The Revolution Will Not Be Televised – 2011

Today’s post is by my friend Anne DeMarsay. We met in 1992 when she attended one of my very first workshops. She is amazing.

She allowed me to share her take on Gil Scott-Heron’s famous poem and wanted you to read this first:

Gil Scott-Heron wrote his song out of anger and the fear that his “brothers” were becoming passive, turning away from the civil rights movement and numbing their pain–or worse, coming to regard the struggle as popular entertainment, a spectacle akin to boxing or football.

I wouldn’t want anyone to think that my version, addressed to women of my own professional class, was in any way disrespecting, or making light of, that still-unfinished crusade. (I have a “thing” about cultural and spiritual theft, like borrowing Indian ceremonies and symbols.)

So in that spirit here is:

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, 2011

by Anne DeMarsay

On that day, sisters, you will not be able to stay at home,
Recording it on your TiVo while you check your Facebook wall and text your dinner reservations.
You will not be able to stream it from Hulu or Netflix.
It will not be available on demand in high-def at 1080p with the surround sound option,
Because the revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be televised.
The revolution will not be brought to you by talking heads on Fox News or CNN
In sound bites honed to fit between commercial breaks and match audience demographics,
With equal time for opposing views.
The revolution will not show you pictures of Sarah Palin singing “We Shall Overcome” as she serves in a Harlem soup kitchen, side by side with the Real Housewives of anywhere, while Michele Bachman weeps as she embraces a Latina office cleaner.
The revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be brought to you as a 13-part documentary produced and directed by Ken Burns and will not include a word from your sponsor, the oil company engineer walking along a Louisiana beach to show you how clean it is.
The revolution will not take ten years off your appearance with a miracle serum.
The revolution will not let you eat whatever you want and lose weight, or make you irresistible, sisters, because the revolution will not be televised.
There will be no pictures of diamond-clad blondes pouring champagne
from balconies above Zucotti Park,
No pictures of Eric Cantor condemning “mobs that pit American against American,”
in the instant replay.
There will be no on-the-scene interviews by Oprah Winfrey and Jon Stewart.
There will be no appearances on “The View” by the 99 Percent because on that day, they will be in the street organizing for jobs and justice.
The revolution will not be televised.

Step out, out of your virtual world, and greet your sisters:
The girl in the hijab, afraid to meet hatred in your eyes, whose bent mother leans on her arm.
The soldier whose set face and raised chin dare you to dismiss her, a woman of color,
until you drop your eyes to see the foot she left in Mosul.
The teacher whose island lilt belies her anger that her students live without light or food—not in her own Jamaica, but in the Bronx.
The revolution will not make you a Survivor, a Millionaire, or America’s Next Top Model.
The revolution will not give you an Extreme Home Makeover.
The revolution will bring you home.
The revolution will not be televised
will not be televised
will not be televised
will not be televised.
The revolution will be no re-run, sisters;
The revolution is live—now.

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Kathy Van Kleeck - October 20, 2011

I remember the original version scared this little white girl silly.  Times have changed, not scared anymore and this is really good!  Thank you Anne and Jennifer.

l i g a – Kathy Van Kleeck
love, infinite grace, abundance

    Anonymous - October 20, 2011

     me too! that’s why I loved Anne’s take on it, and the historical shift for me

    Anne DeMarsay - October 20, 2011

    Kathy, those were years of deep anger and national mourning. When I listen to Scott-Heron performing the song now, I hear the sadness that lay beneath the frustration. His poem is witty and poignant by turns–did you know he earned an M.A. in Creative Writing?–and still moving.

Tina Tierson - October 20, 2011

Jen and Anne – THANK YOU!  I’m still waiting for the goose bumps to go down.  It’s amazing and I’d like to share it with everyone I know!  Much love,
Tina Tierson

    Anne DeMarsay - October 20, 2011

    Tina, I’m glad if the poem spoke to you. Please feel free to share it, along with my admiration for the great Beat musician who wrote the original.

E. Taesali - October 20, 2011


Vboundy - October 20, 2011

Absolutely amazing! Loved the original but this is better.

Bahieh - October 20, 2011


though I guess such a post is not meant  to be reflected and commented upon.

But acted upon.

Soupiedoup - October 21, 2011

I have to say. Politics are exhausting me these days. Please no politics here.

    Anonymous - October 21, 2011

    I truly understand your exhaustion. This to me is not politics, it is a call to service. I feel the political system is worth very little of my time or attention. Yes I vote, especially locally, and the rest of my energy is going toward how can I serve in the best and most sustainable way to love the world into wholeness? Which would be a good post too. I’m glad you are here even when the writing might not serve you best.

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