Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from an African American point of view.

Justice Dept Refuses For 20 Years To Comply With Federal Law Requiring It To Gather National Police Brutality Stats

A BA Radio Commentary by Bruce A. Dixon

We're all supposed to be impressed with the fact that Attorney General Eric Holder parachuted into Ferguson MO the other day to wrap his arms around the local top black cop and get briefed on the pending federal investigation into the police killing of Michael Brown. But we shouldn't be.

For the last 20 years, since 1994, Violent Crime Control & Law Enforcement Act obligates the Department of Justice to collect statistics on the extent of brutality and excessive force used by police officers, and to make those findings available to the public. 20 years down the road no such stats exist, because the Justice Departments of the Clinton, the Bush and the Obama administrations have all simply ignored the law and refuse even to try to gather the information. Let me say this again: the Clinton Justice Department defied the law and refused to gather national stats on police misconduct. The Bush Justice Department thumbed its nose at the law and also refused to gather national stats on police misconduct, and now the first black attorney general, who sometimes even utters the phrase “mass incarceration”, which he recently discovered, selected by the first black president who says if he had a son, his son could be Trayvon Martin – Eric Holder and Barack Obama have likewise shown no interest whatsoever in fulfilling their legal duty when it comes to assembling a national database of police misconduct.

 

This should not surprise the president's apologists, who will surely counsel us that he has to be president of all the people, including the police. Everybody knows black and brown people are the disproportionate targets of police violence, so enforcing laws which particularly benefit black and brown communities are something we must not expect. Perhaps after the president leaves office, they'll tell us, he'll speak out more forcefully on this. Maybe the “My Brothers Keeper” initiative can get some charitable dollars to organizations like , or PUSH or the Urban League to help more of our young boys to pull their pants up so they won't get beat down.

Let's get real. The Republicans haven't stopped Obama and Holder from doing this, they stopped themselves. Like every cop on the beat, the Obama administration chooses which laws to enforce, which ones to bend and in what direction, and which ones to ignore. Obama's DOJ has resurrected the century old Espionage Act, not to prosecute spies, but to threaten and to imprison whistleblowers who tell the truth to reporters, and to journalists themselves if they do not reveal their sources with decades in prison, like Chelsea Manning, and on so-called “secret evidence.” So when you think about it, it's entirely logical that a president and attorney general who place such a high priority on protecting their torturers, their bankster friends, and the official wrongdoers of past and future administrations should want to protect the police from scrutiny as well.

It's time to shed some illusions, not just about this president but about the whole political class that claims he or any president can be “held accountable.” Barack Obama and his Justice Department are no more interested in justice than the administrations of ten presidents before him, and uncritical black and brown support has made this president less accountable to black and brown people than any in living memory.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com, and remember --- Facebook and Twitter don't necessarily show you everything we or similar sources publish. The only way to keep up on the latest Black Agenda Report is to subscribe to our free weekly email updates at www.blackagendareport.com/subscribe. That's www.blackagendareport.com/subscribe.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report and a state committee member of the GA Green Party. He can be reached via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.
Direct download: 20140827_bd_DOJ_scofflaws.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:52 PM

Organizing 101: Don't Do Another Ferguson March or Rally Without Getting The Digits

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Bruce A. Dixon

At a meeting I attended last weekend, a lady told me an inspiring story, but not as inspiring as it should have been.

In a social media exchange, somebody asked her if an event on the Ferguson murder was happening nearby. Probably not, she replied, and suggested the questioner put one together. She did just that, starting a Facebook page, and hawking it on Twitter and other social media platforms. With only a few days lead time, a couple hundred people showed up. They sang, they chanted, they felt the strength that only comes from connecting with others in a just cause. And they dispersed.

Did anybody pass out a sign in sheet, I asked? Did you get the digits of the folks that showed up? I asked this because getting those digits is the first lesson in organizing 101, it's what we did before anybody ever heard of social media. Back in the day if we got 4 people, or 40, or 400, we got those digits.

