Monday on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360,” actor and civil rights activist Samuel Jackson called the nationwide Black Lives Matter protests the “labor pains” of systemic change.
Jackson said, “I’m energized watching them do it. I wish I wasn’t in this high-risk area of COVID, or I would be out there with them joining in if I had the energy to be out there. But I love the way it looks. It is a very different view from the one I had in the ’60s and ’70s. The faces are all ethnicities. The youth and energy feels the same. And in my mind, it feels like change is about to happen. It is one of those kinds of things where the birth of change or birth has labor. Now we’re starting the labor pains of this change that’s about to happen. It is almost like the murders that took place, that got all of these young people in the streets, was the water breaking on ‘OK, that’s enough.’ The pressure, the water broke, and now we’re in labor, and let’s see what the result of this labor will be.”
Cooper asked, “I’m just wondering generationally, how you saw things then and how you see things now? You believe change can happen?”
Jackson said, “Yes, I do. I know it’s not going to be immediate. And that is one of the things that the young people who are out there will have to understand. The level of patience that is going to take and that it will be a few years.”
He continued, “Now it seems like an old fogey notion or they feel that we keep talking about voting and what that all means, but it takes a minute to understand what a revolutionary idea of voting is and what it means. And how you get the right people in there to express what you want. So that you could get the right mayor, who hires the right D.A., who hires the right chief of police, who adheres to all of the things that the people want. That is the difficulty of explaining patience to young people.”
Discussing his activism during his youth, Jackson said, “I had the same ‘Burn it down right now. Let’s blow the whole thing up and start over again’ idea that they have,” the characteristically blunt Jackson acknowledged, before speaking of metaphorically “blowing up” systemically prejudicial systems. “You know, there is a level of blowing up that needs to happen. Always. So that’s not an unreasonable thing to ask for in a specific revolutionary way, because that’s how things work. There are institutions that need to be blown up that have not been blown up since the inception of captured people coming to this country. Here I am almost 72 years old, and I hear the same things or look at the things that go on around me and say, ‘Well, that hasn’t changed.’ The big change now is technology, the internet and all those other things. People have been mistreated by the law enforcement establishment of this country since they brought us here, and even more so when we were freed, and they unleashed the pattyrollers or people to keep black people in line in a specific sort of way, and those — the use of that power has been exercised against us more than it has the dominant culture of this country. And that’s not an exaggeration or an untruth. It’s just what has happened. And we witnessed it, we’ve been warned against it.”
He added, “I’m not talking about planting the bomb somewhere and blowing up an institution. I’m talking about the rhetoric around a specific institution, changing how everything is applied to everyone across the board.”
Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN