Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from a black left perspective.
Black Agenda Radio for Week of November 23, 2015

Black Agenda Radio for Week of November 23, 2015

ISIS and the White Lives Matter Movement

Although civilians in Nigeria, Iraq and Syria have suffered the highest casualties from jihadist terror, these crimes “get no attention, especially because in most of these tragedies Western governments are the primary responsible parties, said Ajamu Baraka, an editor and columnist for Black Agenda Report and a founder of the U.S. Human Rights Network. Baraka authored an article in the current issue of BAR titled “The Paris Attacks and the White Lives Matter Movement.” Most Europeans and Euro-Americans exhibit an “inability to recognize the humanity of other people” – a form of psychopathology, said Baraka. ”They advance the notion that they are the upholders of a humanitarian tradition, while at the same time are responsible for the most horrific acts known in human history.”

Black Power Through Sustainable Development

Activists with Cooperation Jackson looked forward to joining huge demonstrations in Paris, later this month, to influence United Nations negotiations about climate change and to promote their Jackson Just Transition Plan to create environment-friendly employment in predominantly Black Jackson, Mississippi. However, French authorities have declared a state of emergency. Cooperation Jackson spokesman Kali Akuno said Black Power has everything to do with sustainable development. “In the 21st century, I don’t think there’s anywhere else for many of us in the United States to go,” said Akuno. “None of the other industries are producing anything that is going to employ us very intensely. We have to realize that the masses of Black people are completely disposable to this system, and we have to come up with the concrete alternatives, ourselves.”

Protestors Mark Anniversary of Tamir Rice’s Murder

Stop Mass Incarceration Network activists confronted Cleveland’s mayor and disrupted traffic on a major thoroughfare to mark the date, a year ago, when a white cop shot to death 12 year-old Tamir Rice. The local district attorney accused Rice’s mother of having “economic motives” for demanding justice for her son. “For this district attorney to impugn anybody’s motive is beyond disgusting,” said Network co-founder Carl Dix. “This is a guy who’s heading a secret grand jury process who has leaked three reports that say the police who murdered Tamir Rice were justified in doing so.” The cops shot the child two seconds after arriving at the park where he’d been playing with a toy gun. “They charged at him like they were some Wild West gunslingers who had their prey in their sights,” said Dix.

Bill and Hillary Clinton Might Face Indictment

In an article in Harpers magazine, investigative reporter Ken Silverstein predicted that newly-released Clinton Foundation tax returns could get Bill, Hillary and daughter Chelsea indicted on money laundering and influence peddling charges. “As secretary of state she paid particular attention to Clinton Foundation donors,” said Silverstein. Now, after years of filing false returns, “the shit is hitting the fan” for the former – and possibly future – First Couple.

Cuban Official Remembers Jim Crow

Kenia Serrano, president of the Cuban Institute of Friendship of the People, spends much of her time greeting visitors to her island nation. But, this month she led a Cuban delegation on a tour of U.S. cities, starting with New York, where she expressed pride in the great changes the Revolution has made in the lives of the people, especially Black Cubans. “In Cuba, we have a Fifth Avenue similar to the one in New York City. Black people couldn’t walk on Fifth Avenue” in Havana. “Before the triumph of the Revolution, Black people could not work in the banks.” Even the “mulatto” Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista “was not allowed to go to the bourgeois clubs in Cuba,” said Serrano.


Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network is hosted by Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey. A new edition of the program airs every Monday at 11:00am ET on PRN. Length: one hour.


Direct download: blackagendaradio_20151123.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:20am EST

Baltimore Study Sheds Light on Bankers’ Scheme To Expel Blacks from the City


Baltimore Study Sheds Light on Bankers’ Scheme To Expel Blacks from the City

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

“Some neighborhoods will live, and some will die, to be born again as gentrified communities.”

A new study of bank lending practices in Baltimore shows that whites get twice the number of mortgage loans as Blacks do, even though Blacks outnumber whites two to one in the city. Baltimore is 64 percent Black, with a quarter of its population living below the poverty line. However, the study found that the banks continue to issue mortgages in some low income neighborhoods – the ones where white people live. Yes, Baltimore still has some poor neighborhoods where whites are the majority, and if you live in one of them, you are far more likely to get a mortgage from the bank. But, if you live in a neighborhood that’s 80 percent Black or more, your chances for a mortgage are a much slimmer.

