British?

            It means the British are morally and legally responsible for slavery in the US; Americans strove to get rid of slavery as soon as the US was founded.

            That’s like excusing the Soviets for communism because it was invented by a German.

            No, it is not at all like that. The Soviet Union didn’t acquire communism by being the successor state to a German territory. The US got saddled with slavery by being a successor state to a British territory that already had slavery.

            What you are doing is like blaming modern Poland for the Nazi camps that used to be on its soil.

      3. It’s about Slavery in America.

        And if it started when he got off the boat, that would be fine. But it doesn’t – it starts in Africa, and it badly misrepresents the African end of the slave trade.

      4. The indoctrinators’ dream of a system that has no means of comparing it with anything else. This sets up the perfect narrative of the nation being the “most evil people ever”.

    3. The problem with all of this is that whites were the last people to get involved in the African slave trade, and the first people to get out of it, but for some reason whites are supposed to take all the blame for it.

      And it wasn’t “all whites”, it was mainly British elite society and their descendants. The majority of Americans were opposed to slavery from the founding.

  25. “Newspapers were abloom with stories quoting white viewers about how Roots had given them a whole new understanding of slavery, which though arguably a damning indictment of American public education…”

    Kind of a high standard isn’t it? The school must teach them about all of human history to a depth that any detailed 12-hour drama cannot improve on their understanding of any particular topic?

    I figure if they learned slavery happened then the teachers did their job.

  26. The commentariat has been overrun by the alt-right. I blame Trump.

      1. Every election season it seem to gets really crazy around which is saying a lot because, hell, this is hitnrun.

  27. I was part of the smaller-than-I-realized percentage of ‘murca who did NOT watch this when it first aired back in the 70’s. Nor did I read the book. I distinctly recall our Sunday school teacher talking a excitedly about the book (never did understand what it had to do with church) – the movie came out shortly after she told us about it.

    Thought it was interesting, but was disappointed when we found out Haley had invented associations and whatever. Why you gotta lie when the truth is so compelling a story? So – decided at that point I wasn’t viewing this nor reading about it.

    I had resolved NOT to watch this new version as well, but I’m changing my mind. From the commercials, looks like it could be pretty interesting. And I like Forest Whitaker in just about everything he does….we’ll give it a go and see how it is. I’m assuming at least interesting – hopefully enlightening as a bonus.

    1. Nor did I read the book. I distinctly recall our Sunday school teacher talking a excitedly about the book (never did understand what it had to do with church)

      It had to do with churches in the sense that many major churches were strong supporters of slavery in the South and used the Bible to justify it.

      1. Not in the 1970s, they weren’t.

        1. But even in the 1970’s, they ought to acknowledge their prior failures in moral judgment. That’s particularly relevant to Sunday school because if churches were wrong about slavery and changed their views, it means that they may well be wrong about a lot of other things they preach.

  28. Alex Haley also wrote the excellent Super Fly TNT, which I think is also in need of a remake. (Well, you’d have to do the first movie in the series first)

  29. My Co-Worker’s step-sister made $13285 the previous week. She gets paid on the laptop and moved in a $557000 condo. All she did was get blessed and apply the guide leaked on this web site.
    Browse this site….
    This is what I do,—————– http://www.earnmore9.com

  30. There were over 300 documented slave revolts where hundreds of slaves died. Does that sound like they were willing to be slaves?

    The Industrial Revolution ended slavery, not the Abolitionists or the slave revolts. Talk never ended any institution. Euripides made the case against slavery hundreds of years before the birth of Christ and it had no effect. An institution ends when it no longer benefits the powerful. That’s why slavery still exists in parts of Africa – they never had an industrial revolution. The parts of Africa where technology is taking hold has abolished slavery. Technology empowers the individual making forced labor unprofitable.

    Haley’s “Roots” was a lie from end to end. He stole the story from a novel called “The African” and passed it off as his family history. Haley was a fraud who got away with his lies because they served a political purpose. Haley was sued by Harold Courlander, the author of “The African” and was forced to pay $650,000 compensation for his theft but the case went almost unnoticed in the press. None of the events depicted in the novel bore a relation to actual people any more than when a “Law and Order” episode says that the story “was ripped from the headlines”.

    Stanley Crouch wrote the story here:

    http://www.nydailynews.com/arc…..e-1.789575

    Remaking this pile of lies would be on a par with remaking “Birth of a Nation”.

    1. The Industrial Revolution ended slavery, not the Abolitionists or the slave revolts

      Incidentally, that’s also true in Europe. Feudalism (little different from American slavery) ended not because of an outbreak of morality, but because serfs were not as efficient as machines and hired workers.

      1. Feudalism (little different from American slavery) ended not because of an outbreak of morality, but because serfs were not as efficient as machines and hired workers.

        I thought feudalism ended before the industrial revolution, and I, personally, thought it ended mostly because of firearms. Firearms are the great leveller; feudalism relies on an unchallengable warrior caste, which you can have in societies with nothing but muscle-powered weapons that require a high degree of skill and long training that creates a warrior caste. Once firearms show up in any kind of numbers, the warrior caste is done for.

        1. Well, it depends on what you mean by “industrial revolution”. It was new power sources and agricultural techniques that made feudalism an inefficient way of maintaining estates.

          I don’t see why firearms would have been a factor. Firearms didn’t allow US slaves to free themselves, so why would they have let European serfs free themselves? Dictators and slaveholders seem to have no problems oppressing people with firearms.

  31. Roots defied so many conventions of its time?focusing mainly on black characters in a story in which the principal villain is America itself. This new production, by contrast, is relentless in displaying the totalitarian brutality of American slavery.

