Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from a black left perspective.
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 EDT

The Whites Are Coming! The Whites Are Coming!: Gentrification Surging in U.S. Cities

The Whites Are Coming! The Whites Are Coming!: Gentrification Surging in U.S. Cities

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Twenty-one of the 50 biggest cities in the country have added significant white populations over the past four years.”

The Washington Post gleefully reported that Detroit – the nation’s Blackest metropolis, at 82 percent African American – has gotten significantly whiter. In an article last week, the Post seemed to welcome the news that 8,000 new white people set up residence in Detroit in the year 2014, increasing the overall white population by 14,000 since 2010.

This surge in white settlement in Detroit, mainly by young professionals taking advantage of the collapse of the city and its housing market, is part of a stunning acceleration in gentrification, nationwide. According to Brookings Institution demographer William Frey, 21 of the 50 biggest cities in the country have added significant white populations over the past four years.

Only five cities have lost white residents since 2010: Philadelphia, Cleveland, Sacramento, Tulsa, and Tucson. In about half of the rest, including Chicago, Houston, Boston, Miami and St. Louis, the white population has remained essentially unchanged. But Austin, Texas, has added 60,000 new white residents in the past four years, after a 20 percent increase in growth during the first decade of the century. During that same period, the Black population of Austin shrank by more than 5 percent. Blacks were pushed out to the suburbs, while whites took their places in the central city.

The surge has brought 38,000 more whites to Los Angeles, Denver and Seattle, 32,000 additional Caucasians to Dallas, 25,000 more Euro-Americans to Washington, DC, and 23,000 more to Portland, Oregon, which has been described as the most gentrifying city in country. Meanwhile, Portland’s Black community is being rapidly dispersed.

The Black population of Austin shrank by more than 5 percent.”

The white tide is running high in Omaha, New York, Raleigh and Atlanta, each of which added over 20,000 Caucasians since 2010. Charlotte drew in 17,000 white newcomers; San Antonio and San Francisco, 12,000 each; and New Orleans capped off the white recovery from the Black catastrophe of Katrina by absorbing 13,000 new Euro-Americans – while 100,000 Black Katrina refugees have been unable to return.

Oklahoma City, Kansas City, and Columbus, Ohio, each added 10 to 11,000 whites. Oakland, California, which was 47 percent Black in 1980, now stands at just 27 percent African American. The city lost fully one-quarter of its Black population to gentrification between 2000 and 2010. But the whites, they keep on coming, with 9,000 more arriving in the past four years.

Louisville, Kentucky, added 3,000 whites, and 1,000 additional Euro-Americans set up households in Baltimore, which is still 63 percent Black. It’s not yet clear what effect the recent rebellion in Baltimore will have on whites’ willingness to move there.

But of course, even though it looks to some as if white people have organized a nationwide invasion of Black communities, the reality is that Capital – Wall Street – has decided to reclaim the cities, and to create urban environments amenable to affluent white investors and professionals. That means moving the Black folks out – with lots of help from low-life, treasonous Black politicians, without whose assistance the Great Black Urban Displacement could not have occurred.

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

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at

Direct download: 20150930_gf_TheWhitesAreComing.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:39pm EDT

Jitu Brown on the end of #FightForDyett 34 day hunger strike in Chicago

In this interview by Robin Hiller of the Network for Public Education Jitu Brown, talks about the end of the 34 day hunger strike over the privatization of Dyett High School in Chicago, and the continuing struggle against school privatization being forcfed upon inner city communities across the land.

Direct download: 20150919-jitu-interview.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:07pm EDT

Black Families Crushed Under Prison and Death

Black Families Crushed Under Prison and Death

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Not only are Black mothers much less likely to be married; but they are also much less likely to live with the fathers of their children.”