So, what are the Lords of Capital really up to? The data shows that the banks are willing to put money into low-income neighborhoods that still have large white populations, but will do nothing to stabilize low-income communities where Blacks predominate. The implications are quite clear, but the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, which seeks to draw public and private investment into the cities, and which commissioned the study, doesn’t seem to get it. They issued a statement, warning that failure to provide credit to prospective inner city homeowners will cause their neighborhoods to “continue to deteriorate” – as if the banks don’t know that!

“They know exactly what they are doing.”

The bankers are perfectly aware of the consequences of their lending policies. Some neighborhoods will live, and some will die, to be born again as gentrified communities valued at many times the previous worth of the land and buildings. When Black neighborhoods are killed, the banks make a killing. The banks have other plans for Baltimore’s remaining white low income neighborhoods. White folks always get different treatment; that’s part of the privilege.

For the time being, the banks have decided to keep those poor white enclaves stable, through the magic of mortgage money. But, the bankers have condemned the Black sections of town to a death spiral of social and physical deterioration. They know exactly what they are doing: inflicting the maximum social pain on Black people, in anticipation of fantastic financial gains for bank shareholders after the Blacks are forced to disperse.

In a white supremacist society like the United States, the very presence of Black people lowers property values – not because of anything within Black people’s control, but because of white people’s behavior in the marketplace. The banks are the most important institutional participants in the white supremacist marketplace and profit the most from it. Baltimore is what it has become, mostly because of the banks, who also had a lot to do with deindustrialization and the collapse of the blue collar job market in the Baltimores of the nation.

There’s a lesson here, but one that groups like the National Community Reinvestment Coalition will never learn. They spend much of their time trying to get bankers to do the right thing – which is an absolute impossibility – when the real task at hand is to get rid of the banking class and nationalize the banks so that we can make rational investments of the people’s money in jobs and housing for the folks who live in places like Baltimore.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at

Direct download: 20151118_gf_BaltimoreBanks.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:46pm EST

Black Agenda Radio Weekly, November 17, 2015

Black Agenda Radio for Week of November 16, 2015

Prison Reformers Distort Facts to Make Obama Look Good

In 2013, President Obama’s Justice Department went into federal court to prevent the retroactive reduction in prison sentences for people convicted under the old crack cocaine laws. The case was U.S. v. Blewett. As a result, about 6,000 inmates were forced to spend additional years in prison. However, according to members of The Sentencing Project, a highly respected prison reform organization, President Obama should not be blamed for keeping thousands of offenders incarcerated under an admittedly racist law. “That was a decision made by lawyers studying constitutional law and applying that in a specific case,” said Sentencing Project advocacy counsel Jeremy Haile, at a telephone press briefing to push for passage of another bill that would – finally! – retroactively scale back crack cocaine sentences. BAR executive editor Glen Ford said Obama seemed to have one prison policy for the public, and another for the courts. “You certainly could make that interpretation,” replied Robert Craemer, a political consultant for the Sentencing Project. But, “whatever sins there may have been in the past, I think they are definitely committed” to passage of the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act, now before the U.S. Senate. “I’ve been told that by people at the very top of the administration – the White House,” said Craemer.

Black Is Back Coalition Holds Conference at Howard U.

The Russians are correct to help the Syrian government defend itself against U.S.-backed jihadists, said Omali Yeshitela, chairman of the Black Is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations. The Coalition held a national conference at Howard University’s Blackburn Center, under the theme “Black Power Matters.” Much of the event focused on global developments. The U.S. “has funded every criminal with a gun and a bomb in the Middle East,” said Coalition chairman Omali Yeshitela. “The modern jihad that people are so upset about was created by the Carter regime” nearly 40 years ago.

Margaret Kimberley, senior columnist for Black Agenda Report, said Black people need to build a movement with a global perspective. “It’s Putin who has proved beyond any doubt that the United States was lying about wanting to get rid of ISIS,” she said. “We talk about Black Power mattering. But, if we don’t speak against imperialism then we’re not talking about the whole picture.”

