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Something to Think About: Roots is About Acknowledging Our History

Op/Ed By Michael Vaughn


new michael vaughnYears ago, there was a miniseries which played on television called “Roots.”

This series depicted the family line of the author of the book, from the time slavery began, to what was then present-day.

The series was very powerful, in that it showed and placed a spotlight upon what had not been taught in most American schools: Black History.

Recently, there has been a discussion surrounding an updated version of the series which has aired again.

However, during the airing of the series, some African-Americans decided that enough was enough for them, and they were no longer going to watch African-Americans depicted in the way the show portrayed them.

They planned to boycott the show, and encouraged others to do the same.


This shocked me when I debated some folks about it on social media.

And the reason was because there is an ugliness in Black History that, if we do not learn to understand, we will also not learn to grow from it either.

However, the arguments some African-Americans were making seemed to stem from something completely the opposite of what should be gained from a story like this.

This show does not depict African-Americans as greedy, lustful people like the show “Empire,” or conniving, lying, adulterers like those in the show “Scandal.”

This story is our story, the story that actually happened, and one which is a large part of who we are as a people today!

It is something we should learn from, in order to form a foundation from which we can build upon as a people.

Whenever I see the way African-Americans suffered during slavery, and images from the subsequent civil rights movement, it gives me a sense of strength.

I am proud to be part of a people who have persevered through so much oppression and hatred, which shows, 1) the fact that God was indeed with us, and 2), that we are a strong people, and destined to change wherever we are.

We are not victims, we are victors!

On the flip side, I have been disappointed with some of the depictions of African-Americans in today’s drama series.

We think it is entertaining to see African Americans portrayed in such immoral and decrepit situations, such as the ones we see on “Empire,” “Scandal,” and “How to Get Away with Murder.”

However, these shows, while interesting from a dramatic perspective, really only show African-Americans at their worst, and further perpetuate the stereotypes people have regarding African-Americans.

If we were to take a good, hard look at our history, we would see African-Americans have collaborated together to overcome a common oppressor.

We would see African-Americans who have worked hard, in the midst of unfairness, toward making something better for themselves and their families.

We would see strong men who have stood up for their families, even if it meant they lost their lives.

And, these are the stories that will build us up, instead of tearing us down.

Therefore, they are stories that need to be told over and over and over again, lest we forget where we have come from, and shrink backward from remembering the powerful people we truly are.

Ours is a story that may be hard to watch, and one that may pull on our emotions, as we take a look back from where we are in 2016.

However, we must take a look backward, in order to persevere forward.

As a result of what we have gone through, we will then have the ability to make it through whatever we may face in the future.

We are not victims. Some politicians want us to think that we have weak minds, and need a handout.

However, we are a hard-working, self-supporting people who take care of our responsibilities.

And where did we learn that? We learned it from the history that is ours!

Yes, “Roots” has stirred up many emotions, and those emotions may make some people very frustrated.

However, I watched it with my children next to me, as we learned from this very important series about our story.

And, after it was over, I had discussions with my children about what they had gotten from this series.

It was my desire to make it an educational experience, and provide them with insight for their lives, letting them know they can persevere through anything.

And I believe, as their ancestors did, that faith in God, and working hard, will change even the most stubborn of situations!

Unfortunately, anyone who boycotted watching “Roots” only played into the hands of folks who want to keep us ignorant.

And I am here to tell you that African-Americans are much smarter than that!

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