I also asked because Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Vine, causes.com, change.org and other social media platforms DO NOT give the organizers of petitions or events ANY of the contact information on the people you're supposedly “organizing” because the corporate social media business model ain't never been about helping YOU do good, it's about mapping the people you touch, the people you influence and who influence you so they can sell that to marketers.

All the social media platforms can and do manipulate their algorithms and hashtags for commercial purposes, and their systems are private property. If they wanted to squelch your political activism tomorrow, or just show you more cat videos, or if the people who turned out last time simply were not on Facebook or Twitter for a day or two, they might never know about the next meeting or demonstration or even the murder that prompted it.

The answer to my “did you get the digits” question was “no”. Nobody passed a petition, a sign-in sheet or volunteer cards. Nobody got anybody's email, phone numbers or the best times to call.

In fairness it's an easy mistake to make, but a costly one. Remember the Million Man March? Organizers remembered to pass the hat but didn't pass a sign-in sheet, so there was no Million Man Mailing List or phone tree. Talk about missed opportunities. Most Occupy encampments didn't take names or contact info either.

When you have an event, publicized by social media or the radio, like so many of the Troy Davis and Trayvon Martin and Ferguson and other happenings, and you don't get those digits you are completely at the mercy of Twitter, Facebook or the radio station to recontact those people. Radio is a great way to get a crowd, but you rarely have access. Also you may have noticed that whenever radio stations take the lead, they put the Al Sharptons or their local equivalents at the head of the crowd. If you don't want to listen to those guys, you gotta get your own list, so you can get your own crowd. Most people are not already affiliated with any existing organization. That's a piece of Organizing 101 as well.

I'm not saying don't use corporate social media or radio when you can get it. But take it from an old school organizer: if you're depending on Twitter, on Facebook, on corporate social media and the radio to get your crowd and you don't pass a petition, a sign in sheet to enable you to keep in direct touch, or have the most enthusiastic among them sign volunteer cards you ain't got no movement, because YOU cannot MOVE it, only they can, and only when, where and for as long as THEY want to.

You want a movement – every crowd, every meeting, every flashmob – you get those digits.

Next week we'll talk a little about Organizing 102... what to do with them.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com, and remember --- Facebook and Twitter don't necessarily show you everything we or similar sources publish. The only way to keep up on the latest Black Agenda Report is to subscribe to our free weekly email updates at www.blackagendareport.com/subscribe. That's www.blackagendareport.com/subscribe.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report and a state committee member of the GA Green Party. He can be reached via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.
Direct download: 20140827_bd_get_those_digits.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:34 PM

Obama Schemes to Attack Syria, Under the Guise of Fighting ISIS

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

“Nobody wants ISIS defeated more than Syria and its soldiers.”

President Obama is preparing to do something horrifically dangerous in Syria and Iraq. The rise of ISIS has crippled the empire’s decade’s old strategy of deploying Islamic fundamentalist fighters to do its dirty work in the Arab and Muslim world. ISIS, the Frankenstein birthed in the cauldron of America’s quest for regime change in Syria, has turned on its U.S., Saudi, Qatari and Turkish masters to establish its own caliphate, to which thousands of other Islamist fighters are flocking. Even U.S. corporate media now acknowledge that the so-called “moderate” Syrian rebels that Obama wants to shovel $500 million at, are virtually non-existent. They were always a mirage, creatures of western propaganda. The Islamists were the only force that could challenge the Syrian army on the battlefield, and now that they are rallying to ISIS, or running away, Obama does not know which way to turn.

Certainly, the U.S. can bomb ISIS positions in Syria, and is already making preparations to do so, but that is not the war Obama wanted to fight. Three years ago, when Obama launched his dirty war against Syria, the plan was for Muslim jihadists to shed their blood to overthrow President Assad. Once the filthy deed was done, the jihadists were expected to allow NATO and the corrupt kings of the Arabian peninsula to pick the next rulers of Syria. The CIA was playing Lawrence of Arabia, using the jihadists as cannon fodder, to be cast aside when it came time to split up the spoils.

