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I'm not sure how many people are embarrassed to say this, but let me help you: * I had absolutely no knowledge about the Tulsa Race Massacre until a few weeks ago. * I had absolutely no knowledge about Juneteenth until a few days ago. Not only did I not know the terms - I had no knowledge of the events. And I mean none whatsoever.
I watched "Roots" when I was fifteen years old, having absolutely *no* real-life experience to lend the series context - I lived in a sheltered, upper-middle class suburb, and had absolutely no exposure to any of this, except what I was taught in school. Having recently watched movies such as "Django Unchained," "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?" "Do the Right Thing," and "12 Years a Slave," I thought it was high time for *me* to do the right thing, and get back to the roots of all these movies - the original 1977 miniseries, which caused an incredible stir when it was released. It was hard to watch then, and I suspect it will be even harder to watch now that I have life's experiences behind me. I remember very well, about twenty years ago, a Jewish friend of mine watched all of "Shoah" - no small task - because he promised himself that he would, as a Jew, in order to educate himself and remember what happened to his people. For a similar - but opposite - reason, I'm watching Roots: Not because of what happened *to* my people, but because of what my people did *to* another race of innocents. Do I feel *personally* responsible for what occurred? I wasn't born yet, so how could I? Do I feel a responsibility for what occurred? Of course I do - primarily because it's still going on. A successful television broadcast is now considered to be about 10 million viewers - even though Roots got off to a relatively slow start, episode #1 was the only episode of the 8 - which ran every day for a week - that pulled in less than 30 million. It was remarkably successful, and well-received by both critics and the general public alike. Roots won 9 Emmy Awards with 28 nominations, and 1 Golden Globe Award with 2 nominations. Maybe I'm being a touch dramatic, but I hope this post inspires others to rewatch this important series. Amazon has the first episode for free, hoping to reel in viewers who will purchase the entire series for $34.99. I refuse to pay this, and am wondering if anyone knows where it can be viewed for less money. Alex Haley wrote the book (see below for additional information), and is implicitly credited as a Writer in all six episodes. There are simply too many stars in this series to do anything but add simple links for them - refer to their Wikipedia links for all the other work they've done - this would be a fool's errand for me to attempt. Jan 23 - Jan 29, 1977 - Episode List and Timetable Episode 1 - Directed by David Greene (Director of "Sebastian"), Written by William Blinn (Screenwriter of "Brian's Song") and Ernest Kinoy (Writer of "I Wouldn't Start from Here" on "Route 66") Featuring Edward Asner, O.J. Simpson, Ralph Waite, Ji-Tu Cumbuka, Maya Angelou, Moses Gunn, Thalmus Rasulala, Hari Rhodes, William Watson, Renn Woods, Levar Burton, Cicely Tyson, Ernest Thomas, Rebecca Bess, Henry Butts, Episode 2 - Episode 3 - Episode 4 - Episode 5 - Episode 6 - When the first episode ended, the first thing I thought of was the 9/11 attacks by Al-Qaeda: A few *morons* with letter openers brought down the World Trade Center, killing thousands in the process. It takes so little to do so much damage, and although slavery was a large institution, the protagonists in Episode 1 were just a few dozen idiots. Ironically, the victims of this crime against humanity were Muslim. I'm not sure how historically accurate that is (Alex Haley was caught plagiarizing parts of his book), but in Ghana, i,e., Northwest Africa, it's not impossible. "Miniseries: Roots Special" on pbs.org May 27, 2016 - "Roots: Behind the 1977 Series that Started a National Conversation" by Alynda Wheat on people.com
When I was younger, I felt that Affirmative Action was wrong - that it was just perpetuating the problem of discrimination. Now that I'm older (wiser? kinder? softer?), I see legitimate arguments for both sides. In particular, I see people of color having been financially penalized for centuries, and white people having profited and having accumulated wealth because they had what is essentially free labor. Do we owe black Americans financial compensation for what we, as a society, did to them? Perhaps in the form of Affirmative Action? Even if it means costing a more-qualified white person a job and giving it to a less-qualified black person? (I'm not saying "give it to just anyone," but there are plenty of black people who, even if they aren't *the* most qualified, are still very worthy of placing into a position.) And yes, it sucks that a more-qualified white person has to get the short end of this stick, but their ancestors got the long end of the stick for hundreds of years, resulting in wealth that has passed down through families. I've actually *taken* affirmative action on this website: I wrote the local chapter of the NAACP, and asked them how to increase black membership, which I very much want to do. (I never heard back from them.) I tried, and I'm willing to try again, but I don't know what to do. My views have changed on this subject over the years. I firmly believe that black people (I hope I'm using the correct terminology here - I honestly have no idea) have gotten shafted for so long that it has created a culture of lower-class (I'm talking lower financial class) citizens that would not have been lower-class had their ancestors been given a fair chance. Let's get real: not only weren't they "given a fair chance"; they were *slaves*, for God's sake. Do I feel personally responsible for slavery? Hell no. Do I feel like as a society, white people have reaped financial benefits from oppressing black people? Hell yes. The question is: What to do about it? All intelligent, thoughtful discussion, on both sides of this issue (and yes, there are at least two legitimate sides to this issue, with lots of gray area in between), is welcome and encouraged, and I look forward to reading your thoughts. Issues such as this need to be addressed head-on, without fear of retribution for discussing them. There will be no censorship of thoughtful opinions or viewpoints. Without actually "knowing," I know that this website has a very low percentage of blacks - I hate that fact, and want to change it, but I don't know what to do. I honestly don't see this issue as being political in a "conservative vs. liberal" sense; I see it as being moral. I'm not sure what's right, and I'm not sure what's wrong. I'm not sure what's fair, and I'm not sure what's unfair. All I'm sure of is that I want everyone to have an equal chance in this world, and that hasn't happened in the past.