Monday, April 9, 2012

Finding Your Roots - Bacon & Sedgwick

Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick

What can I say about the PBS show, "Finding Your Roots" with host Henry Louis Gates, Jr.?

Not alot.

The title is a total misnomer, since the show never shows anything about "finding your roots".

The show is merely a "show & tell" of celebrity individuals ancestry. Never showing a thing about "finding" those ancestors!

Still, it's entertainment. And that's about all I can say.

It is about the most interesting thing on television on Sunday night. Although last evening, National Geographic's "The Titanic" certainly was a contender!

I probably would have skipped "Finding Your Roots" altogether last evening, if not for the fact that Kevin Bacon and his wife of 25-years, Kyra Sedgwick were the celebrities. I've been a fan of both for years.

The show was a fun, light-hearted romp through the ancestry of both individuals.

I was pleased to hear that they had added the story of 'Mumbet' to the ancestry. [I had read of Mumbet in a Sociology class in college, and remembered the story well. Of course, I did not know that the attorney who represented Mumbet was actually an ancestor of Kyra Sedgwick's!]

I was disappointed that Gates made it sound like the show had produced information on Mumbet, and presented it like something new. Hardly new! A portrait of Mumbet hangs in the Sedgwick summer home, and she is buried in the family cemetery! Sedgwick's father told quite a bit about her on the show last evening!

It was so cute that Sedgwick's opening remarks were that she had this "fear" that she and Bacon were actually cousins. And low and behold, they are in fact ninth cousins once removed. [Hey... I think that's what 'Texican' and I are as well!]

While I applaud the show for being open, and engaging in conversation and debate regarding slavery in our country's history, I for one am sick and tired of it being a major issue on EVERY show!

Yes.... it was a tragedy that it happened. However, should we continue to discourse on what a terrible stain it left on American history? Gates never takes into consideration that slavery, not just among blacks, had been a practice for literally thousands of years prior to the settling of America?

It happened. And America, though steeped in the tradition of slavery at it's beginning, was the nation who radically changed history and abolished it, not only upon our own shores, but for the most part of the world!

I think that the young people last night, whom Gates told of America's founding father's owning slaves, upon learning this for the first time, were more enlightened than Gates will ever be. They were unanimous in agreeing that although they learned this information, it did not detract from the knowledge of the greater good our founding father's did for this country.

I sympathize with the plight of those individuals who were slaves, and of the atrocities many bore. It was a horrible, sickening thing, that is true. But Gates tends to leave a person with a bad taste in their mouth if their ancestor was involved in slavery in any way shape or form. As though it is something we should be ashamed of.

Am I any less proud of my heritage because I have an ancestor who owned slaves? Hell no! [By the way.... that ancestor was himself an indentured slave from 1804 - 1813.] I am extremely proud of my ancestry. And NOTHING could shake me from that!

I am also proud that I was born a native of the country that literally abolished slavery!

Being a bit tired of the long slavery debate, and desiring to see something different, I can see simply is NOT going to happen with this program.

I for one would like to hear about something else. I am certain that there are other aspects of the celebrity ancestry that can also be of equal, if not greater, interest.

As such, I dare say I will not be tuning in next week. And if nothing else proves to be interesting to watch on the telly... well, I just might work on my own ancestry during that hour from now on.

And one researcher's opinion. - cbh

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