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

The New Orleans model has gone national.”

Eleven years ago this week, Hurricane Katrina flooded 80 percent of New Orleans, killing at least 1,200 people – although no one will ever know the actual death toll because most of the victims were Black and poor and, therefore, were never considered important enough to count.

What was important to the rulers of this country, in the aftermath of Katrina, was making sure that as many as possible of the displaced Black residents would not be allowed to return to the city. Before the waters had fully subsided, corporate planners were exulting in the opportunity to build a new New Orleans, a much whiter and richer metropolis. Katrina had ethnically cleansed the city -- permanently exiling 100,000 Blacks -- and the Lords of Capital could not contain their jubilation. What Blacks experienced as catastrophe was celebrated as a renaissance.

Katrina was a godsend for Disaster Capitalism, and provided a model for capitalists to create future disasters for Black people. President Obama’s secretary of education, Arne Duncan, said Katrina was “the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans" because it allowed school privatizers to fire all of the city’s teachers, 71 percent of them Black, and turn most of the schools into charters. Instead of firing Duncan for his outrageously callous and deeply racist remarks, President Obama joined in praising the so-called “recovery” of a city that had shed about a third of its Black population and was on the way to becoming the nation’s first all-charter school system. Over the next several years, Obama’s Race to the Top program would coerce states to create a “market” for charter schools or face the loss of federal education funds. Katrina paved the way to a catastrophe for public education, nationwide.

Black Caucus Muzzled, Easily

During the last weeks of the summer of 2005, when the magnitude of the disaster became apparent, it seemed that almost every Black community organization responded with some kind of Katrina support program. But, there was no political response from the Congressional Black Caucus, in Washington. The Democratic Party hoped to regain control of the House of Representatives in the 2006 elections, and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi didn’t want the Party to appear too pro-Black. She ordered her members to boycott the Republicans’ hearings on Katrina, and Democrats held no hearings of their own. In the face of what was then the greatest Black catastrophe of the 21st century, the Congressional Black Caucus allowed itself to be muzzled.

The Black political class’s abject failure to respond to Katrina guaranteed that there would be more catastrophes for Black folks. The Lords of Capital realized that, if they could get away with massive ethnic cleansing in New Orleans, while the whole world was watching, they could ratchet up the speed of gentrification and Black removal all across the country. Soon, half of the Black citizens of Michigan were disenfranchised by an emergency financial manager regime that took over all of the state’s heavily Black cities. The New Orleans model has gone national, because the rulers of this country know that they don’t need a storm to drive Black folks from the cities – and that there will be no resistance from a selfish, useless Black Misleadership Class.

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

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

Direct download: 20160824_gf_KatrinaCatastrophe.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:17am EDT

Katrina and Other Catastrophes

The New Orleans model has gone national.”

Eleven years ago this week, Hurricane Katrina flooded 80 percent of New Orleans, killing at least 1,200 people – although no one will ever know the actual death toll because most of the victims were Black and poor and, therefore, were never considered important enough to count.

What was important to the rulers of this country, in the aftermath of Katrina, was making sure that as many as possible of the displaced Black residents would not be allowed to return to the city. Before the waters had fully subsided, corporate planners were exulting in the opportunity to build a new New Orleans, a much whiter and richer metropolis. Katrina had ethnically cleansed the city -- permanently exiling 100,000 Blacks -- and the Lords of Capital could not contain their jubilation. What Blacks experienced as catastrophe was celebrated as a renaissance.

Katrina was a godsend for Disaster Capitalism, and provided a model for capitalists to create future disasters for Black people. President Obama’s secretary of education, Arne Duncan, said Katrina was “the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans" because it allowed school privatizers to fire all of the city’s teachers, 71 percent of them Black, and turn most of the schools into charters. Instead of firing Duncan for his outrageously callous and deeply racist remarks, President Obama joined in praising the so-called “recovery” of a city that had shed about a third of its Black population and was on the way to becoming the nation’s first all-charter school system. Over the next several years, Obama’s Race to the Top program would coerce states to create a “market” for charter schools or face the loss of federal education funds. Katrina paved the way to a catastrophe for public education, nationwide.

