Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Roots Revisited

Book 1
One Year Reading ChallengeCategory: A book over 500+ pages


I thought I'd get one of the hard ones out of the way.
I chose Roots by Alex Haley, the co-author of The Autobiography of Malcolm X, because I already owned the 888 page book. That didn't matter, I bought the Kindle version on the third day because I couldn't continue carrying that book around.

Roots is a novel loosely based on the lineage of Alex Haley. It follows his ancestors from free Africans in Africa to unwilling voyagers on inhumane slave ships to slavery in America then (so-called) freedom in America after the Civil War.

We all know that black people are resilient and strong because we have survived all the horrible conditions put before us. If you didn't know, now you know. So I wrecked my brain trying to come up with an original gleaning perspective for this post and decided to focus on the end of the book.

I can imagine how happy Alex Haley's family was when they were first granted freedom. It opened a whole new world to them. Their patriarch, Chicken George convinced his wife, children, and grandchildren and a few other recently freed slaves and white indentured servants to travel to Tennessee where blacks and whites were developing a new town together.  
When they got settled in their new town, one of Alex Haley's ancestors, Tom was the most sought after blacksmith around. His services were so much in demand, Tom decided to open his own blacksmith shop in town.  But when some of the white residents got wind of it, they approached him and told him he could not own his own shop. A white man would have to own the shop and he would have to work for him.
He was so angry when presented with this, he was going to take his family and find a place where he was wanted but after he cooled down, he decided to turn his wagon into a mobile blacksmith shop so he could go directly to the people. Eventually, he did open his own shop after he became so endeared to the community.
Tom must have felt so hopeless at the moment the white settlers told him what he couldn't do. Finally, his family had reached freedom and it seemed to be taken from right under them. That resiliency I talked about earlier kicked in coupled with ingenuity to find a way or make one.
I felt that hopelessness while I read Tom's story. Much like the hopelessness many African American men feel in this country today because the police in their community that are supposed to serve and protect them are killing them without any repercussions.
But just as Tom found a way by making one, African American men and women are still resilient and we still have the strength of our ancestors to build on to do the same in our current situations.


  1. Good review. I like that you focused on one episode in the story and that you, as always, found the positive both in the story itself and in the light that's shed on today's experience. High five!