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 (July 30) “REVOLT BLACK NEWS” episode titled “We Are Essential” discussed the season openings of the WNBA and NBA, the increasing mortality rate of Black women during childbirth, and the risks and economic impact of businesses opening up in the Black communities. Host and executive producer Eboni K. Williams was joined by Gia Peppers and Arielle Chambers in addition to Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed, Kazeem “Kaz” Famuyide, Latham Thomas, Charles Johnson, and Dr. Kendra Segura.
After Williams’ strong introduction where she addressed Black people being on the frontlines as essential workers and athletes, the host welcomed Mayor Reed for a discussion about Black people being disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, and approaching the risk assessment from the public health perspective. “It starts with the health of the community over the wealth of the community,” he explained. He continued to express the importance of taking precedence of the needs of the Black community as we move into the fall season with school re-openings, conducting business, and sporting events. In the city of Montgomery, Reed talked about taking precautions for those who may have pre-existing conditions, and those directly and indirectly affected.
Williams continued to note that though the Black community knows what it needs to do by wearing face masks and being more strict with social distancing laws, all of that is long forgotten when the excitement of fall football games and the touch of a physical classroom setting arises. “It runs in direct conflict with the reality of what some of the engagements that will be starting to reopen and re-engage. That’s the reality,” she said to Mayor Reed.
For last night’s headlines, our host addressed the possibility of another round of stimulus checks that would extend evictions while cutting down unemployment to $200, the funeral of the late civil rights icon John Lewis, the over $20 million donation to HBCUs by humanitarian Mackenzie Scott, and the passing of former GOP presidential hopeful Herman Cain due to COVID-19.
Williams further discussed the speculation of Joe Biden announcing a Black woman as his VP next week and Kamala Harris’ name being thrown into the mix. “To me, it’s not an option,” the host said about the appointment of a Black female vice president. “Joe Biden has to select a Black woman VP. Why? Because Black women are essential to his candidacy; Black women are essential to the Democratic party; Black women, particularly those in South Carolina, brought this campaign back to life. Frankly, the base needs a reason to get out, stand in outwards long lines and vote. It needs the energy.”
After a brief tribute to Breonna Taylor and a call-to-action to arrest the cops responsible for her death by powerful Black women athletes including Skylar Diggins and Natasha Cloud, Kazeem Famuyide introduced Arielle Chambers for a discussion starting with the premiere of the WNBA. “This is a league of women that have been leading the initiative in social justice for the past four years now,” Chambers said about the WNBA’s “I Can’t Breathe” campaign and risking thousand-dollar fines. “We just love to see them come together and stand up for what’s right.”
As the conversation shifted to the NBA, Chambers additionally stressed the importance of keeping the players healthy and the possibilities of quarantining after an injury. Regarding The Coalition’s penned letter calling the league “The Plantation” due to pay and promotion gaps, the mistreatment of women, and lack of representation and diversity in their staff, Chambers expressed her support for disrupting the norm in order to start conversations and see changes. “A lot of times, people have been comfortable in their bubble and have not had to look in the mirror in the past,” she said. “Now when we have the Black Lives Matter movement actually resonating with everybody, women are feeling empowered, people are feeling empowered and that shouldn’t be something to be feared if you’re doing right.”
In last night’s “Black Excellence in Entertainment” segment, Williams brought podcaster and entertainment journalist Peppers into the conversation about the intersection between sports and entertainment. The two journalists dove into topics including Rich Paul joining UTA’s Board of Directors, “SNL’s” Leslie Jones announcing the official Emmy nominations, “Insecure’s” first Emmy nomination for best comedy series, and HBO’s $1 million gift to Howard University for internship expenses.
“HBO is putting their money where their mouth is. I’m so happy from all of the social justice movements we’ve seen, corporations do a lot of tweeting, posting and saying things for Black lives. But, HBO is showing it and putting the money and the investment in our community, and it’s so beautiful to see,” Peppers said.
The racial differences in maternal mortality was the following topic of discussion. “Who among us is more essential than those who give us life?” Williams praised Black mothers. Doula and author Thomas jumped straight into a conversation about the public admissions of Serena Williams and Beyonce about their near-death experiences with childbirth, which addressed the larger conversation of Black women not feeling safe while delivering their babies. She highlighted the 25-year increase in Black maternal deaths in the U.S. and Black women being in a state of emergency.
“The lived experience of race in this country creates stress factors for people,” Thomas told Williams as she connected the dots between racial trauma and mortality rates amongst Black women. “We’re talking about forces that are working on our bodies and systems that are working against us before we’re born. We have to seek to [ensure] their safety in birth,” she continued about out-of-hospital birth options.
Johnson joined the conversation with Williams next about his organization, 4Kira4Moms, in honor of his late wife Kira Johnson who passed away during childbirth. As he spoke to Williams about the light that his wife always brought into a room, he brought up that she was “in exceptional health” and how “all signs pointed” to her and their new son, Langston, being healthy after a flawless delivery. He walked Williams and REVOLT viewers through the story of his wife’s passing by noting how immediately after her C-section, Johnson rushed to a nurse hours later who had told him that his wife was “not a priority right now.” “The reality of the situation that’s so unfortunate, oftentimes particularly for people of color [and] more so for Black people — specifically and moreover for African-American women — is that all care is not quality care. Particularly when there’s a failure to connect that care with compassion,” Johnson said.
“More than anything, the thing that’s consistent, particularly with these stories that we’re hearing about African-American women, is there was a failure of compassion and fundamental human decency,” Johnson continued. Dr. Segura provided further knowledge to REVOLT viewers about the racial disparities of Black women. “In America, I feel that being a woman [is] tough because sometimes you’re not heard or you’re overlooked. Then, when you’re a woman of color, a lot of people tend to discredit you in certain situations,” she spoke about the various stress factors of a pregnant Black woman.
“When I say we’re essential, what I’m saying is we’re a priority,” Williams said as the episode came to a close. “We have to let these insurance companies know that Black health is a priority as well,” she said as she encouraged everyone to sign the petition to fight for access to services in the Black community that we may not be able to afford due to layoffs or other financial barriers keeping us from receiving basic healthcare.