    How about being historically more accurate and starting by acknowledging that this was British slavery, inherited by America at its founding?

    The bottom line in Roots is that whites, regardless of economic class, political circumstance or seeming propensity to simple human decency, believe their economic and physical security are inextricably tied to slavery, and they have no compunction in its enforcement

    “Whites”? Even the great majority of Americans who opposed slavery and gave their lives fighting it?

    Roots’ greatest service may be in reminding us that, as we blunder through the ugly turmoil of present-day American race relations, we’ve survived worse.

    Or, perhaps, Roots still engages in the usual racist divisions of “blacks” vs “whites” and simplistic analysis that is responsible for the “ugly turmoil of present-day American race relations”.

    The real problem America has is that “race relations” is even a thing that one can talk about.

  32. Start working at home with GOOGLE!YAHOO. ABCNEWS AND MORE GLOBAL SITES.It’s by far the best job I’ve had. Last Wednesday I got a brand new BMW since getting a check for $6474 this 4 weeks past. I began this 7-months ago and immediately was bringing home at least $97 per hour.

    I work through this link.——————— http://www.earnmore9.com

  33. Start working at home with GOOGLE!YAHOO. ABCNEWS AND MORE GLOBAL SITES.It’s by far the best job I’ve had. Last Wednesday I got a brand new BMW since getting a check for $6474 this 4 weeks past. I began this 7-months ago and immediately was bringing home at least $97 per hour.

    I work through this link.——————— http://www.earnmore9.com

  34. Do you have a pay~pal account.. because if you do you can add an extra 650 week after week in your check just working on the internet 2 hours every day. go here to this site….

    Clik This Link inYour Browser…….
    ????????. http://www.MaxPost30.com

  35. Do you have a pay~pal account.. because if you do you can add an extra 650 week after week in your check just working on the internet 2 hours every day. go here to this site….

    Clik This Link inYour Browser…….
    ????????. http://www.MaxPost30.com

  36. Most of us want to have good income but don’t know how to do thaat on Internet there are a lot of methods to earn money at home, so I thought to share with you a genuine and guaranteed method for free to earn huge sum of money at home anyone of you interested should visit the site. More than sure that you will get best result.OI3..

    ====== http://www.CashPost7.com

  37. My Buddy’s Mother Makes $96/hr on the laptop. She has been out of work for six months but last month her paycheck was $15480 just working on the laptop for a few hours.
    I work through this URL.
    Read more on this web site.—– http://www.earnmore9.com

  38. My Buddy’s Mother Makes $96/hr on the laptop. She has been out of work for six months but last month her paycheck was $15480 just working on the laptop for a few hours.
    I work through this URL.
    Read more on this web site.—– http://www.earnmore9.com

  39. Make 7500 bucks every month? Start doing online computer-based work through our website. I have been working from home for 4 years now and I love it. I don’t have a boss standing over my shoulder and I make my own hours. The tips below are very informative and anyone currently working from home or planning to in the future could use this website??

    ~~~~~~~~~ http://www.NetSelf70.com

  40. Yes, slavery was abominable. Yes, the holocaust was terrible. Both are historical events just as the hundreds of thousands of Union troops who died freeing the slaves (supposedly), and the deaths of 183,000 Americans dying to liberate Europe from the Nazis were.

    By being constantly reminded of the horror of both, Americans are becoming desensitized to their historical significance by being constantly reminded of their happening and being blamed for the events, in a covert sort of way. The people are getting tired of having their noses rubbed in events they had no part in.

  41. I’m making $86 an hour working from home. I was shocked when my neighbour told me she was averaging $98 but I see how it works now. I feel so much freedom now that I’m my own boss…
    I work through this URL. Go here,,,
    This is what I do.————- http://www.earnmore9.com

  42. Make 7500 bucks every month? Start doing online computer-based work through our website. I have been working from home for 4 years now and I love it. I don’t have a boss standing over my shoulder and I make my own hours. The tips below are very informative and anyone currently working from home or planning to in the future could use this website??

    ~~~~~~~~~ http://www.NetSelf70.com

  43. Start working at home with Google! It’s by-far the best job I’ve had. Last Wednesday I got a brand new BMW since getting a check for $6474 this – 4 weeks past. I began this 8-months ago and immediately was bringing home at least $77 per hour. I work through this link, go to tech tab for work detail.

    Click This Link inYour Browser

    ========== http://www.path50.com

  44. Too bad Alex Haley is a plagiarist that took ENTIRE passages from what a white man wrote. Go watch the BBC documentary about the fallacies of this entire story, for Christ’s sake! Roots is as historical as Outlander, To Kill A Mockingbird, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Cay,, Adventures of Tarzan, or Harry Potter. Let that SINK into your mind for once. Or is Buffy :The Vampire Slayer a historical drama based on a teenage girl who fought vampires with her friends in suburban California?

    Or is Harry Potter a window into the political dynamics of underground England and their magics?

    Why not make a film around REAL stories like Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the Underground Railroad and Harriet Tubman? People that actually existed? Thanks for confirming this writer is full of it.

    I don’t care what impact a book of lies and its show have, if it’s based on lies. It only serves for people who want to ignore the reality of slavery [since they well ignore the slavery of the Irish-Scots as it is already ], to point at this farce and say that slavery accounts in other instances could very well be fraudulent. Sorry not sorry. Won’t bow to the racist progressive agenda.

    Also, slavery movies are tired hat. Why not do Static Shock or support movies like Free State around real events? Because all these movies are just “white men are evil”, while showing black actors being fake-tortured so people can feel better about themselves.

  45. This application is really good and very easy to use because you can never get an app which streams way of the latest and even the oldest videos. showbox

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.