Voices from West Side Chicago Showing of BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! 

September 26, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us



On August 31, there was a showing of BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! at the ICE Lawndale movie theater in West Side Chicago. The following are from interviews with people who came to the showing. The views expressed in these interviews are those of the people who were interviewed, and what was sparked in their thinking, and are not intended to represent the content of the film.

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Black woman student

I live on the southeast side of Chicago. I’m a student at [one of the City Colleges]. I’m Phi Beta Kappa, Honors Society, 4.0 GPA. How I found out about the film was that organizers showed up at school one day last spring with these stickers that said “abortion with no apology.” I’m like “Wow, seriously.” And then she had a sticker that said something about porn. And I’m looking like “she’s brave!” So I walked up to the table and they said they had tickets to this film [this was the premiere in March]. And I said “there’s a movie like this?!” So a couple of friends and I purchased tickets and we ended up at Columbia College for the 8 hour session. And the first this BA said was “Fuck the pigs!” I said “I like this movie!” And from that point on, we sat there, we listened to the movie, we’ve been going to the revcom.us site looking up different things. One particular article that BA wrote that got our attention was Nat Turner vs. Thomas Jefferson. I thought it was a real bold question but you gotta see both sides. Was Thomas Jefferson an OK dude because he didn’t directly kill people but he had a hand in a lot of people’s massacre? Or was Nat Turner justified by trying to gain his independence by his oppressors? So it was a nice article and in turn a lot of the student body here is getting into the revolution. They’re actually paying attention. I think this film and a lot of things the organizers brought to the school woke a lot of us up. Especially about the mass incarceration of our kind—men and women. We make up 52% of the jail population.

Revolution: Obviously you’ve been looking at this stuff for a little bit and was there anything this time that surprised you in what BA said? What was your impression before and now about BA?

The first time, me and BA really didn’t get along ‘cause he said there’s no God and I grew up in a strict Baptist family and I went to Catholic school so there’s always been existing a notion there is a God. And I walked back in today not being shocked by hearing him say there’s no fucking God. I wasn’t shocked this time. I was like “OK” and I really opened my mind up to a lot of things he was saying. Every time you watch this film you get something different out of it. The first time I just got ‘massacre of Black people.’ This time I see it as minorities, period, as a whole, getting massacred and mistreated and misunderstood.

Revolution: What about the title of the film, the point he makes throughout, that it’s going to take REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!, to solve these problems?

I agree. ‘Cause you got a ruling class that feel entitled to rule over a certain group, or keep things to a certain way that they can stay feeling superior.... So, I really didn’t pay attention to that statement the first time I saw it, but this time I really see his point. I’m gonna make you notice me. Get the fuck back.

Revolution: One of the things he says that is controversial with some people, I don’t think with you, is that those who are on the bottom of this society can be the backbone of a whole revolutionary struggle for a whole different kind of society.

That’s what it’s been through history. If you look at history, it’s the peasants who rose up and made the higher class pay attention. And in turn, took over lands. And like BA says, that’s what’s going to happen. You talk about the middle class, they’re really not an option, cause there’s more poor people than middle class people. So when the poor people rise up, what’s the middle class gonna do—either fall in line or get crushed. That’s it in reality. So, revolution, nothing else, I agree.

Revolution: And the other thing that he goes into is that it’s actually in the interest of some of these other classes of people to have a radical transformation. They may not understand that at the moment, but they’ve lost a lot of their humanity being caught up in this system and going along with it. So they need to be liberated too, it’s not about revenge.

Get to know BA!

It’s not about revenge, it’s about them understanding and accepting that we are all just human. Nobody is superior to the other. And just because my child has more melanin in his skin, he shouldn’t be subject to a life in prison to send your child to college. Or subject to a life in prison because they had the same bar fight that your child had but they got hit with a felony and your child got off. The police took your child home and gave mine a felony. So now mine is doomed to a life of peasant jobs or can’t get a job at all. And yours did the same thing and they’re sitting up there in corporate America.

Young Black man, just out of high school

I live on the south side of Chicago and I found out about the film from my old teacher. I’ve always been interested in revolutions and trying to make the world a better place. Even though I never knew what to do. So I always grew up—heroes and other things and I was like, that’s what I wanted to be. So it just pushed me toward what I would actually have to do to make the world a better place—for everybody, not just certain people. That’s just how I viewed it.

Revolution: What stood out about what BA had to say and the question of how do you go about it?

It was a lot of information that I still have to sift through. But you know, to me it was very informational. It helps shatter some illusions that I had in my mind.

Revolution: Like?

Like communism. All throughout my life, and probably throughout yours, everybody talks bad about communism. And when I first heard “communism” I thought it doesn’t make any sense to follow a communist. That’s before I actually looked into communism. The pros and cons of both—what do you call it?—political stances. And it’s not as bad but no stance is really perfect. There can be flaws in either one of them. But communism, it’s not something that you can just deny. It’s something that can work all the same. It can be tried, at least, to help everyone.

Revolution: And it has been tried, and I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to get into what Avakian has said about those past experiences of socialism and communism. He’s taken a very sober, scientific look at that and pointed out what needs to be upheld and also what the shortcomings were and how can do much better. So that’s worth getting into. Another thing I want to ask is what surprised you the most about anything he may have said?

The biggest surprise I had is the actual depth of thinking that he had. How much detail he went into about the way things worked. I thought that I thought deeply. But from the length of the film and everything in between, all the papers and cards and planning that went along with it, it surprised me personally. I thought that I had a plan on making things bigger and better and this is somebody been doing it for decades. And I didn’t really know about anyone. I thought all the revolutionaries were dead and I would have to start over.

Revolution: So what is your impression of BA as a leader at this point?

I just see him as someone who has lived his life wanting to do something positive and he’s going to continue his life doing something positive. And more people should be part of the revolution. If not the same revolution, but doing something similar. Doing something that’s going to help better people. He has dedicated his life to it. He’s being successful in it. So that’s something that’s stood out to me about him.

Revolution: One of the things he says that is controversial for some people is that it’s going to take revolution, nothing less, to actually make a change for the better. How do you see that?

Hmm. That’s a good question. Revolution, nothing less, that’s a bold term. It’s very bold. It’s hard. I mean if you want to come at it in a realistic level, it’s a very hard thing. That he is actually telling people straight out, not sugar-coating anything. Not trying to soften it, just tell you straight what is happening, what it’s going to take and if you are going to be a part of it, be a part of it. If you’re not, don’t stand in the way.

Revolution: One last question. One of the things he says is that people who are on the bottom of society, those who have been beaten down by this system, can be the backbone of a struggle to liberate themselves and all of humanity. What are your thoughts on that assertion?

My thoughts on that would be: it could be true, very true. Those are the people who have felt it the most so those are the people who should want to change it the most. And they deserve the support from others. They are human just like everyone else and we are in it together, no matter where you stand.


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