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




Organizing 102: After Getting the Digits of Those Who Show Up, Call Everybody Back Within A Week


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


“...don't make the mistake of the Million Man March, of Occupy and so many others ...”


Back in August, when flash mobs and social-media driven demonstrations of young people were popping up everywhere fueled by universal outrage at the latest unpunished murders by police, I wrote a piece in Black Agenda Report called “Organizing 101: Don't Do Another March or Rally Without Getting The Digits”.


The gist of it was that radio and social media are great tools but they are owned and run by and for billionaires not for you and me. They may get you a crowd, but if you cannot recontact that crowd outside of that social media platform or radio station, if YOU can't reach them directly on the phone, by text or email, then they are not your crowd, that list doesn't belong to you it belongs to somebody else, it belongs to Twitter, or Facebook, Google, YouTube, Instagram, none of whom provide you with this info, they have all the data they need, and if they decide to censor you or your politics tomorrow – which they can – or if your new friends are not monitoring their social media next week you will be cut off from these people.


If you want to build a movement, Organizing 101 is when people show up in person at your events, you gotta get those digits so you can contact them when YOU need to. Today we'll talk about Organizing 102, which is calling everybody back within a week. The principle is that a new friend you never call back does not remain your friend for long.


So don't make the mistake of the Million Man March, of Occupy and so many others, in the week after EVERY demonstration with new faces, every meeting or action when you were smart enough to get a crowd, and get their digits, you MUST send everybody an email and a text, and make a personal phone call thanking them for coming and strike up a brief conversation about what it all means, what might happen next, and how they might be willing to participate or help out.


“It's a media myth that movements are suddenly born out of magical moments when everybody on Twitter or listening to the radio gets outraged and something happens...”


You will find, when you make these calls that people will be grateful you stepped out of your life to call them one on one, and some will enthusiastic enough to ask what THEY can do BEFORE you can ask them. When people are especially enthusiastic about what you're doing, you want to put those individuals on a separate list, and invite them help make the next round of phone calls. These are the folks you invite to smaller meetings that plan and do the outreach for your next public meeting or action. That's how circles of people in motion get bigger, how movements begin to grow themselves.


It's a media myth that movements are suddenly born out of magical moments when everybody on Twitter or listening to the radio gets outraged and something happens. The crowds that came out in Egypt and places like that were not brought together by Twitter and Facebook for the first time, those were existing networks built methodically by face to face interaction and personal contact. They used social media to activate those pre-existing networks.


In the wake of Ferguson, and Beaverville Ohio, and Los Angeles, Miami, St. Louis, the Bronx and wherever else we have to build those networks. Social media are immensely useful, but there is no app for movement building. You can't ride to freedom on Pharaoh's chariot. Organizing 101 is getting the digits of people who show up. Organizing 102 is personally calling, emailing, texting every one of them back to establish the beginning of a relationship. Organizing 103, which we'll talk about in a couple weeks will be engaging them.


For Black Agenda Radio I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at, and be sure to sign up for our free weekly email updates at That's


Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report. He lives and works in Marietta GA and can be reached via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)


Direct download: 20141015_bd_organizing102.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:54 PM



FBI, NSA and Cops Jointly Track “Outside Agitators”


A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR executive editor Glen Ford


When the FBI makes these kinds of noises in public, you can be sure that a national counter-intelligence operation is already fully in motion.”


It has only been a little over two months since a white cop gunned down Michael Brown, whose body was left to bake in the summer sun for four hours as if to remind Brown’s friends and neighbors and the whole Black world that U.S. police can do whatever they want to a Black teenager in America in the 21st century. The word “Ferguson” now carries the accumulated weight of centuries of white violence against Black bodies, necessitating a rejuvenated movement against police impunity. Young people, especially are determined that, this time, a price will be paid for police lawlessness.


There is, however, little anticipation that any semblance of justice will be forthcoming from the grand jury that is hearing evidence against police officer Darren Wilson, whose very identity authorities attempted to hide from the public in the days after the shooting. The grand jury’s nine white and three Black members are expected to render a decision sometime in mid-November. Given the history of such legal exercises, it will be surprising, to say the least, if the officer is indicted on murder charges, and a minor miracle if he is convicted. Nevertheless, for the thousands that gathered in greater St. Louis over the past weekend, Ferguson has become a watershed historical moment, the possible beginning of a massive campaign to end police impunity and, just maybe, a real grassroots movement for genuine social transformation.


