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 4) “REVOLT BLACK NEWS” conversation titled “Organizing Power: Taking This S**t Back” honed in on the specifics in George Floyd’s case, and finding solutions for social injustice against Black and brown communities in times of police brutality, rioting and unnecessary use of excessive force. The round up of community leaders and public figures our community included Joey Badass, Mike Muse, Eboni K. Williams, Brittany Packnett Cunningham, Royce Da 5’9,” and more.
Cunningham, Rizza Islam and Michael Eric Dyson appear on the screen first to lead the discussion following a compilation of intro clips from Keke Palmer and John Boyega on the frontlines of protesting to Martin Luther King, Jr. and Nelson Mandela. “You’ve come here to get real — not just about what’s going on in our community, but how each of us can take our power and make sure that we are playing the role that we need to play and we are building teams and not saviors,” Cunningham kicks off the conversation.
She reiterates the importance of recognizing the non-monolithic nature of the Black and brown experience — ethnic backgrounds, religious beliefs, political philosophies, countries of origins and more. However, she expresses that all differences aside, the entire world has centered its focus on the Black community as a whole and that “operating in alignment” by effectively communicating with one another is the key.
On the importance of understanding the expansive history of Black leadership, team building and recognition, and social issues versus focusing on one philosophy, Dyson effortlessly fired off rounds of names of some of the most recognizable names in Black history from Ella Baker and Fannie Lou Hamer to Diane Nash and SNCC. However, he did point out that women did not get the credit that they deserved from the gate. “Let’s be honest, the women were slighted. They were pushed to the margins. They were doing all the work,” he says.
As he used examples such Rosa Parks and E.D. Nixon for men often being accredited for the results built off the backs of women, he concluded in agreement with Cunningham about the importance of teamwork. “The enormity of the battle meant that there were so many people operating simultaneously who never get the ink, who never get the celebration, who never get the acclaim,” Dyson says, “but, they were doing such extraordinary work and that’s the kind of thing that we have to remember as well.”
When the ball was thrown back to Cunningham, she called out this very country that was founded on genocide and protest. “The founding fathers were the original looters,” she points out. “This idea that protest is not fundamentally American only seems to be assigned to folks when they’re Black — irrespective of what the proof actually is. Not just about how this country came to be, but also about what Black protestors have been doing in this protest and for so long.”
Islam concurs by adding, “It is fundamentally indicative of a person’s nature to rise up against an oppressive force whether you are Black, brown, yellow, red or poor white. It happens all throughout history and it happens in the present. The difference is what happened this time ignited all of the colors across the country and the world because it was something that took place on video and it was piece by piece, second by second oppression being demonstrated so no one had an excuse.”
As he references the public evidence of George Floyd’s death and describes the visualization of his breath leaving his body, Cunningham and Dyson are overcome with somber and disappointed looks in their faces. “It was excruciating, it was beyond painful and it connected all members of the human family because they all said, ‘Okay, you know what? There’s a problem’,” as Islam acknowledges that some allies of the white community have finally opened their eyes that they and this so-called “justice system” are the real issues.
Though white people are slowly coming to this long-awaited realization that they have been ignoring the injustices in the Black community, Islam holds a candle to the face of our people and challenges us to take accountability for our role in taking it too long, begging the system to give us chances, and not standing up and doing something for ourselves. “We cannot blame a power if we have not accessed and activated our own power,” he enlightened. “We have the ability to police ourselves. We have the ability to have our own towns and cities. We can be separate and have our own thing, while also having camaraderie and relationship with everyone else and it not be segregated circumstances.”
Moving on to the “Next Steps Talk” with Pan-African studies professor and civic leader Dr. Melina Abdullah; and actor, activist and co-founder of “BLD PWR” Kendrick Sampson, Dr. Abdullah jumps into the notion that policing evolves from the practice of slave catching and the solution lies in abolishing police as we know it, and ushering in a new form of community safety that keeps Black people safe.
“Defunding the police is the first step to abolishing the police as we know it,” Dr. Abdullah says to Sampson, as she highlights that nearly fifty percent of general funds in most major cities go to that sector. “Defunding police means saying that’s not where we want our resources to go. We want our resources to go to things that actually make communities safe.”
After receiving praise from Dr. Abdullah for his courage and advocacy, Sampson closes with encouraging the REVOLT audience to use #DefundPolice on social media. “They’re small wins in the grand scheme, but it shows that we are threatening power and we are powerful folks when we come together. Organize around something and be unified in that. That is the movement that’s moving right now to give us the resources we need to move that money, and those resources that are our resources into our communities into systems that we actually need to heal us and care for us,” the “Insecure” actor concluded.
“State of the Culture” co-host Eboni K. Williams opens up a conversation with REVOLT watchers for a “Voting Talk” on elections with legendary “Sway in the Morning” co-host who “stands at the intersection of pop culture and politics” Mike Muse. Williams prompts Mike to address the importance of local elections of judges, city councils, mayors, etc. to Black communities. “If we want to really eradicate police brutality, we have to be more specific and more strategic with our vote,” Muse responds. “Far too often, we just tell Black people to vote, but without giving any direction to become solution oriented.”
