Among the protesters demanding justice for George Floyd, police reform and racial equality is Access Hollywood and World of Dance host Scott Evans, who joined his friend E!’s Justin Sylvester on his latest episode of Just The Sip to talk about marching the streets of Los Angeles and much more.
At one particular protest, Evans recalled getting tear gassed and getting hit in the head with a rubber bullet—which he decided to keep.
“Because I was like, I don’t ever wanna forget what that was like,” Evans explained on the podcast. “I don’t ever wanna forget, you know, ’cause years from now, you remember one part of this. You remember various details of it. I don’t ever wanna forget where just saying, ‘Black lives matter’ wasn’t enough.”
He added that he was particularly grateful to be a part of this past weekend’s protests in Los Angeles, where thousands turned out for peaceful demonstrations. Evans described the scene as “just people for blocks and blocks and blocks,” all without “one incident.”
Sylvester himself has attended a number of protests, though as he explained on his podcast, he was initially hesitant to go because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Until I saw somebody’s Instagram and there was a protest that started in Beverly Hills, and when I looked into the crowd, it was 60 percent white,” Sylvester began. “And it was young people, old people, people with their kids. And I thought to myself, alright, if this is about you, and about your future, and about the future of your children and this matters to you, how the hell are you gonna let other people out there who aren’t Black, say ‘Black lives matter,’ and you won’t?”
Evans, who had been trying to convince Sylvester to join him for backyard, socially-distant-drinks, was pleasantly surprised with the change of heart. “And when I tell you, Justin got his ass up so fast…” he said, laughing.
Beyond protesting, the two also discussed how people can be not just allies to the BLM movement, but what Evans dubbed “accomplices.”
“With an accomplice, you have skin in the game. You are active,” he explained. “‘Cause an ally, you can be like, ‘Yeah, yeah, no, I agree.’ But with an accomplice, you’re about the business.”
Sylvester agreed with the notion that it’s important people be active in their allyship, but with a caveat.
“I think sometimes we want people to do more and we expect more and it’s, ‘Give me more…You can’t just be this, you gotta be this now,'” Sylvester told Evans. “And that’s okay to talk about and I think everybody has the different level of how comfortable they feel and how woke they are, but I’m not gonna take away from people who are just here to listen, learn and shift the way they think.”
He continued, “Because I often feel like if I had two million accomplices in the world and that’s all, we could get some s–t changed. But if the other 200 million plus people in the world ain’t allies, the next generation is gonna have to do this because nobody taught anybody right from wrong.”
For Sylvester, allies have to be “willing to listen and learn and willing to pass it onto the next generation at minimum.”
And, though it may sound odd at first, Evans wants his white and non-Black friends to “just go ahead and get comfortable with being called a racist.”
“And hear me out—it’s not because the word ‘racist’ is cool or easy to hear—but if you are a white person in particular, your existence allows you to benefit from the racist system in society,” Evans expressed. “So whether you have or have not directly contributed to that racism, you benefit from it. And so, be willing to acknowledge that, be willing to accept that, because as soon as we get past your sensitivity about being called a racist, then we can get back to the work of actually correcting the behavior and the system.”
Sylvester told Evans that his approach with his friends is a little more blunt.
“You’re nicer than me, ’cause when they say, ‘Well, it’s uncomfortable to say things…’ well yeah, try living it. It’s uncomfortable!” Sylvester said. “But I appreciate the people who are willing to send those text messages and say, ‘I don’t know what to say,’ because that means that you are willing to learn and accept what to say.”
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What he doesn’t want, though, is repetitive questions about how he’s feeling. Sylvester even provided a useful analogy: “You know when it’s your birthday and you wake up that morning and you get a few ‘happy birthday’ text messages, and by the end of the day, you have had 50 ‘happy birthday’ text messages, 25 posts on Instagram and a few Facebook messages? And although you know it’s coming from a very nice place, you still feel overwhelmed and you feel like you have to respond back and you just want to enjoy your birthday?”
“Now imagine if every day since two Sundays ago was your birthday,” he added. “It’s tough. Don’t ask me a question. Just say, ‘Thinking about you! Saw this, thought you might like it. Hahaha.’ Or something.”
For more on protesting and allyship, as well as inside info on World of Dance season four, listen to the complete Just The Sip episode here.
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