Back to the Future


The FBI and law enforcement agencies around the country also seem to think this may be a watershed moment. They, too, don’t expect a grand jury to indict Darren Wilson, especially a grand jury under the direction of a prosecutor whose policeman father was killed by a Black suspect. The FBI has joined in discussions with police chiefs as far away as New York and Los Angeles and lots of cities in between, to coordinate a response to possible civil disturbances if officer Wilson gets off scot-free, and to keep track of so-called “outside agitators” who might spread the Ferguson contagion across the country.


When the FBI makes these kinds of noises in public, you can be sure that a national counter-intelligence operation is already fully in motion – a program designed to “neutralize and destroy” any possibility of the re-emergence of a militant movement against today’s national security and mass Black incarceration state. Although many of the organizations and individuals that have traveled to Ferguson in support of the local struggle for justice may not yet be clear in their own minds about the political direction that a national movement should take, they have already been targeted as potentially dangerous “agitators” – as threats to national security. Their movements and contacts with fellow activists are being tracked, and individuals and organizations are being sorted out and categorized according to the level of threat they may represent to the state.


In the 21st century, just like in the previous one, the merest hint of a movement for justice puts the machinery of political oppression in motion.


For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to, and while you’re there, sign up for our free email notifications of new BAR issues, each Wednesday.


BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at




Direct download: 20141015_gf_Ferguson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:47 PM



There Will be a Reckoning, from Ferguson to Gaza


A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR executive editor Glen Ford


One murder charge against one white cop in one small town doesn’t even begin to address America’s crimes against a whole people.”


Thousands are expected to gather in Ferguson, Missouri, this weekend for four days of protest, agitation, entertainment, and training in how to conduct non-violent resistance. A march is scheduled for Saturday, and unspecified acts of civil disobedience are set for Monday. In the classic, Martin Luther King sense of the term, “civil disobedience” involves the breaking of at least some laws, either because the laws are unjust, or to show that a community is prepared to break the rules to make its point.


One unjust rule the police will almost certainly not try to enforce this weekend, is the arbitrary requirement that protesters keep moving, or face arrest. It’s commonly called the “five-second rule.” This week a federal judge, acting on a suit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, ruled the police practice unconstitutional. The Ferguson City police last week handed over responsibility for protests to the county police department, which says they won’t force demonstrators to keep constantly moving.


Ferguson has become a place where people tell time by the days since August 9, when 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot dead by officer Darren Wilson. From the beginning, a core demand has been that the white cop be indicted for murder, but a grand jury is not expected to act until at least mid-November. However, by now Ferguson has become an important juncture in the African American journey, one that demands a reevaluation of Black people’s relationship to the U.S. society and State. There may be hell to pay in the Black community if Officer Wilson isn’t indicted, but one murder charge against one white cop in one small town doesn’t even begin to address America’s crimes against a whole people.


Revolutionary Internationalism


Ferguson was a world story. The scenes of militarized police repression instantaneously called forth images from Gaza and other sites of desperate struggle against white supremacy and unjust occupation. Ferguson made us remember Malcolm X’s admonition to bring United States crimes before international forums, to air America’s dirty linen in front of the whole world, and to join with the legions of other peoples that the U.S. has killed and exploited.


This weekend, In the spirit of Malcolm’s revolutionary internationalism, hundreds will gather at the place where Malcolm was assassinated, in 1965 – the former Audubon Ballroom, now the Malcolm X and Betty Shabbaz Center, in Harlem. “The World Stands with Palestine” rally will trace the many parallels between the oppression of Blacks in the U.S. and the plight of Palestinians in their native land under Israel’s system of ethnic apartheid. It is a system that is quite familiar to Black Americans, because it has never gone away here in the United States – and the day of reckoning cannot be delayed any longer.


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


BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at


Direct download: 20141008_gf_FergusonToGaza.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:49 AM

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

After Ferguson: It's a New Day. Join the Black Agenda Report Team at NYC's Riverside Church Oct 24, or Support Black Agenda Report With a Donation

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

In fact, the rapid growth of black elected officials seems to have occurred at virtually the same time and roughly the same proportion as the six or sevenfold increase in the number of black bodies in US prisons and jails.

Black outrage at the events after the police murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson MO marked the re-emergence of America's prison and police state, their cultures of brutal impunity and naked injustice as the number one issue on the minds of African Americans.