As he continues to become passionate about the brutal and fatal actions of the police force against our community and lack of consequences, Muse brings the attention back to the quadrant of the mayor, the police chief/commissioner, district attorneys and judges who are responsible for prosecution and bringing justice into our community — or not so much. “We have to educate our viewers, our citizens, our Black voters on what questions to ask,” he plugs in his Vote Quadrant’s strategic voting system.
“We know this stuff affects us everyday. We saw it just this week in the Minneapolis school system and school district deciding to cut ties and end their relationship with that police department in light of what happened with George Floyd,” Williams piggybacks off of Muse’s point of the importance of local elections. “That only happened because the school board members and the folks running things in that education system that we vote for at the local level and local elections made that decision.” She continues to list examples of the primaries in New York state and the first Black mayor in Ferguson as a “full-circle moment” in light of the Mike Brown tragedy.
How timely is the insertion of YelloPain’s “My Vote Don’t Count” at this time, which has garnered over 1.1 million views on YouTube since its premiere in January. “All our votes really do count and they’ll really never let it show, so now I’m finna break it down because if I don’t you will probably never know,” he raps over the beat.
In the vid, YelloPain breaks down the government, branch by branch and role by role, and calls out the Black community who looks to the president to do the Congress’ job, when we don’t even participate in their semi-annual elections. “They election every two years, but we don’t ever even go to those. The Congress, they can raise minimum wage, but we ain’t even really know it though,” he spits.
Next up is “Insecure” actor Sarunas Jackson on the responsibility of celebrities and influencers to speak up on important subject matters such as the killings of unarmed Black men and women, and the COVID-19 pandemic. “Yes, we do have a responsibility. That’s what I believe,” Jackson starts, but clarifies that he doesn’t believe that they should feel obligated to do anything if “they are not comfortable, if they are not equipped, and if they are not educated.” To this, he proposes an easy solution: Get equipped and get educated because “when you get equipped, you become comfortable.”
The Philly native continues to bring his attention to those who are Black public figures and benefiting from Black viewership, Black dollars, Black consumption, live a luxurious life as a result of Black culture. As a Los Angeles resident, Jackson speaks out against the LAPD, how they take up 54% of the budget (which totals $3 billion), and our need to defund the police. “The mayor of Los Angeles finally has agreed to cut down the budget for the police force from between $100-150 million. Now that’s just a baby step. We have way more to go,” the actor concludes before blessing us with well wishes.
Reason pops on the screen next to encourage those with a platform to speak up in times like this. “If you do not take the time out to speak up and give back, and be on the frontline, and be a leader for Black culture and for people in general, whether these people have been the means to fund your lifestyle, to fund your ability to travel the world, to fund your ability to just live out your dreams, then what’re you doing with your platform?” the There You Have It rapper sounds off.
Wide receiver Brandon Marshall joins in on the “Celeb Talk” to say that once everyone, not just Black and brown communities, see this injustice and murder as a problem, then we can create change in tangent with voting in potential elected officials who actually care about the wellbeing of the Black community. “It’s time for us to do even more, and go above and beyond in whatever area you see fit,” Marshall proposes to REVOLT viewers.
Maino comes on the screen and starts by paying respects to those fallen soldiers of the community, George Floyd and many other young Black men and women who were unjustly killed over the years. He recently released a song titled “I Can’t Breathe,” which he wrote and composed the day after Floyd’s death. “As an artist, I think that we’re all subjected to the same pain,” he says.
Shifting to a conversation about Black wealth, Founder and CEO of the official Black Wall Street app Mandy Bowman introduces her panel-mates Royce da 5’9” and Shareef Abdul-Malik. Royce touched briefly on his Detroit background and how his upbringing inspired his passion for the Buy Black movement, and using our Black dollars within our own community. “I’m noticing how much strength and power we have as a collective and getting the children thinking like a collective and knowing their value, and being able to place value on yourself,” he states. Abdul-Malik chimes in about intentionality behind where we put our money.
“Keep in mind that Black Wall Street was a local aspiration. It was not a national aspiration and for us, it shouldn’t be,” he travels back in history. “It’s something that we should be doing locally right in our own neighborhood.”
“We just gotta take the steps and we gotta be loyal to each other and loyal to the process. Even if it’s like we’re planting a tree so the next generation can enjoy the shade,” Royce adds. To this, Bowman is smiling ear to ear as she recognizes the not-so-small $1.3 trillion buying power. “There’s so much that we can do when we pull our resources and actually support,” she says.
Joey Bada$$ blesses REVOLT viewers with a “wake up” call to share his thoughts on the state of the Black community in a world, and a justice system, that was not crafted for us. The rapper gives us two recommendations on how to keep this same energy beyond this one week or one moment in time: “Uniting on a mental front” and “police the police.” As the “Grown-ish” guest star drops gems about the Ethiopian calendar, the oppressed siding with the oppressor, and the BS behind #AllLivesMatter, the MC voices that the people should have a say in the policy that is governing the police. “Now that it’s clear that this justice system was built not for us, not for people that look like me, it’s time we adjusted,” he suggests as he plugs in the work of Campaign Zero. “Pick a side, keep that energy, and get to work.”
Now that we, as a community, have taken the time to be introspective and adopt the mindset of unity and identifying strategic solutions, we must now individually assess what we bring to the fight and how we can collaborate with those who possess strengths in our weaknesses. It’s time to come together, be the change we’ve been waiting to see, recognize the power within ourselves, and take that s**t back.