About the ROOTS Remake…

Given my passion for the history of the African diaspora, I knew it was coming — people asked me to weigh in on the ROOTS remake discussion. Naturally, there were many differing opinions from family, friends, and strangers— revisiting the trans-Atlantic slave trade and American slavery are not matters that many people agree on.

I think people were surprised to discover that I understand and respect all sides of the argument. People have a right to learn what they want, how they want. I did watch the ROOTS miniseries, however, and thought it was outstanding.

The ROOTS remake gave a lot of insight into Kunta’s life before his journey to America and brought the story to life for a new generation. Between tears, I couldn’t help but smile at the number of people participating in the online discussions on Twitter. There was an eagerness and desire to learn about a large part of African and American history that has been reduced to one chapter in many textbooks.

The book I’m currently working on is about Afro Germans during the Holocaust. I’ve been to the Holocaust Museum many times, and the focus is on education and remembrance. And that’s what I hope these “slave movies” achieve. No, Black history did not start with slavery. But a large part of Black culture, identity, and many of America’s current racial issues are lasting implications of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. The more books and movies that can contribute to the small body of work on this subject, the more people can access the information when they want to learn about the past.

So, do I think a ROOTS remake was necessary and important? Absolutely.

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