The Brookings Institution, an establishment think tank in Washington, DC, commissioned a team of researchers to answer the question: Is there a shortage of marriageable men in the United States? Black women have long claimed that there is a shortage of potential Black husbands. The Brookings study shows that they were right. It is, indeed more difficult for Black women to find a Black mate of roughly of the same age, income and education level. No such shortage exists among white Americans except, ironically, among the most highly educated. Women of all races are better educated than their mothers, and earn more money. However, male earnings on average have been stagnant or falling, especially for less skilled workers. For highly educated white women, finding a husband of comparable status has, indeed, become more difficult, according to the Brookings researchers.

The masses of Black women face a mating problem of a whole different order. Black mass incarceration and inner city violence have taken a devastating toll on the pool of potential husbands. According to the Brookings report, “Among black male high school dropouts, 60 percent will be dead or incarcerated before the age of 35.” These Black men won’t be marrying or moving in with anybody, or paying child support, or acting as role models or protectors for their girlfriends’ children.

Black mass incarceration and inner city violence have taken a devastating toll on the pool of potential husbands.”

Seventy-two percent of Black births occur outside of marriage, compared to 29 percent of white births. But, lots of couples form meaningful partnerships without getting married. In a majority of out-of-marriage births, the two parents nevertheless live in the same home. Sixty-eight percent of white and Hispanic mothers who give birth out of wedlock are cohabiting with the fathers of their babies. However, only about 35 percent of the Black women who give birth outside of marriage are cohabiting with the baby’s father. The lesson of statistics is unmistakable: Not only are Black mothers much less likely to be married; but they are also much less likely to live with the fathers of their children.

A 2011 Pew Research study showed that Black fathers who don’t live with their children nevertheless spend more time with the kids than their white counterparts do, which demolishes the myth that Black men don’t care about their children. But the stark fact remains that Black men and women have been less successful than whites and Hispanics at living in the same household, whether married or not. The cause lies in the economic chaos and insecurity that this racist system has imposed on Black people since Emancipation, an historical crime that gets worse by the day under a capitalist system that no longer needs Black labor.

Black people are not supermen and women. They cannot create economically viable households with only one-twentieth of the wealth that white households possess. And they can’t build families when they are dead or in prison.

This is not about morality; it’s about power, and up-ending a power structure that has created a hostile environment for Black life and Black families.

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

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at

Direct download: 20150923_gf_BlackFamilies.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:18am EDT

Yale's Lucrative Wet Kiss Anoints Deray McKesson Their Kind of “Transformational” Leader

Yale's Lucrative Wet Kiss Anoints #BlackLivesMatter's Deray McKesson Their Kind of “Transformational” Leader

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

What does it mean when Yale Divinity School bestows a fat check on former Teach For America alum, #BlackLivesMatter activist and CampaignZero honcho Deray McKesson for two days of guest lecturing on “Transformational Leadership in the #BlackLivesMatter Movement?” It's not complicated. It simply means that Mr. McKesson exemplifies the kind of “transformational leader” whatever that means, that our elites have decided to laud, to prop up and to place in front of us. It certifies that Deray is their kind of leader, offering their kind of leadership.

Deray McKesson is the kind of deep thinker who, during the same week that Apple, apparently through the US Chamber of Commerce succeeded in overturning a law that would have obliged Apple and its competitors to disclose what percentage of their products originated in places like the Eastern Congo, where 6 or 7 million Africans have perished since the late 1990s to ensure the free flow of strategic minerals like gold, tantalum, tungsten and coltan, to the West. Coltan is a vital component of every cell phone, every computer, every car and aircraft manufactured on this planet. Transformational leader that he is instead served his two hundred thousand Twitter followers brain farts about the massive market share of Apple products. Evidently some black lives matter a lot less than others.

Deray McKesson is the kind of slavish “thought leader” whose tweets have likened liken the privatization of education via the wave of unaccountable charter schools forced upon parents and communities across the country, to the free breakfast for children programs of the 1960s Black Panther Party. But what should one expect from a “transformational leader” spit out by Teach For America, a corporate funded outfit that specializes in replacing experienced black teachers with younger and usually whiter temps, who either go on to careers in banking, law and finance, as consultants to the testing and school privatization industry, or as school administrators devoted to running public schools more like businesses.

