“I didn’t want any television show about my family to include a guy who owned slaves. I was embarrassed” — Ben Affleck
Ben Affleck has issued an apology on why he asked not to have his slave-owning ancestors featured on “Finding Your Roots.”
Affleck posted on Facebook an apology of sorts and his reasons why he didn’t want information disclosed.
After an exhaustive search of my ancestry for “Finding Your Roots,” it was discovered that one of my distant relatives was an owner of slaves.
I didn’t want any television show about my family to include a guy who owned slaves. I was embarrassed. The very thought left a bad taste in my mouth.
Skip decided what went into the show. I lobbied him the same way I lobby directors about what takes of mine I think they should use. This is the collaborative creative process. Skip agreed with me on the slave owner but made other choices I disagreed with. In the end, it’s his show and I knew that going in. I’m proud to be his friend and proud to have participated.
It’s important to remember that this isn’t a news program. Finding Your Roots is a show where you voluntarily provide a great deal of information about your family, making you quite vulnerable. The assumption is that they will never be dishonest but they will respect your willingness to participate and not look to include things you think would embarrass your family.
I regret my initial thoughts that the issue of slavery not be included in the story. We deserve neither credit nor blame for our ancestors and the degree of interest in this story suggests that we are, as a nation, still grappling with the terrible legacy of slavery. It is an examination well worth continuing. I am glad that my story, however indirectly, will contribute to that discussion. While I don’t like that the guy is an ancestor, I am happy that aspect of our country’s history is being talked about.
In response to Affleckgate, PBS also issued its own statement.
“PBS and WNET are conducting an internal review led by our respective programming teams of the circumstances around the ‘Finding Your Roots’ episode ‘Roots of Freedom,’” the public broadcasting network’s statement said.
“This matter came to PBS’ attention on Friday morning, April 17th. Professor (Henry Louis) Gates and his producers immediately responded to our initial questions. In order to gather the facts to determine whether or not all of PBS’ editorial standards were observed, on Saturday, April 18th, we began an internal review. We have been moving forward deliberately yet swiftly to conduct this review.”
Image Credits: AP