Such was also the plan in Libya, where NATO and the same gang of royal Arabian thieves funded and armed the overthrow Muammar Gaddafi. The Libyan jihadists have also failed to cooperate with the empire’s scheme.

The global jihadist network that the Americans and Saudis created in the 1980s has declared its independence, and Washington has nothing to replace them. American boots on the ground are unacceptable to both the people of the region and the U.S. public. Obama and his minions say the U.S. and its allies will crush ISIS – but that will be like smothering one’s own child in its crib, and would remove all hope of the U.S. achieving its strategic goal of regime change in Syria.

Watch for the Big Switch

If Obama was serious about wanting to crush ISIS, the best and most logical ally would be Syrian President Assad, whose army has so far prevailed against every flavor of jihadist the U.S. has been able to throw at it, including ISIS in its previous incarnations. Nobody wants ISIS defeated more than Syria and its soldiers, more of whom have died in this U.S.-engineered war than any other group, civilian or rebels. If making the region safe from ISIS were the goal, Obama would coordinate his moves with the Syrian military. But he’s lying – just as the Bush administration lied to make the American people believe that Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11. The U.S. goal was not to avenge 9/11, but to invade Iraq. In the same way, Obama is compelled to respond to the defection of ISIS from western control, but his goal remains to overthrow President Assad. And, he will tell any lie, or combinations of lies, to somehow turn U.S. bombs on the Syrian government, under the guise of fighting ISIS. You can bet that the CIA is burning the midnight oil, seeking a pretext to turn this strategic U.S. defeat into an excuse to directly attack Syria. And that’s what makes this moment so dangerous.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com, and sign up for email notifications of our new issues, each Wednesday.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
Direct download: 20140827_gf_ObamaISIS.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:49 AM

US Conf of Mayors Ferguson Press Release Shows Complicity, Irrelevance of Black Mayors, the Black Political Class

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

"What's wrong with this press release is that the mayors are elected officials who usually give orders to police departments..."

I got an email Friday from from former NBA star, husband of the detestable Michelle Rhee, and current mayor of Sacramento CA and chair of the US Conference of Mayors Kevin Johnson. It was a 5 sentence press release from Mayor Johnson on the situation in Ferguson MO.

The first sentence expressed "heartfelt condolence" to the family upon the death of Michael Brown. The second sentence urged a full investigation and "applauded" the president's announcement of a federal investigation. The third sentence said that the mayors have "a long track record" of commitment to community policing, and claimed that the mayors try to "identify & implement police department policies which will help prevent such incidents from occurring in the future." The fourth sentence said that they were working with President Obama's "My Brother's Keeper" initiative, and the fifth sentence said that they were the national reps of mayors of cities with over 30,000 people, and gave their Facebook and Twitter info.

What's wrong with this press release is that the mayors are elected officials who usually give orders to police departments. Mayors, hundreds of them black are elected by the people and responsible for what our disrespectful, brutal and occasionally murderous police do. Mayors don't have to wring their hands and offer condolences. Mayors, including black mayors can tell their police departments to refuse federal funding tied to the number of low level drug arrests they make, and actually get the black attorney general Eric Holder on the phone to explain why they need it. But they don't.

Mayors including the black ones don't have to mumble about community policing. They can actually can get Jeh Johnson, the Morehouse man & black head of Homeland Security, or somebody from the Pentagon on the phone and tell them to stop sending mine resistant armored vehicles, machine guns, sonic disruptor weapons, drones and storm trooper gear to their police departments when what they need is more money for jobs, schools and housing. But they won't.

"They don't have answers to poverty or gentrification or mass incarceration or the prison state,..."

