We watch as Lou Gossett, Jr., as the iconic "Fiddler" character, attempts to take the young African under his wing, going to bat for him, and trying to show him how to adjust to what will become a horrific situation, having been ripped from one's homeland and forced to labor without compensation in a land where the language, culture, religion, and landscape was foreign and alien. No and contrary to the sadly popular belief at the time, most in the U.S. today of African descent did not come here like other immigrants - of their own volition to "seek out opportunity" or "escape persecution in their native homelands" - and it seems that this fact was historically forgotten until this miniseries aired.
This episode illustrates a tale of survival and in an ironic twist, establishes the presence of an internal caste and class system that evolved within the plantation community itself, as new arrivals clashed with the native born. And in a painful-to-watch conclusion, the audience is given a taste of the reality of the brutal institution of slavery in the United States, the practices of which were something almost unheard of in the history of the world and what they considered "slavery". LeVar Burton as Kunta Kinte is brutally whipped for refusing to accept and say his new slave name "Toby", where the others on the plantation are forced to watch as he is made to be an example for what might happen to them. This of course psychologically instills fear and enforces obedience by the others and in modern times, the recipients and witnesses of such most certainly would have had the potential to acquire PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). That scene was at the time and even today, one of the most talked-about and painful parts of the miniseries, as such brutality had never been shown on television in such a context and as part of a historical docudrama, particularly in a country where slavery was until that point, treated as a footnote in American history. In essence, the "history" of the period, outside of the ivory towers, was fantasy nonsense where plantations were peopled with happy "darkies" who danced and played and loafed around their cabins while work was to be done, but were permitted to do so thanks to the alleged "generosity" of their patient and caring owners.
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