All These Revolutionaries Will Only Break Your Heart
Fandom: The Boondocks/Battlestar Galactica
Spoilers: All eps of both shows
Disclaimer & Note: For the sake of show-realism, this fic does use the n-word. Please note that I am neither Ron Moore nor Aaron McGruder, nor am I Cartoon Network nor Sci-Fi, nor am I Sony nor NBC Universal. Not making money, don’t sue.
Summary: Huey Freeman gets his revolution, but it’s not the way he planned.
You know, if I had to end up long, long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I wanted a light saber and Jedi powers and shit like that. I did not want to end up on Planet Trailer Park with a bunch of sketchy-ass refugees who were too chicken to find their destiny.
But there I was.
And what I really didn’t want to be shipped off to the school tent to be taught by couple of white women while I could be fighting the power with a union brother like Galen Tyrol. Especially when the head teacher…well, let’s just say that Laura Roslin had a history that was a little less than savory.
“These white people is gangsta, Huey,” Riley said earnestly, after a day of shaking down kids for lunch money (which they didn’t have) and information (which they had too much of). “You know what my girl Laura Roslin did when one of them Cylon n*ggas pissed her off? I mean, back when she was president. She put him out an AIRLOCK. For REAL, that shit is gangsta.”
I wasn’t buying it. “It’s not gangsta; it’s an unethical way to silence political dissent,” I said. “How else is she in any way gangsta?”
“My girl went to jail. Tell me that ain’t gangsta,” Riley said. “She went to jail and then she busted out with her BOY Apollo, who pulled a gun on a n*gga to represent! And then they hooked up with that Zarek, who is, like, real gangsta for a white boy, and stuck it to Adama! And then, and then, she and her boy started a war, not just like East Coast/West Coast, but a big ol’ space war, and then Adama had to go to her side — and that’s real, y’all.”
Riley kind of had a point. Ignorant gun-toting crackers, jail time, putting enemies out airlocks, pulling guns on people? All it needed was black folks acting stereotypically and…
“And then she made some deals with the Gemenese, who are like, our brothers in the Colonies, real religious and stuff,” Riley said.
“Of course,” I said, already tired of this planet. “We fall through a portal to a whole other dimension, half a galaxy away from home, and our middle-aged white teacher is the former gangster president of the whole place.”
Riley nodded. “That’s what I’m sayin’. Miss Roslin is a gangsta bitch.”
“So for the first time in our lives, you want to be the damn teacher’s pet. I mean, street soldier,” I said, when Riley looked irritated.
“Riley? Huey?” said Miss Roslin. “Have you finished your art assignments?”
I had; Riley hadn’t. I held up my poster, which was an allegorical cartoon of the exploitation of Che Guevara’s revolutionary message by the bourgeois. Miss Roslin walked over and looked at it.
“Who’s he?” she asked.
“Che Guevara,” I said. “He’s, uh, not from around here. He was a radical leftist revolutionary and insurgent who was appropriated by bourgeois youth culture to cover up the emptiness of their pseudo-revolt.”
“Miss Roslin, I finisheded my picture, too,” Riley said, holding up his picture. “It’s of you cappin’ a Cylon n*gga. See?”
Miss Roslin turned her head. Riley had even managed to show the brains along with the blood, and the shading was pretty good. “I don’t use guns,” she said. “Airlocks are much tidier.”
“That’s cold, man,” Riley said with admiration. “You is so gangsta, you should be Gangstalicious.”
“Teacher’s…street soldier,” I said to Riley, before turning to Miss Roslin. “How do you defend the policy decisions of your administration? Your civil rights record is pretty appalling.”
I expected Miss Roslin to take off her glasses, sigh, and tell me that perhaps these weren’t appropriate questions for a school classroom. Instead, she took her gaze off the loving renditioning of the two Uzis she was holding in Riley’s picture and back to my cartoon.
