The Revolution is Live
Earlier this year I was approached by a woman I've known for almost 20 years with an opportunity for our podcast to participate in an event for the youth, where the goal is to engage, empower and show them there are so many different avenues to exceed and express themselves. Not her words exactly but that was my interpretation. During our conversation, an important point came up where she said that she is not the type to go out and protest or march, but this summit was her expression of those same feelings that protesters and marchers have. At that point, the light went on.
It was a light that should have went on when Harry Belafonte called out Jay-Z about not being active enough in protests and speaking out. People tore Jay-Z to shreds over a reported comment where he implied that his presence was charity. Even then, I didn't get it and I still didn't get it after Dream Hampton reported that Jay-Z had been supplying bail money to people arrested for Baltimore protests. But last week, I got it and I understood. For the next six weeks, on Wednesday nights at 10 pm, I'll be able to watch Jay's "protest" as a six-part documentary is aired on Spike TV & BET on Kalief Browder. Which is an indictment on the police, bail system and prison system which is systematically an attack on people of color as much as it is about Kalief. This is his protest, his revolution. The same way others before him have protested through television and movies.
The same way Ava Duvernay led one of the biggest protests of 2016 with her documentary, 13th. Growing up in Compton, California and seeing mass incarceration and seeing how it affects communities and people of color, Ava has put pieces about mass incarceration in most of her work. However, with 13th she smacked us in the face with it, she upset a lot of people, even black people. She challenged our status quo, our comfort zones and some of us are still trying to process. She created a piece of art we can watch over and over that leaves us full of rage everytime we watch it.
Throughout history, revolution has been sparked and fueled by artists. Artists provoke thought and emotions of the masses that are already stirring. A true artist has the ability to lead without appearing as a leader. An artist can lead in ways a politician, king or religious leader simply cannot. An artist can lead but still be one of the people because their leadership does not come from calculated decisions, their leadership is based in emotion. The true difference between artists and political leaders. One of our most conflicted artists, Tupac Shakur, summed it up perfectly in my opinion: "I'm not saying I'm gonna change the world, but I guarantee that I will spark the brain that will change the world."
That Tupac quote is one I hold so dear that I would tattoo it on me, but it never meant more to me than today. Earlier this month I saw kids at an underserved high school in Chicago have a sit-in and demand a meeting with the head of CPS. When news cameras showed up these children were educated, articulate and had their thoughts more organized than 45. When challenged by reporters that it may be too late for funding, they fought back saying, this is for the future. These kids were told about lawsuits that CPS is filing against that state for funds that should have gone to CPS but haven't. They were fed the same politics as usual rhetoric that is always par for the course in Chicago. The same politics as usual rhetoric was fed to CPS product and Chicago favorite Chance the Rapper during his meeting with Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner. In the meeting, which came about after Rauner congratulated Chance on his Grammy Awards win, Rauner reportedly asked Chance where the money would come from, a reported $215 million due to a Rauner veto. Frustrated and with camera in his face after the meeting Chance barely had answers, but asked the journalists to do work on how we got to this point. He looked into the camera and said, he will be back Monday with a plan.
Monday came and Chance presented CPS with a check for $1 million dollars, making it a call to action for all of us to do our part to save our city's public education and our children. This Wednesday will come and Part 2 of the Kalief Browder documentary will air and the condition inside of one of the most dangerous prisons filled with inmates of color will be put on display. And 13th, Ava Duvernay's documentary that talks about how black people are still enslaved with and without chains present day is always streaming on Netflix. The revolution is televised ladies & gentlemen, tune in.