Deray says he loves your blackness, and his own, and issues scores of tweets and retweets to that effect daily. What he doesn't seem to love is bottom-up local leadership. Going into the 30th day of a hunger strike by Chicago parents and community leaders resisting the forced privatization of south side Dyett High School, nobody's haven't heard a word from Deray on the subject yet.

Deray McKesson is the kind of shallow activist who shows up at the scene of the latest police atrocity to take selfies, maybe with cops and demonstrators in the background, huff a little tear gas and live tweet to his two hundred thousand twitter followers about the persistence of racism.

Deray McKesson's brand of “transformational leadership” led him to be the first prominent figure in #BlackLivesMatter to eagerly seek and accept private meetings with Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders and with the campaign of Hillary Clinton, as it led him to co-found, along with Teach For America's Brittney Packnett and a couple others, to establish CampaignZero, a pseudo ”movement” outfit that is just as non-transparent and undemocratic as #BlackLivesMatter, though unlike #BlackLivesMatter it has more specific and updated demands.

The bottom line is that corporate shot callers at Yale are gifting Deray McKesson because he's their kind of leader, of their kind of movement, a movement based on what the owners of Twitter, Facebook and the like want us to call social media, but which are really online corporate marketing tools. Deray can probably use the money, having left his six figure a year job in the Minneapolis school system, the kind of school administration gig Teach For America grads who stay in education typically end up with.

Though it happened just last week, the fact that Yale Divinity School is taking Deray on as a visiting professor of black twitter, or whatever isn't new news, it's old news, part of an old pattern. McKesson is the latest in a long line of black “leaders,” so-called movement leaders who emerge not from the people's struggle, but from the gut of their corporate sponsors, leaders put in place by our rulers to speak not for us but to us, with their sponsors' mouths.

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

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and a state committee member of the GA Green Party. He lives and works near Marietta GA and can be reached via email at bruce.dixon(at)
Direct download: 20150916-bd-deray-blacklivesmatter.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:18pm EDT

Former Leader of Chad and CIA Tool Denounces U.S. Imperialism at His Trial


Former Leader of Chad and CIA Tool Denounces U.S. Imperialism at His Trial


A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford


Habré was a willing asset of both the United States and the French former colonial masters of Chad.”


When the trial of former Chadian president Hissène Habré began, this week, in Dakar, Senegal, the judges and the guards treated the defendant like Bobby Seale, at the Chicago Seven trial, back in 1969. The 72 year-old Habre was carried into the courtroom by four guards and forced to sit still in his seat, as he shouted “Mercenaries!” and “Scofflaws!” at the judges. It was much the same scene as back in July, when the Extraordinary African Chambers court first attempted to try Habré for alleged crimes against humanity, torture and war crimes. The former strongman yelled “Down with imperialism!” and denounced Senegalese politicians as “African traitors!” and “Valets of America!”


Which is quite interesting because Hissène Habré used to be a client of America and tool of U.S. imperialism, himself, between the years 1982 and 1990, when he is alleged to have committed all those crimes. Habré was a willing asset of both the United States and the French former colonial masters of Chad, who made good use of him in their proxy war against Col. Muammar Gaddafi’s government in the neighboring country of Libya. With the CIA’s help, Habré managed to defeat Gaddafi’s forces in the 1987 so-called “Toyota War,” and to kill 40,000 of his own countrymen in his vast political prison system, where another 200,000 were held and tortured. Habré served the Americans so well, Gaddafi gave up trying to influence events in Chad, leaving it the Americans and Europeans. Soon, Hissène Habré was no longer needed, and in 1990 was overthrown by Idriss Déby, a warlord from an ethnic group that had suffered greatly under Habré. But nothing has changed in Chad except the name and tribe of the puppet. The U.S. and France remain the real powers in charge.


A Test for Africa?