“I suppose it begs the question, is it more ethical to promote a benevolent dictatorship with the facade of democracy in a time of crisis, or to allow democracy, even if it kills us all,” she said, taking my cartoon.
“That’s some ol’…that’s a logical fallacy, ma’am,” I said. “The people’s right to self-rule…”
“How many people can we afford to lose in a situation like this, Huey?” she asked, gesturing around. “I’m not denying the ethical dilemma, but I’m saying the cost of self-rule does exist.”
Riley started cackling, pointing at me like I’d made a fool of myself. “Miss Roslin’s smarter than you, Huey!” he said. “Someday, when I grow up, can I marry you? We can hate on Huey all day, cuz he a hater.”
That was when Miss Roslin took off her glasses, rubbed her nose, and tried to smile. Fortunately for her, that was when Granddad showed up. Granddad was fighting with President Baltar over his right to not work, given that he was retired in Woodcrest, and he didn’t understand why he had to work while stuck in a crappy tent an eighth the size of our home in the suburbs.
“Boys, get your things. We’re going home — why hello, Miss Cutie-Pie Teacher,” Granddad said, smiling at Miss Roslin, and then at Maya, the assistant teacher. “Miss Cutie-Pies.”
“Mr. Freeman, may I speak to you for a moment?” Miss Roslin asked.
“What did they do now, Miss Roslin? Cuz I’ll whup ’em, right here in front of you, if they were disrespectful,” Granddad said, putting his hand on his belt.
Miss Roslin fake-smiled. “Oh, nothing like that,” she said. “Just…if you could come over here…”
We found out later that night that Miss Roslin thought that I was an ‘exceptionally gifted young man’ and that she thought I needed some extra instruction. In fact, given the circumstances and our ‘remarkable arrival in the community,’ she wanted to extend her services herself.
“Granddad, you just agreed because you’re trying to ask her out!” I said.
“You better back up off my girl, Granddad,” Riley said. “That gangsta ho is mine.”
“Don’t you go calling Miss Roslin no ho!” Granddad said. “That is a quality woman. Should still be president. And boy, you crazy. You’re eight and she’s…older than you.”
“Why can’t Riley go get this extra instruction?” I asked. “I want to go help in the struggle for the unions, not get lectured in the sell-out politics of the corrupt elite.”
“Boy, you are going to GO to that extra instruction, and if I hear you’ve been giving that woman trouble…” Granddad said with a glower. He looked around our cold, empty little tent, discontent. “Never thought I’d miss BET.”
I never thought I would, either.
Unfortunately, the first day of extra instruction was the day the Cylons showed up on New Caprica and took the place over. President Baltar surrendered us in less than ten minutes, and the struggle went from being about unions and worker power to the people resisting for their very lives.
Miss Roslin told me to come back the next day.
“Come back tomorrow?” I asked. “We’ve just been occupied by a bunch of genocidal robots. There’s shit going on more important than extra instruction!”
“Education is the most important thing in the universe, Huey,” she said, looking distracted and determined. “You’ll come back tomorrow.”
Damnedest thing — I did.
“So tell me why, Huey Freeman, most leftist revolutions have failed so miserably,” Miss Roslin said, pacing back and forth and looking at some homework.
“The capitalist machine actively works to sabotage successful ones,” I answered. “Internally and externally. Give a real revolution a chance…”
“Assume nobody’s that fair,” she interrupted me. “If you’re going to overthrow a government with better weapons, more money, and the ethics of a hyena or a lawyer hyena, where do you start?”
She was giving me this steely glare, and I was thinking maybe Riley had it right — this woman was hardcore. Maybe not gangsta, but hardcore.
“You need principles worth dying for,” I said reluctantly. “Why fight if there’s not…you know…a point? There’s gotta be truth and justice for people.”
She looked at me thoughtfully. “Justice for the people,” she repeated. “How do you convince the people that’s worth dying for? Especially if they’re afraid and tired and the oppressor is offering relatively easy terms?”
