My Life

I’ve Never Watched Roots: Black History Month Confession

Day 10 of this Black History Month is upon us, and I’m here to get something off my chest. Why? Because I need to cleanse my soul of this burden I’ve carried around for so long. As a strong melanin-blessed individual, I am a card-carrying member of the Coalition of Colored Folks. However, my card may be revoked because… *pause* I’ve never watched the movie “Roots.” On purpose. *runs away from the mob*

All these years, I’ve never watched anything but that one scene where they were tryna get Kunta Kinte to call himself Toby. And that was enough for me. Mind you, I know that “Roots” was groundbreaking and classic. I’m not taking away from Alex Haley’s book nor the movie. BUT I am running away from it. It’s all because my soulspace just can’t take watching all that pain on camera.

I can’t watch “Roots” because I’ll feel African Guilt. It’s the stronger version of White Guilt. With less privilege and more melanin. As a West African, I know a lot of slaves came from that territory. My ancestors may have been the ones who sold Kunta. Shoo… NAWL son.

Also, I’m pretty sure that watching “Roots” is gon make me side-eye white folks for at least 2.5 days after watching it. I’ll be walking down the street. A random melanin-deficient person will say hi to me and I’ll reply with “Hmph. So you talking to me now? You ain’t talk to Toby all nicely.” And who needs that? One semester in college, I took three Black history/sociology classes. I spent all 12 weeks walking around mean-mugging everyone who passed the paper bag test. Chile…

Roots would MURK my ENTAH soulspace. And I’d start being all “Why is my computer screen WHITE and I gotta put BLACK letters on it? Roots gon have me walking ’round talmbout “Why does a BLACK ball hit WHITE pins when you bowl? Stop. Wait. Think bout it.” I am far too impressionable to watch “Roots.” I’ma walk ’round angry with a t-shirt that says “His name AIN’T Toby! It is KUNTA, GAHTDAMBIT!” Is it me *pause* or is it a conspiracy, MY… BROTHAS AND SISTAS??? *fist up* O__O

That ain’t the way to advance race relations. I’m so impressionable.

Besides… isn’t Roots like fitty-eleben hours long? Yeah… I’m pretty sure me sitting through it will be painful because my attention span is remedial and subpar.

To my fellow Black folks, am I the only one who’s never seen “Roots?” To my melanin-deficient readers, have you ever ventured to watch it? Are there any other movies like this that folks avoid seeing? Let a goon know.

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  1. February 10, 2011 at 8:37 am

    I’ve never watched it in its entirety either. Don’t feel too bad about it. I can barely read accounts of slavery without wincing and feeling bad. So to watch an epic movie about it? Ehh.

    • February 10, 2011 at 11:24 am

      Pretty murch.

  2. February 10, 2011 at 8:48 am

    I haven’t seen it either. I also feel that way about the movie Rosewood. I watched it once and I said never again. I have to work with “the other”! I don’t need to be walking around there plotting on them. Besides, they know what they did.

    • February 10, 2011 at 11:24 am

      Rosewood is another movie I haven’t watched. I’m sooo straight on that. Nopers.

    • February 10, 2011 at 12:40 pm

      This exactly. I haven’t seen it and I’m 25. Saw ‘Rosewood’ and was down for the count for a few days. Not again.

    • Jeanette
      February 11, 2011 at 7:30 pm

      It took me a long time to finally see Rosewood and when I did, I was angry for weeks. The white people at work must have picked up on it and went through great lengths to say out of my way.

  3. adwoa
    February 10, 2011 at 9:20 am

    i hear you so hard on the african guilt! (and given the fact that i grew up in the south it was ten times as bad – getting told you act white because your parents are from ghana gets old sofast.) needless to say, i’ve never seen roots either.

    • February 10, 2011 at 11:24 am

      See here? Glad you feel me. Roots ain’t the movie or book for me.

  4. Karen
    February 10, 2011 at 9:32 am

    I did see it in its entirety. I’m old enough to have seen it when the mini-series was first shown. It made me more than a little angry, and my friends had the same reaction. Even my parents’ jaws were a little tight. In school, during that time, my “melanin-deficient” teachers seemed to be walking on eggshells. I think that the difference between seeing it then and watching it now is that the entire country was watching it at the same time back then, and it created opportunities for open discussion about the *whispers* “race issue.”