One of the Coalition’s principal demands is Black Community Control of the Police. “It’s a demand that calls for the dismantling of the occupation army that the Black Panther Party identified and described back in 1966,” said BAR executive editor Glen Ford. However, much of the new crop of Black activists “don’t know the meaning of the word ‘demand.’ Movements are defined by their demands, and to that extent, the two factions that go under the heading BlackLivesMatter network and Campaign Zero have dropped out of the movement and dropped – or jumped, or leaped – into the Democratic Party.”

Herdosia Bentum, president of the International Uhuru Movement, who hails from Ferguson, Missouri, is coordinating a campaign to charge the U.S. with domestic genocide against Afrikans. The project involves knocking on lots of doors. “The most important thing as an organizer is going to those houses and sitting down and talking to people,” said Bentum. “Because, they understand that one of the biggest crimes is poverty.”


Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network is hosted by Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey. A new edition of the program airs every Monday at 11:00am ET on PRN. Length: one hour.


Direct download: BlackAgendaRadio_20151116.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:25pm EST

What Good Are Our Black Politics When 3 of Every 8 Black Children Under 6 Are in Poverty?

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

There have never been more black elected and appointed officials, more black corporate and military functionaries, more black faces on TV and in the movies than there are right now. There's been a black family in the White House for seven years already and the first lady is from the south side of Chicago. But what does it really mean to black children in places like Chicago's south side all around the country?

The plain and simple answer is not a whole lot. Current census data pegs the percentage of African American children under 6 who are growing up in poverty at 38%. That's three out of every eight black children in the US. It's been just a little higher once or twice in the several decades that particular statistic has been kept, but never by much, and not since the early 1980s.

Why? Politics isn't just about voting, elections and political parties. Politics broadly speaking is about how we humans arrange our collective affairs. And black politics, as far back as anybody can recall, black politics has never been aimed at confronting those who wield power, or contesting for that power. Black politics has always been about representation, about which black faces would best serve as designated spokespeople for the rest of us, which of them might best broker for our interests. Brokers don't contest power.

The current waves of mass incarceration and gentrification would have been impossible without the active collaboration of large groups of black preachers, black business leaders and black politicians, the kind of black political class which views its own glittering careers as the indisputable proof that something great is being accomplished on behalf of the oppressed.

So far, the newest wave of so-called “movement activists” are walking down that same well-traveled road. They're asking for more representation, with themselves as the brokers this time. They want town hall meetings and to their own presidential debates. But as Glen Ford points out, they don't have demands.

They're not proposing abolition of the crushing burden of student and consumer debt.

They're not championing laws that would make the kinds of mortgage fraud perpetrated by the big banks illegal, or which would let cities snatch underwater homes from the speculators.

They're not educating or organizing parents and communities to resist the wave of school privatizations or to opt out of the standardized testing which provides the fake justification for them.

They're not speaking or mobilizing against the permanent warfare state which swallows fully half the nation's revenue, money which could be spent transforming cities, industries, economies, and tens of millions of lives.

They're not building new political organizations that value and practice democracy internally, that prefigure the world we deserve.

This new movement crowd has lots to say about the slippery nebulous demons of white supremacy and institutional racism, but almost nothing against the state and corporate actors who exercise real power. Like the classes of broker-leaders before them, they don't have answers to gentrification, or the housing crisis or mass incarceration, or much to say to the three out of every eight black children in poverty, except to point to their own careers, while declaring how they love their blackness, and that of the pretty first lady in the White House. And yours too.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report and a partner in a technology firm. He lives and works near Marietta GA and is on the state committee of the Georgia Green Party. Contact him via email at bruce.dixon(at)
Direct download: 20151111_bd_confronting_the_state.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:26pm EST

The Middle Age White Male Die-Off: When Skin Privilege is Not Enough

The Middle Age White Male Die-Off: When Skin Privilege is Not Enough

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

A generation of poorly educated white men who came of age in the Seventies and Eighties are suffering dramatic levels of psychological instability.”