It's not a new story, but these are new times, and new circumstances. There are more black faces in high places than ever before from county sheriffs all the way up to mayors, congresscreatures, even attorney general and the president. Whatever its usefulness, this IS new. But the numbers of black faces in high places seem hardly to affect the fact of black mass incarceration at all. In fact, the rapid growth of black elected officials seems to have occurred at virtually the same time and roughly the same proportion as the six or sevenfold increase in the number of black bodies in US prisons and jails.

If that's not exactly a new fact, it's one that African Americans, especially young African Americans are becoming newly and increasingly aware of, which makes this a new and unique moment in the politics of black America.

This new political moment for black America is why young on the streets of Ferguson MO booed and rejected the dinosaur “civil rights leaders” sent to chill them out and lecture them on how “low voter turnout” killed Michael Brown.

This new political moment is why supporting Black Agenda Report at is more important than ever. Black Agenda Report will celebrate its 8th anniversary Friday October 24 in Harlem's historic Riverside Church. It's a fundraiser, tickets are $30 for the program or $100 for the program and a reception featuring political prisoner and the peoples first responder Lynne Stewart. The topic we will explore that evening will be After Ferguson: Naming Names, Refuting Shame, Human Rights VS the Police & Prison State and our Black Political Class's Deal With the Devil. If you're anywhere near NYC that night, please join us. And if you're not, please go to and donate a modest monthly amount of your choice to keep what brother Cornel West calls 'the prophetic voices' alive.

Black Agenda Report has been educating our folks on the realities of the prison state since our founding in 2006. We weren't just talking about mass incarceration before Michelle Alexander, we were the very first ones to interview her and preview her book.

Black Agenda Report was one of the few places you could find a real assessment of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 which reduced the crack/powder cocaine sentencing disparity from 100 to 1 to 18 to 1, or to question Attorney General Eric Holder's insistence that there should be no retroactive sentence relief for those serving unjustly long sentences.

Black Agenda Report was among the first to point out the vast gulf between the words of this president and attorney general on the one hand, their wishful surrogates on the other hand, and on a third hand the reality that 6 years into the Obama administration a black person is murdered by police, private security forces or vigilantes at least every 28 hours while no federal stats are being compiled on police violence against civilians, that the Bureau of Prisons budget has risen every year under Obama and Holder, and the feds are constructing brand new supermax prisons.

For all of our 8 years, Black Agenda Report has consistently called the Congressional Black Caucus to account, most recently over its abject support of apartheid in Israel, its subservience to corporate donors, and its impotence in the face of rising black poverty.

For 8 years, Black Agenda Report has brought the light and the heat, with news, commentary and analysis from the black left, 4 to six original articles published for the first time anywhere every week, and a weekly one hour radio program. Find it all at, and for tickets to our October 24 affair in Harlem go to That's

For Black Agenda Report, I'm Bruce Dixon

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report. He lives in Marietta GA and is a member of the state committee of the Georgia Green Party.
Direct download: 20141006_bd_after_ferguson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:33 PM

US Headed For “China Syndrome” Meltdown in Syria

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

The president is in fact apologizing for the CIA’s loss of control over ISIS.”

You know that an American military adventure is going very badly when the conversation turns to the “mistakes” of U.S. intelligence agencies. Usually, Washington starts scapegoating its spies after its wars have failed to achieve their objectives – as happened in Iraq, when the natives failed to greet the American invaders with rose petals and bottomless gratitude, and in Vietnam, where the awesome U.S. war machine slaughtered three million people but still could not subdue a Third World country’s quest for independence. America files all of its failures under the heading of “mistakes” – after the fact.But, President Obama has essentially inaugurated his bombing campaign in Syria with an admission of past “mistakes,” telling 60 Minutes that the CIA “underestimated” the strength of ISIS. What Obama’s admission actually shows is that the real U.S. mission in Syria – the three-year proxy war to overthrow the government of Bashar Assad – is already a failure.

Obama has thus been forced, by failure, to mount a far more conventional – although equally illegal – air war in a desperate bid to rescue his original mission of regime change. The president is in fact apologizing for the CIA’s loss of control over ISISand the other jihadists that Obama and his Arab and Turkish allies sent to bring chaos to Syria. Obama thought his intelligence services could calibrate and control the bloodbath they had spent billions to inflict on Syria; that they could regulate and direct the Islamist fighters’ death-embracing furies, like a well-engineered nuclear reactor. Instead, and inevitably, what Obama and his allies got was a meltdown, a China-Syndrome of holy war that has left Washington’s regime-change-by-proxy scheme in ashes.

