In 1971, soul and jazz poet Gil Scott-Heron wrote and recorded “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”, a spoken word single from his album “Home Is Where The Hatred Is”. The classic single reflected upon the civil rights movement of the 1960s, and how the revolution towards racial equality won’t be viewed alongside pop culture entities of those times.
Fast forward to 2020, and it can be argued that the revolution is being televised. We have to look no further than the current George Floyd protests. Floyd was thrust into the world’s consciousness because his murder in the custody of a former Minneapolis police officer was captured on cell phone video by a civilian standing on the street. Modern technology has transformed ordinary citizens into de facto journalists, bringing the world breaking news footage of extraordinary events as they occur live. Such journalistic prowess (intentional or otherwise) have sent tradition television media into scramble mode, trying to get the initial video footage to “get the scoop” ahead of their competitors.
There has also been a push to create a law punishing citizens that wantonly call the police on other citizens. The impetus of this law focuses on Amy Cooper, who called the police on Christian Cooper (no relation) with claims of harassment on a dog trail at New York City’s Central Park. Christian Cooper confronted Amy Cooper for not having her dog on a leash per park ordinance. The confrontation was captured on cell phone video by Christian Cooper’s sister, Melody.
Amy Cooper threatened to call the police on Christian Cooper, using language that implied that Christian Cooper was “threatening” her for demanding she follow the park ordinance. The unfortunate part of this ordeal is threating overtones used by Amy Cooper can be construed as racially motivated as Amy Cooper is white and Christian Cooper is black. The element of race overshadows the fact that Amy Cooper’s failure to leash her dog could cause health concerns if the dog runs away and bites another person in the park.
The Floyd murder and the Coopers’ dog fiasco have proven that misdeeds captured on film can spur empowered people to act. Amy Cooper was fired as vice president of investment firm Franklin Templeton. The four officers involved in Mr. Floyd’s murder have been indicted and are all facing trial for second degree murder. In addition, Mr. Floyd’s murder has ignited protests all across the world against police brutality. The images of people in foreign countries that have absolutely nothing personal to gain from the Floyd murder are remarkable, as they line the streets in solidarity to honor Mr. Floyd’s memory while hoping to put an end to police brutality.
I respectfully have to disagree with Mr. Scott-Heron’s assertion. What we’re seeing is a revolution, and it is being televised. And the world will hopefully be better for it.