    If I watched it again now, I’d be walking around for a while with all of this newly-generated, isolated anger, and no one would understand why, so I understand your reasons for not wanting to see it. Maybe if we could get everyone to watch it again at once…

    • February 10, 2011 at 11:23 am

      Everyone watching it at once would lead to some riots. Popeye’s Chickens everywhere would be raided. Let’s not. For all our safety. LOL. All we need is that one goon ass conspiracy theorist (who really knows nothing) to watch it and get mad. NAWL!

  5. Malaka
    February 10, 2011 at 10:39 am

    I’ve never watched it either. For some reason I have yet to figure out my Grandmother gave me the book when I was 12 or 13. I like to read and that book intimated the hell out of me. I don’t think I ever got past the first or second chapter. I’m sure it’s great and life changing but…no. Just…no.

    • February 10, 2011 at 11:22 am

      LOL Granny was tryna getchu some history, not knowing it was gon getchu PTSD.

  6. Jamilah
    February 10, 2011 at 11:29 am

    At 26 years old I’ve never seen roots and at this point I dont plan to either. Its better just not knowing. And lmao @ “African Guilt”! I am WEAK!

  7. emti
    February 10, 2011 at 11:34 am

    never watched it or read the book
    i mean the picture of kunte kinte on this post already has me twitching and looking around at someone to mean mug

  8. MimiLumpkins
    February 10, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    Well, my darling Luvvie, you have some company, because I, too, has never seen “Roots: the Mini-series” at all.
    The reason why I haven’t seen the mini-series is somewhat the same reason why you haven’t seen the movie: the bitter after-taste.
    I understand that it is important to know a part of my history, but I don’t want to “compromise myself” in the process: the mean-mugging/sour disposition towards white people, the sadness/anger, etc.
    Now, before anybody calls the Black Squad on my a$$, I have had the opportunities of learning about slavery and the Emancipation through relatives (and family’s friends) whose parents were slaves.

  9. Ms. Heaven
    February 10, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    I’ve seen it all the way through, but I had to rewind a few times because my mind wandered. I mean wandered so bad that I realized I had got up & left the room & never went back *hangs head in shame*. I did let white folks know I was in the process of watching Roots and Queen (ain’t that the next installment?). I felt they needed fair warning in case I randomly slapped someone & screamed MY NAME IS TOBY!!!!

    Now Rosewood? Nawl. Saw it once and can’t see it again. I was waiting for white folks to cut their eyes at me…I was one dropa melanin off they azz! Ya’ll know I got white relatives, I was ready to hold a family trial to kick them out. I ain’t e’en want them to sit at the grown folks table during family dinners. Sitcho pale azz in the other room, I know you plottin to kill me!

    • Stacy
      February 10, 2011 at 8:51 pm


  10. February 10, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    Hey Luvvie!! This is my firs time posting on here, but this subject had me dying. I went to an almost all white middle school and for Black History month they made the entire 7th grade class watch Roots in one auditorium for 2 hours a day for an entire school week. 300 white kids and 15 Black kids…that ish was traumatic. I turned into an instant militant. Started calling my classmates “Whitie” and and talking back to teachers. Every time I even think of Roots, I get flash backs worse than a Vietnam Vet.

    • February 10, 2011 at 3:03 pm

      Pardon my typos. Was typing way too fast. lol

    • emti
      February 10, 2011 at 3:36 pm


  11. February 10, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    They showed us Roots, Mississippi Burning AND Rosewood in middle school. And then I saw Roots again in high school. And had to read the book (which I enjoyed) in college. Roots is definitely tame compared to the ‘Burning and Rosewood. Rosewood straight up gave me nightmares. There’s an organization here in Florida that is looking to re-build Rosewood. Um…nah.

    • Uche
      February 12, 2011 at 3:38 am

      I haven’t seen Roots, but I have seen Mississippi Burning and Rosewood…those movies had me eying white folks for DAYS! And wait…they had y’all watch that ish in middle school?!?! That should be against some sort of law or something; PTSD for the win!

      Luvvie, I see your African Guilt and raise it 20 Kobo. No Naira…times are hard! LOL

  12. February 10, 2011 at 5:32 pm

    My mom made me watch the ENTIRE series of Roots when I was 11 years old but I have never watched Rosewood. I know that if I watched Rosewood, I would tempted to bust something.

