More than a generation ago, singer, poet, troubadour Gil Scott-Heron advised us sardonically: “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.”
Gil was right then. And if I may be permitted to update his wise prophecy today through my lens I like to call “Obama-view,” I would add that now: “The Revolution is Over. Finis. Dead.”
But there may have never been a real Second American Revolution brewing on the front burner, or the back-burner in the first place. Sure, in the 1960s we talked a good game, loudly. But real revolution? I don’t think we were ever really ready for that. I say that as one of those who thought himself to be most ready, back in the day. And if Black people are not dissatisfied, then there can be no revolution in America.
I believed and still believe the 1968 words from Kwame Toure (Stokely Carmichael) which pushed me over the edge: “If you’re used by The Man, you’re useless to your people.”
But at the end of the first decade of the 21st Century, Black Dudes are “The Man.” And not just President-elect Barack Obama either. Black Dudes are Governors of both New York and Massachusetts, and in the recent past, the incumbent Mayor of Richmond (the Capital of the Old Confederacy) served as Governor of Virginia. What could be more “The Man” than Governor of Virginia? How about President of the United States? We’ve stopped counting the number of Black mayors, and Cabinet Secretaries, and police chiefs, and other potentates.
Forget about the George Jefferson America. We’ve got the Cliff Huxtable America, in living color, moving into the White House in a few days, on television, right before our eyes.Â And that Fred Sanford America and that Amos ‘n’ Andy America are both so out of date, that they can now be appreciated for the pure comic genius they portrayed on the screen, rather than as a reflection of true Black ambitions.
The Revolution is over.
The closest the TV and movie worlds came to armed, anti-social, “Bad” Black Dudes were Ice T and Ice Cube, and both of them have extended their careers beyond their introductions to us through Gangster Rap, by portraying police officers in their feature roles. Fuhgeddaboutit. Bourgie is in. Bad is out.
Even 50 Cent, the Baddest of today’s the Bad Guys–who once boasted of dealing drugs at age 12 and being shot nine times by rival thugs–has gone corporate, now peddling books, and dietary supplements, and platinum jewelry, even complaining publicly about the decline in value of his stock portfolio. Bourgie is in. Bad is out.
The Revolution Will Not be Televised, because The Revolution is Over.
Need more proof? I dare say there are probably not a dozen real bona fide hard core Black revolutionaries left in America. And all those who claim to be hard core who have jobs working for The White Man, and who have mortgages, who drive a Cadillac Escalade or a Lincoln Navigator (so as not to by an imported car, and therefore show their support for American union workers), and who send their children to private schools and academies, who are organizing Caribbean cruises, and who are fighting to get tickets to the Barack Obama Inauguration on Jan. 20, 2009: all those fake revolutionaries are disqualified from my list.
You show me a Black Revolutionary who rationalized his or her support for the Obama presidential campaign, and I’ll show you a Fake Black Revolutionary. Is he or she hoping for the collapse of Wall Street, and for hastening the impending 2 million home foreclosures due in 2009 when all those adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs) reset to much higher rates and unaffordable monthly payments for many? I’ll tell you. No, he or she isn’t.
In his prescient, oft-cited treatise on our (and the world’s dilemma) Dr. W.E.B. DuBois told us that “the problem of the 20th Century is the problem of the color line.” He also described our conundrum as having “two warring ideals in one dark body.” Those conflicting ideals were whether or not we are Black or American.
Well, in 2008, most Black folks made up their minds, and the millions who will be on the National Mall Jan. 20, and the hundreds of millions more who will be watching on television have concluded unequivocally that we’re done with that Revolution-stuff in America, and we’re ready for whatever will be televised, especially if it’s HD-TV, Blu-Ray, Flat Screen, theater-style, pay-per-view, on-demand, 500-channels of television, television, television.