Kevin Johnson and the US Conference of Mayors know very well that "My Brothers Keeper" isn't even a government program, that it's almost entirely the private charitable contributions of big corporations, some of the same big corporations that won't pay taxes to support schools and health care and infrastructure for everybody, some of the same corporations that got rich milking Detroit and other big cities before abandoning them. Whatever good it does do can dry up whenever the funders lose interest. They can count too, so they know that My Brothers Keeper's entire budget is onlh a fraction of the yearly INCREASE of the Fedeal Bureau of Prisons budget during every year of the Obama presidency.

The self-referential, self-satisfied, self-justifying press release of the US Conference of Mayors on the occasion of Ferguson is all too typical of our black black political class. They don't have answers to poverty or gentrification or mass incarceration or the prison state, even though its intake mechanism is the police departments under their control. They're not even looking for those answers. They're only looking to get contracts, to get elected, to get congratulated and to get paid.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com. And since corporate social media don't show you everything you need to know , and be sure to subscribe to our free weekly email updates at www.blackagendareport.com/subscribe, that's www.blackagendareport.com/subscribe.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report. He lives and works near Marietta GA and is a state committee member of the GA Green Party. He can be reached via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.
Direct download: 20140820_bd_us_conf_mayors.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:30 PM

Ferguson Unmasks the War on Black America

 

Ferguson Unmasks the War on Black America A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford “The military character and mission of the police is more clear today than when the Black Panther Party and others sounded the alarm in the Sixties.” The brave and besieged people of Ferguson, Missouri, have already caused serious complications for the U.S. National Security State. By virtue of simply standing their ground in their own small city, the demonstrators have forced the local, county and state police to show their true, thoroughly militarized colors. Ferguson’s righteous agitators and rebellious Black youth have succeeded in pinning down in one small space the armed forces of racist repression in full view of the corporate and the people’s media, so that the whole world can bear witness to the truth of what another generation proclaimed nearly half a century ago: that, in the Black community, the police are an army of occupation. The military character and mission of the police is more clear today than when the Black Panther Party and others sounded the alarm in the Sixties. Back then, the first SWAT teams were staking out sniper positions on city streets and the federal Law Enforcement Assistance Administration had only just begun to funnel millions of dollars in surveillance technology, guns, body armor and all manner of lethal equipment to local and state police departments across the country. The term “mass Black incarceration” had not yet been coined, but it was only a matter of time before a permanent, militarized police offensive against rebellion-prone ghettos would cause unprecedented numbers of Black prisoners to flow into the greatest gulag in the history of the world. A Force to Crush a People White America perceived that it was at war with Black people, who no longer knew their place – and so, places of confinement were made for them; fortified dungeons to house millions. Since America tells itself and the rest of the world that it does not make war on its own citizens, and that there is a sharp and Constitutionally defined separation between the military and civilian functions of the State, the war against Black people had to be called something else – a War on Drugs, or simply a War on Crime. Therefore, it was not long before the words “crime” and “drugs” and “Black” came to mean the same thing since, really, there was only one war going on. And, it continues, still. The young people of Ferguson, and greater St. Louis, and all of urban, suburban and rural Black America understand perfectly well that war is being waged against them. The powers-that-be every day of the year make it is crystal clear to Black people, especially Black men, that an overwhelming and lethal force is prepared to crush them – for any reason, or for no reason at all. This is the definition of a war of terror. It requires the aggressor to engage in constant and ever escalating displays of disciplined force – which is what militaries do. By refusing to disperse, the Black people of Ferguson have compelled the police to flaunt their military nature and mission before the eyes of the world. The American National Security State is embarrassed. But it will take a social transformation – that is, a revolution – to disarm the beast. For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com, and sign up for email notifications of our new issues, each Wednesday. BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