“You need a good leader,” I said. “One who everyone knows will die for the cause.”
I guess I should have known where Miss Roslin was going with her questions. But to her credit, she was the first teacher I’d ever had who’d listened to me rant against the oppressor and not rolled her eyes and patted the ‘fro to convince me it’d be different once I got bigger.
“Don’t you go dying for no cause!” Riley said, peeking in the tent. “Huey’s just jealous cuz you got the power, Miss Roslin.”
“Riley, go home!” I said. “Or, I dunno, go play with the pyramid players.”
“That’s all right. I think we’re done for today, Huey,” Miss Roslin said. “I have to go make dinner. But that was a very useful session.”
“Besides, we can go make fun of that bitch n*gga, Samuel T. Anders,” Riley said. “He got worked by an eight-year-old! Eight!”
“Riley, did you do something to a man with pneumonia?” Miss Roslin asked. “That’s not right.”
“I didn’t know he had no pneumonia. He still ain’t got no game,” Riley said. “I worked him like he was my rented mule, man!”
“Riley, let’s go,” I said, pulling him out of school. “Do you really think your teacher wants to hear about you working someone like a rented mule?”
“You don’t know,” Riley said, glaring. “She might think it’s cool, Huey. She ain’t a big nerd, like you.”
“I’m not a…” but Riley had gotten distracted by his other nemesis, Kara ‘Starbuck’ Thrace, who was married to the pyramid player with pneumonia. For those of you who don’t know what the hell pyramid is, it’s like basketball, if you combined it with the Mayan ball game where they killed the losers and took out the killing part, and Samuel T. Anders was like their, Kobe Bryant, but without the unsavory sexual issues.
“I’m coming for yo’ ass, Starbuck!” Riley hollered. “Tellin’ me I ain’t big enough to play your jacked-up fake basketball game.”
“Kid, I am going to beat the living crap out of you on the court this week, if the toasters don’t frak you up first,” Starbuck hollered back. “Get your trash-talking ass home before curfew.”
“I don’t have to listen to you! You ain’t my mom!” Riley said.
“I can kick your ass, though,” Starbuck answered. “So you wanna play, we will play, Riley Escobar.”
“You’d beat up a little kid? That ain’t right, Starbuck! You hear this crazy ho? She’s sayin’ she’s coming for my ass!” Riley protested as I sighed and started walking away. “N*gga, I’m eight!”
We were getting used to life on New Caprica, though every day, I couldn’t help wondering if the same unknown forces that had our family wake up, walk outside our house, and find ourselves on a whole other planet wouldn’t reverse the process. Of course, everyone else just seemed to think it was best not to get into how people could just appear out of thin air, which given the genocide, the politics, and the religious stuff that seemed to be true, seemed to be an okay policy.
Especially with the Cylons everywhere. It was like having the government watching me, but worse, because anyone — anyone — could be a Cylon.
And I was helping to plan the revolution.
More accurately, I was having ethical and policy debates with the puppeteer of the revolution, who was playing prissy lady schoolteacher in front of the Cylons.
“I think if I took up arms, it would be a bad precedent,” Miss Roslin said, pacing restlessly. “Not that I haven’t wished a thousand times I’d just had Baltar shot in the head for being a traitor. Which, it turns out, he was and is and always will be.”
“Political assassinations set a bad precedent, too,” I pointed out. “I think you’re right and that when all this shit goes down, you’re going to have to be above reproach. After all, should you really be carrying around a machine gun and shooting Cylons?”
“I think your brother would spontaneously combust if I did,” she answered, laughing. “But this is a sticky point. If I’m willing to die to bring justice and our true home and destiny to our people, Huey, shouldn’t I be willing to be on those front lines?”
“Where do your people need you more? Teaching their children and planning their revolution, or getting your middle-aged lady self shot because you don’t know how to use a gun?” I asked.
“I thought you despised realpolitik,” Miss Roslin said absently.