U.S. imperialism has been deeply and irrevocably weakened by the revolt of the jihadists.”

Much of the Left in the United States is also suffering from a kind of “intelligence” deficit, failing to understand the magnitude of the crisis now confronting U.S. imperialism in the Arab and Muslim world. Washington’s jihadist foot soldiers have struck out on their own mission. Not only does the U.S. have no force to replace these Islamist warriors, it must now kill enough of them to retain some imperial authority in the region – but not so many as to ignite a general jihad against America and its allies. Plus, under these new and infinitely more complex conditions, Obama must also find a way to bring down the Syrian government.

U.S. imperialism has been deeply and irrevocably weakened by the revolt of the jihadists, which is the logical and predictable result of U.S. policy in the region since the overthrow of President Mubarak in Egypt and the bombing of Libya. In fact, I did predict it, back in February of 2011. No matter what the United States does, the crisis will deepen, directly threatening the viability of the Arab monarchies on which the West depends to control the price and availability of oil.

However, just because the U.S. has no good options, doesn’t mean it has no options at all. Superpowers always have options; they have the immense ability to destroy things: for example, Damascus, the capital of Syria, could be obliterated. But such a crime would be evidence of the weakness, not strength, of U.S. empire.

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

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at




Direct download: 20141001_gf_ObamaISISmistakes.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:32 PM

The Black Caucus “Left” Wing Crumbles Before Obama’s War Machine

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“Obama was asking for a do-over to fix his previous policies in Syria.”

The ever-shrinking “left” wing of the Congressional Black Caucus crumbled last week, an early casualty of the new phase of President Obama’s three-year war for regime in change in Syria. The Congressional Progressive Caucus, to which 24 of the Black lawmakers belong, also failed to rally against a Democratic president’s war plans.

The lop-sided House vote was not on whether to authorize Obama to launch attacks against targets in Syria; the White House claims the president is acting within his powers as commander-in-chief, and needs no OK from the Congress. Instead, the administration sought a general demonstration of approval for Obama’s scheme to train and arm so-called “moderate” Syrian rebels. A vote on the $500 million price tag comes later, after the November elections.

In essence, Obama was asking for a do-over, to fix his previous policies in Syria. The United States and its Arab, Turkish, European and, reportedly, Israeli allies have, in fact, been arming and training rebels to bring down the government of President Bashar al-Assad since at least 2011. They have failed, despite having spent mountains of money to subsidize a kaleidoscope of armed groups, each vying for Islamic fundamentalist authenticity and the privilege to slaughter Shiites, Christians, secularists, apostate Sunni Muslims and backsliders of all kinds. It also turned out – to the administration’s apparent surprise – that these jihadists don’t see themselves as mere foot soldiers under an American chain of command. In fact, the best fighters think of the United States as the “Great Satan” – an opinion widely shared in that part of the world. With the rise of the head-chopping champions of ISIS, Obama had no choice but to ask Congress to give him another chance to scour the region in search of that most elusive of men, the “moderate” Syrian rebel, and turn him into a killing machine that can defeat both the Syrian government and ISIS.

Blank Check for Expanded War

Back in 2006, after three years of failure in Iraq, George W. Bush agreed to a timetable for withdrawal from that country. He had little choice, because the Congress was in no mood to continue his war. But last week President Obama, by a vote of 273 to 156, was allowed a second throw of the dice in what may turn out to be an even larger war in Syria and Iraq and who knows where else. The reason that Obama’s wars have such longer shelf-life, is that Democrats will not oppose him, including such luminaries of the Caucus left wing as John Conyers and Maxine Waters, who were among the 23 Black members who gave the president a blank check, last week.

Barbara Lee, the California congresswoman who joined 16 other Black lawmakers in opposing Obama’s new-and-improved war in the Middle East, said, on the House floor: “The consequences of this vote, whether it's written in the amendment or not, will be a further expansion of a war currently taking place and our further involvement in a sectarian war.” There is also another consequence: the total discrediting of a majority of the Congressional Black Caucus, who have abandoned the historical Black consensus on social justice and peace.

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

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at

Below is a breakdown of the CBC vote on September 17 on arming and training Syrian rebels.


