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 (Feb. 18) episode of “REVOLT BLACK NEWS” titled “Love Freedom” discussed the historic snowstorm hitting Texas that is impacting millions of lives, and leaving residents without power or heat; as well as the understanding of the Black agenda. Host and executive producer Eboni K. Williams was joined by Roland Martin, Willow Smith, Angelo Pinto, Tamika Mallory, Kenny Walker, Tamika Palmer, Rapsody, Bun B, Erica Ford, Lee Merritt, Keturah Herron and Linda Sarsour.
“Combating racial injustice isn’t a job and it certainly ain’t no damn hobby. No, it’s a way of life,” Williams said in her opening remarks. “We must all endure in this fight because people like Breonna Taylor no longer have a way of life at all.”
Pinto, co-founder of Until Freedom, kicked off the episode by introducing Martin, who moderated a panel about democracy, Black power and policy featuring Ford, Merritt, Sarsour and Herron. “You can march, you can protest, but if you do not change policy, it’ll all go for not,” Martin said. Then, Ford told Martin about co-producing public safety as a prioritization and implementing policies of the Black agenda. “What brings police into our communities is violence, crime,” Ford explained the benefits of creating resources for Black communities to minimize interaction with law enforcement. “We are able to reduce the things that give life to the ‘I can’t breathe’ and able to reduce the interaction we have with police that cause them to infect their disease of anger and racism on innocent young men and women.”
Herron, from an abolitionist perspective, touched on the balance between protesting for issues such as the injustice of Taylor’s death and implementing lasting policy changes. “We have to change the practices and the tools that our law enforcement is using or the system as a whole are using.” Herron continued to explain changing law enforcement practices after the tragedy surrounding Taylor in a 16-day span from the beginning of the protests. “When you’re talking about the movement, you have so many different pieces, but there has to be someone that is willing and able to take the voices of the community, and communicate that and talk to the elected officials, the people who have the power to make those changes. That’s what we did.”
Sarsour chimed in to demystify “the misconception that Black and brown people are in the streets without an agenda.” She added that protesters are doing more than “aimlessly walking around in the streets” and are “in fact leading agendas across this country,” particularly Black women. “To the folks who are not Black, follow the leadership of Black people and Black women,” she enforced “because when you ban No Knock Warrants, when you divest from police departments and invest back in communities and when you ensure that all students get high quality public education...we all get it.”
Rapsody came on to the screen during the commercial break to recite “Diary of a Mad Black Man,” which was followed by a conversation with Williams and Bun B about the fatal snowstorm in Texas. Bun revealed that he lost power for five to six hours during the storm and had been in contact with people who’ve been without power since it began. While Texans knew that the storm was coming, the rapper believed that the impact of the storm was undersold. “We don’t get snow here very often, so people were just excited about the idea of having snow in Texas. That’s all we were prepared for in terms of going outside and venturing out into the show,” he added.
After diving further into the impacts of pipe breakage, lack of natural gas, food and water resources and the rising death tolls, Bun expressed the importance of getting the word out to help Texas, especially Black its communities. “I don’t really trust a lot of these organizations. I trust the people that I see on the ground,” he admitted as he employed viewers with the task to support grassroots organizations such as Relief Gang and his church, where people can visit online at BethelsHeavenlyHands.org.
Mallory headed the “highly anticipated conversation” about justice for Taylor nearly a year after her killing. While going live in Louisville, KY with the family of the slain woman’s mother, Palmer; former boyfriend, Walker, Mallory was also joined by Pinto and Mysonne. When asked how she was feeling a year to date of her daughter’s death, Palmer responded, “Mad still. She was murdered almost a year ago and there’s no justice.” Walker agreed about the feelings of anger because of the lack of justice, but is optimistic in that “we’ve made a lot of progress.”
Though Palmer cited justice and holding people accountable as a solution to feeling better, she acknowledged that it would not make the pain go away. “It’s half and half,” Walker said about the firing of the three LMPD officers from their positions. “That’s admitting that you all have done something wrong. From that point on, how could nobody go to jail? If I went to jail and there was no proof that I did anything wrong, I didn’t do anything wrong. That doesn’t make sense to me.”
Pinto turned to Palmer to ask about the Biden Administration’s efforts to get justice for Taylor, and the mother revealed that they have not reached out as of yet. “We understand that they just got in office,” Mysonne explained “but that still has to happen. Breonna Taylor is a landmark situation for our generation...and she is the face of injustice for Black people in America. We’re definitely gonna make sure that we push them to have conversations about what justice looks like for Breonna Taylor.”
Martin reappeared for the second half of his conversation with the Black agenda panel to discuss the reconciliation of multiple interest groups. Merritt touched on his role as a lawyer and the understanding of different groups working towards a common goal of social justice. “Conferencing, working together and unity is so important to our community,” Merritt said. “If the streets don’t understand how qualifying immunity works and how it serves as a protector for law enforcement behavior...then there is a disconnect in terms of what the demands are from the streets.”
He continued, “We all need to speak from one voice and as we continue to speak from one voice and one agenda, I think that’s how we achieve actual and meaningful change.”
“No one group works together. We have to all work together in targeted areas where high risk numbers based on data are proven and let it go to work,” Ford added. Merritt jumped back into the conversation to acknowledge that disagreements will happen along the way, but you must keep pushing.
“In this work, you have no choice but to work with everyone,” Herron said. “The thing is getting people to understand their role in the movement and getting them to do that.” Sarsour said we don’t always have to agree on everything to have the same common ground. “We have to understand that the opposition, they don’t like each other either but somehow they figure out how to band together, how to work together and how to strategize together around the things that they want to keep our people oppressed,” she added.
Pinto returned to moderate a conversation about the future of activism and social justice with Tory Russell and Tiffany Dena Loftin. “2021 is probably gonna be a 1960s freedom summon. My hopes are that everyone goes to the one-year commemoration in Louisville to stand up for this sister and shut it down,” Russell shared.
Loftin touched on the need to shut down private prisons in the midst of COVID-19 outbreaks, while addressing schools and vaccinations. “We have to have those conversations on the local level. It’s not gonna be some national figurehead talking about it in D.C. at the White House,” she said. “That model needs to be replicated. We have to bring the folks from last year in.”
Willow Smith encouraged viewers to follow the featured social justice leaders from last night’s episode across social media platforms. Williams returned to close, “When we look at each other as family, then we are truly aligned in the fight. But, when we stay focused, we don’t get distracted by that bullshit and we stay energized like we are in this moment, that’s when shit really changes.”