Sports Walkouts: What do athletes have to do with revolution?
Welcome to #NJRR Live!
Hello, everyone, and welcome to #NJRR Live, coming at you live every Wednesday at 8PM EST! We begin tonight’s episode by remembering Kevin Zeese. Kevin was a dedicated activist and a powerhouse of the left. Our deepest sympathies go to our comrades as we mourn this loss together. A tribute to Kevin can be found here on our website.
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Although we do frequently discuss serious topics here on NJRR Live, it is important to touch upon uplifting things once in a while. Tonight, our guest is New Yorker and upcoming musician Qüe DavinciYO. Qüe comments that the people are really starting to realize that the government is not on our side. For example, as schools have been opening up again nationwide, the federal government has failed to step up to provide adequate funds or even a plan. Personally, Brian notices hiccups in online learning, but he also enjoys the extra time that he is able to spend with his kids. He is “digging the homeschool thing” even though he never expected that it would work for him.
Recently, a Trump supporter Aaron Danielson was shot and killed by Michael Forest Reinoehl who was subsequently killed by police in Portland. Both deaths have been ruled as homicides. Although Brian does take issue with Trump supporters, he’d rather continue cursing them out in Facebook arguments than be the cause of loss of life and profound human suffering. The incident gave Brian pause as he questioned how and why things escalated to the level that they did. Due to police killing of Rienoehl, we will never know exactly what happened. However, we can look back on this incident and ponder where we can go from here. Ideally, as a society, we will reach a place where we would not feel the need to resort to guns as a solution to conflict.
One of the biggest problems in society today, as we touch upon quite frequently on this show, is our faulty law enforcement system. A lot of the issues boil down to one fundamental truth as pointed out by Qüe: police aren’t policing themselves! The very people who are supposed to maintain justice have become entities of oppression. Their main interest is protecting themselves rather than the people. Qüe laments, wishing that the police would do better in taking their job of protecting communities seriously.
Brian remembers a recent example in which the Rochester Police Department tweeted about how rocks were allegedly thrown at officers in response to their murder of a young man. Qüe remarks that all the Twitter post is is clout chasing. These officers were fully armed and had protective equipment. Even if the rocks were thrown, the cops deserved it for brutally taking the life of a young child. Tweeting about the incident was a ridiculous move on the part of the police department.
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Joining us again tonight is Afrika! Afrika was on the show a few months ago for a discussion with Margaret Kimberly about the uprisings that took place in the wake of George Floyd’s tragic murder. Afrika has been spending much of his time coaching children in his community in basketball as part of an after school program.
Is It A Revolution Yet?
Tonight, Brian asks Afrika if the uprisings have escalated to the state of being called a revolution. Afrika says that there is mobilization but there is not enough organization. People are just out on the streets being upset. Until there is organization, we will not be able to get what we need, which is profound institutional change.
We are still in step 1, notes Qüe; we are not there yet. Brian reflects on the fact that more people seem to be educated today than ever before on activist issues, perhaps because of the information society in which we find ourselves. However, this may not be enough. Afrika reiterates how important it is for people to organize in order to accomplish goals.
What happens during any sort of protest or strike is psychological warfare. There is a common saying in the workforce: “You’re lucky to have a job.” It is manipulative at best for companies to be feeding their employees this narrative. It allows them to continue mistreating their employees without question by devaluing them and glorifying themselves.
The only way that we are going to escape a system that oppressed us all is together. Our responsibility is not to ourselves but to our people. The duty of a member of the Black liberation movement is to take a genuine stand by educating yourself on how to organize. Anyone who claims to be a member of the Black rights movement should understand that we must all stand together.
A Broken System
An oligarchy, by definition, is a system that is controlled by elites. The unfortunate truth is that we live in this kind of society. We no longer live in a democracy. When we look at what happened with the recent NBA walkout, when elite celebrities such as LeBron James come out and encourage people to vote in this system, it runs counter to fundamental messages that revolutionaries died defending. Afrika does not want to mince words: the elites of society are the enemy.
A discussion ensues. Brian, while recognizing the inherent flaws of being a part of the establishment, sees the merit in celebrities like Lebron James using their platform to spread a political message that could spark action. Qüe never expected Lebron to be a hero of the people; he turns on the NBA to watch basketball. He thinks Lebron does well enough as an athlete and this scrutiny is unwarranted. Afrika doesn’t buy any of it. He believes that we cannot embrace the messages that the elites send, even though they will no doubt reach millions of people. To say that you stand for us and then encourage us to go vote is to make a mockery of our cause and disrespect activists who put their lives on the line every day. Voting is simply no longer compatible, Afrika says, with liberating ourselves.
See You Next Week!
Afrika is working with kids on a daily basis as they return to school, providing them with a space in which to mature and find purpose. For the past 12 years, this has been a mission of his. If you want to support what they do, their Cashapp handle is $papiegz. Until next week at 8:00 PM live EST, stay safe, everyone!
-Leah Giannantonio, for New Jersey Revolution Radio