  • Karen Bass (CA)
  • Joyce Beatty (OH)
  • Sanford Bishop (GA)
  • Corrine Brown (FL)
  • G. K. Butterfield (NC)
  • Andre Carson (IN)
  • William Lacy Clay (MO)
  • James Clyburn (SC)
  • John Conyers, Jr. (MI)
  • Keith Ellison (MN)
  • Chaka Fattah (PA)
  • Al Green (TX)
  • Steven Horsford (NV)
  • Sheila Jackson Lee (TX)
  • Hank Johnson (GA)
  • Gregory Meeks (NY)
  • Cedric Richmond (LA)
  • Robert Scott (VA)
  • David Scott (GA)
  • Terri Sewell (AL)
  • Marc Veasey (TX)
  • Maxine Waters (CA)
  • Frederica Wilson (FL)


  • Yvette Clarke (NY)
  • Emanuel Cleaver (MO)
  • Elijah Cummings (MD)
  • Danny Davis (IL)
  • Donna Edwards (MD)
  • Marcia Fudge (OH)
  • Alcee Hastings (FL)
  • Hakeem Jeffries (NY)
  • Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX)
  • Robin Kelly (IL)
  • Barbara Lee (CA)
  • John Lewis (GA)
  • Gwen Moore (WI)
  • Donald Payne Jr. (NJ)
  • Charles Rangel (NY)
  • Bobby Rush (IL)
  • Bennie Thompson (MS)
Direct download: 20140924_gf_CBCcrumbles.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:13 PM

Who’s Your Daddy, ISIS?

by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

“ISIS has many, many fathers, all of whom now deny patrimony.”

Let us be clear, if that is possible, about President Obama’s plan to deal with ISIS, the boogeyman of America’s own making. The president last week swore that he would “degrade and destroy” the Islamic State, after having spent three years providing weapons and money to jihadists fighters, including ISIS, in hopes that they would “degrade and ultimately destroy” the Syrian state of president Bashar Assad. So, the Americans set out to destroy one state, in Syria, whose government had never presented any danger to the U.S., and wind up creating another state, a caliphate astride the borders of Syria and Iraq, that openly declares its intention to do battle with the U.S.

Obama assures us that he is assembling a new coalition of the willing to join him in smashing ISIS. It turns out that every prospective member of the coalition was a co-conspirator with the United States in giving birth to ISIS – Britain and France and other Europeans, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates...ISIS has many, many fathers, all of whom now deny patrimony.

Obama appears to be leaving the natural gas-rich nation of Qatar out of his coalition, which doesn’t seem fair, since Qatar was a loyal ally of the United States and NATO just three years ago, when Obama was busy trying to degrade and destroy another state, Libya, which also posed no threat to the U.S. The emir of Qatar worked his gaseous little butt off for Obama, sending money and guns and mercenaries to help the Libyan jihadists that the U.S. wanted to install as the new government.

Once regime change had been accomplished in Libya, Qatar helped the Americans send hundreds of Libyan jihadists to Syria, to put that regime out of business. But, Libya never did get a new state, to replace the one that was destroyed in 2011. Instead, the country is wracked by civil war, that is also a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and its friends and Qatar.

Wars Within Wars Within Regime Changes

It seems that Qatar backed the wrong side – the Muslim Brotherhood – after the regime change in Egypt in 2011. The Saudi Arabian royal family hates the Muslim Brotherhood, because the Brotherhood advocate elections, and kings don’t do elections. So, the Saudis bankrolled another regime change in Egypt, putting the military back in charge, and are now fighting a proxy war with Qatar in Libya. Which is why the Saudis blackballed Qatar from participating in Obama’s coalition of the willing against ISIS. (You do understand all this, right?)

Turkey, which is part of NATO, has been a wonderful father to ISIS, allowing the caliphate’s fighters free use of its long border with Syria and Iraq. In return, Turkey gets to buy the cheap oil from the fields that ISIS seized from Syria and Iraq, which makes the Turks somewhat reluctant to try to kill little baby ISIS.

It’s starting to look like Obama might have to take out the caliphate on his own, which is why the president’s top military advisor is talking about putting serious U.S. boots on the ground in Iraq, and maybe in Syria. Meanwhile, Obama is putting together a new army of rebels to continue the job of degrading and destroying the Syrian state – unless, of course, these new fighters just take the money and guns and join ISIS, too.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to, and while you’re there, sign up to get email notifications of new issues of the magazine, each Wednesday.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at
Direct download: 20140917_gf_ISIS_Obama.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:36 PM

Low Voter Turnout Didn't Kill Michael Brown

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by Bruce A. Dixon

It doesn't matter that low voter turnout did not kill Ferguson Missouri's Michael Brown, any more than it killed Trayvon Martin or Troy Davis or even James Byrd back in 1998 Jasper Texas.

What really matters to our black political class is not what we need but what they need. They need their perks, they need their careers, they need to constantly reaffirm and to re-legitimize their privileged status as the imaginary representatives of all the rest of us. Their answers to every question reflect what they need, and not what we need.

South Carolina representative James Clyburn was on CSPAN TV Labor Day sitting alongside establishment historian Peniel Joseph, sagely instructing audiences that while 56% of Ferguson residents turned out to vote in the 2012 presidential elections, less than 10% came out when the local mayor's job was up for grabs. This was Clyburn's and is our black political class's standard explanation for the killing and the circus of official misconduct that followed.

Congressman Clyburn is not stupid, just self-involved and self-interested like the rest of the black political class. He knows that that cities with lots of high ranking black cops and often black mayors, from New Orleans and Atlanta to Philly and Columbia SC, also savagely mistreat African Americans. Clyburn is a man with priorities, and his first priority is his status, not ours. So his answer to everything is simply “vote,” and today's glittering black political class, where he rides near the top, is the end of history, the inevitable fruit of our people's long struggle for justice.

The black establishment figures would all have us believe that low voter turnout killed Michael Brown, rather than the sharp end of a vicious police and prison state that black politicians, black Democrats have partnered with their white colleagues of both parties to build and operate.

Any problems in the lives of African Americans yet unsolved, in their opinion, are because black folks haven't voted long enough, wisely enough or in great enough numbers. For almost a generation, the only cards left in the short deck of our black political class have been appeals to racial solidarity in even numbered years, and the big vote.

Those old enough to recall the 1998 murder of James Byrd by white supremacists in Jasper Texas, who dragged him more than a mile behind a pickup truck will also recall the “nonpartisan” mailing that went out to millions of black households nationwide on the eve of the 1998 election. It was the last two years of the Clinton era, just the last two of the Obama epoch are upon us, and black disappointment had never been heavier. Clinton rode into office with a Democratic majority, promising a peace dividend, some rollback of the drug war and prison state, money for mass transit, housing, and reforms that would allow unions to organize again. Instead he delivered NAFTA, so-called welfare reform, a wave of privatizations, and vast expansions in the numbers of police, prison beds and death penalty offenses.

How did the black political class get out the vote that year? Not with new answers or even new discussions or new demands. Just with pictures. Their nationwide mailer was punctuated with the silhouette of pickup truck dragging a chain.

It's nothing new because our black political class doesn't need anything new. For them, the old stuff is working perfectly well, as long as their own careers keep rolling along.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at, and be sure to subscribe to our free weekly emails at That's



Direct download: 20140919_bd_blackpolitical_class.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:02 PM

Obama and His Head-Chopping Friends

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

The Saudi royals are feeling the nearness of cold steel to their own necks.”

President Obama has declared war on ISIS, the renegade jihadists that have turned on their former masters in NATO and the royal courts of Arabia. Nearly four decades ago, the U.S., Saudi Arabia and Pakistan spent billions to create, from scratch, an international jihadist network to torment a leftwing government in Afghanistan. The rag tag feudal Islamist raiders that once delighted in beheading young Afghan leftists who were sent to the countryside to carry out land reform and teach village girls to read, now yearn to detach the skulls of Saudi kings and princes from their obscenely rich bodies, and to methodically drive the western infidels from all Muslim territories. This is, indeed, some deep poetry.

Until the advent of ISIS, Saudi Arabia led the world in executions by beheading, often leaving the decapitated bodies on display in public squares. The Saudis have hired American public relations outfits to plant articles in the U.S. corporate press, disavowing any connection between the royal family and its wayward children in ISIS and other al Qaida off-shoots – while, at the same time, stepping up the pace of their own beheadings. In the New York Times, no less, two front men for the Saudi royal family wrote that the King’s regime is best suited to drive ISIS into oblivion – which is yet more proof that the Saudi royals are feeling the nearness of cold steel to their own necks. The logic of jihad inevitably calls for a caliphate and, for the believer, a caliphate trumps a fat king and his 5,000 corrupt little princes, any day. Emirs in the United Arab Emirates also shake in their well-crafted boots, fearing the wrath of the faithful.

