ROOTS! It's what took place before you or me was even thought of. It's the history of our family and our community and how we got to where we are. It's important, because you can't begin to think about where you want to go unless you understand where you came from. It's more imperative on some groups to know more about their roots than others because we don't have the advantages of relying on privilege or a specific contact to push us through.
Right now A&E Networks is in the midst of a four-night series of the re-imagined show ROOTS. It's a bold move showing across three channels: including History, A&E and Lifetime. What was once a 13-day phenomenon in the late 1970s has been remade, recasted and reproduced to present to the current generations. Most of those watching the show today do not remember what the original was like or what it meant for society as a whole. The nearly two weeks of the show then meant constant conversation and discussion about what this storytelling meant for current times.
There's been much made about whether ROOTS is relevant today, whether it's necessary and whether it's needed - to which I answer yes to all of these questions. ROOTS tells the story of a family (regardless of location), of struggle (regardless of economic status) and of triumph. You go through every emotions possible through the life and eyes of the protagonist, Kunta Kinte. But the question I wish to raise seeks more understanding: Why are we continuing to deal with a lot of the same struggles as 40 years ago? Forty years ago people of color were discriminated against because of the color of their skin, social classes meant less opportunity for those at the bottom and the group in power continued to thrive as long as they followed "tradition". This is where my issues lies in the world we live in today. It's less a question of whether we should show the film, but why does it still hit home? What made ROOTS so ground-breaking in 1977 was that it sat families and groups of people down to have a conversation about race and treatment. In 2016 we are reminded of race and treatment every time we turn on the news or log onto a news site. It's everywhere, yet we haven't learned from our past. But what can we do to be better?
I appreciate what ROOTS stands for. We need to continue uplifting people of color in films. We need to continue to create programs that allow those born into unfortunate situations have the opportunity to pull themselves out. We also need to continue to have checks and balances in our systems in place that those in top don't continue to run away with it all, while the bottom majority scramble over what is left. I appreciate that A&E Networks took a chance on showing something that makes people uncomfortable. When you have something that pulls out so many emotions, you know that you have something that's real. Most importantly, when you understand your ROOTS you can be sure you're moving forward instead of in reverse.
It's easy to go to a place every week, sit down to receive a set of directions and sort go through the motions. Sometimes it easiest to fall into a routine, and play it safe in fear of the unknown. Millions of people do it week in and week out at a place called church. The harder part to do is to listen to what the pastor is actually saying, internalize it and apply it to your everyday life. It's easy to hear 'love thy neighbor even when they're wrong', but when someone bumps into you in the street are you actually showing them love in your response or are you doing the total opposite?
The pastor's theme for this year at my home church in Harlem, New York this year is "The Year of the Doer." This can mean a number of things, but to me this means there's no time to waste, there is no better time than now to get something done. This is the year I got a new job, I am building a stronger relationship with God and I am strengthening already pre-existing relationships in my everyday life. I encourage anyone I come in contact with to inherit the mantra, "The year of the doer" because it truly brings the best out in people. Too often do we choose to put things off or hold ourselves back. We need to push ourselves for the ultimate achievement.
This year I took a step out on faith by leaving my secure job at NBC and taking a job at A&E Networks as a Manager of Social Media for a new digital space under the History brand called, "History Now." I did not know what to expect, but I did know that God was on my side and when I have him anything is possible. Now three months later I could not be happier with my decision. Certainly there are things I miss about NBC in the people and processes and most importantly the food, but I also have been growing so much in my new role. No longer and I micro-managed in getting things done, but instead I come up with content and I maintain a new entity. In many ways History Now is my baby and I am willing to go to bat for it. I want this to be something great and really become something I am proud of and people can for a sense of inspiration and I know that's what it will become.
In the year of the doer it's time to step out on faith and believe in what you hear on Sunday morning. In the year of the doer it's time to sacrifice in the short term for a long term gain. In the year of the doer it's time to start doing and believing. I'm ready to do, are you?
lives by one word: achievement. in anything and everything, achieve.