    • black rob
      December 28, 2012 at 8:33 pm

      Yeah and Rosewood is a true story…..that makes it even more bitter to watch

  13. February 10, 2011 at 5:47 pm

    I am actually a huge fan of Roots. I have seen it many times. The star studded cast makes it even more incredible than it is on its own. For example, Mr. Brady from the Brady bunch plays a slave owner. MR. FRICKIN BRADY!! That fact alone should be enough for you to watch it Luvvie. Seriously though, I never felt angry from watching Roots, just sad. Rosewood and Amistad are movies that made me want to commit murder, but definitely not Roots.

  14. February 10, 2011 at 6:21 pm

    I’ve actually watched it, it didn’t make me an inward racist, but it did change my perspective on Caucasians for a while. Thank God that was back in the day and not present day but it showed just how vicious of a world we used to live in and will continue to live in if people cannot grow to live in harmony.

    As for movies, have you seen American History X? Now that movie will make you cry inwardly and open your eyes to a world of hatred if you’re not ready to let the past be in the past.

    Talk about sad….

    • Ms. Heaven
      February 11, 2011 at 7:16 am

      Oh American History X will definitely leave you speechless! Good recommendation!

    • MimiLumpkins
      February 11, 2011 at 9:26 am

      I think this is the reason why the director has decided to put that sex scene in the beginning of the film. I think it was his way of saying “Here, have a moment to enjoy this scene, because in the next few minutes, sh*t is going to hit the fan…”

  15. Nan
    February 10, 2011 at 8:04 pm

    *whispers at Luvvie from behind a Kente cloth curtain* I haven’t seen it either. Don’t tell anyone!

  16. keisha brown
    February 10, 2011 at 8:18 pm

    i dont think i’ve seen it (can i blame living in another country?)…

    i will say the book of negroes by lawrence hill is amazing.

  17. Stacy
    February 10, 2011 at 8:47 pm

    Amistad, I could watch all the way through for that reason. I’m just mad for days after. Standing in the deli with a nervous twitch just waiting for somebody to TRY and reach cross and grab the milk before I get to it so I have an excuse to kill white….NUUHHHH I stays away from them antebellum movies. Although sometimes I wonder if I could have gone hard like those slaves did back in the day or would have spent all day ‘wading in the water’ Ok I’m rambling.

    Color Purple! NOW THAT is my movie. ‘You told Harpo to beat me….’

    • Stacy
      February 10, 2011 at 8:48 pm

      I meant Could NOT watch Amistad all the way through.

  18. J
    February 10, 2011 at 9:49 pm

    Wow I am so relieved, I thought it was only me. I have not seen Roots in it’s entirety nor do I intend to. I have always referred to movies like that as kill whitey movies, and that is why I can’t watch them. Rosewood had me side-eying every white person I saw for days.

  19. Gina
    February 10, 2011 at 11:01 pm

    I’m so glad to see this. I’ve lived all these years CERTAIN that I was the only black person to never see Roots. My boyfriend recently ordered the whole series via Netflix and watched it faithfully. (I guess his African guilt doesn’t exist. lol.)…THEN he turned around and watched Rosewood. Needless to say, he’s come up with a few new names for white people.

  20. February 10, 2011 at 11:43 pm

    I’m with you Luvvie, I’ve only seen that one scene in Roots that you have. It’s all because that movie is entirely too damn long. I hope to never be that bored. {{Same reason I’ve only seen the Temptations, Jackson 5, and Beloved movies ONE time}}.

    I have seen Rosewood though. just one time.

    The only long movie I can sit through and actually enjoyed was The Green Mile

    {{it isn’t my intention to get a debate/discussion started but there are quite a few movies I’ve either never seen or don’t like that will SURELY make folks want to revoke my black card}}

    • MimiLumpkins
      February 11, 2011 at 9:29 am

      I seen the film in its entirety once and ever since then I can watch the Green Mile all the way until the last fifteen to twenty minutes.

