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Ben Affleck Breaks Silence on Trying to Hide Slave-Owning Ancestors

Ben Affleck Breaks Silence on Trying to Hide Slave-Owning Ancestors

Ben Affleck is speaking out for the first time since it was revealed that he tried to hide his slave-owning ancestors in a PBS show about his family history.

It was revealed in a leaked Sony hack email that the 42-year-old actor requested to have that part of his family removed from his Finding Your Roots episode.

“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,” Ben wrote on his Facebook account. “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 [Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr.] 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,” Ben added.

Click inside to read the rest of Ben Affleck’s lengthy letter on the topic…

“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.”

Just Jared on Facebook
Photos: Getty
Posted to: Ben Affleck

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  • Marianne Steinmetz

    Your ancestors are your ancestors good or bad. It is your history, your story. Hopefully no generation down the line is embarrassed by you?

  • Lena Johnson

    Your ancestors are not your story, they’re their own story and have nothing to do with you and who you are. They are are responsible for their actions alone and you…yours.

  • kellyf

    I agree with you completely – but it can’t be easy to have it shown on TV that your ancestors participated in something horrible, and to have that live online forever. I don’t blame him for wanting to distance himself from it. He’s not responsible for what they did by any stretch of the imagination, but their actions would be associated with him.

  • Jana500

    No comparison whatsoever with making a film and the choices directors make. Disappointed in his lame rationale.

  • Benny Ehud

    Come on, Ben. You’re white. It’s safe to assume at someone owned at least one slave.

  • lshelton22

    I can’t stand him. So FAKE. Glad this is blowing up in his face.

  • moonbeams62

    Thank you! You’re absolutely right! That’s the whole point of doing it. It’s not like he’s responsible for what someone did five generations ago.

  • moonbeams62

    It’s one thing to “distance yourself” but it’s another thing to try to change the story by hiding something or altering the facts. Ben is wrong on this. He needs to own it, and move on instead of trying to justify it as a creative decision. It wasn’t a creative decision, it was his history. Why even bother to participate if you intend to interfere with the process.

  • Guest

    Nice way to throw the producer under the bus after he protected your vanity.

  • Lena Johnson

    I agree with you as well. I don’t blame him for not wanting to put that out there either because so many people lack common sense they would associate someone elses actions with him. I just don’t agree with the orginal post that his ancestors actions are “his” story, it isn’t which is why he has the right to disassociate himself from it.

  • Lena Johnson

    There is nothing there for him to own. Someone in the history of his family did something he disagrees with and doesn’t want anything to do with…which is his right because he “didn’t” have anything to do with it. Most people lack common sense and would attach him to that person’s actions and possibly ruin his reputation and career, how would that be fair and why would anyone choose to put themselves in that position. I don’t care what any of my relatives do or have done, it has nothing to do with me and I would never “own” it food or bad that’s them and I’m me.

  • Elvisfan Harb

    That was then….this is now…you can’t help what your ancestors did…and if anyone gives you a hard time over it..they need to get over themselves.

  • ohbutwait

    Only the wealthy owned slaves. If you are italian, irish catholic or eastern european, your ancestors probably did not own slaves.
    WASPs and those of anglo descent, yes, probably, but the rest, no.

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  • gena

    Yes it is .Like he said it’s not a news show or documentary.It an entertainment show about lives of famous people.Have you never heard of actors asking the director to cut a scene because they didn’t like it or it showed too much skin ,it happens.Anyway who cares .It doesn’t change his life or yours

  • kellyf

    I totally agree.

  • TEX

    lol seriously.

  • Rose Ryan

    I agree that it was lame. It’s no reflection on him that his relative was a slave owner, but the fact that he tried to eliminate it from his history is what is bad. We all have skeletons in our closets, it’s best to own up to them. No one would have cared if the show had just aired with that footage about his ancestor having slaves. Ben made it a big deal because of his ego. He is the only one who’s ever done that show that demanded that the footage about his ancestor having slaves be removed. Everyone else acknowledge the fact and handled it with class.

  • kmoliver

    Thank you for this comment. I come from a catholic Sicilian family and though my skin is quite fair, my ancestors were incredibly poor and mined coal in Pennsylvania. They may have worked with some slaves, but they didn’t own any. Thinking “it’s safe to assume” all white people have an ancestor that owned a slave, as Benny does, only encourages the blame game Affleck was talking about. I don’t blame him for feeling ashamed or for being surprised at that part of his ancestry.

  • Lucifer Arnold

    He didn’t have a problem showing his dong in the movies ?????

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