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“This Night Opened My Eyes”: Reflections on the Third Interview with Bob Avakian and the Response of Those Who Catch the Hardest Hell

Episode 127 of The RNL—Revolution, Nothing Less!—Show opened my eyes even wider to the possibility and potential of the Bob Avakian Interviews to reach and speak to all the people who need to know BA, who need to see the real possibility of a better future for all humankind, and who need to join this revolution and become emancipators of humanity. It was real.

It took me to a much deeper understanding and appreciation of not just what is in these interviews but of BA himself, in how he sees the most oppressed, and how he speaks to people without an ounce of condescension, but instead with the most tangible love for the people, and with respect and dignity. Respect enough to be real, and to struggle with people, and love enough to learn from these people, to really immerse himself in what the conditions of Black & Brown and other oppressed nationalities face in this society, and to dedicate himself to figuring out how we are going to get all of humanity free, with science and humanity, even when it’s meant tremendous sacrifice for himself, and even though it paints a target on his back.

His whole life he’s done this work. I don’t think people can even understand the magnitude of what that means by me saying it. People won’t get the sense of what that means unless they watch these Interviews.

Listening to the members of the Revolution Club, Chicago speaking about this section of the interview where BA talks about the revolutionary potential of youth caught up in “the life” had a combined, synergistic effect. Synergistic effects are the combined effects of at least two substances making an impact that is more significant than both of them could have shown by themselves. Like when you combine aspirin and caffeine, it provides greater pain relief than when taken alone. Watching this was like that, but instead of getting relief from a headache, I got a much much deeper appreciation for the leadership of BA and his ability to speak to this section, lift them up to see the potential for something greater, and lead them to act on it through struggle. Hearing about the impact this had on the Chicago comrades really drove the point home that you have to watch these and talk about them with other people.

RevComs discuss BA interview on RNL show


RevComs discuss BA interview on RNL show    Photo:

I was in awe of the bravery of the comrades in Chicago. The strength they demonstrated in their willingness to be vulnerable and open up about the reality of their lives and how this interview moved them. Even as it was just a glimpse, I got the viscerality of what it means to live as a young Black man in Chicago. How it makes your world so small. Kids not allowed to play outside in the summer because their parents fear their little bodies will get pierced with bullets from the gang living on the next block over. It broke my heart what Leo said about his friend’s aspiration to be an archeologist, and how this system smothers those dreams altogether.

I cried when they read Lanzo's obituary. For the pain of his Uncle Roosevelt. For all the people Lanzo could have inspired who didn’t get to know him, for all of the people who would never know him but whose lives he could have changed by being a part of making this revolution. And I cried for all the Lanzos that go by different names who don’t get to make it to their 21st birthday, or even their 15th. And I hurt for their mothers and brothers and sisters.

Hank talked about how his mother told him he wasn’t going to make it to 21. How he was going to end up dead, part of the carnage of the violence amongst the people, slain by a cop, or locked up in a penitentiary. It kind of bottoms you out to know that a young Black boy had to hear that from his mother’s lips. And that's a common reality. Not her cruelty, but one of the world.

But I also felt really hopeful. I was inspired by these three comrades. It takes guts to go against the tide and to fight for something different, and be the ones on the front line, walking point, some of the first stepping out and fighting for this revolutionary leadership, and for others to take it up. I was hopeful when I heard Roosevelt’s baritone voice speaking directly to the youth caught up in the gang and other bullshit, “If you’re talking about the blocks, you don't own the blocks. Cut that shit out! There’s always going to be a motherfucker that’s badder than you, and this system is badder than damn near any one of us, except when we come together in the revolution. A communist revolution.” I was hopeful while watching Leo challenge people to not just imagine a better future, but to fight for it for real, and to meet BA through watching these interviews.

Even though my heart had been hollowed out hearing the stories of pain inflicted by this system, there was this uplifting feeling in my chest seeing these comrades struggle like this, with so much confidence, and also feeling like these people are doing this because they love you, because they see your potential like BA does, because they love humanity. It filled me with a sense of pride in knowing these people, and it made me proud to be a part of this revolution. It made me think about the potential of bringing forward a lot more people like them.

I thought about the point Andy Zee made about how people stepping into this revolution now is part of what gives us the opportunity to really bring forward hundreds and thousands, because revolution becomes a viable option when there's a real force representing it. And I see these comrades stepping out and modeling that, and really taking up the kind of struggle that BA models, necessary and sharp struggle but with open arms.

In an overall sense, having this discussion on the show gives you the sense that this revolution is real, and it is calling upon you to join it. I kind of feel like Roosevelt is my uncle who looks out for me in the sense that when I’m caught up doing some dumb shit, he’ll tell me straighten up out of respect for my ability to reason, to straighten up and do what’s right. I think you kind of got that sense, through BA, Hank, Roosevelt, and Leo, that these people have my back, and they are real and genuine and full of heart, but also serious as all hell too, and that they see an opening here and a whole different world that can be, if we make this revolution.

I was deeply moved by the whole thing. The visceral horror of this world, the real people it crushed, but the power that’s unlocked in people when they engage BA and are able to understand what is needed and fight for it.

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