PBS‘s “Finding Your Roots” series discovery of Ben Affleck‘s slave owner relative is the cause of his censorship request
The new PBS series Finding Your Roots is causing quite a stir, once the ugly but factual history of America has been revealed among well known public figures. In the new documentary-series celebrities get a glance at their ancestry and it should come to no surprise that slavery is a part of most of American history. Actor Ben Affleck is just one of the people that is ashamed of the acts that his ancestors committed; so much to the point he asked the producers of the series to censor the fact that one of his relatives was a slave owner.
After PBS announced Tuesday it was launching an investigation into the removal of the particular information from its program due to specific requests from Affleck himself, the actor spoke out on Facebook about the controversy.
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.”
While Affleck admits he “lobbied” the show’s host Henry Louis Gates to leave out the discovery, he also reminds viewers in his note that the show “isn’t a news program”. He now regrets his “initial thoughts that the issue of slavery not be included in the story”. Affleck hopes the attention on his and PBS’s actions in the last few days leads to a wider discussion of slavery.
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.”
There is now an ongoing investigation to look into the censorship request and the final edit that was aired. Affleck is not the only person interviewed on the series that discovered his roots are intwined in the system of slavery. He was just too embarrassed to put that information out there for the public. Check out the comments on Ben’s interactive FB post as he addresses the sensitive topic of slavery.