The seminal image many 50+ year old Americans have regarding the West African slave trade's operating model can be traced back to the 1977 television miniseries Roots. Some of you may recall sitting in front of your CRT television screen unknowingly watching the roots of a future social justice movement unfold before your eyes as a gang of European men magically appear deep within the Heart of Darkness wielding nets, superior numbers, and incredible brutality and snatch up a young and happy Kunta Kinte from his ancestral homeland.
Like me, I bet the knot in your gut got tighter at each stage as Kunta Kinte was first shipped off in chains to a slave depot, sold at auctioned, and finally sent to America where his foot got cut off and he was renamed Toby. The miniseries was a monumental success at implanting those first seeds of suburban white guilt into what had previously been infertile terrain. Afterwards, many Americans could never innocently watch OJ Simpson run through airports in quite the same way.