“That ain’t realpolitik, that’s truth,” I said, grouchy. “Who’s gonna keep the people from falling into a military dictatorship without you around? All the other leaders are fleet, and you’re the symbol of unity and democracy.”
“Despite being an underhanded, no-good diplomatic backroom ho?” she asked.
I wished I had never said that, but she’d been talking about some of the suspensions of law that might be necessary once we were all on our way back to Earth, and I still didn’t like them — or her — much.
“If the revolution needs you to shoot a gun, you’ll shoot a gun,” I said.
“And what about you? You keep saying, over and over, that you’re not supposed to be here,” Miss Roslin said, fiddling with her pencil, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. “What’s this revolution mean to you?”
“Freedom,” I said. “And I don’t think you’re all that trustworthy, but you’re the only one I trust to even try for justice and freedom on this mixed-up world.”
She looked at me thoughtfully, and then reached out and took my hand between hers.
“I promise you, Huey,” Miss Roslin said in that kind lady voice. “For you, and for everyone, I will do whatever I have to do for justice, freedom, and a real home for the people. Do you trust me?”
“I think I do, yeah,” I said.
“Then I have a mission for you,” she said. “I can’t promise it’ll be safe. But it is vital to the revolution, and gods willing, everything will work out.”
“You don’t really believe in the gods, do you?” I asked. “I mean, how’s that working out for you?”
“I believe,” Miss Roslin said. “I believe — I think god is a word we use to describe a person with abilities that are beyond our understanding. And I’ve seen too much to be a skeptic.”
Maybe she had a point. When I went home, mission in hand, I was a believer.
“What are you and Miss Roslin talking about, anyway?” Riley asked jealously as we ate our dinner of pork and beans and nutritional supplements. “You ain’t gangsta. What’s she teachin’ you?”
“Mostly we’re talking about the revolution,” I said. “Riley?”
“Yeah, Huey?” he asked.
I gave him a hug. “I love you.”
“Huey, you gay,” Riley said. “What, you gonna go blow up a Cylon or something? Granddad! Huey’s going to go suicide bomb the Cylons!”
“I am NOT,” I said.
“Then you extra-gay, n*gga,” Riley said. “Teacher’s street — ow!”
My mission for the revolution was pretty easy. There was a regular set of protesters who went out in front of Colonial One for the twenty minutes a week they were allowed to protest, holding signs and showing disapproval in their free speech zone before the Cylons told them if they didn’t get the hell up out the way, they were gettin’ shot.
My job was to start protesting after the regular protesters went home. After all, nobody was shooting at a ten-year-old, not when the Cylons needed the children.
It was risky, it was dangerous, and I wished to hell I had guns. Maybe a bodyguard and a samurai sword. But it was the right thing to do…and I did it.
“End the occupation!” I shouted, walking back and forth in the middle of the street. “Return the Colonies to self-rule!”
They weren’t catchy slogans, but when I’d suggested, “Eat the bourgeoisie! Revolution up in this bitch!” to Miss Roslin, she said maybe people wouldn’t get it.
“End the occupation now! End the occupation now!” I shouted. Only a few people were paying attention. It definitely wasn’t working. Riley was even standing there with a pyramid ball, pointing and laughing.
“Huey, man, you weak!” he said. “You gayer than Anders the pyramid player, and he my bitch! He got the pneumonia!”
“Shut the hell up, Riley,” I said. “End the occupation! End the…WHAT THE HELL, PEOPLE? Don’t you see what the hell is going on here?”
That got attention. Heads swiveled. Jaws were dropped.
“This is an illegal occupation,” I said. “These Cylons aimed a nuclear weapon at us and told us if we don’t obey, they’ll blow us to shit, yeah. But you all are actin’ like this is NORMAL. Like right now, they’re not testing women to further their unethical breeding program! You think they’re going to let you live if you follow the rules? You think if you give a little more, you and your family’s gonna be safe? In the end, they gon’ kill you. Blow this stupid-ass planet the hell up and laugh at you. So what’s it gonna be? You goin’ out like a punk bitch, or are you going to stand the hell up, people?”
