When revolution is made easy, is it really revolution, or rather an exercise that we use to excuse ourselves from being a part of the problem?
The recent execution of death row inmate Troy Davis created an online frenzy. The regular opponents of the death penalty came forth as well as what I will refer to as the black flash mob. You know who they are. Those college students, pseudo-intellectuals and Twitter rebels who have a lot of tough talk about the death penalty, the prison industrial complex and post-traumatic slavery disorder. But rarely do much more than update their Facebook statuses and at the most come out for one night of protesting. These people don’t realize their microwave revolutions actually hurt their causes more than help.
Long standing institutions in America and the people who protect them have realized that most Americans – especially the poor and under-served communities lack the will and the stamina for the prolonged civil unrest necessary to change policy and paradigms.As I watched the Occupy Wall Street movement and spawns spring up all over the country such as Occupy the Fill In The Blank City I was struck by the fact that very few of its participants were poor or black.
In fact, when I visited the Occupy Chicago Movement in full swing, there were approximately 3,000 participants from the city who all seemed to be out of work college graduates who would quickly put down their picket signs if a new position opened up at the corporation they were screaming about.
The problem with America’s modern day movements is that they seem to be missing a few essentials. In the case of Troy Davis, it was not clearly defined whether the protesters were against the death penalty or the death penalty for Troy Davis. The great comedian and Civil Rights activist Dick Gregory made his position on the death penalty clear by protesting outside of the Texas prison that executed Lawrence Brewer the same night as Troy Davis.
Brewer, a white supremacist, brutally drug the body of James Byrd to his death. While most of the media was giving attention to the Troy Davis flash mob, there was one lonely revolutionary who stood on his principles that the death penalty in itself was wrong, no matter who was being lethally injected or what their crime was.
In the case of the Occupy movement, we have yet another flawed strategy. The fact that it is a leaderless movement is a great source of pride for its followers. However, historically, every great movement has started with a few people that metastasized their cause to the masses. Jesus and the Twelve Disciplines, the Montgomery Bus Boycott, The Black Panthers, The Irish Republican Army and the ANC of South Africa are just a few examples of how clear leadership and a specific agenda creates long-term sustainable change.
It is imperative that we begin doing the hard work. This includes:
- Picking an issue or movement that we are passionate about beyond the sound bites or new story of the week.
- Finding a base of support that is just as passionate about the issue and willing to take prolonged action with a strategic plan and specific outcome.
- Going door-to-door no matter the weather realizing that we may be cold in the winter and hot in the summer. In one word this can be called sacrifice. Something that the flash mobbers are not willing to do long-term.
A true revolutionary has principles and solutions and is willing to put their career and their life on the line to defend them. So though there may be thousands of people at a rally one day, there needs to be sustainable action until the next rally so that the powers that be are put on notice that the new revolutionaries mean business.
Give H.O.P.E. Live H.O.P.E.
Che “Rhymefest” Smith
About the Author
Inspired by his life experiences growing up in a working class, single-parent household, Che has carved out a life in art, music and social activism, always using his music career as a platform from which to stimulate social change. Che Smith is a dedicated father and a loving husband whose wife is a proud Chicago Public School teacher. In 2005, Che won a Grammy for “Jesus Walks”, which he co‑wrote with friend Kanye West. Follow him on Twitter at @RHYMEFEST.