The Rise of Radio Revolutionaries:
March on Washington 2007
Min. Paul Scott
"We need to raise up our readership so that our children can grow up and freely lead without readin' a script"
KRS from X-Clan's "Speak the Truth"
The other day I was listening to Malcolm X's classic speech "Message to the Grassroots" and his critique (OK, diss) of the "Big Six" Civil Rights Leaders after the 1963 March on Washington.
I wonder what Bro. Malcolm would say about the March on Washington 2007.
"Oh, I'll tell you, Brothers and Sisters. They were gathered to do some damage. They wanted some action! Yes! They wanted change, not tomorrow, not next week but today! But just as soon as the crowd was about to get busy and really take care of business, some DJ yelled for Juan D to play some old Hip Hop record and the whole crowd stopped marchin' and started doin' the 'crank dat soldier boy.' I'll tell you, you've been had, tricked, bamboozled..."
Don't get me wrong. I ain't mad at anyone takin' a stand against injustice, miseducation or even why gas is so darn high. But anytime that entertainers get thrust to the front of the black leadership line. I have to ask some questions.
Now, I never claimed to be a straight A student in school but even I know the difference between a radio host and a revolutionary.
This is not to say that you can't be both. Local radio hosts were often the catalyst for change in communities across the country. They saw it as their civic duty to wake the people up with information as soon as their alarm clocks went off at 6AM. There are many stories about radio hosts who have sacrificed their jobs and risked their lives by bringin' on guests or discussing topics that were too hot to handle.
But that was an era long gone, before the corporate take over of local radio, as thoroughly broken down by Glen Ford's article at http://www.blackagendareport.com/
I know this ain't 1969, the height of the Black Power Movement, when black folks were gettin' their heads cracked on a daily basis and many of us are too young to remember that period. So, the point of reference I am using is the Hip Hop version of the Black Power Movement 1988-1992. That is the closest, in the last 20 years, that entertainment and activism have come together for collective change.
Now some may argue (and rightly so, in some cases) that all that period produced was a bunch of paranoid black folks who were too scared to go to protest rallies because they thought that government satellites would beam death rays down from space and vaporize them. Or a bunch of middle class Buppies who "used to be conscious" in college who now justify their comfortable, apolitical, corporate lives by endlessly talking about "The Spook that Sat By the Door."
But that ain't everybody. Some are still fighting the fight like the "Cease the Fire" Movement.
What is most disturbing is when this new commercial radio radicalism (which came as a direct result of the powers- that -be realizing that black internet bloggers could put heat on racists like Don Imus without "Civil Rights" leaders) takes the place of grassroots community based activism.
According to Kenneth O'Reilly in his book "Black Americans: the FBI Files," in 1966 Atty General Nicolas Katzenback wanted to create a militant but peaceful organization which could compete with SNCC around the same time the organization was becoming pro-black under the leadership of Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael)and then Jamil Al-Amin (H. Rap Brown).
Kinda like revolution-lite.
Now am I suggesting that the radio hosts should should arm the marchers with machine guns and swear them in as members of the Black Panther Party.
But the key is to play your role. Stay in you lane. Or as George Clinton would say "Don't fake tha Funk." (Shout out to the Ol' School)
I just don't think that a DJ who won't even break format to play "Behind Enemy Lines" by Dead Prez will be the first one to toss a Molotov cocktail. Maybe that is why many of them spend more time assuring their corporate sponsors that a demonstration will be "nonviolent" than they do explaining to the people why they are marching.
We all know that there is a line of demarcation that entertainers dare not cross. A place where DJ's fear to tread: a land of taboo topics and banned Afrocentric scholars and researchers. They know that just beyond that line of demarcation is where the "real" fight begins.
And they know that they have crossed that line when they begin to raise the collective consciousness of their millions of listeners and their corporate sponsors begin pulling commercials.
When you have millions of listeners that don't know who George and Jonathan Jackson are and think that COINTELPRO is the new cell phone that Verizon has coming out next month , therein lies the problem.
Until we replace the "Joke of the Day" with the "Fred Hampton Speech of the Day," no matter how many marches we have,to quote Chairman Fred we will be left with:
"Answers that don't answer, explanations that don't explain and conclusions that don't conclude."
For more information on the Books or Bullets Movement go to http://www.booksorbullets.com/