LeVar Burton of Roots and Star Trek: The Next Generation fame has released a video series named This is My Story, where he shares stories that speak about some of the racist experiences of most black people in the United States.
Burton had an epiphany that he posted on his Twitter account, “I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the state of race relations in America. One thing I learned from the success of ROOTS (if you don’t know, you better ask somebody) 42 years ago, was the power of storytelling as a way to bridge the gap between races.”
He continued, “There was an America before ROOTS and there was an America after ROOTS and post ROOTS, America was a greater, more enlightened nation. We came to a better, deeper, more informed understanding of the evil nature, intent and outcomes of chattel slavery as practiced in America. As a result, I fervently believe in the power of storytelling to move the culture forward. To that end, some friends and I have created a few videos, 6 in all, that chronicle some of the racist experiences most black people who live in America, have in common.”
“Spoiler Alert: Unless you have walked the walk of the African American experience in this country, it is difficult — not impossible — but difficult, to know what that journey is on the daily. Trust me when I say, being black in America is not for the weak of heart. Neither is it for the weak in Spirit. For, being black in America oftentimes means living in and loving a country, that does not love us back. You may take exception to my premise but you cannot discount my experience.”
In This is My Story, Burton narrates and gives the audience stories regarding racism in America. The first six videos give, in detail, six unique and painful stories about racism starting from Burton’s own experiences of being racially profiled while a student at the University of Southern California, to a young boy’s story of being spit on by a “grizzled old white man” at a Georgia fast-food restaurant.
“The first installment of This Is My Story, is an incident from my own life. The others are real-life experiences of some of my friends, told by me. Like ROOTS did so long ago, my intention in sharing these stories is to provide anecdotal context for being black in America.”
Burton recently received Case Western Reserve University’s Inamori Ethics Prize and had a park, LeVar Burton Park, renamed in his honor in the Meadowview neighborhood of Sacramento, California, where he grew up.