Needless to say, the United States and France are not sitting in the dock with Hissène Habré, who faces the consequences of their mutual crimes, alone. Habré might have escaped judgment, entirely, had pressures for his arrest not caught up with him. The out-of-work warlord has spent most of the last 25 years in quiet exile in Senegal. The Belgians had claimed “universal jurisdiction” to prosecute him – but what kind of justice would that be, given that the King of Belgium killed as many as 12 million Congolese and countless other Africans during the colonial period? The Senegalese refused to hand Habré over to the Belgians. Then, in 2010, the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, asked the African Union to create a special tribunal to try Habré. In 2013, Habré was arrested.


The Extraordinary African Chambers court is thought by some to be a “test” of whether Africa can dispense justice to its own current and former politicians. But, I think the question is posed incorrectly. Africa is full of presidents that have killed and imprisoned their own people – most of them while working as agents and “mercenaries” for U.S. imperialism, the main source of the crime wave. Until the American, British and French are made to sit in the dock with the Hissène Habrés of the continent, there can be no justice.


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


BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at


Direct download: 20150909_gf_HabreOnTrial.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:59am EDT

Killed and Killer Cops

Killed and Killer Cops

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

The civilized world is aghast at the bloodthirstiness of U.S. police.”

Harris County, Texas, Sheriff Ron Hickman claims that one of his deputies, Darren Goforth, was shot to death “because he wore a uniform.” Goforth was gunned down while filling up his tank at a Houston gas station. Shannon Miles, the 30 year-old Black man charged in the killing, has a history of mental illness. Of course, a Black person doesn’t have to be crazy to want to harm a cop. But, cop-killing in the United States is actually quite rare, when compared to the huge number of civilian lives snuffed out by folks that wear “the uniform.” If there is some kind of war with the cops, as Sheriff Hickman deceptively infers, then it’s a very one-sided conflict.

We will never know the full historical extent of police mayhem and murder, since U.S. authorities have never compelled local police departments to keep records of who they kill, and why. Withholding information is part of police impunity from punishment – or even criticism – in this country. But, the cops are keen to keep track of their own casualties “in the line of duty” – which, it turns out, are at historically low levels. An FBI study of police fatalities shows that an average of 64 police officers per year were feloniously killed between 1980 and 2014. Only 27 cops were killed in 2013, the lowest death toll for the whole 35-year period. The next year, 2014, cop killings went up, with 51 officers dead. But, that’s still way below the average of 64 a year. This year, the number of felonious police deaths from all causes is on track to be about the same as in 2014. So, the statistics tell us that there has been no rash of attacks on cops. Those who try to portray cops as victims of what Sheriff Hickman calls “dangerous national rhetoric” are simply attempting to silence the real victims of police terror.

U.S. cops are already by far the most lethally aggressive and demonstrably racist in the developed world.”

Thanks to a process begun by the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement’s 2012 “Operation Ghetto Storm” study of extrajudicial police killings of Black people, the civilized world is aghast at the bloodthirstiness of U.S. police. As the Guardian newspaper reported earlier this summer, U.S. police kill more people in days than other countries kill in years. For the first time, the names and pictures of the fallen are posted for planetary observation, so that the rest of the species can know how the U.S. government really feels about human rights. The figures are not yet in on the civilian body count for August, but July was the deadliest month this year for people who found themselves on the other side of police guns, tasers, chokeholds, and batons.

Civilians are also killing each other in large numbers, with homicides up in many cities. The cops want you to believe that’s because officers are being less aggressive in fear of being charged with brutality. That’s insane. First of all, U.S. cops are already by far the most lethally aggressive and demonstrably racist in the developed world, which is why one out of every eight prison inmates on the planet is an African American, and why the U.S. stands alone in police violence against civilians. Secondly, in the Black community, the cops’ job is not to protect the residents. It is to contain, control and terrorize the population. Sheriff Hickman wants to get on with the business of police terror, because that’s all he’s good at.

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

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at



Direct download: 20150902_gf_KillerCopsKilled.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:48am EDT

A Rare Conviction of Killer Cops in South Africa

A Rare Conviction of Killer Cops in South Africa

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

A South African court found eight Black policemen guilty of murdering a Mozambican taxi driver by handcuffing him to a police van and dragging him two hundred yards behind the vehicle. Then, the cops beat the already badly injured man to death at the police station.