own small city, the demonstrators have forced the local, county and state police to show their true, thoroughly militarized colors. Ferguson’s righteous agitators and rebellious Black youth have succeeded in pinning down in one small space the armed forces of racist repression in full view of the corporate and the people’s media, so that the whole world can bear witness to the truth of what another generation proclaimed nearly half a century ago: that, in the Black community, the police are an army of occupation. The military character and mission of the police is more clear today than when the Black Panther Party and others sounded the alarm in the Sixties. Back then, the first SWAT teams were staking out sniper positions on city streets and the federal Law Enforcement Assistance Administration had only just begun to funnel millions of dollars in surveillance technology, guns, body armor and all manner of lethal equipment to local and state police departments across the country. The term “mass Black incarceration” had not yet been coined, but it was only a matter of time before a permanent, militarized police offensive against rebellion-prone ghettos would cause unprecedented numbers of Black prisoners to flow into the greatest gulag in the history of the world. A Force to Crush a People White America perceived that it was at war with Black people, who no longer knew their place – and so, places of confinement were made for them; fortified dungeons to house millions. Since America tells itself and the rest of the world that it does not make war on its own citizens, and that there is a sharp and Constitutionally defined separation between the military and civilian functions of the State, the war against Black people had to be called something else – a War on Drugs, or simply a War on Crime. Therefore, it was not long before the words “crime” and “drugs” and “Black” came to mean the same thing since, really, there was only one war going on. And, it continues, still. The young people of Ferguson, and greater St. Louis, and all of urban, suburban and rural Black America understand perfectly well that war is being waged against them. The powers-that-be every day of the year make it is crystal clear to Black people, especially Black men, that an overwhelming and lethal force is prepared to crush them – for any reason, or for no reason at all. This is the definition of a war of terror. It requires the aggressor to engage in constant and ever escalating displays of disciplined force – which is what militaries do. By refusing to disperse, the Black people of Ferguson have compelled the police to flaunt their military nature and mission before the eyes of the world. The American National Security State is embarrassed. But it will take a social transformation – that is, a revolution – to disarm the beast. For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com, and sign up for email notifications of our new issues, each Wednesday. BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20140820_gf_MilitaryCops.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:54 PM

Is Democrats For Public Education Just a Toothless, Cynical Sound Byte?

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

Last month at a teachers union meeting the Democratic National Committee's Donna Brazile announced the formation of Democrats For Public Education. Supposedly DFPE will fight against the policies of elite Democrats and Republicans who want to privatize public education. As the daughter of a longshoreman from a family of teachers and a product of public schools Brazile declared herself unafraid to call out those of her own party who are demonizing teachers and privatizing public education, though as a top Democrat she did not use the p-word.

But Donna Brazile didn't call out anybody, not then and not in the month since. Because if she did name names, number one would have to be her president, Barack Obama, and number two would be his Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

Cabinet appointments are not accidents. Presidents pick appointees with proven commitment and track records of accomplishing the very policies a president wants imposed, and President Obama was deeply in the pocket of the charter school sugar daddies.

As Chicago Public Schools CEO Arne Duncan ravaged, savaged and privatized. He fired thousands of mostly black teachers with little or no due process, and handed big chunks of public resources over to the operators of private charter schools. This record and his personal friendship with the president got Duncan appointed Secretary of Education.

Over the last six years, President Obama, Secretary Duncan and their Department of Education have let representatives of the private charter schools, testing companies, and consultants from the Walton Family, Eli Broad, Bill & Melinda Gates and other foundations ideologically committed to running schools like businesses and education like a market write the federal guidelines school districts must follow to receive federal funds – something they call the Race To The Top program. The same consultants have also been allowed to deeply embed themselves embed themselves in the supposedly impartial private institutions officially recognized by the Department of Education which evaluate schools, school districts.

By now the processes of privatization have an institutional momentum backed up by billions of public and private dollars. You can't fight that juggernaut if you cannot name its name and the names of the politicians it buys and rents. But Democrats don't publicly criticize each other much, black Democrats even less, and a prominent black Democrat contradicting the black president is unthinkable, it's just not in their DNA.

