Roots: The Importance of American African History

Roots: The Importance of American African History

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Watching the first segment of the new version of “Roots” brought many reminders to the forefront about who we are. There has been discussion in the black community about whether or not we should support “another slave movie.” Meanwhile, another Jewish movie was being advertised in the midst of the mini-series and received with great acclaim.

Watching Alex Haley’s original version as a child educated me, while this new edition has empowered me. Because our history has been stripped from the annals of American text books and diluted with deception, we must ensure that every generation knows and understands the foundation of America. It is rooted in the bloodshed of Africans and Native Americans. We, their descendants and beneficiaries must never forget:

  1. We were participants in our own enslavement. We ARE participants in our own enslavement. This means no one can control us without our permission. The freedom we desire is ours to grasp. However, know that we did not devise the plan for our enslavement. We fell prey to it and must rise above it to conquer it.
  2. Warriors aren’t trained on the battlefield. A warrior who is unprepared for battle is a “slave.”  We need to restore a unified rites of passage to save our sons and daughters within our communities. But, first, we need to reestablish our communities.  roots 6
  3. “Raise a family. Have (raise) children. Pass on the way of Rootslife.” This is the most important responsibility we have in life. This is what ensures our perpetual survival and the preservation of our culture and history. Men must teach boys to be men and women must teach girls the ways of womanhood. We all must rise and be the models for boys and girls unfathered.
  4. Allow your children freedom to be who they are and live their own dreams. Know when it’s time to let go and trust what you’ve instilled in them.
  5. Know your enemies. They may speak your language and often look like you. Do not allow your greed and self-indulgence to turn you into an enemy of your own people. If you are not a warrior with, then you are an enemy against us. There is no middle ground in the war against oppression.
  6. Know your allies. They often struggle under the same oppression as you do. Do not create enemies of your brothers and sisters over trivial matters. Do not slaughter your brothers with and for the tools given to us to aid in our own genocide. Your assumed enemies may become your allies when you work towards liberation together.
  7. Black women and black men are allies. There is no victory without our unity. We have been warriors together since the beginning of time.  It’s best we remember this. roots 3
  8. Keep your will to fight. Keep your will to fight. Keep your will to fight. It doesn’t matter what they call you. Remember who you are. There is power in our names and ancestry.
  9. roots 5The Irish and Africans have a history that’s intertwined and it has nothing to do with us celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. When we know who we are, we no longer find the need to assimilate and adopt the cultures of others. We can appreciate another’s culture without assuming it as our own.
  10. Poverty is created just as wealth. It is the most egregious form of violence. It can divide and conquer the human spirit. We are spiritual beings in human form. We must be connected to the Spirit and unified to reach our highest potential. roots-tv-miniseries-remake-history-channel-trailer-premiere

Africans were in the Americas long before the inception of chattel slavery. White men in large ships did not “discover” America, for it had already been inhabited by “Native Americans” and Africans. But “America,” as we know it, was founded on the backs of Africa’s sons and daughters and with the bloodshed of its aboriginal inhabitants. That is the beginning of “American African” history. It’s certainly not the origin of our history on this land or the world, but it SPEAKS to the heart of what still drives and effects us today.

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Chattel slavery lasted in America from the early 1600s until June of 1865, followed by another century of Jim Crow. There are less than 50 films or media representations about chattel slavery in America and only a handful of those were written and produced by Africans in America. I doubt anyone has seen all in either category.

I am amazed that we are so ashamed of slavery that we cannot simply read or watch what our ancestors actually experienced. We are so ashamed to see ourselves as slaves that we describe the depiction as “negative.” The shame is not ours! The shame belongs solely to the perpetrators of it, past and present.

So, you’re tired of seeing us depicted as slaves? Why? Most Africans in America are descendants of the warriors & survivors of the most heinous act committed against mankind in history. That is something of which to be proud! These films speak of our heroism, ingenuity, & intrepidity. In every story, there is still a new tale about who we are in the midst of dire circumstances. Despite its perpetual attempts, slavery hasn’t erased us or who we are. You can see traces of our African lineage in every corner of our culture. Slavery didn’t and doesn’t define us, but our perseverance through it, resilience in it, and strength and beauty despite it certainly does. How could you ever tire of seeing the valiancy of our collective spirits (from the comforts of your couch no less)?

If you have not manifested the dreams of our ancestors; if you’ve squandered your talents and resources on pursuing your individual gains alone and neglected your role in our plight; if you’ve forgotten the meaning and importance of our names and assimilated to the point of being unrecognizable; if you can no longer hear the voices of our ancestors or feel their presence within you, then you absolutely should be ashamed and I understand why you would be uncomfortable watching a display of us as we fought and died for a life far different from the one you’re living.‪#‎blackgirlspeaks‬ ‪#‎failtolearnfromhistory‬ ‪#‎destinedtorepeatit‬‪#‎massincarceration‬ ‪#‎slaverybyanothername‬ ‪#‎theyworkedinthefields‬‪#‎weresubjectedtotormentinthehouses‬ ‪#‎wereslaughteredlikeanimals‬‪#‎forcenturies‬ ‪#‎butstillkeptpressingforward‬ ‪#‎butyoutiredofwatchingthough‬‪#‎youhavehadenough‬ ‪#‎negroesplease‬ ‪#‎gocomplainaboutyoursalariedjob‬‪#‎byallmeanstellusmoreabouthowhardyourlifeis‬ ‪#‎chilebye‬‪#‎readsomethingmorethanfacebook‬ ‪#‎sogratefulfortheirsacrifice‬‪#‎365grateful‬ ‪#‎thisiswhy‬ ‪#‎back2blacklist‬

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