I have to confess that I haven’t seen the 2016 version of Roots yet. But I don’t need to see it to defend the goal which is to present the atrocity of slavery to a new generation of TV viewers. I’m sure there were a lot of black people in the 70s who didn’t want the original Roots mini-series to air either but thankfully it did.
Not that I don’t see Snoop Dogg’s point about wanting to see more films and TV shows that tell stories of present-day African-Americans and our triumphs instead of re-telling stories about our oppression. But Snoop saying F*** Roots is like saying F*** slavery and F*** our history, as painful as it is. Don’t be angry about the re-make; be angry that our ancestors suffered in the first place.
One of the symptoms of being a victim of slavery is self-hatred. By publicly referring to us as N-words and blaming black people who want their children and grandchildren not to ever forget that we are descendants of slaves, makes me wonder if Snoop isn’t embarrassed of our history. It would be different if the stories he listed were all told by white people, but in the case of 12 Years a Slave, the original Roots, the TV series Underground and the Roots remake – they each have strong black influences from writers, directors or producers. Not to mention, what about all the black actors and actresses that are working thanks to these productions?
With all the backlash that hip-hop and rap has gotten over the last 30 years and as those artists and producers fight to tell their own stories from their own communities and own experiences, it’s curious to me that Snoop doesn’t see how hypocritical his argument seems.
If it’s okay for us to support language and subject matters that are offensive to many in the name of art, then surely it’s okay to support the latest Roots. Isn’t it also an expression of someone’s art?
The people who should be protesting out of humiliation and shame should not be the ancestors of the victims of slavery but perhaps the ancestors of the perpetrators. I say keep making good movies about slavery until white people get uneasy, and embarrassed and tired of seeing how much we suffered. All the while continuing to accomplish amazing feats in spite of our history.
I know plenty of black people who say their families and in some cases teachers and college instructors made the original Roots required viewing. I wonder how many mainstream parents and schools are doing the same with the reboot. If we keep having these conversations among ourselves it’s like preaching to the choir. So maybe we should be grateful to Snoop for stirring up a controversy that may get the new version of Roots more attention than it would have ever gotten.
But maybe I’m over thinking the issue. Snoop might have just been on one the day he decided to go public with his Roots rant.
Or, maybe I should just consider the logic of one of our texters: “Sometimes when you’re high…it sounds good to you.”
(Photo credit: Tribeca Film Festival/History Channel)