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 16) “REVOLT BLACK NEWS” episode titled “Beyond Black & Blue” discussed the problematic history behind policing in the Black community, the dissection of the minds of Black cops who choose the blue code, and reimagined the parameters of the definition of safety for us. Hosted by Eboni K. Williams, the conversation included insight from Jason Lee, Captain Sonia Pruitt, DJ Envy, Rizza Islam, Philip McHarris, and Brian Taylor.
Williams kicked off the first segment with Hollywood Unlocked creator and “Wild N’ Out” recurring guest Lee for “Police Unions: Public Enemy No. 1.” Though he is primarily recognized for his work in the entertainment industry, we learned during this episode that Lee had an entire career in unions and labor organizing prior to becoming the entrepreneur we know him as today. He shed light on the business of unions, due process rights, and how unions can sometimes be part of the problems. In addition, Williams expressed that while she has no issue with unions in their most basic form, her problem lies with the transformation of organizations protecting crooked cops and lack of convictions.
“If I can’t just pull out a gun and shoot somebody because I feel like my life is in jeopardy, then absolutely a police officer shouldn’t be able to,” Lee said. Williams chimes in, “Now you’ve got a community and a whole society that can have just a little bit of trust that when their loved one is taken from them, unnecessarily from them, they might get some justice.”
Williams then touched on the coverage of Robert Fuller as well as the hangings of other Black people across the country within the last two weeks. “It tells us exactly how far folks in this country will go to keep us ‘in our place,’” she said before addressing Trump’s signing of the executive order on police reformation and the fatal shooting of Rayshard Brooks. Other news topics included the attempted reversal of LGBTQ+ anti-discriminatory laws in the workplace, the voting of banning no-knock warrants, and the killing of 19-year-old activist Oluwatoyin Salau.
On the history of police, Islam joined “REVOLT BLACK NEWS” again to facilitate a conversation with activist McHarris about police terrorists and domestic terrorism. “This moment is an accumulation of decades — and centuries really — of police violence and terror disproportionately against Black people and Black communities,” McHarris said about police terror and violence. Islam educated REVOLT audiences on the origin of policing, which was the tracking of slaves with the Carolina Slave Patrol.
“What we’ve created [is] this massive policing apparatus that is un-reformable, but has so much power,” McHarris added on the evolution of the police and their desire to maintain control. “We have the ability to police ourselves or to bring our communities into a safer environment,” Islam closed. “As they become defunded, we have to organize, strategize and use the money and economics and create our own policies from city to city, state to state, and of course, country to country.”
For the “Community Policing” topic of conversation, Williams is joined DJ Envy and Captain Sonia Pruitt. She started by speaking about their personal experiences with fathers in law enforcement and the polarization of the Black community in relation to the police. Envy recalls a time where his father advised him on an encounter with the police with, “You cannot beat the police in the streets. Your main goal is to get home” to which Williams and Captain Pruitt gave a nod. When Williams prompted Pruitt about the psychological devastation and impact of telling war veterans to police communities, Pruitt first addressed the assumption of the majority of officers coming from the military.
“Although I would agree with you to some extent, I would say the issue is more that when you become the police, it is the way that you are trained,” the captain answered. For final words on rebuilding the trust versus abolishing police completely and starting fresh, Envy believed that trust can be rebuilt if police officers stand up for what’s right in cases such as George Floyd’s, while Captain Pruitt was skeptical about the possibility of healing without starting over.
“Four of y’all, one of him” repeated TikTok user @JD_Will about the recent events in Minneapolis. He continued to remind the audience that police are first responders and at the sound of a man yelling, “I can’t breathe,” they are supposed to render aid. “That’s the reason I got behind this badge,” he said. “[Those] officers that [are] afraid to step up, I want to be the one to step up.” In a clip pulled from YouTube, Officer Evans also expressed his anger and the community’s needs to hear from law enforcement that they are in agreement with.
White police officer and TikTok user @SouthernSheriff sounded off about the disgust behind the officers who pose as innocent bystanders and how they are just as guilty. “You also have an obligation to protect that individual that you’re arresting,” he said to his TikTok audience. Likewise @OfficerNaeNae called out his colleagues if they see nothing wrong with any of this. “You are part of the problem that we face every single day trying to weed out the bad apples because you don’t admit when somebody did something wrong simply because you’re blinded by the police officer family,” he continued as he delivered a tearful apology to George Floyd’s family.
After the montage of TikTok and YouTube clips from police officers on the frontlines, Williams came back to introduce a new segment titled “Building Black Wealth,” shining light on Black entrepreneurs. Brian Taylor, owner of Harlem Doggie Day Spa, spoke with the show host about his accidental transition from his stable career in finance to entrepreneurship. “Instead of being behind the desk [and] counting money, and doing all of the finance and payroll, I got my hands dirty and I switched over from the finance world to the puppy world,” Taylor shared. “I realized at that moment, what I’m doing is fulfilling, makes me happy and I love supporting people who need our services.” Furthermore, he’s in the midst of a fundraising campaign for pup owners featuring Black groomers Puppy Pandemic Tour.
“We are going to make sure that we use our power, that we amplify our power to make the changes we see for us because we are not hopeless and we are not powerless,” Williams closed. “We are indeed powerful in this moment.”
Key takeaways: Do your research, know your history, and know what you’re supporting. A lot of people are for the defunding of police without truly knowing what that means. Some are choosing the side of blue. Being informed about our history in relation to policing, protesting, and the union of law enforcement will go a long way when equipping ourselves for the war we’re continuing to fight 400 years later. In a time when it’s “us versus them,” arming ourselves with knowledge and utilizing it to bring forth change in our local, regional and nationwide communities are major steps to bringing the change we want to see. There’s power in knowledge.
Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” Are you in danger?