A cell phone camera video of the dragging of the victim, Mido Macia, went viral on the internet, back in February of 2013. The grizzly crime is reminiscent of the murder of James Byrd, Jr., by three white racists in Jasper, Texas, in 1998. Byrd was tied to a pickup truck by his ankles and dragged three miles to his death on a country road. One of the Texas racists was executed.

The murder convictions of the eight South African police are unusual – as they would be in the United States – because South African cops also operate under a culture of impunity. Just six months before Mido Macia was killed by cops in the city of Daveyton, east of Johannesburg, police massacred 34 workers on strike against a platinum mine at Marikana, ushering in a new phase of opposition to the increasingly corrupt and brutal African National Congress regime. Those killings were also caught on camera, but none of the cops has been punished, and a government commission of inquiry into the August 2012 Marikana bloodbath concludes only that the police acted on a “defective” plan, but that they murdered no one.

“Political assassinations of labor and poor people’s organizers are common.”

South African police are as feared, today, as under the apartheid regime that slipped into history in 1994. And, just as under white rule, the main victims of police violence are the poor and powerless. The South African police now serve the Black-led ruling party, the ANC. Therefore, not only do they protect the interests of the wealthy corporations that still dominate the economic life of the nation, the police are also the enforcers of the African National Congress’s public services patronage system. The ruling party’s critics say desperately needed housing, utilities and other government services are distributed on the basis of loyalty to the ANC. This has contributed to South Africa being widely described as the “protest capital of the world,” with the highest levels and frequency of protests – thousands of demonstrations every month, most of them involving demands for housing and other basic services.

Political assassinations of labor and poor people’s organizers are common, in South Africa. Many activists suspect the police are directly implicated in the killings and cover-ups. In recent years, the police have often tolerated or encouraged mob attacks against Africans from elsewhere in the continent, especially Zimbabweans and workers from neighboring Mozambique, like Mr. Macia, the murdered taxi cab driver. The violence against African foreigners is a sad irony, since not so long ago the white regime considered all Black people in South Africa to be foreigners, with no rights of citizenship and no protection from civilian or police violence.

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

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at


Direct download: 20150826_gf_SouthAfricanPolice.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:29pm EDT

Black College Households Lost Half Their Wealth Despite Degrees

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

“Black college families saw a steady erosion of their economic status.”

For generations, it has been an article of faith among Black people that education is the path to success, not just for the individual, but for the Black community as a whole. That’s never been entirely true, which is why W.E.B. Dubois was the first Black person to get a PhD from Harvard, but was not allowed to teach there, and why Black high schools in Washington, DC, during Jim Crow were full of teachers with doctorates who couldn’t find steady employment, elsewhere. The notion that college is the “great equalizer” in American society may have some validity for whites and Asian Americans, but for Hispanics and Blacks, the situation is much more complicated.

new study by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis finds that the wealth of Black families headed by college graduates diminished dramatically between 1992 and 2013. There were three recessions over that time period, but despite the downturns the median net worth, or wealth, of white households headed by a college graduate increased by 86 percent. For Asian college families, the rise in net worth was even more dramatic over the two decades; their wealth went up nearly 90 percent. But, Black families in which the head of household held a college degree saw their net worth drop by more than half: 56 percent, when adjusted for inflation. In other words, three recessions in 20 years didn’t stop whites and Asian American college graduates from steadily increasing their family wealth, while Black college families saw a steady erosion of their economic status. Hispanic households headed by college graduates lost a catastrophic 72 percent of their wealth in the last recession, alone, largely because they were even more heavily invested in housing than their Black counterparts.

“They were deeper in debt, both on their houses and their college educations.”

Indeed, Black college graduate households lost a lot more during the recessions than Black families headed by people without college degrees, whose wealth declined less than 4 percent. But, of course, that’s largely because most Black people don’t have much wealth to lose. After the last recession, Black median household wealth shrank to one-twentieth that of white families.