Nobody said anything. But that was probably because two Centurions were flanking me and one of the blonde Aryan Cylons — Number Six — was walking up.
She was pissed.
But then again, so was Miss Roslin, who had better timing than Chris Rock and a metronome combined. She got up between me and Six, while Riley cheered.
“That’s my GIRL! Holla!” he yelled. “Miss Laura Roslin in the hizzy!”
“Riley, shut UP,” I said. “You wanna get yourself shot?”
“What in the name of all twelve gods do you think you’re doing?” Miss Roslin asked the Six.
“Detaining a lawbreaker,” the Six answered.
“He’s ten,” Miss Roslin said icily. “So you’re detaining a ten-year-old boy, one of my students, for airing an opinion? You’re scared of a child?”
Her hands were on her hips, and I knew Miss Roslin’s facial expressions well enough that she was either giving the fuck-you-die smile or she looked ready to cry. Either way, she was freaking the Six out.
Plus, the people around were starting to grumble a little.
“The laws on this subject are very clear, and this boy is advocating violence,” the Six said. “That’s sedition.”
“He’s ten,” Miss Roslin repeated. “You’re afraid of a ten-year-old boy. You would detain a ten-year-old.”
“Yeah, what the hell, Cylon lady?” Riley piped in, running over to Miss Roslin. “What you is, chicken or shit? Don’t you go taking my brother to jail, or I’ll have to bust a cap in yo’ ass with my gangsta LADY Miss Roslin here.”
“You heard him,” Six said. “Confessing sedition. Take them both.”
The centurions started pulling, and Riley started screaming, jumping on the Six and biting and hitting her. Miss Roslin, on the other hand, figured that the Six and Riley would keep each other busy and ran after me.
“HUEY!” she yelled.
“They are taking me to jail!” I yelled back as she started running after me. “They’re taking me to jail! Get over here and help me, woman!”
She actually managed to touch me before one of the centurions picked me up and the other aimed a gun at her head. Miss Roslin stared up at me, falling to her knees and reaching out.
“Please,” she said. “Take me instead.”
She looked at me and I nodded. This was actually the genius part of the plan, because we didn’t really think the centurions would do it, but they weren’t going to be able to keep a kid in jail that long, either.
“Huey,” she said softly. Then, looking around, she started yelling. “Huey! Huey!”
“Help!” I shouted back. “Someone! They are taking me to jail here!”
And a funny thing happened — people started streaming out of their tents. One of them helped Miss Roslin up, and they followed the Centurions, who were aiming guns but not firing, as I got taken to the detention building. One of the Eights was doing intake.
“What the frak?…sedition? Seriously?” she asked, looking at the centurions. “This is frakking stupid. Put him in a cell.”
They did. It was warmer than my crappy tent, and the Eight fed me and the noise of the crowd chanting of “Free Huey! Free Huey!” was comforting. In fact, it lulled me to sleep.
I was in jail for two whole days. On the third day, someone finally fired on the crowd, and the whole thing went up. I was promptly liberated, taken back into town, and told to get the hell on home before my granddad threw even more of a fit.
It was a little anticlimactic, but one of the guys who rescued me was Tyrol, who told me I was the realest hero he had EVER seen.
“How’s the revolution going?” I asked.
“We lost three in the riots, but we’re fighting well and the toasters are playing cautious,” Tyrol said. “Now get. Go home.”
Even knowing people had died, I was feeling pretty good — until I saw what my mission had done.
The New Caprica City I’d been living in before I was jailed had been a fucked-up little tent city, but a pretty orderly one. The one I walked into after my night of righteous incarceration was a seething war zone covered in propaganda, posters, and rioting citizenry. And when I got a look at the most common poster, my day got worse.