Proxy Wars Within Proxy Wars

The royal Arabian fat cats who, along with the U.S., have funded the proxy war against Syria for the last three years, are now embroiled in a proxy war against each other in both Syria and Libya. The Saudis and Egypt’s military dictator Abdel al-Sisi are arrayed against the Emir of Qatar and aristocrats in Kuwait, who continue to fund the renegade jihadists. The United States has sided with their long term partners, the Saudis – who have more oil – and are pressuring Qatar and Kuwait to stop funding ISIS and its friends.

When the oil-rich monarchies are in disarray and at each other’s throats, Washington also panics. That’s why Obama has seemed so indecisive. His options become fewer and fewer. The U.S. wants to get on with regime change in Syria, but ISIS has even bigger plans for regime change in the Arab world, including lopping off the heads of America’s friends. But, Washington will not give up its dirty war against Syria. Instead, Obama is attempting to merge that war with the fight against ISIS, by somehow making stupid Americans believe that Syrian President Assad is secretly allied with the same jihadists that have been beheading Syrian soldiers and civilians since 2011. It’s a very, very big lie, but Americans are incredibly willing to believe anything, no matter how ridiculous, about Arabs and Black people. And, who best to tell such lies, than the First Black President? Just give Obama George Bush’s script and, somehow, it all sounds...different.

Which is so damn sick, it makes you want to – laugh your head off.

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

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at







Direct download: 20140910_gf_ISIS_WAR.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:37 AM

Round Two: Fast Food Strike for $15 An Hour

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

“The worst-paying job in America is fast food cook.”

Thousands of fast food workers say they’ll go on strike on Thursday, September 4, demanding a $15 an hour wage. The current national minimum wage is $7.25. Organizers say burger and chicken franchises in more than 100 cities will affected by Thursday’s action, which will include sit-downs and other non-violent civil disobedience tactics.

The fast food workers staged a one-day walkout back in May in 150 localities, with varying levels of success. A national conference brought 1,300 worker-activists to Chicago, in July, to gear up for a second round of walkouts. The organizing drive is paid for by the SEIU, the Service Employees International Union – the nation’s second largest and intensely loyal to President Obama.

The fast food workers must be doing something right. They got a kind-of, sort-of endorsement from Barack Obama on Labor Day, when the corporatist president mentioned the fast food workers movement at a speech in Milwaukee. Obama didn’t endorse $15 an hour – he’s called for a $10.10 minimum – but Obama said that if he worked in the food service industry and “wanted an honest day’s pay for an honest days work,” he’d join a union.

Obama ran for the White House the first time around promising he would endorse organized labor’s “card check” bill, which would have made it much easier for workers to join unions. But, once elected, Obama barely gave lip service to the legislation – which died of neglect – and packed his administration with corporate operatives for the next six years.

According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, nine out of ten of the worst paying jobs are in the food services industry, which is disproportionately Black and brown. The worst-paying job in America is fast food cook, averaging $9.07 an hour.

In most states, women make up more than half the workers stuck at minimum wage. Studies show that federal taxpayers spend billions of dollars a year essentially subsidizing the profits of low wage industries through food stamps and other assistance to millions of workers who can’t maintain their families on poverty paychecks and uncertain working hours.

McD’s Can’t Hide Behind Franchisees

McDonald’s, the global granddaddy of low wage burger joints, goes into this second wave of walkouts in a very different legal situation than back in May. The National Labor Relations Board has ruled that McDonald’s can’t hide behind its franchise agreements to claim that the local franchise holders are responsible for wages at its 14,000 restaurants in the United States. The decision makes McDonald’s a much better target for nationwide unionization, presumably by the SEIU.

The fast food industry claims that $15 an hour is unreasonable, but a report by the National Employment Law Project shows that “most large, low-wage employers have already recovered” from the Great Recession.” Their employees, of course, have not.

The SEIU is asking workers in its affiliated home health care unions to protest alongside the fast food workers in six cities, including Seattle, where a grassroots movement led by the Socialist Alternative party won a gradual $15 an hour minimum wage, this year.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to, and sign up for email notifications of new issues, each Wednesday.
Direct download: 20140903_gf_FastFoodStrike.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:11 PM