The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
“The revolution will not be televised.” - Gil Scott Heron
This is a revolutionary moment, but the real work that paves the way for dismantling oppressive institutions, and rebuilding ones that serve all people equally, is just beginning. It is not a performative process. It will not be glamorously staged and televised. The long road to change requires work: patience, fortitude, stamina, faith – and PLANS.
I know this because in this country it’s been tried before – my generation was one of the last to make a declaration of revolution. We transitioned our people from negro to Black and Proud. A HUGE undertaking! Awareness of the truth of our history and culture was central to our mission. It helped ground the embrace of our humanity, and that of those within our communities. We were brothers and sisters in those days; and, our cultural oneness was on full display. Obstacles, resistance, and a hardening of systems of oppression – set against the lack of an inclusive, oppositional strategic plan – precluded a deeper dive into unity of purpose. Trauma. However, tremendous lessons were learned. And, many of us continue to embrace the ‘DREAM.’
The experiences of Jim Crow, sharecropping, and Segregation shaped us. Many of us lived in or had access to elder family members, and great grandparents, who shared their history. Those stories guided us toward the aspirational futures they hoped and prayed awaited our evolution.
In 1950 when I was born, our people had only been free from the period of enslavement 85 years. Think of it. Three generations prior, it was illegal to teach enslaved people how to read! Think of that; and, think of this: Human beings who had been treated as chattel, and sometimes even worse, were told they were free. But, they had no resources – nothing but the clothes on their backs; no plans, preparations – no money. And, they were thrust into a SAVAGE environment. What? Too soon, the scars of 250 years of trauma tore into freedom’s promise: What’s next? What do we do, now? Where do we go? TERRORISM AND EXPLOITATION AWAITED.
Let us remember that we have been living through 10 generations of trauma. Systems explicitly designed to dehumanize and exploit, constricted and oppressed Black people – from the inside out. Traumatic. These systems were created during the period of enslavement. They’ve been reshaped and renamed, but we’ve been living through and in these same systems since then. Trauma’s colors have changed, the forms reshaped, and scarred memories deeply ingrained are reinforced, producing the psychological trauma we witness daily in behaviors and choices. Dr. Na’im Akbar refers to this as psychological slavery.
And now, here we are at yet another crossroad; promising because white folks seem to be waking up. They seem to be listening. One of my mentors, Dr. Barbara A. Sizemore, once said that “the cry of the ghetto is being heard by a nation with its fingers in its ears.” There seems to be a willingness to hear those cries. I certainly hope so. Working with us to save this country, is no mistake. Our best interest inures to their collective benefit and advantage. Black liberation IS white liberation. Dismantling the Industrial/Political complex, foundational to the institutionalized racism that hold us ALL in bondage, will require a declaration of NO MORE, NO MAS – from us ALL. We work together or we perish.
As an activist (from the age of 13), it is still exciting to work with others for a common cause, but quoting one of my young friends “for real, for real?” Perseverance is the name, and commitment is the game. It will take work and oneness of purpose and strategy to move us forward. Ubuntu. Ujimaa. E Pluribus Unum. Reach out to those you know and offer your assistance in whatever the form. As my young friends say, “Now is the time to go hard.” It won’t be televised and likely not pretty; but, the journey together will be sweet. “WE THE PEOPLE” are standing up! Let’s not squander this opportunity. WE CAN “change the world just you and me” (from the song: (from the song: Wake Everybody, Teddy Pendergrass and the Blue Notes).