Inspired by Sean “Diddy” Combs’ successful “State Of Emergency: The State of Black America & Coronavirus” town hall, “REVOLT BLACK NEWS” is a platform that is designed to report news from the perspective of black people for black people.
Last night’s (June 9) “REVOLT BLACK NEWS” conversation titled “Blood, Sweat and Unity” discussed topics like activism through the lens of an athlete and the “Justice of Policing Act of 2020.” Eboni K. Williams was also introduced as the official new host and executive producer of the show. The featured community leaders and public figures who tapped to speak included Emerald Snipes Garner, Brandon Marshall, Dr. Wendy Osefo, and Jalen Rose.
“In a particularly divided time in our country, we saw a bit of unity rise up this week,” begins host Williams. She summarized the latest in current events within the Black community from the creation of Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, D.C. to NFL quarterback Drew Brees’ apology and claiming allyship after his poorly received comments about kneeling. She continued to report on the “Justice of Policing Act of 2020,” which was unveiled on Monday in response to protests about police brutality and excessive force; and Derek Chauvin’s first court appearance via video conference with a set bail at $1.25 million without conditions — $1 million with conditions.
Williams continued to announce that Minneapolis may be the first city to dismantle their police department, as nine supermajority members of the city council pledged to abolish their existing police department this past Sunday.
The host then welcomed her Dr. Wendy Osefo to speak on the Black Caucus’ new police bill brought to us by Senator Kamala Harris, Senator Cory Booker, Congressman Jared Knadler, and Congresswoman Karen Bass. The Johns Hopkins University professor and political analyst deemed this as one of the most “sweeping, comprehensive actions that we have seen when it comes to policing.” She continued to express the importance of seeing action and movement co-existing seamlessly more than rioting and protesting.
Dr. Osefo touches upon the notion of “qualified immunity,” where law enforcement continues to commit unlawful acts in contradiction to what they’re supposed to enforce, and yet, we never see effective changes. “This whole section about qualified immunity speaks directly to that [by] saying, ‘No, you can no longer hide behind your badge’ [and] you can no longer say that because of your job, you will not be treated to the fullest extent of the law like any other individual,” explains Dr. Osefo. “I think that’s a point that almost any other American who wants to see changes in policing will say, ‘This bill is trying to speak to us and the needs of the American people.’”
When Williams posed a challenging scenario to Dr. Osefo about the possibility of a republican appeal against the “Justice of Policing Act of 2020,” the show guest said she believed anything was possible once she saw Mitt Romney marching and saying “Black Lives Matter.”
“There’s a sense of nostalgia in this moment. There’s a sense of people wanting to be on the right side of history at this very moment, and I believe that if no other time, this is the time,” Dr. Osefo added. She predicts that members of the GOP will come over to “the left side of the aisle” because these movements have evolved into more than an issue for the Black community and people are seeing it for what it is: The murder of a human being. “You do not want to be on the wrong side of history for this moment,” Dr. Osefo continued.
As Williams began to wrap up the segment with the doctor, she wanted to address the members of Congress taking a knee. “Child, they had on the kente,” the show host said. While Dr. Osefo was initially taken aback, she took it upon herself to assess the bigger picture behind the kente: solidarity. “I’m somebody that never thinks it’s too late to do the right thing however,” Williams emphasizes. “Y’all a little bit late to the party, but I know some people appreciate the moment.”
The next segment opens with a video by Rickey Williams, a white male who speaks on the distorted power dynamics that he witnessed firsthand. Rickey, who is now deceased, described an encounter with a close friend, a Black male whom he called “Cornbread,” with the police as he recalled being treated differently. “The people with the problem don’t often have the power alone to create a solution, and the people with the power often don’t have the problem, but they don’t take the time to create the solution,” he said. “What we can do is acknowledge this as a human problem, take ownership of it, and do what we can to listen and learn.”
Next up was Emerald Snipers Garner, daughter of the late Eric Garner, on the Eric Garner Law being passed in New York and the efforts to push the law nationally to ensure that the use of chokeholds are illegal on a federal level. As she goes into the strides that she and the Black community have been making, Emerald also acknowledged that we must lean on the republican party for support. “I’ve made it my life mission to make sure that police brutality ends nationwide,” she said.
On a note to George Floyd’s family, she expressed the importance of protecting your peace. “Take back your power. Self-healing [and] self-care is the major thing that you need right now,” Emerald added. To Floyd’s 6-year-old daughter, Gianna, she added, “Baby girl, we got you.”
Jalen Rose facilitated the next conversation between himself and Brandon Marshall about the importance of influencers acting as change agents and activists. “White multimedia companies basically control what we consume via television and newspaper,” the sports analyst addressed, while he hones in specifically on how they stifle protesting and activism in sporting events. “In other words, shut up and dribble.”
Rose praised Colin Kaepernick and Marshall for “taking a knee at work when it wasn’t popular” and losing fans and endorsements, but proudly stood — or kneeled — for what was right. Marshall agreed with Rose that the idea of “shut up and dribble” is a form of oppression and it saddens him that another Black life had to be taken for people to open their eyes to the very thing he had been protesting against since 2016.
“Unfortunately, someone had to pass away, but now this thing has taken on a new life,” the athlete said about the strides being made in the Black Lives Matter movement. “Back in 2016, we didn’t get any type of support. It was only about the bottom line – it was only about the dollar and we might lose fans and sponsorships because ‘the flag is so precious to us,’” Marshall added.
“I think this definitely put pressure on ‘em. It put pressure on all the companies that are now speaking out about this. It’s a moment in history where there’s nothing else going on. There’s no sports, so this is on the forefront of everything. Everything is extremely magnified right now,” he continued. “When you see the prominent white people getting behind this, that catches the ears of more white individuals.”
“If I played with Drew [Bees], I would have to talk to him because his comments were extremely insensitive to the times, what’s going on, [and] to what Black people have been experiencing for years,” Marshall went on. In spite of his apology, Marshall believes that Brees felt obligated to issue it not out of sincerity, but because he was feeling the heat of public scrutiny for his lack of regard for Black and brown communities.
“I always felt like it was just a way to dismiss what you guys were trying to get accomplished by thinking y’all were gonna hypnotize us with the flag,” Rose chimes in about the pressure placed on players to conform during the anthem. Marshalls also recounted a time where someone had taken a video of himself burning one of the athlete’s jerseys and saying, “Right message, wrong time.” Marshall confusingly asked, “When is the right time?”
If not us, then who? If not now, then when?
“It’s one thing for them to see it happening to us, but then when you see the elderly gentleman walking down the street in Buffalo and he gets pushed down, starts bleeding, and they just walk over him like he doesn’t exist…” Rose said. “That’s what has to change. See us like you see your own.”
“I would love to have it in my time, but, hey, as long as it does happen. At some point, it needs to happen and I’m with the next generation,” Marshall added.
This “REVOLT BLACK NEWS” episode highlighted an accurate demonstration on what can happen when the Black community and our allies come together to recognize that all lives simply cannot matter if Black lives clearly don’t. Through speaking up in sports and entertainment or sharing the story of how police brutality has impacted themselves on a personal level, leaders in our community are taking charge of the course of direction for our people. Even allies like Rickey Williams, who acknowledge their white privilege and are receptive to actively learning how to be a better support system for us, are changing the game. This isn’t just a Black problem, it’s a human problem.
The sooner we can recognize the flaws in the system, the less blood and sweat will be required to create unity.