16Sep/07Off

When TV Made a Difference

The Emmys actually had some good content – a tribute to Roots. 30 years ago – wow.

I have memories of my entire family sitting down in the living room, parents on the couch and kids on the floor, to watch every mesmerizing minute. Even my father. It was a story of family and a story of America and it profoundly impacted my world view. Seriously, I can see my 9 year-old self sitting there on the floor literally burning new circuits in my head in whichever region focuses on humanism and ethics and standing for what you know is right.

It’s hard to explain what this was like. I lived in a border town, and sure, we had black families, but our exposure to black history verged on nil. I mean, we got stuck with the Battle of Lundy’s Lane pretty much every year. I remember also being profoundly impacted by the character played by Kirstie Alley in the series and her interracial love – something I thought of in the late 70′s as a dead issue. I mean, why couldn’t you love who you wanted to love?

1977 was a mind-blowing year. Between Roots and Star Wars, I came to understand that humans are both maliciously ignorant and painfully wise and that these traits will follow us wherever we go.