The Revolution was televised, and there was all the difference
The face-spitters in their dark costumes are back to muttering their dark conspiracies on the dark web; the indefatigable army of night marchers with their molotov cocktails are nursing the most banal hangovers. The guilt-ridden whites—in Manhattan and Los Angeles—whose kids nary attended a public school in fear of contamination have gone back to tracking their retirement portfolio and looking to see which among the dozen or so recommended tutors might prove the best fit for their tempestuous gender uncertain daughter, a creative genius, even so.
The pretend boys and girls from the hood with their electrolyte hydration system velcroed to their hips performed on themselves a societal scale hoodwinking for a season; the take-a-kneers are now infinitely more interested in perfecting their downward dogs and half-moon poses. But more importantly, and most ironically BLM is enjoying, after the Bikram-in-extreme level heat they generated in the streets, savasana, the corpse pose. They have virtually reincarnated, transmigrated to sundry estates which they purchased with all those burnt guilt-offerings. There they might in perfect repose buff up new slogans: The Black Life that Matters be My Own, for instance. Patrice Cullers, BLM CEO, also “artist, activist writer” signed a book and movie contract shortly after the firestorms, and then checked into early retirement: now she is healing: “it was all just too much,” she’s been quoted more or less uttering.
It’s all gone to pot, the big society recalibrating project to protect black people from carnage. Quickly as the hurricane came, just as quickly it petered out, but it left structural changes in its wake: mangled neurotic realities next door to shiny black and brown high-rises with dazzling red, orange, yellow, green, indigo, and violet streamers flapping in a wind of ambiguous direction.
Now, more Revlon commercials featuring anything other than bleached people. More LGBTQ kissing on the screen. Corporate boards with more first names like Kamesha and last names like Chavez. All the burning and looting—how 60’s it felt—rage against the machine, and righteous anger, systemic injustice, etc., leached away into the fetid green pool of corporate lucre. Look, one black man gets to charge on stage to slap another black man in the face on Live TV, and then, minutes later, step onto the same stage and accept an award to rousing applause.
“Defund is dead,” said Nancy P., she who took a solemn knee with some African shawl made in some Uyghur concentration camp draped over her runny neck. And what a boon, that small business owners, already addled by Covid, were shellacked into oblivion. More market share for the big boys! The Black Boxes have redounded to the predictable benefit of the Big Boxes.
When Netflix, The Screen Actors Guild, and Amazon are on your side within a matter of days, think twice, no? The corporations got their cake and they ate us too.
It was all well and good the assaults on property (“They have insurance anyway, so what are they complaining about,” a so-called progressive chided me) until the physical assaults—the same one’s ripping meat off the bones of POC in their exhausted neighborhoods— crossed Western and start barreling west. That little video of an innocent Hancock Park mom with her stroller getting her shit stripped away by a black man in her own driveway did more to alter Angelenos brains than that fiery carnival of ruin rained down on small businesses in mid-Wilshire, (my old stomping grounds).
Now we “say the name!” of Ukraine. Don’t say the name and your finished. Surprise, surprise, the defense contractors are “huddling” with the pentagon to plan their next shipment of gargantuan killing machines overseas. Rest assured, a year from now it will be another thing to get hysterical about, another thing to tweet, and tic-tok and instagram about. It is all decadent performance art at this point: stomping, crying, and screaming made to stream: spit in the faces of the fuzz one second and watch yourself spit at them the next! I’m a star! Sure, but of the perversest sort. We’ve all but become holograms to ourselves, yelping and crying conjurings of light; it will be nothing but phantom hystericalism from here on out.
Where is our flesh and blood, our James Baldwins, Eldridge Cleavers, Malcom Xs, Dr. Kings. Sorry Gil Scott-Heron, the revolution was fucking televised, and, there was all the difference.