I was very much active in politics when Gil Scott-Heron’s 1971 song, The revolution will not be televised, was a hit. I just saw this video where he explains the idea behind it. Back then I liked the song, but it was scary. Maybe that’s why I liked it.
The idea of blacks leading a revolution, when the images on TV were of violence and looting, was fear-inspiring. The Black Panthers were fear-inspiring.
This is the kind of image that went with the song, for me.
Look, there’s no absolute truth to any of this, only points of view. It was much later in life that I came to see that blacks can be hippies. When I was young as far as I knew only white people smoked pot. Did I ever see a black person smile? Not that I recall.
I remember in 1980 on a beach in Jamaica, the only white person, and feeling really scared.
We’ve come quite a ways.
I wish I had seen this video a long time ago. Gil Scott-Heron is a friendly artistic dude. I didn’t get that way back when. Listening to it many years later, I realize now the song probably wasn’t intended for me, a 16-year-old white kid. But it reached people like me, and influenced our thinking, the way we felt about blacks and revolution. But it’s not 1971, and it seems we’ve learned how to listen to each other better.