It appears that white middle aged men with no more than a high school education have not adjusted well to their declining economic and social status in the United States. That seems to be the logical conclusion that can be drawn from a study by two Nobel laureates in economics who found that the death rate for white men of lower educational attainment between the ages of 45 and 54 has been increasing, while every other racial, gender and economic group has been living longer. The study was conducted during the 15 years between 1999 and 2014. The findings came as a shock – not just because the life expectancy of non-college educated white middle aged males was going in the opposite direction than everyone else, but also because the heightened mortality rate of this particular cohort is not due to the most frequent killers, like heart disease and diabetes. Instead, these low-income white men are committing suicide or dying from the complications of substance abuse at previously unheard of rates. So many of this group are dying by their own hands, or from illnesses based on self-destructive behaviors, that they have dragged down the life expectancy of the entire white middle aged male population, regardless of education and income.

These low-income white men are committing suicide or dying at previously unheard of rates from the complications of substance abuse.”

Clearly, we are looking at mass psychological problems, rooted in class, race, and gender at a particular point in history in the United States. These suddenly at-risk white men are by no means the most endangered U.S. demographic; Black and Hispanic men still die much younger than whites, but their life expectancies are gradually improving, while the opposite is true of the at-risk white cohort. Even more intriguingly, white relatively uneducated males who are older or younger than the 45 to 54 group are not dying at such high rates from self-destructive behavior.

What the numbers are telling us, is that a generation of poorly educated white men who came of age in the Seventies and Eighties are suffering dramatic levels of psychological instability, so that they drink or drug themselves to death or kill themselves outright. The death rate for this group rose 22 percent during the study period. The researchers noted that the incomes of households headed by people with only a high school education fell by 19 percent during the same period. But, that’s true for less educated households of all ethnic groups and both sexes, and only the white males of a certain age began dying at alarming rates – as if much of their group had been emotionally destabilized.

Working class people of all ethnicities have lost a great deal of economic ground under late stage capitalism in America, but the uneducated white males have also lost what they were led to expect was their special place in the racialized pecking order. Late in life, they find that white skin privilege can’t buy security or serenity in the age of austerity – and their worlds fall apart.

You might say they died from a White Lie.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at
Direct download: 20151104_gf_WhiteMalesDying.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:17am EST

War Abroad Breeds Homicidal Indifference At Home: St. Louis Garbage Fire Creeps Toward Nuclear Weapons Waste Dump

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by Bruce A. Dixon

Underground fires are notoriously hard to control or extinguish, and they often burn for years. One of these, a smoking, stinking garbage fire in a St. Louis MO landfill is at least five years old, and it now rages 1200 feet or less from a cache of buried nuclear waste left over from the Manhattan Project, the World War 2 effort to build the world's first atomic bombs. There are no barriers between the creeping subterranean garbage fire and the nuclear waste. Should the fire reach the radioactive material one of the likely results will be a plume of deadly radioactive smoke directly over the St. Louis airport, the city and nearby suburbs, including Ferguson.

Authorities have known about the fire creeping toward the nuclear waste dump for some time, but only in October were they finally forced to make public their emergency plans to be executed in the event that the smoldering garbage fire reaches the radioactive waste. The report calls for the use of sirens, SMS text messaging and other means to spur the evacuation of affected areas, and calls for the mobilization of first responders and volunteer resources, the cooperation of hospitals, businesses, schools and other local institutions.

The Missouri Coalition for the Environment says the nuclear waste was dumped in suburban St. Louis in 1973. Even without the approaching underground garbage fire, the atomic waste site near the St. Louis airport is leaking radiation, and lies in the floodplain of the Missouri River.

Local residents are not reassured by the pronouncements of the EPA, the federal agency in charge of the atomic bomb waste site, that there is little danger to the health and safety of the 2 million plus residents of the St. Louis metro area, and are urgently demanding more public information and accountability.

Local officials are making noises about suing the owners of the landfill over the long burning fire, but this does nothing to protect the public. No corporation and no insurance companies can possibly cover the cost in property, lost business or human lives caused by a radiation disaster in a big city. This is why no insurance company anywhere in the world will cover a nuclear reactor, it's something only a government can pretend to do. And pretend is absolutely the right word here. The government after all has for decades displayed a kind of homicidal indifference to the well being of people in the greater St. Louis area.

