Saturday, November 29, 2014

I can't recommend this PBS TV series (which I think you can watch online here) highly enough. Gates explores the ancestry of a variety of highly accomplished people—from Derek Jeter to Ken Burns to Nas—in ways that almost inevitably brings tears to my eyes.

When a so-called "black" guest discovers roots that reach back beyond the Civil War and slavery, and sometimes that their European ancestors were not slave holders who raped a slave ancestor but in fact a European-American who married a free African-American, and other incredible revelations, to see that guest's stunned expression and then the relief and release as it sinks in is inimitable.

There are revelations that go in the other direction as well, with ancestors who were on the wrong side of an issue or event. But the main thing that almost all the guests end up sharing is at least some quotient of ancestry. Something that gives the lie to the categorizing of humans that's been going on throughout history and has played such a significant role in the history of the USA.

I think it might contribute to not just a better understanding but better relationships if every student in this country had to watch an episode of FINDING YOUR ROOTS and then have a classroom discussion about it afterward. I'd rather see that then all this core-course, teach-to-the-test robotic learning dysfunction that has seized our schools.

If you haven't caught an episode and you watch one and it doesn't move you, watch another and I guarantee it will.