So why does DFPE exist? It can raise money, but nothing compared to the vast sums its opponents can. Apart from possible interference in next year's Chicago mayoral contest, its only conceivable purpose is an utterly cynical one. DFPE will house surrogates for Hillary Clinton's 2018 campaign who will give the credulous faithful an excuse to believe that Hillary, unlike Barack, is not on the side of the privatizers and charter school sugar daddies, the same way Obama had unofficial spokespeople everywhere assuring us that he was pro net neutrality, against the Patriot Act, the Iraq war, torture, wanted to renegotiate NAFTA, and whatever else some of us wanted to hear. Democrats For Public Education is just that, the cynical sound byte that some self-deceiving Democrats need to hear.

Teachers unions after all, don't just provide big checks to Democratic presidential candidates, its rank and file activists are the foot soldiers, the door to door and phone canvassers, the flesh and blood of a nationwide street operation which a successful Democratic presidential candidate needs to mobilize the Democratic base. You want to make that happen you've got to tell those foot soldiers what they want to hear, whether your candidate means it or not. That's called a campaign field operation.

For Black Agenda Radio I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com, and while you're there be sure to subscribe to our free weekly email updates at www.blackagendareport.com/subscribe. That's www.blackagendareport.com/subscribe.

Bruce A. Dixon used to do campaign field operations, and is now managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and a state committee member of the GA Green Party. He lives and works in Marietta GA and can be reached via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

 

Direct download: 20140813_bd_dfpe.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:46 PM

America: Young Black Men Have No Right to Life

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

They can be arrested for nothing, or shot down in the streets with impunity.”

There are lots of pictures coming out of Ferguson, Missouri, a two-thirds Black town just outside St. Louis, where a policeman shot down Michael Brown, this past weekend. The 18 year-old’s last words before dying were: “I don’t have a gun, stop shooting.” The cop kept shooting anyway. The pictures show Brown’s body in the middle of the street, where it was left for four hours in the baking sun.

Other pictures show Brown’s grief-stricken mother, and his stepfather carrying a sign that said, “Ferguson police just executed my unarmed son.” There are plenty of images from the two nights of disturbances in the town, where there isn’t really much to loot. However, I think the most poignant picture shows young Blacks blocking the street in front of the Ferguson police department, their upraised arms signaling surrender, just as young Michael did before the cop administered the coup de grace.

How different that picture would have been in 1966, when young Black people in California responded to murderous police violence with armed patrols of their own, under the newly formed Black Panther Party for Self Defense. The Party declared that Black people had just as much right to defend themselves as white people, including the right to defend themselves from the police, who act as an occupying army. Which is, of course, a self-evident truth.

The Mass Incarceration State

The Black Panther Party’s vigorous assertion of the right to self-defense prompted the U.S. government to double-down on its monopoly on the use of force – first, with a massive campaign of assassination and false imprisonment against Black radical leadership, many of whom still remain behind bars. Then, as the decade of the Seventies began, mass Black incarceration became the universal policy of the United States – north, south, east and west. A new class of Black politicians filled the void that police repression had created. These were men and women who were quite amenable to corporate rule and made comfortable homes in the Democratic Party. Even as the prison population rose to nine times 1970 levels, the Black Misleadership Class blissfully celebrated its own upward mobility.

Meanwhile, the Mass Incarceration State consumed millions of Black lives and consigned most Black communities to Constitution-free zones, where young Blacks could be arrested for nothing, or shot down in the streets with impunity, as was Michael Brown, and as happens to other young Blacks every day of the year.

The people who rule America no longer need Black labor. What they do need is a class that is forcibly anchored at the bottom of U.S. society, who can be scapegoated for whatever is wrong with America, and whose very presence serves as an excuse for massive urban dislocation and the steady erosion of civil liberties. Michael Brown and countless others have died in order to keep America deeply stratified. That’s the only use the United States has for young Black men.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com to sign up for email notifications of our new issues, each Wednesday.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

 

 

Direct download: 20140813_gf_DontShoot.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:10 PM

America: Young Black Men Have No Right to Life

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

They can be arrested for nothing, or shot down in the streets with impunity.”