Free Huey. Complete with Riley-designed, Che-styled pictures of me, or of Miss Roslin trying to hold back the Cylons from taking me.
I didn’t have to be a rocket scientist to realize what my real mission had been. I had been used. By the one political leader I had decided was worth paying attention to.
So instead of going home after my first wrongful political incarceration, I found myself back at school, getting my share of the truth.
“What in the hell is this?” I asked, slamming the poster onto the table. At least the school wasn’t hiding out anymore — it was clearly headquarters for the revolution. “No, seriously. What the hell is this? Am I your little black Sambo, Miss Roslin? Your very own pet n*gga, needing the white woman to protect me?”
“Out of the mouths of babes,” she said, head resting on her arms. Miss…well, soon to be Supreme Leader President Roslin again…wouldn’t even meet my eyes, which told me just how bad it was. “I needed a symbol, Huey. And I needed a child, and you are the only child on this planet whose life and freedom I could sacrifice.”
Even though I had been expecting it, to hear Miss Roslin say it…it was cold, man.
“For somebody who says she’s going there with us, you seem awful unwilling to put yourself in a Cylon jail,” I said.
Her head came up, and there were red-rimmed eyes, and all the signs of tears. But no tears. She had too much respect to cry for me.
“Sometimes, Huey, the only choices we have are bad ones,” Miss Roslin said. “You said it yourself — injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
“Don’t,” I said. “Don’t talk to me. You used me to set off a riot. Three people were killed because of this stunt. I went to jail and I coulda been killed.”
“They don’t call it revolution because it’s a small change,” she answered wearily. “Is there…is there any way I can make it up to you?”
I looked away, because I couldn’t stand looking at her. I had thought she was my friend. I thought she cared. And it turned out she was using me to start her war, to win her day.
“I just want to go home,” I said.
She didn’t say anything. I left that tent for the last time and went home.
“Boy, where the hell have you been?” Granddad asked. “We are staying out of these crazy white peoples’ riot. Whoever wins, we’re gonna be nice to, too. You hear me?”
“That’s fine,” I said, laying face-down on the bed. “I wish we could go back to Woodcrest. I’m tired of revolution, and I’m tired of fighting.”
“Is you going to cry?” Riley asked. “Cry like the little girl you are? Come on, Huey, let’s see you cry!”
“Shut the hell up, Riley,” I said.
We all went to bed early — wasn’t much else to do when the battle was on and the power was coming from a generator. I didn’t get any sleep; I was too busy listening to the noise of the battle and wondering how many people were going to die because of me.
I must have fallen asleep at some point, though, because when I woke up, Riley was dancing on my head.
“Huey, get up!” he hissed. “Get up!”
“What the hell is it now?” I asked.
“Come outside and look!” he said, dragging me out of the tent…and right into our old front yard in Woodcrest. “We’re HOME, Huey.”
I stood there, dumbfounded. There was grass. And SUVs. And Mr. DuBois, waving and picking up his paper. The false paradise of suburbia, restored.
“How did we get here?” I asked, looking around. Except, the thing was, I thought I might know. Except it was impossible and crazy and what did crazy white women know about interdimensional parallel universe portals and moving people through space-time?
I think god is a word we use to describe a person with abilities that are beyond our understanding.
“Huey, you gone stupid or something?” Riley asked, hitting me upside my head. “We’re home! I’m gonna go watch a whole bunch of videos and I bet you got a million messages on the computer.”
I shook my head. “I think I’m gonna go take a walk,” I said. “Go make sure Granddad’s not stuck in the parallel dimension of crazy white people, okay?”
In the end, I don’t know what happened. It turned out we hadn’t even been gone in our own universe, even though we got to keep our tent. Granddad told me and Riley that probably it was carbon monoxide poisoning and that if we went telling the neighbors…
I don’t believe that, though. I was there. I even started my own revolution.
And then my teacher sent us home to thank me for what I did for her people.
…maybe it was carbon monoxide poisoning.