  21. Jazzie
    February 10, 2011 at 11:48 pm

    1st, let me say that i am a certified nerd and a church girl. dont judge me. 🙂 #thatisall
    anywho, i discovered the ‘joys’ of Roots way back in the third grade. it was standardized testing week and i found this huge book in my grandpa’s closet and i thought it was a bible, so i took it to school to read when i was finished with my test. peeked inside, saw nothing about Jesus, but I kept reading. i finished the book in AN HOUR. 1 FREAKING HOUR. it takes most people DAYS and WEEKS to read the book- hell, it took at least a week to watch it on tv- but at 9 years old, i finished it in an hour… and i was the most pissed off, anti-white people, fist raising-est little kid my school had ever seen. they made us watch the movie during summer camp that summer and that just refueled my anger. i still haven’t recovered from that experience. i’m not racist or anything, but i am a little more skeptical and wary of my melanin-lacking brothers and sisters. i will admit though, i did learn a lot from the book (not the movie), even though it’s apparently not a true story…

  22. February 11, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    I too haven’t seen it and don’t plan to watch it…
    1 i can’t stand to see those images they will be forever burned in my brain and i can’t…i cried watching the cartoon UP when the wife died! I cried during the Princess & the Frog (and was mad he couldn’t be an African prince)
    so me watching that would NOT be a good look

  23. Naturally Alise
    February 11, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    First off: “I can’t watch “Roots” because I’ll feel African Guilt. It’s the stronger version of White Guilt. With less privilege and more melanin.”

    LOL, iHateu

    Second: I have never watched Roots in its entirety, only bits and pieces here and there. I just never been pressed. I think the movie was more made for people who are clueless about history. I happen to be a history and literature buff who knows more than I emotionally should be able to handle about the history of the African Diaspora.

  24. February 12, 2011 at 1:44 am

    The mini-series is 50’leven hours long and stars OJ Simpson (serious) but it’s good. So is the book. I won’t name a sick assed dude in my dorm back in college who kept rewinding the scene of the topless slaves being led to the ship, but he’s the same guy who also rewound the nude Jews about to be gassed in Schindler’s List.

  25. Dr. Kiti
    February 12, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    We did Black History month hardcore in my parents’ house so, yeah, I’ve seen it. However, my husband is, ahem, melanin-deficient, and hasn’t seen it. I’m considering unleashing the full onslaught of Blackness on him at some point and making him sit through Roots, The Color Purple and School Daze.

    • Dr. Kiti
      February 12, 2011 at 3:32 pm

      Matter of fact, I’ve seen Queen too (the one with Jasmine Guy). Only thing I haven’t done is actually read the books.

  26. beks
    February 16, 2011 at 3:41 am

    I’ve watched them all. My great and grandmom went through these time period, or rather the tailend/results, sooooo the ‘pain’ of watching kinda gets wiped by knowing folks who went through it. i think it respects them to watch them – as well as other stuff but in regards to the movies….

  27. February 18, 2011 at 9:32 am

    I feel the EXACT same way you do Luvvie.. I’m too impressionable. I am kinda curious about the hype but I just CANT. I still haven’t seen the Color Purple all the way through. *sigh*

    My best friend is from Naija I’ont wanna be giving her the *side-eye* like, “BISH!! You sold me!!”

    I. Cant.

    • February 20, 2011 at 10:59 pm


  28. PhoenixLove
    May 23, 2011 at 7:22 am

    So it’s May and no one will probably read this but I just finished watching Roots. I am 19 years old and weeped like an infant as I saw my favorite characters die and the family constantly face adversity. The opening song is so inspiring. This movie is not meant to make you angry or turn into a militant. This movie’s purpose is to make you aware and to inspire you to be the best you can be. I am Itsekiri and came to the U.S. when I was 4. I watched this movie so that I could better understand the African-American experience because my family has been in the same country(Nigeria) for hundreds of years. I want people to look at how the characters refused to use violence like the ones who oppressed them. Instead they rose up and used their minds. I feel so broken-hearted when I watch those You-tube animated videos of the “black marriage negotiations”. We need to stop tearing down each other. ~bye 🙂

  29. Sunny
    December 22, 2012 at 6:27 am

    Roots was on tv yesterday – my boyfriend who’s spanish woke me up from my nap to ask if I wanted to see it – my responce “If you wake me from my nap again there will be some strange fruits hanging from the tree in the yard”.

  30. IBK
    December 22, 2012 at 9:24 pm

    How and where can I see the movie-Roots?I want to have a copy in order for my children to watch it and surely,it will make them to know where they originated from.