There are lots of pictures coming out of Ferguson, Missouri, a two-thirds Black town just outside St. Louis, where a policeman shot down Michael Brown, this past weekend. The 18 year-old’s last words before dying were: “I don’t have a gun, stop shooting.” The cop kept shooting anyway. The pictures show Brown’s body in the middle of the street, where it was left for four hours in the baking sun.

Other pictures show Brown’s grief-stricken mother, and his stepfather carrying a sign that said, “Ferguson police just executed my unarmed son.” There are plenty of images from the two nights of disturbances in the town, where there isn’t really much to loot. However, I think the most poignant picture shows young Blacks blocking the street in front of the Ferguson police department, their upraised arms signaling surrender, just as young Michael did before the cop administered the coup de grace.

How different that picture would have been in 1966, when young Black people in California responded to murderous police violence with armed patrols of their own, under the newly formed Black Panther Party for Self Defense. The Party declared that Black people had just as much right to defend themselves as white people, including the right to defend themselves from the police, who act as an occupying army. Which is, of course, a self-evident truth.

The Mass Incarceration State

The Black Panther Party’s vigorous assertion of the right to self-defense prompted the U.S. government to double-down on its monopoly on the use of force – first, with a massive campaign of assassination and false imprisonment against Black radical leadership, many of whom still remain behind bars. Then, as the decade of the Seventies began, mass Black incarceration became the universal policy of the United States – north, south, east and west. A new class of Black politicians filled the void that police repression had created. These were men and women who were quite amenable to corporate rule and made comfortable homes in the Democratic Party. Even as the prison population rose to nine times 1970 levels, the Black Misleadership Class blissfully celebrated its own upward mobility.

Meanwhile, the Mass Incarceration State consumed millions of Black lives and consigned most Black communities to Constitution-free zones, where young Blacks could be arrested for nothing, or shot down in the streets with impunity, as was Michael Brown, and as happens to other young Blacks every day of the year.

The people who rule America no longer need Black labor. What they do need is a class that is forcibly anchored at the bottom of U.S. society, who can be scapegoated for whatever is wrong with America, and whose very presence serves as an excuse for massive urban dislocation and the steady erosion of civil liberties. Michael Brown and countless others have died in order to keep America deeply stratified. That’s the only use the United States has for young Black men.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com to sign up for email notifications of our new issues, each Wednesday.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

 

 

Direct download: 20140813_gf_DontShoot.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:06 PM

Long Live Gridlock and Paralysis of Both Big Business Parties

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Since the Left is non-existent on Capitol Hill, and barely evident in the society at large, nothing good can possibly emanate from the executive and legislative branches of government.”

The corporate media, whose job is to create impressions of reality while revealing nothing of actual substance, is full of scorn for the now adjourned 113th Congress, which, according to the New York Times, is “in a race to the bottom” with the previous Congress as the most “do nothing” ever. Media associated with the Democratic wing of the ruling duopoly are especially upset that the Republican faction has not cooperated with President Obama to get something – anything! – done, as if the nation and the world would be a better place if the two big business parties would only collaborate more closely with one another. The current state of congressional gridlock is, according to the pundits, the worst of all worlds.

The truth is, were it not for gridlock, President Obama would have engineered the utter annihilation of what’s left of the social safety net in a Grand Bargain with the Republicans during his first term office. That was his plan from the very beginning, when the new president announced that all entitlements, including Social Security, were on the chopping block. Before his first year was out, Obama had crushed the jellyfish that call themselves progressive Democrats in the health care debate. With his arms spread wide to embrace the Republicans as partners in the Age of Austerity, Obama offered to lead the wrecking crew that would finally demolish Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society. But, the Republicans were so consumed with racially fueled fervor to destroy the First Black President, they rejected the Grand Bargain and chose gridlock, instead. Lucky for us! Given the circumstances, it was the best thing that could happen.