In 1994 the US Army admitted that in the 1950s it had deliberately sprayed sprayed certain poor neighborhoods in and around St. Louis with toxic and radioactive dust. Much like the Manhattan Project secretly dumping its radioactive waste on the outskirts of big cities, this time the army was testing its ability to wage war not against foreign aggressors, but against civilians going about their own business on the other side of the planet. It seems that the local topography around St. Louis, in the opinion of army officials, resembled that of some Russian cities they might want to target in a future war. Some unknown number of local residents died.

The first obvious lesson here is that war overseas breeds a kind of murderous indifference to civilian life at home. The folks who manufactured the nukes used on Japanese cities in World War 2 didn't mind dumping their radioactive garbage on the outskirts of an American city, and US military officials who considered poisoning Soviet civilians in the 1950s didn't shrink from testing their methods on American civilians.

The second, and equally obvious lesson is that you probably shouldn’t believe much of what the officials of a government that would do such things will say. Right now the EPA says not to worry, that it will come up with a solution to the problem this year. We'll see.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and a member of the state committee of the GA Green Party. He can be reached via email at bruce.dixon(at)
Direct download: 20151031_bd-st-louis-nukes.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:49pm EST

FBI Chief Gets the “Ferguson Effect” All Wrong

FBI Chief Gets the “Ferguson Effect” All Wrong

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

In Comey’s mind, there is no such thing as mass incarceration.”

FBI Director James Comey put his boss in an uncomfortable position this week, blaming the movement against police brutality in Black America for increases in crime in some cities. Comey was talking about the so-called “Ferguson Effect,” the theory that intensified scrutiny of police since the rebellions in Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore has caused cops to be less aggressive in carrying out their duties, allowing crime to flourish. The FBI chief painted a picture of a digitalFort Apache, the Bronx, with cops cowering in their squad cars “surrounded by young people with mobile phone cameras held high,” waiting to capture them on video. Comey said the cops feel like they’re “under siege,” and are reluctant to get out of their cars.

Actually, I think that’s a very pretty picture, and I wish it were the case everywhere in Black America. In the next scene of that movie, the occupation-army-in-blue would turn around and drive back to the suburbs where they live, never to return – and Black folks would take up the task of providing security for their own communities. Now, that would be real “community policing.”

Director Comey also put himself, at least rhetorically, on the wrong side of the White House when he questioned the very existence of “mass incarceration” in the United States. The U.S. prison population has grown eight-fold since 1970 but, as Comey points out, each of these prisoners has been locked up one at a time. Therefore, in Comey’s mind, there is no such thing as mass incarceration.

Obama has brought not a single federal prosecution against killer cops.”

All this is quite embarrassing to the Obama administration, whose job is to convince Black people that a kinder, gentler police force is on the way and mass Black incarceration is nearing an end, and that all this can happen without fundamentally changing power relationships in America. It’s a scam, of course. The administration’s version of community policing would actually increase police penetration of the Black community, in the guise of community relations, multiplying the points of contact between police and the people. Pro-active policing merges with predictive policing, which is racial profiling on steroids. Obama is only seeking to put a smiling face on an even more intrusive, higher tech Mass Black Incarceration State.

The cops shouldn’t be so nervous. Obama has brought not a single federal prosecution against killer cops. Police impunity is not threatened in any way by his so-called reforms – most of which have been recommended by the cops, themselves. Obama and his political twin, Hillary Clinton, want to strengthen the grip of police power, by putting Black people back to sleep.

The only group that can be counted on not to cooperate is the Black street. Those young Black folks that FBI Director Comey talked about are armed with their phone cameras – and that’s not the only tool that Black hands can hold, a lesson learned with the first modern Black urban rebellion in Harlem, in 1935, and re-learned over the past year in Ferguson and Baltimore.

The next chapter of Black history will be written in the streets. The effects will be bigger than Ferguson.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at
Direct download: 20151028_gf_FergusonEffect.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:51am EST


Find Out What the “Or Else” Is: March with the Black Is Back Coalition in Washington, Nov. 7

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

“The only way to shield Black children from killer cops is through Black Community Control of the Police.

