Let's NOT get back to 'Roots'

OPINION

  • "Roots"
"Roots"
November 06, 2013|By Ernest Wilkins, @ernestwilkins | RedEye

I didn't see "12 Years a Slave." Barring a last-minute guilt trip by my mom this holiday season, I won't. Nor did I see "Lee Daniels' The Butler," "42" or "Lincoln."

It's not that I don't respect the work of the folks who made those films. It's just that I have no interest in seeing guys who look like me being treated like cattle. So you can imagine my unbridled joy then when deadline.com reported that the History network has bought the rights to the iconic 1977 miniseries "Roots" with plans for a remake.

The series is legendary, getting an estimated 100 million Americans to watch at the same time. Now, you're probably thinking, "Ernest, what's wrong with that?" I should be excited that such a classic story is getting another chance to be told, right? I'm not, though, and here's why.

Nothing is going to change.

We're going to hear a lot about the gravity of the situation, the villainous slave owners and the cries from all over that we need to have a "conversation about race." Some well-coiffed talking heads will be wheeled out and there will be a lot of serious faces. A pastor will expound some wisdom and the studio audience will applaud proudly. There will be think pieces, both intelligent and ridiculous. Someone will win an award. That man or woman will be stoic, letting the standing ovation wash over the stage. Then we will all go back to normal.

Can we just skip that part? Let's just have the conversation about race these shows and movies are supposed to inspire and save the money this time.

Here's a quote: "Human beings are the laziest creatures in the history of creation. We would rather not do anything if we could avoid it. But social justice requires rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands dirty."

Know who said that to vulture.com? LeVar Burton. Kunta Kinte himself!

Do you know what I want? I want slavery—one of the worst things that has ever taken place in this country—not to be simply a surefire way to get a black person nominated for an Oscar.

I want to destroy the mentality that because there's a brown guy in the White House that means there isn't racism anymore. The bastard offspring of the events taking place in these films are still taking place right now from North Carolina to New York department stores. I want that acknowledged. I want ACTION. That's the only way anything changes.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to audition for "Roots 2: Electric Boogaloo." I hear Lena Dunham is attached to write the screenplay!

Ernest Wilkins is Chicago's wingman.

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