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“REVOLT Black News Weekly” aired on Friday (Oct. 28) to discuss sex trafficking and the case of Pieper Lewis, the 2022 midterm elections, and “The Surreal Life,” which is making a comeback after a 16-year hiatus. REVOLT guest host Demetria Obilor led the episode titled, “Captured and Convicted: The Case of Pieper Lewis, Push to the Polls: 2022 Midterm Elections, and NLE Choppa’s Reading Revolution.”
She was joined by Journey Out case manager Tika Thornton; abolitionist organizer Paige Fernandez; anti-human trafficking strategist Ken Henry; legal analyst A.B. Burns-Tucker; candidate for U.S. Representative (R-TX) Wesley Hunt; and political analyst Jonathan Harris. REVOLT Entertainment Correspondent Kennedy Rue McCullough also brought viewers the latest in celebrity news, during which she interviewed “Living Single” star Kim Coles and “Reasonable Doubt” actor McKinley Freeman.
Obilor opened the show by discussing sex trafficking and the case of Pieper Lewis, a Black teen from Des Moines, Iowa who was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter after killing her alleged rapist. On June 1, 2020, Lewis, who was 15 at the time, stabbed 37-year-old Zachary Brooks to death after he allegedly raped her repeatedly. She was sentenced to five years of highly supervised probation and community service. She was also ordered to pay $150,000 in restitution to Brooks’ family.
Obilor led a discussion with Thornton, Fernandez and Henry to discuss the sex trafficking crisis that Black girls and women face in the U.S. Thornton, a sex trafficking survivor, believes that the criminal justice system failed Lewis by ordering her “to pay restitution to the family of a pedophile.” “This situation is basically victim-blaming. She was victimized, raped, abused, coerced into sex trafficking because of her situation,” she opined. “This story is too common. A pedophile convinced her to be a part of something that is just so incredibly heinous. When she had no other choice, she did what she needed to do to survive.”
Fernandez chimed in and stated that the criminal justice system further traumatizes and harms Black girls and women like Lewis. “Black women and Black survivors of abuse are just at a significant risk of being criminalized, of being arrested, of being incarcerated,” she proclaimed. “We see this repeatedly, specifically with Black women. The study that Georgetown conducted that showed that adults view Black girls as less innocent and more adult-like than their white peers, and we see this come through the criminal legal system constantly.”
Henry said there needs to be legislation in place to protect Black girls like Lewis from human trafficking. He explained the issue is “a lack of education,” adding, “You don’t have the right people at the table that are making the laws and things of this nature.”
Later in the show, McCullough hosted her “Entertainment Remix” segment, during which she interviewed “Reasonable Doubt” star McKinley Freeman about the Hulu legal drama series. Freeman disclosed to REVOLT that he is happy to be a part of a project that empowers Black women. “Having Black women in the driver’s seat for this story is important because first of all, Kerry Washington’s phenomenal. [The] writers are phenomenal… I’m all about supporting Black women,” he shared.
He continued, “To be in a world where you can express yourself as an actor transparently and authentically in a way that other brothers watching the show with their ladies can be like, ‘That’s me,’ that’s important.”
During the segment, McCullough also showed viewers snippets of VH1’s reboot of “The Surreal Life” starring Coles, Tamar Braxton, Dennis Rodman and August Alsina. Coles told McCullough, “I wanted to do it because of the nostalgia of it, and so I knew that it was gonna be new and fresh and exciting and uncomfortable and mostly an adventure. And who doesn’t want an opportunity to just show up just as you?”
Watch a quick clip from this week’s episode up top. Plus, be sure to catch the next installment of “REVOLT Black News Weekly” on Friday, Nov. 4, 2022 at 5 p.m. ET on REVOLT’s app.