'Roots' and Christian calls for justice

June 17th, 2016

Last month A&E Networks presented a new version of the classic miniseries Roots. Based on author Alex Haley’s novel, Roots tells a generation-spanning family history. The story follows Kunta Kinte — a warrior from the Mandinka people of West Africa who is captured and brought to colonial America — and his descendants as they struggle to hold on to their identities and dignity while enduring the injustice of slavery.

In 1977 the original Roots became a television milestone. 85 percent of U.S. homes with a TV watched some or all of it; almost half the country, or 100 million viewers, watched the final episode. Also, Roots motivated many people to research their family trees. More importantly, it sparked conversations about how slavery shaped America. “Never before,” American studies professor John McWhorter wrote for CNN, “had the whole nation seen slavery enacted so vividly and with such tragic pull.”

Uncomfortable but important truth

The new Roots aims to present truths about slavery and the continuing shadow it casts over American society in ways that will engage today’s audiences, especially teenagers and young adults. TV critic Jeff Jensen says the new Roots “is resolute in producing credible historical fiction and presenting it through a slave’s perspective. It is also disinterested in assuaging white discomfort.”

Roots’ graphic depictions of violence and racism frequently make it uncomfortable and upsetting. But Roots tells important truths about an injustice that cannot be ignored as our society struggles to live up to its ideal of “liberty and justice for all.” We must learn about the injustices of the past to understand and resolve those of the present.

Jesus and justice 

Jesus’ understanding of salvation embraced all of life, including justice for those who were oppressed (see Luke 4:16-21). As his followers, we have a responsibility to identify and work toward correcting social injustices today. 

Question of the day: When have you refused to go along with something you knew was wrong?
Focal Scriptures: 2 Samuel 12:1-10; Luke 13:10-17; Luke 3:7-14

For a complete lesson on this topic visit LinC.

comments powered by Disqus