about the kinté space

Welcome to the kinté space! This project moved to the World Wide Web in 1998 when I felt that content was king—and queen. I had no idea, at the time, that the web would turn into this giant Home Shopping Club that we experience today. Despite the invasion of this mass-market-based, corned-beef-hash-slinging, aristocracy of mediocrity—and despite the fact that I am but a peasant in this magic kingdom—I still persist: the kinté space wants to extend and develop some of the ideas and very few images introduced to American popular culture by the electronic version of Alex Haley’s literary classic, Roots This “electronic” version was a television show broadcast in 1977 by ABC. In his illustrated encyclopedia, Blacks in American Films and Television, Donald Bogle writes:

In early 1977, for eight consecutive nights, the sprawling twelve-hour, $6 million miniseries “Roots” took hold of the mass television audience’s imagination and refused to let go. Never before in the history of television had there been anything that even remotely looked like it (its opening African sequence had a visual sweep then new to television): it was a big, elaborate, galvanizing experience of pop mythic dimensions that affected viewers both black and white. Over 130 million people (representing 85% of all television homes in the United States) brooded, cried, cheered, and debated over the agonies and glories of Kunta Kinte and his descendants. And despite the various cliches and concessions, the dramatic inconsistencies, and occasional historical inaccuracies, “Roots” was a genuine once-in-a-lifetime event in the 1970s, a rousing historic mass cult picture that may have altered popular imagination.

And I, Bryan Wilhite, consider this “elaborate, galvanizing experience of pop mythic dimensions” a veritable big bang in the pop collective consciousness of Generation X America. My wish is to develop the space made by Alex Haley, his creation, in the electronic medium that you, the stock market and I call the World Wide Web. Do you think I want to make a genealogy site so we can all trace our “roots” for US$19.95? Do I want to make a site devoted to the making of the “Roots” Tee Vee show with interactive Chicken George Trivia games? No and no: I am not savvy enough to make that kind of public offering. I am laboring under the assumption that you, and thousands like you, will enjoy my interpretation of the ideal behind transforming the literary work of a so-called “minority” into an electronic form that was easily accessible to a larger audience. As of this writing, by the way, “Roots” is now available on DVD video—is this more mindless shopping? You be the judge.

Any educated person (especially educated peoples of African descent) would be quick to conclude that a lot was lost in the translation of Alex Haley’s literature to Tee Vee. What is more, Alex Haley was only one exemplary writer with one voice who was “allowed” to go public on the corporate airwaves. Now, I am not going to insult your intelligence by reminding you of the virtues and ideals of the Internet and its World Wide Web. Let me just say that, that this is yet another time in our history to support a medium that can be as far reaching as television but personal enough for genuine voices not underwritten by large corporations. It is all up to you, a mass audience willing to read the words in this sentence deep down in this paragraph, to want this to happen. I am sure you all want this thang. It may not be my thang but it will be something. So: Do I want to make a site devoted to indulging in hatred for the thieving, blood-thirsty descendants of Roman Peace? Do I want to make an “all Black” section of the web for the false sake of purity—a reactionary purity created by industrial whiteness? No and no. Let us not roll it that way. Watch, read and listen to what happens in this space and draw your own conclusions.

So, yes, I know: Either we have a great deal of work ahead of us or I will end up a bitter old man in a burnt out field in Watts, California, playing dominoes in a vinyl chair under a tree next to a freeway overpass. Can I get to that? Yes and no. You may be surprised by what can happen to the best of us.