Going Out to Wealthy Neighborhoods With BA Everywhere

May 26, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


In order to really make revolution, BA talks about the importance of this movement for revolution drawing from those who the system has cast out and cast down as the driving force for revolution and at the same time drawing in many others from all walks of life to join in this same cause. A small team formed to go to those from very different walks of life, who could contribute big money as part of contributing to revolution, nothing less…who would engage with the work of Bob Avakian—and particularly the major talk just released on DVD—learn about this movement through the testimony about the film and other articles found at revcom.us—and join with those contributing through BA Everywhere—at a level needed to make BA's voice impact society broadly.

Over a two-week period, we went out to two outlying areas where many wealthy people live who have "alternative sensibilities," including an area that was famous in the '60s as a hippie community.

A resident from one of the towns who came to the premiere of BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! invited us to her house to strategize with us about how to best reach people there. She loved the way that BA spoke to the outrages of the system, but had questions coming off of seeing the film about the possibility of anything that called itself communism could succeed in this country, and also was troubled by his views on religion. At the same time she really wanted to know more about how this was being taken out to society broadly and was particularly interested in our going to places where "the very wealthy lived." We talked to her about this in the context of the strategy for revolution—and she said would think about how best to approach her town.

We went first in the morning to the local farmers market. The market was very small and everyone knew each other. There were people from the ridge (the biggest homes) to professionals and young and old hippies. Right off, we met a number of people who said they had heard Bob Avakian on the radio—something this part of the country has the privilege of getting on the Michael Slate show on KPFK. There were a lot of questions—with a small number of people right off the bat interested in this movement for revolution and in BA in particular—and others agreed that there was a need for radical change but were advocates of very individualistic ways of achieving this—changing each individual and largely through spiritualism or other forms of metaphysics. People divided out quickly on the question of communism—and people were challenged that if they did not engage with BA's work, they really did not know what communism is. A screenwriter told us that he was a Vietnam vet and came back to his home town of Chicago after the war and met the Panthers. He recalled painfully the murder of Fred Hampton and was curious about this movement and BA. Two people suggested that we bring this to their groups—one dealing with issues of health and environment and the other who was a member of the local peace group. A young woman realized right off who we were and said, "That's the six-and-a-half-hour film…oh my god…I wanted to go to that after hearing this on the radio" and then she said to the young woman in our two-people team, "You're the woman who was interviewed about the film. I was so inspired by what you said." After a little convincing, she realized she had to have a copy of the film now and also gave us her information. She also was introduced to the Revolution Club on the spot. She thanked us and said she would definitely want to hook up. We told people why we had come to this town—that we felt that there would be people who hated the way the world is, and would want to know about a real way out of this madness—and also could make very big donations as part of taking up this cause. Those who were interested said that they would have to know more first—and either got the newspaper or said they would go online.

After that we spent some time visiting the woman who had been to the premiere and we got into her main question around spiritualism and religion—why it was that BA was fighting so hard for a scientific method and approach. And while we did not come out with anything close to agreement—because the question was placed squarely in the context of really changing the world fundamentally—we came to a certain understanding and she decided that given her means, the most important thing she could do was to get a subscription to the newspaper and also said she would take this out to others. She said that there were many community spots where she could post the materials and we talked about going to the peace group and to a progressive theater in the area and we encouraged her to come to the gatherings in the city whenever she could as well. She directed us to the roads where the very wealthy lived and another road where there were neighborhood gatherings of very progressive people. We encouraged her to go back to the DVD she had purchased and showed her the table of contents and how there were sections that spoke directly to the various questions she was raising. She was happy to see that she could access it in this way.

We then went off to talk about what we had learned so far that day and to prepare to go to the opening night of a local production of Blood Knot, a play by a very radical South African playwright, Athol Fugard, in a neighboring community that was also known for its very wealthy residents. We could only afford one ticket to the play which was $50, so we made the plan that we would both talk to people going in and out and during intermission and that one of us would go inside to see the play and participate in the Q&A with the director after the play.

We had had experience earlier in the week of going to a progressive screening of a film at an art museum where there was also a Q&A with the presenter, a well-known television actor. We went there with the intention of speaking up at the Q&A and then going out with a big box that said "Donate to Revolution Nothing Less" to people in the audience. A revolutionary youth raised a very good question during the Q&A that the actor seriously engaged with…but while there was an important section of young people there—we were not able to connect with the kinds of people we had hoped to reach. They just were not there.

We hoped that since this was billed as the gala opening night of the play, and it was taking place in a wealthy community, we would be able to reach people who we had set out to reach.

The play spoke very powerfully to the oppression of black people in South Africa and the way that the system itself shapes the relationship between two brothers—one dark-skinned and one light-skinned—in painful horrifying ways. The play itself opened people up to wanting to engage larger questions about the kind of society we live in and how any of this could change.

There was a Q&A immediately after the play with its director.

The director talked about his experience in South Africa and how apartheid came down, praising the role of Mandela in that and about how today people of all nationalities and backgrounds can and need to come together to change our relationships with each other. He asked the audience to support his work focused on shaping society through educating the children. There was a lot of emphasis put on promoting love and understanding and enabling people to make better choices.

He called on people in the audience to ask questions. A young revolutionary introduced herself as part of the movement for revolution and she drew from a theme in the play when the characters talked about their childhood and then how things changed not because of their individual choices but because of the larger forces in society—and she quoted from BAsics by Bob Avakian, the leader of the revolution, about how does this happen that "you go from beautiful children to supposedly 'irredeemable monsters' in a few years" and went on to talk about the system, linking this up to the nightmare of South Africa today. And she asked the director to comment on how he saw this theme in the play itself.

The director added Watts and America's inner cities to the list where this nightmare still existed, and then said again that the solution was to be found in people personally breaking down the barriers—that youth from the inner city should be invited to be at a theater in this very wealthy neighborhood and people from this neighborhood should go to the inner city as well.

We immediately went to talk with the audience members who had stayed for the Q&A. Two people wanted to speak to the young woman who had spoken up—saying that what she said was very important and she immediately talked about engaging with BA and contributing to getting this out everywhere.

Four people ended up buying the film and gave us ways to contact them. An older woman said she was a major donor to the theater, said she wanted her son to see the film BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! and had her personal assistant give us a way to reach her. Another woman came up and asked if we wanted her to make a donation and pulled out $20. A man said that he was very troubled by the situation in South Africa today and made an analogy between Mandela and Obama re doing great harm, masking over the reality where things are getting much worse for the people.

So in the course of one day, we sold five copies of the film and a subscription to Revolution—and began to connect with a section of people we had never gone to before in a mass way. We are following up now to set up fundraising meetings with the people that we met.

We learned a lot and wanted to share it with people everywhere—as something people in mass BA Everywhere committees can do.


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