Black college households, along with their Hispanic peers, sank a lot more of their money into the family home, where much of it disappeared in the Great Recession. The homes of white college graduates declined in value by only 25 percent, during the economic meltdown. But Black and Hispanic college graduates’ homes lost about half their value.

The authors of the study conclude that the Black and Hispanic college families fared so badly during recessions because they were deeper in debt, both on their houses and their college educations. Without the benefit of affluent relatives, and in a job market rife with racism, their college degrees provided little protection from economic downturns. 

The study states the obvious: that “higher education alone cannot level the playing field.” But a report by the Federal Reserve Bank cannot tell the real truth: that it is statistically impossible for Blacks, under the current system, to ever achieve economic parity with whites, no matter what their educations. What’s needed is a fundamental transformation of society – a revolution. Let that be a lesson to you.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. Find us on the web at

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at


Direct download: 20150819_gf_BlackCollegeHouseholds.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:11pm EDT

Pretty Words, Ugly Actions: The Obama Legacy on Climate Change

Pretty Words, Ugly Actions: The Obama Legacy on Climate Change

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

President Obama announced his plan last week to slash US carbon emissions by 2030, mostly by EPA rules which will effectively prohibit new coal fired electric plants.  This is unambiguously good news, especially from a president who once declared himself in favor of “clean coal.” .  

The bad news is that the Obama administration could have done this in its first weeks in office rather than half past its seventh year, and it doesn't begin to redeem Obama climate change legacy.

The bad news is that the US still leads the world in water polluting, earthquake causing fracking, in taxpayer subsidies to the fracking industry, and in the export of fracking technologies, for which the Obama administration has been a tireless advocate.

The bad news is that when the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the largest known gas and oil spill in history occurred, the Obama administration actively colluded with oil companies to lie to the public concealing the volume and extent of the leak.  President Obama had the US Navy and Coast Guard ban civilian overflights of the spill area, and local police agencies bar civilian access to affected shorelines apparently to prevent independent experts from assessing the extent of damage and the speed at which the poisonous discharge was settling on the sea floor.  The Obama Justice Department even protected British Petroleum by declaring that damage awards could only be assessed against BP's holdings in the US Gulf rather than against its global assets on six continents and oceans across the planet.  And although the president's party controlled both houses of Congress for another six
months, President Obama and his party sponsored not one piece of legislation, not one administrative rule to rein in the plundering
and polluting activities of Big Oil.

The bad news is that despite past disasters and future dangers the Obama administration continues to issue new permits for drilling up and down the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, and is even permitting deepwater offshore fracking.  What could possibly go wrong?

The bad news is that the Obama administration, just like the Bush and Clinton ones before it, has continued the bipartisan American
tradition of subverting and destroying international accords on climate change, giving the final coup de grace to the Kyoto Accords, condemning hundreds of millions in Asia, Africa and Oceana to suffer theravages of climate change.

The bad news is that the Obama administration's equivocation on the Keystone pipeline seems transparently calculated to get his party through the 2016 election, after which it will almost certainly be approved, whoever is elected.  The Obama administration has issued permits for drilling in the Arctic Ocean, accessible for the first time in human history due to the melting of polar icecaps.

Actual leadership on climate change would set a near term goal of 80 to 90% of US energy needs met by renewables like wind and solar, an end to fracking on land and sea, and banning of offshore drilling, especially in the Arctic.  Leadership would be applauding the citizen activists who are delaying the departure of Shell's mammoth Arctic drilling rig from the port of Seattle.  Leadership would have the US look more like Germany, which although it's as far north as Canada derives most of its energy from wind and solar power and other renewables.  At this point climate leadership would mean popularizing the case for leaving the coal in the hole, the gas beneath the grass, and the oil in the soil while we fund and find other ways to power our agriculture, our cities and our lives. 

But none of that is part of the Obama legacy on climate change, which is pretty words but ugly actions.

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

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report.  He lives in Marietta GA where is a member of the state committee of the Georgia Green Party.  Contact him via email at bruce.dixon(at)
Direct download: 20150805_bd-climate-change-legacy.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:50pm EDT