By Vincent L. Hall
“Because it seems as though we’ve been convinced/That 26% of the registered voters/Not even 26% of the American people/But 26% of the registered voters form a mandate/Or a landslide.” –Gil Scott-Heron’s “B Movie” lyrics circa Ronald Reagan!
At the age of 62, Gil Scott-Heron turned a corner and met his final dead-end street, and for him, there ain’t no turnin’ back. (Google “Winter in America”). No serious survey of Black music prophecy would be complete without researching, reviewing, or reminding us about Gil Scott-Heron. His value as a lyricist and a liberator was as luminous as it was legendary. He mixed soul, jazz, rap, and revolutionary consciousness. The man had receipts
Gil was raised in his Grandma Lillie’s house in Jackson, Tennessee. He was born to mother Bobbie Scott, a singer in the New York Oratorical Society, and Jamaican father Gil Heron, the first Black ever to play for Glasgow’s Celtic Football Team. Gil was formally introduced to the stark realities of Black life in America as a young teen. At age 12, his grandma died, and he was forcibly baptized into the streets of New York’s Bronx borough.
It wasn’t long before his ability to think critically and to write effectively caught the eye of his instructors. He attended Lincoln University in Pennsylvania as a result of the influence that writer Langston Hughes had on his life. Even though he only spent two years at Lincoln, Gil later earned a Master’s degree in Creative Writing from Johns Hopkins University. He also published two novels, The Vulture and Nigger Factory.
Gil Scott-Heron despised and disparaged the status quo, and became famous for his one-man nuclear attack on President Ronald Reagan. Gil released songs denouncing Reagan like, “We don’t need no Re-Ron” and spit poems like “Whitey on the Moon.” Gil was always considered an expatriate if ever a patriot at all.
Check out more of the “B Movie” Vibe, and while you’re at it, contrast his subject with the subject that resides in the White House now. “But, oh yeah, I remember. I remember what I said about Reagan, I meant it. Acted like an actor. Hollyweird. Acted like a liberal. Acted like General Franco when he acted like governor of California, then he acted like a Republican.”
Then he acted like somebody was going to vote for him for president. And now, we act like 26% of the registered voters is a mandate. We’re all actors in this I suppose. We all saw Donald J. Trump, like Reagan before him, transform himself from liberal-Democrat actor to staunch if not starchy Republican.
And just like Reagan, he was elected by 26% of the registered voters. Trump garnered 46% or 63 million votes, three million less than Hillary Clinton. But only 55.7% of all the registered voters voted. Scott-Heron said, and I agree, that Trump ain’t got no mandate. We can easily vote his fat funky ass out of office. To quote Public Enemy and my publisher, Cheryl Smith, “Don’t Believe the Hype!”
Spit some mo, Gil!!
“The idea concerns the fact that this country wants nostalgia. They want to go back as far as they can – even if it’s only as far as last week. Not to face now or tomorrow, but to face backward.” And yesterday was the day of our cinema heroes riding to the rescue at the last possible moment. The day of the man in the white hat or the man on the white horse – or the man who always came to save America at the last moment – someone always came to save America at the last moment – especially in “B” movies.
And when America found itself having a hard time facing the future, they looked for people like John Wayne. But since John Wayne was no longer available, they settled for Ronald Reagan and it has placed us in a situation that we can only look at — like a “B” movie.” Donald John Trump ain’t no John Wayne and there is no White Man in no White hat that can save America now. The only way this movie has a happy ending is if all the colors of America come shining through. Mandate my Ass!