The struggle for justice begins with a demand. Not with an empty threat that everyone knows is a bluff – like the Nation of Islam’s “Justice or Else” bait-and-switch, which left hundreds of thousands of Black people dangling in the Washington Mall with no hint of direction for the future. And, we definitely don’t stand a chance of getting justice by holding racial sensitivity sessions with an infinitely corrupt, profoundly racist war criminal like Hillary Clinton. Who cares what goes on in her wicked mind – a mind we already know too well, based on decades of experience.

What we know is that “Power concedes nothing without a demand – it never has and it never will.” Frederick Douglass’s voice resounds across the generations, yet presidential candidates are allowed – no, beseeched! – to come up with their own ideas for bringing justice to Black people, without having to grapple with actual Black people’s demands. And we know that an aging Muslim minister can summon a million Black people as a backdrop, speak for two hours, and make not one substantive demand of those in Power.

The Black Is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations has a demand: Black Community Control of the Police – now, and in every Black community in the United States. The Black Is Back Coalition will rally and march on the White House on Saturday, November 7, as it has every year since 2009. This year, the theme is “Black Power Matters” – because the power of a mobilized people is the hammer that backs up the demand for Black Community Control of the Police.

“Impunity is the law of the land.”

It’s the proper demand for Tamir Rice, whose murder at the age of 12 by a Cleveland cop has been declared a “reasonable shooting” by two law enforcement “experts.” The only way to shield Black children from killer cops is through Black Community Control of the Police. That’s why Black Power Matters – because only Black Power can ensure that Black Lives Matter.

So far this year, the police have shot dead 789 people, 28 of them unarmed Black people. But only 12 police officers have been charged with murder or manslaughter, and not one officer has been convicted this year. Impunity is the law of the land, and will always be so until we demand, and then seize, Black Community Control of the Police.

How is Black Community Control of the Police achieved? With great difficulty, and sacrifice, and disruption of the ruling order – because it is the ruling order that is killing us. That’s why, on the Sunday, November 8, the day after the rally and march on the White House, the Black Is Back Coalition will convene a conference at the Blackburn Center Auditorium, at Howard University, to discuss concrete strategies for ending the reign of terror, poverty, miseducation and mass incarceration that has been methodically inflicted on Black America.

Black Community Control of the Police is the most fundamental demand that can be made at this juncture in history – and Black lives will only matter if Black Power Matters. Make it matter, on November 7, in Washington.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at

For information about the Black Is Back Coalition and the November 7 march on the White House, go to


Direct download: 20151021_gf_BlackIsBackMarch.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:49am EST

Confederate Flag Wavers Arrested Under Law Designed to Imprison Blacks

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Every law that can be abused for political purposes will be disproportionately deployed against Black people.”

Lots of Black people thought it was good news, this week, when a grand jury in Douglas County, Georgia, indicted a bunch of Confederate flag waving white boys who spewed racial abuse and threatened Black guests outside a child’s birthday party, this past summer. It’s hard not to celebrate on those rare occasions when your enemies are getting hammered by the State. The white marauders in Douglas County, which has gone from just 8 percent Black 25 years ago to 44 percent African America today, carried banners demanding that the Confederate flag be “respected” – their response to the image problem that Johnny Reb has been having since the Charleston church massacre.

However, Black folks should not be celebrating the Douglas County prosecutor’s decision to indict the white supremacists for participating in “criminal gang activity,” in addition to charges of making terroristic threats. This is the first time that Georgia’s Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act has been used in such overtly political circumstances. If we have learned anything from the modern mass Black incarceration regime that has been in place since the early Seventies, it is that every law that can be abused for political purposes will be disproportionately deployed against Black people. The Georgia gang statute was designed to circumscribe the movements and constitutional liberties of Black and brown youth, as are similar statutes and gang injunction laws in effect all across the country. It was conceived as an anti-Black law, and its one-time use against racist whites does not change the nature of the law as an instrument of mass Black incarceration. The gang statutes are throwbacks to the Black Codes imposed on ex-slaves after the Civil War, when freedmen were not to allowed to gather in groups of more than three people at a time. One isolated circumstance of racist white boys getting caught up in a law designed to ensnare Blacks, is not a sign of progress.

“The gang statutes are throwbacks to the Black Codes imposed on ex-slaves after the Civil War.”

