The revolution will not be televised. The revolution is not something that can or will be caught on camera. The revolution must be joined, not watched.
The portrayal of the Freddie Gray demonstrations that took place in the streets of Baltimore on April 25th proved singer/poet Gil Scott-Heron’s words: “The revolution will not be televised.”
For hours that Saturday, I marched with City Bloc, a student activist organization, alongside hundreds of other Baltimoreans seeking justice – not revenge – in the aftermath of Freddie Gray’s death (murder?) while in the custody of Baltimore City police. During the endless hours of nonviolent protesting, I felt proud to fight against the deplorable powers that be. I felt that my voice had been empowered as a youth in Baltimore City speaking out against injustice.
As I began my job babysitting that night, after the long day of marching and chanting, my phone buzzed, notifying me of the violence that had erupted in downtown Baltimore. At that moment, powerlessness overcame me. The voice that I had projected for the entire day and the dedication that so many Baltimore citizens had put into peaceful protest was crushed in an instant.
It was crushed not because the violence lasted longer than the peace, but because the revolution Baltimore worked so hard to create was not televised for what it truly was, or is. The revolution was shown as angry citizens burning flags, looting stores, and breaking police car windows. This skewed portrayal of the protests is what the media chose to show the nation – the portrayal that viewers bewilderingly seem to expect.
The real revolution is thousands of people across America standing in solidarity against police brutality. The real revolution is youth activists using their voices and their fearlessness to fight for the future of their generation. The real revolution is people of different races walking through the streets of inner city Baltimore, arms locked, chanting, “All night, all day, we will fight for Freddie Gray.”
The revolution is not violent or exclusionary. As a young white girl, I felt out of place at first, marching alongside people who endure struggles every day that I will never understand because of the color of my skin. But as we neared City Hall, the leaders of the protest reminded everyone that it takes people of all races to make change. The revolution needs black people, white people, Asian people, Hispanic people: everyone. Approaching City Hall, the streets of Baltimore rang with passionate people chanting, “The people united will never be defeated.”
The Freddie Gray demonstrations are the Civil Rights Movement of the 21st century. In my U.S. History class, I watch footage of the Civil Rights Movement of the ’60s, with marches in Selma and Freedom Riders in the Deep South. I watch the videos of peaceful demonstrations and also the police violence against the demonstrators. That was history in the making.
Years from now, we will look back on April 25, 2015. What will we remember? The media will have you remember the violence. However, the media showed a gross distortion of the day’s events. The revolution will not be televised because viewers passively accept what the drama-seeking media doles out.
I wrote this piece to provide the whole picture: people of all backgrounds walking peacefully in Baltimore with the message that racial discrimination and police brutality will not be tolerated for another minute: Black lives matter to all of us. The revolution will not be televised, and it will bring about justice and eradicate hateful violence.
I demand that the revolution be televised truthfully. I demand social change.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.