Remembering Roots: Do We Need A Remake?

RootsMiniseries2016“You must always honor your ancestors – the ones who love you and watch over you.”

I’ve had several debates with friends, co-workers and even Facebook friends on whether or not a “Roots”
remake is necessary. Since the original Alex Haley’s “Roots” series in 1977 was phenomenal, viewers just don’t understand the reason behind forcing people to relive such a brutal time period over and over again. I believe that the remake has a positive side as well, which I will explain later on.

A prime example of the backlash received behind the remake is Rapper Snoop Dogg’s recent disapproval on social media. We all know Snoop will add his opinion – and it will be truthfully raw and uncensored. But here is the censored version of his take on the issue.

The rapper took to Instagram on Monday to tell his fans he was boycotting the History Channel’s reboot of Roots because he is tired of watching black people play slave roles. Snoop Dogg said:

‘When are you gonna start making a series about the success that black folks are having? The only success black people are having is Roots and 12 Years A Slave?”

“I don’t understand America. They just want to keep showing the abuse that we took hundreds and hundreds of years ago. But guess what? We’re taking the same abuse,” he says. “Think about that part. When you all going to make a (expletive) series about the success that black folks is having. The only success we have is Roots and 12 Years A Slave?”

Picture via Daily News, Photo Credit: Richard Shotwell/Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, retrieved May 30, 2016

Snoop may have a point in the sense that when it comes to black history, we have had limited knowledge about the achievements of historically important black Americans; and our history consists of more than slavery, the streets, the ghetto and uneducated poor individuals.

According to a 2015 article in Newsweek by Lucy Nicholson, it said:

Movies like The Help, The Butler, Precious, 12 Years a Slave, and Training Day all had black people as central characters. All won some type of award or nomination and/or had actors that were recognized with awards. Sounds good outwardly, right? If you take a second glance, you will notice all of these movies promoted stereotypes of black people.

Unfortunately, it appears a large majority of our awards are presented to blacks when we play roles where we are servants, slaves, ghetto moms, or thugs. The sad part is that many of these actors have been in other movies that have been just as good, yet they went unrecognized when they didn’t “fit the description.”

Just look at the #OscarsSoBlack controversy. Chris Rock   pretty much said what every African American was thinking about the 2016 Oscars.

“Everyone wants to know: Is Hollywood racist? Is it burning-cross racist? No. It’s a different kind of racist,” Rock said on stage.

“You’re ….. right Hollywood’s racist, but not the racist that you’ve grown accustomed to. Hollywood is sorority racist. It’s like, ‘We like you, Rhonda, but you’re not a Kappa.’ That’s how Hollywood is.


Because so many are tired of Hollywood portraying African-Americans as slaves, uneducated individuals, ghetto and poor, many people have a problem with the remaking of “Roots.” But there is a positive side to retelling the story.

Why a Roots Remake Is Important

When the remake of Roots aired Memorial Day weekend, my 8-year-old son was sitting right next to me on the couch. As controversial as the topic of slavery is, as a young Black man, there are some things that he must know – that all young African-American children must know. And honestly, many children may not have known much about the topic. It’s not like it’s really taught as much in the school systems for that matter.

My son had many questions about it i.e. Mommy, why did this happen to black people? Did white people think they were better than us? Does racism still exist? The young mind is hungry and absorbs like a sponge. He needs to know these types of things to prepare himself and to understand why organizations such as Black Lives Matter exist.

Nearly 40 years after the original miniseries portrayed the brutal reality of the American slave trade, captivating more than 100 million viewers nationally, the groundbreaking series is now recreated to appeal to a new generation of viewers like my son.

So you ask why is there a ‘Roots’ remake? Well, for one, many younger people are likely to view the newer sample of a film and not the older one. Research has improved significantly allowing for greater detail in the series. This new version focuses on “specific incidents and characters and adds real-life battles and events not dramatized in the original miniseries.”

Now, in the Black Lives Matter generation, the remake is needed more than ever. In reference to a scene in which a slave is attempting to run away from a plantation, and his white overseers shoot him in the back, actor Malachi Kirby, 26, talks to the Daily Beast about how it relates to today’s society.

“I don’t think I need to say how relevant that is to right now,” Malachi Kirby, who plays the pivotal role of Kunta Kinte in the new series, tells The Daily Beast. “These things happened. And they’re happening today.”

“‘Roots’ will allow new audiences to experience this epic family saga with a new vision that is both inspiring and tremendously entertaining,” said Buccieri President of A&E and HISTORY. “We are proud that HISTORY will be able to bring new life to this powerful story that remains as important today as it did when the original ‘Roots’ first premiered.”

When the original series aired, movie theaters shut down and civic leaders across the country declared a celebratory ‘Roots’ week in honor of the program. The heart-breaking and educational series left a lasting legacy that will never be forgotten. It stimulated a national dialogue about racism in America, slavery and genealogy, and additionally launched several careers of Black actors, including LeVar Burton, John Amos, Leslie Uggams, Louis Gossett Jr. and Ben Vereen. These dialogs need to be revisited with our children.

The main role of Kunta Kinte was once played by two actors — Burton as a boy and Amos as a man. Malachi Kirby plays the new part. Burton hopes the new generation of kids get an inspiring message from the series.

“I hope that kids who have African ancestry really get how remarkable they are,” says Burden to the Daily Beast. “And that they experience their blackness as a badge of honor and pride. That the DNA that flows through them are the best that the African continent has to offer. That they are descendants of survivors of the most atrocious horrors in the history of humanity. And that there’s nothing to be ashamed from. In fact, they have every reason to be proud of who they are and what their ancestors were able to endure.”

I most definitely agree!














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