In fact, it is a very dangerous precedent. The Douglas County prosecutor argues that the gang law can be applied to “any type of activity that occurs with a group that’s organized that commits a crime.” This legal formula is similar to the way the RICCO anti-racketeering laws have been used to swallow up whole neighborhoods of Black teenagers, as happened last year when 100 young people at two neighboring housing projects in New York’s Harlem were charged with conspiracy to murder, largely based on postings in Facebook.

Douglas County prosecutor Brian Fortner, a white Republican, says he will continue to use the gang law against people who don’t “respect the rights of all of the citizens to feel safe and secure.” The Southern Poverty Law Center thinks the prosecutor acted appropriately – but the Center also classifies Min. Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam as a “hate group.” How would the law be applied to Black activists marching or congregating and waving Red, Black and Green flags and shouting “Killer Cops Out of Our Community!” – and maybe using the word “pig”? Would that be a criminal conspiracy, punishable by 15 years in prison? And if flags are indictable signs of criminality, what about leather jackets and Black berets. Think about that, while you’re applauding the prosecutor for coming down on some low-life Georgia white boys.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at
Direct download: 20151014_gf_GAGangLaw.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:45pm EST

Tell the New Education Secretary: Charter Schools Flunk Out in New Orleans

Tell the New Education Secretary: Charter Schools Flunk Out in New Orleans

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

The gap between Louisiana charter schools – meaning, mainly, New Orleans – and public schools was the biggest in the country.”

Arne Duncan, the outgoing U.S. secretary of education, will be succeeded by an even more rabid professional privatizer of public education. John B. King, a Black and Puerto Rican native of Brooklyn, New York – and, like President Obama, a product of Harvard and Columbia universities – has spent his entire teaching career in the charter school business. King is a hit man for school privatization – the perfect credentials to take over from presidential buddy Arne Duncan, the ghoul who obscenely declared that “the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans was Hurricane Katrina.”

Corporations stand to make hundreds of billions of dollars from privatization of education, so it pays to tell lies about what happened when Katrina provided the opportunity to illegally fire 7,000 New Orleans teachers, the majority of them Black, replacing them with young, largely white, non-union and ultimately temporary staff, and then converting all of the city’s schools to charters. The privatizers claim that test scores are way up in New Orleans, but studies show that it’s all propaganda and phony numbers. Charter schools do what they have always done: they select and retain students that tend to do well on tests, and discard the rest. That’s called “creaming” – taking the better-performing students right off the top. But, in New Orleans, the creaming preceded the charter school coup. One-third of the Black population was driven from the city, never to return. The schoolchildren among these displaced Black persons were disproportionately poor – precisely the demographic that does relatively worse on standardized tests. They never showed up for class in New Orleans newly charterized schools, leaving a more affluent mass of students to take the standardized tests. But, the charter schools continued the creaming students, in an attempt to boost the test numbers, especially at selected schools – all the while claiming that underperforming students were not being displaced.

That was a lie. For example, a study by the Education Research Alliance showed that a preparatory high school somehow lost-two-thirds of its students when it converted to charter. The school claims it doesn’t know where they went, but keeps bragging about how great things are for the kids that remained and for the new students, many of them non-Black.

New Orleans’ charter school system flunks.”

Most of Louisiana’s charter schools are located in New Orleans. A study by the Network for Public Education found that the state’s charter schools performed significantly worse than conventional public schools. The gap between Louisiana charter schools – meaning, mainly, New Orleans – and public schools was the biggest in the country – which had a lot do with Louisiana overall scoring the fourth lowest in the nation. Even by Louisiana standards, New Orleans’ charter school system flunks – even after controlling for factors of race, class and qualifications for special education. And the entire nation’s education system will also flunk, if given over to the lying privatizers, like John B. King. But, don’t expect the Black Misleadership Class, masquerading as members of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, to save us. Leadership Conference CEO Wade Henderson had effusive praise for Arne Duncan, and for his Black and Puerto Rican protégé, who will undoubtedly become an even more effective educational evil than his outgoing boss, the obscene Mr. Duncan.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at
Direct download: 20151007_gf_JohnKing_NOLACharters.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:55pm EST