By Sean Yoes, Baltimore AFRO Editor, [email protected]
“You will not be able to stay home, brother
You will not be able to plug in, turn on and drop out
You will not be able to lose yourself on skag and skip
Skip out for beer during commercials
Because the revolution will not be televised”
-Gil Scott Heron, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”
Gil Scott Heron, one of the original prophets of rage (and one of the most underrated popular music artists of the 20th century), first recorded his seminal spoken word masterpiece, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” for his 1970 album, “Small Talk At 125th and Lenox.” It was just two years after 1968, when riots broke out across the nation following the murder of Dr. King.
In 1970, in the midst of the Black power movement it seemed like the racial powder keg Malcolm X prophesied about in the Spring of 1964, was primed to explode again; “revolution” and the requisite “race war” seemed imminent.
“The more things change, the more they stay the same.”
Fifty years since King’s assassination and almost 50 years since Scott-Heron imploded the cultural scene with Revolution, we seem poised again for a racial reckoning.
Recently, I spoke to one of the most prominent politicians in America and the conversation was dominated by Donald John Trump. The politician I’m speaking of told me in no uncertain terms that they were fearful to proceed with impeachment procedures against Trump, not because it would simply rile up the rabid Republican base, but, more ominously, because Trump’s followers would `take to the streets.’
That’s right, this prominent politician, a person not prone to hyperbole or hysteria. basically predicted Trump supporters would presumably take up arms and take to the streets if their man was brought down. It takes minimal projection to visualize the mythic “race war” so many have been terrified of and tantalized by over the decades.
Well, here’s some breaking news, the race war in America has already begun.
The 45th president, a White nationalist and an ignoramus (could there be a more lethal combination for Black people?) maniacally careens from rage over Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation to rigging racial landmines along the American landscape. Last week, Trump refused to comment on Roseanne comparing Valerie Jarrett to an ape; the same Roseanne he lauded and said her now cancelled show `was about us.’
Trump refused to weigh in on the Starbucks controversy a couple of months ago when two Black men were arrested for waiting on a friend (to quote the Rolling Stones). Trump refused to take a stand on any of “the living while Black” scenarios, which prompted White women to call the police and therefore imperil the lives of those Black people. To be clear, Trump won’t take a stand because he has no moral compass to guide him and because in these scenarios it is Black people being “victimized.”
However, the 45th president can’t wait to get his Twitter fingers going when Black athletes get too uppity; he just “disinvited” the World Champion Philadelphia Eagles to the White House, because several of the team leaders were going to boycott the visit and a couple of weeks ago, Trump suggested players who protest during the anthem should leave the country. When White grievance is on the menu, Trump is first in line at the buffet.
Perhaps, the only way Trump could be more demonstrative that the race war in America has begun would be to go to the roof of the White House, bust shots in the air with his AR-15 in one hand, while waving a Confederate flag in the other.
Meanwhile, hate crimes are up significantly across the board since Trump took office 500 days ago; it seems clear Whites have been emboldened by the ascension of the king of birtherism, a man that sees moral equivalency in neo-Nazis, and those who protest them.
The 21st century American race war may not be the “fire and fury” many have predicted, yet. But, it’s still real.
However, what happens the next time a White woman calls the police when a Black man is watering his lawn, but instead of being peaceful, that brotha’ shoots that White woman for being on his property, and claims a “stand your ground” defense?
“The revolution will not be televised…the revolution will be live.”
Sean Yoes is the Baltimore AFRO Editor and the host and executive producer of the AFRO First Edition video podcast, which airs Monday and Friday at 5:00 p.m. on the AFRO’s Facebook page.