Marvin J Chomsky, John Erman, David Greene, Gilbert Moses
Contrary to popular belief, I am not a racist. Like most people who hold views that some might label prejudiced, virulently xenophobic, or militantly white supremacist, my beliefs are born of ignorance, rather than hatred. And what's most important is that I recognize that I have a problem, and I'm taking steps to rectify that. One of the important steps I'm taking, other than selling off most of my David Allen Coe/Johnny Rebel collection, is to educate myself on the plight of the coloreds. And so, Roots. For those of you who don't know, Roots is a landmark television series that recounts the history of Africans in the United States from slavery until Geordie LaForge became chief engineer on the USS Enterprise. Problem is, Roots is really long, and I have a lot of militia meetings to attend, so it may take a while for me to get through the whole thing. But in order to maximize the educational potential of the exercise, I will be typing up mini reviews, or reports, about each episode, to aid in memory retention. I hope you'll bear with me as I learn, grow, and become a better person, and hopefully, maybe, you'll learn a little something too.
Wow. Only one preachy, pedantic hour in, and I've already learned a lot. Apparently, black people come from Africa, not Detroit. And, you can tell that someone leads an idyllic, noble existence because they don't use contractions. I guess when you're too busy living a life of decadence and evil, corrupting all that you touch with the virulence of a small pox blanket, crushing all resistance in the name of Manifest Destiny and country music, you don't have time to say words in their entirety. But when you live in grass huts and have nothing to do but talk to the moon and herd goats, you have all the time in the world to say words like ‘cannot’, as in “I cannot believe how simplistically I am being portrayed”.
The episode begins with Levar Burton, apparently before he learned to read, becoming a man in his native Africa by trying to catch a bird and absorbing nuggets of folk wisdom from his father. This is clumsily intercut with scenes feature evil Americans cackling about the slave trade while eating abortions out of silver buckets. Geordi LaForge is captured, despite the misgivings of a humanitarian slave ship's captain meant to embody the conscientious objector trapped by the standards of his time. The episode ends with LaForge on the ship, held in abominable conditions alongside several basketball teams worth of slaves, plotting revenge and revolt.
I feel enlightened already. Even just one hour into to this mammoth, no doubt unbelievably patronizing exploration of early African American history, I feel more comfortable with the shit head crack dealer living in the apartment below me, selling drugs out his broken front window and beating his girlfriend. I find I'm able to watch old UPN sitcoms without feeling nervous, and I can listen to rap music without breaking out in hives. Thank you, Roots, for curing racism by treating a complex problem to a fancy light and picture show. I can't wait to see what boon the next episode will grant me. Maybe I’ll learn the true meaning of Christmas.