We need more ill feeling and deeper paralysis.”

Gridlock has been the order of the day for the past four years, dramatically inhibiting the flow of legislation. Since the Left is non-existent on Capitol Hill, and barely evident in the society at large – and with Black America, historically the most progressive constituency in the nation, now in its seventh year of self-imposed political irrelevance – nothing good can possibly emanate from the executive and legislative branches of government. The only kinds of measures that can sail through the gridlocked Congress are those designed to start a war with Russia or increase the killing power of the Israeli apartheid regime.

Given that we have, mainly, the Republicans to thank for the blessedly constipated condition of Congress, it follows that it is the Democrats, who keep harping on the need to “do something” to get the infernal legislative machinery rolling, who represent the greatest threat to the people’s interests.

In any event, it is definitely NOT in the interest of ordinary Americans for Democrats and Republicans to become more collaborative on the legislative agenda. On the contrary, we need more ill feeling and deeper paralysis in the ranks of the two big business parties. Until a movement can be created that will fight for the overthrow of Wall Street and its duopoly – Long Live Gridlock!

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com to sign up for email notification of new issues of our magazine, each Wednesday.

 

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20140806_gf_Gridlock.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:33 PM

Black Is Back Coalition Holds National Conference in Philadelphia

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

The Coalition has been a singular example of independent Black political action and analysis.”

In November of 2009, the newly-formed Black Is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations marched from Malcolm X Park through the gentrifying streets of Washington to the White House, loudly denouncing the First Black President of the United States. Barack Obama had been in office only ten months, but the militarist and corporatist trajectory of his regime was already quite clear. Obama had retained George Bush’s Secretary of Defense, escalated the drone wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan, placed Bill Clinton’s Wall Street operatives in charge of the economy, announced his intention to cut Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, even as he pushed through Congress a health care bill that was largely written by private drug and insurance companies. Like George Bush before him, Obama sabotaged the Durban II World Conference Against Racism, in order to derail demands for reparations for slavery and colonialism. And, only 100 days into his administration, Obama had served notice to African Americans that he would propose no programs to alleviate the suffering of Black America, which had been hit hardest by the economic meltdown.

The Black is Back Coalition was determined that the first politician in history to spend a billion dollars to win the presidency would not get a free pass from all of Black America – even if his father was an African. One of the biggest contingents in that first anti-Obama march and rally was the Newark, New Jersey-based People’s Organization for Progress, “POP” – perhaps Black America’s most dynamic regional grassroots organization. POP’s membership, after much debate, had endorsed Obama in the 2008 election, but that did not stop them from chanting their outrage at his policies at the gates of the White House. The African People’s Socialist Party, whose chairman first proposed formation of the Black is Back Coalition, had reduced candidate Obama to stuttering confusion when they challenged him with the simple question, “What about the Black community?” at campaign stop in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Unity in Struggle

The Black is Back Coalition has since marched loudly and often against Obama and the decadent imperial system that he serves. In yearly conferences and year-round political work, the Coalition has been a singular example of independent Black political action and analysis. As the Age of Obama draws to a close, the Black is Back Coalition is approaching its 5th anniversary and preparing for its Annual Conference, August 16 and 17, in Philadelphia. Affiliated organizations and individuals will gather to assess the state of Black people across the Diaspora, and to map strategy in the perilous months ahead.

After more than five centuries of European dominance of the world, a new epoch is dawning. Black people must fight to shape the contours of this new world, or be consumed in the spasms of the old imperial order’s chaotic demise. In Philadelphia, on August 16 and 17, the Coalition will gather once again to advance Black people’s unity in struggle – and to celebrate the fact...that Black is Back!

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com, and sign up for email notifications of each new issue, every Wednesday.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

 

For information on the Black Is Back Coalition Annual Conference, go to http://www.blackisbackcoalition.org/

Direct download: 20140730_gf_BlackIsBack.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:24 PM