“I once was told every generation has its chance to make a revolution. The last had been in the 1930s. This was ours. If we doubted our success, we saw the people in Vietnam, Cuba, and China winning liberation struggles led by revolutionary forces. Many other countries of Africa and South America were also engaged in anticolonial struggles, seeking radical change and separation from the United States. Here we were in the ‘belly of the beast,’ where it was most vulnerable.”
Jeffrey Haas, The Assassination Of Fred Hampton
Reading those words recently changed my entire perspective on 2020. Like so many others I can remember the feelings that swelled in me leading us into 2020. I was hopeful to begin the new decade; a decade that would cover my 30’s, that would watch my career grow, where I could chase my dreams. It is my belief that 2020 taught us more than we could have ever hoped for and has led us to our chance to leave a lasting mark on the world, our chance to make revolution.
As the year began, we witnessed the world be visibly shaken by the untimely passing of Kobe & Gianna Bryant. It was hard to find a human being who wasn’t in some way affected by the tragedy. The lives lost that day seemed to forever link us all together in the understanding that time is precious and we should cherish one another. The world collectively mourned Kobe and Gigi in a way that few events have been able to unify people on such a global scale in recent history.
2020 struck time and time again with blow after blow that prepared us for this moment. The impeachment of Donald Trump left many disgusted with just how blatantly hypocritical the role of elected representatives in this system could be. No matter what side of the aisle you stood on it was clear that finding the truth and following the rules only applies to the other side. The partisan bickering was even more prevalent seeing as 2020 was an election year and the campaign propaganda started early.
In the backdrop of all of these early events, the whispers of COVID-19 began to move across the globe shutting down country after country. Of course in true amerikkkan fashion, the virus was racialized, dismissed, and mishandled. COVID-19 and the stay at home orders were just a symptom of amerikkka’s failed medical and economic systems. As the virus grew more deadly misinformation flowed freely from every avenue: the president and his team, social media, the news, and local governments seemed to have little consistency in their handling of the virus. Meanwhile thanks to capitalism, essential workers were left without a course of action, forced to work in the midst of a global pandemic. A one-time payment alleviated some economic burdens but it became clear that this was going to be a long-term situation and no long-term answers were being offered. Corporations urged us all (except their exploited workers) to stay home and told us we were “all in this together,” not since the events of September 11, 2001, had we seen such widespread calls for unity so that we could get back to “normal.” The idea of returning to normal was thrown out the window for many when at the end of May the whole world watched George Floyd be lynched for almost nine minutes.
Waves of people took to the streets demanding justice. Calls for abolishing, and at the very least defunding the police became popular. The type of global solidarity we had witnessed after Kobe’s accident and during the stay-at-home orders suddenly took a new form as Black Lives Matters became the trendy catch-phrase, going so far as to even be backed by Mitt Romney. Social media was overloaded with new anti-racist content and Black and Brown Indigenous Peoples histories and stories were being taught online, all the while the COVID numbers continued to show a trend of infecting and killing Black and Brown Indigenous Peoples at much higher rates than white folx. As the cry for social justice reached every platform it was only right for the NBA to speak up.
Between COVID and the uprisings, the NBA Bubble was a source of much contention and athletes had their own particular take. Ultimately, the athletes choose to play with the thought they would be able to shed light on these social justice/human rights violations. Like clockwork, however, the police killed another and another, and catchy slogans on the back of jerseys didn’t seem to suffice any longer. The players went on strike during the playoffs, signifying the single largest player strike for social justice in the modern era. We saw college players follow suit and demand accountability, safety precautions, and even direct compensation only to have their legs cut out from underneath them by the NCAA, conferences, and even their coaches and fellow athletes. Ultimately the NBA players ended their strike after a call with former President Barack Obama and the season was able to conclude.
Here we are 2020 gone, 9 months after the pandemic shuttered the country and what have we learned? Well, through the whole of 2020 we have seen firsthand that the amerikkkan government does NOT care about its citizens at all. The people have been forced to deal with the virus, the struggling economy, and everything else on their own. A government for the people, by the people, has done little in tangible ways of benefiting the people when they needed it the most. During the first Coronavirus Relief Bill, while most folx got $1200, public companies received $1 billion that was earmarked for small businesses. Here in California, we watched Governor Gavin Newsome call for stay at home orders while attending dinner parties and allowing the paycheck protection program (PPP), designed to help small businesses stay afloat, send nearly $3 million to companies Newsome owns. We have watched the county of Sacramento allow $104 million of the $181 million in CARES funding go to the Sheriff. We have watched as Biden has said people aren’t asking for a handout while the same week asking people to donate to his transition fund. We have seen the sham of electoral politics and how again the rules only apply to certain people.
“While big corporations make huge, tax-free profits, taxes for the everyday working person skyrocket. While politicians take free trips around the world, those same politicians cut back food stamps for the poor. While politicians increase their salaries, millions of people are being laid off. This city is on the brink of bankruptcy, and yet hundreds of thousands of dollars are being spent on this trial. I do not understand a government so willing to spend millions of dollars on arms, to explore outer space, even the planet Jupiter, and at the same time close down day care centers and fire stations.”
No matter where you started 2020, no matter where your politic is at there are a few things that have been made clear: the people can unite, the people can survive, the amerikkkan government not only does not provide for the basic needs of the people but the amerikkkan government actively chooses to prioritize property and capital over human beings lives. Don’t believe me still, think about this: if the government wanted the virus to be gone couldn’t they have just paid us all to stay home for two months and this whole thing would be over? We know this was impossible; not because of the funding, (please they are arguing over a $600 check in a bill worth $900 billion) but because “The rulers of this country have always considered their property more important than our lives.” As we examine the undeniable lessons we have learned in 2020 I bring you back to the quote I started with: I once was told every generation has its chance to make a revolution. It is clear to me that the current system is not working, we have seen what our collective people power can do; look no further than Bolivia, Nigeria and so many other places where Black and Brown Indigenous Peoples are fighting for their freedom and liberation. We are all a piece in the international proletariat struggle, and 2021 is our year to make a resolution for revolution!