Black Caucus Muzzled, Easily

During the last weeks of the summer of 2005, when the magnitude of the disaster became apparent, it seemed that almost every Black community organization responded with some kind of Katrina support program. But, there was no political response from the Congressional Black Caucus, in Washington. The Democratic Party hoped to regain control of the House of Representatives in the 2006 elections, and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi didn’t want the Party to appear too pro-Black. She ordered her members to boycott the Republicans’ hearings on Katrina, and Democrats held no hearings of their own. In the face of what was then the greatest Black catastrophe of the 21st century, the Congressional Black Caucus allowed itself to be muzzled.

The Black political class’s abject failure to respond to Katrina guaranteed that there would be more catastrophes for Black folks. The Lords of Capital realized that, if they could get away with massive ethnic cleansing in New Orleans, while the whole world was watching, they could ratchet up the speed of gentrification and Black removal all across the country. Soon, half of the Black citizens of Michigan were disenfranchised by an emergency financial manager regime that took over all of the state’s heavily Black cities. The New Orleans model has gone national, because the rulers of this country know that they don’t need a storm to drive Black folks from the cities – and that there will be no resistance from a selfish, useless Black Misleadership Class.

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

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

Direct download: 20160824_gf_KatrinaCatastrophe.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:17am EDT

Black Agenda Report for Week of August 24, 2016

Presidential Pollsters Ask the Wrong Question

“There’s no major poll that I know of that asks the American public who they want to be president,” said journalist and VotePact founder Sam Husseini. Instead, the five polling outfits that decide if candidates have enough support to appear in televised debates ask, “If the election were held today, who would you vote for?” Husseini believes “there are probably millions of people who would want to vote for third parties,” but plan to pull the lever for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump as “a tactical maneuver.” Theoretically -- especially with Clinton and Trump rated unfavorably by majorities of Americans -- “we could have majority appeal for third party candidates right now, but we would never know it because nobody’s” asking the right question.

Clintonites Play Foul Against Greens

Green Party vice presidential candidate Ajamu Baraka said so-called “liberal” Clinton supporters “are trying to undermine the moral authority that we have as a campaign that stands up for the working class in this country to advance principles that transcend the limitations of liberalism; to talk about a new kind of democracy and an economic liberation that goes beyond the limitations of capitalism.” Baraka, a veteran human rights activist and editor at Black Agenda Report, said the Clintonites slime the Greens as part of the ‘loony left’ to “try to undermine this oppositional moment.”

Black Is Back Coalition Stresses Centrality of Self-Determination

For decades, the conversation around Black liberation in the United States has been missing the critical element of self-determination, said Omali Yeshitela, chairman of the Black Is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations. The movement that emerged in Ferguson in 2014 “wasn’t about body cameras, and it wasn’t about police-community review boards. We criticized those who could not even make a demand on the system,” Yeshitela told a gathering of the coalition, in Philadelphia. The coalition approved a list of 19 demands as the basis for a Black Agenda for Self Determination, to be submitted to the annual Black Is Back national conference in Washington, November 5 and 6.

Ralph Poynter, the veteran activist and husband of people’s lawyer and former political prisoner Lynne Stewart, assumed the chairmanship of the coalition’s Political Prisoners Working Group. “The modern death penalty -- 80 percent Black -- moved lynching indoors,” said Poynter. “The police, as the army of occupation, have taken lynching outside, again. The lynch mob is the racist system, including the courts and the media.”

Detroit Schools Activists Win Court Battle

A Michigan judge excoriated the state-run Detroit school district for attempting to bar Steve Conn and Nicole Conaway from advocating teacher strikes against the privatization and forced deterioration of the public schools. The district’s request for an injunction against Conn, a former president of the local teachers union, and Conaway, of By Any Means Necessary (BAMN), was “offensive to free speech,” said the judge. “We’re certainly going to urge more protests to defeat the governor for destroying our schools,” said Conn.

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

Direct download: BlackAgendaRadio_20160822.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:18pm EDT

Black Agenda Report for Week of August 24, 2016

Presidential Pollsters Ask the Wrong Question

“There’s no major poll that I know of that asks the American public who they want to be president,” said journalist and VotePact founder Sam Husseini. Instead, the five polling outfits that decide if candidates have enough support to appear in televised debates ask, “If the election were held today, who would you vote for?” Husseini believes “there are probably millions of people who would want to vote for third parties,” but plan to pull the lever for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump as “a tactical maneuver.” Theoretically -- especially with Clinton and Trump rated unfavorably by majorities of Americans -- “we could have majority appeal for third party candidates right now, but we would never know it because nobody’s” asking the right question.

Clintonites Play Foul Against Greens

Green Party vice presidential candidate Ajamu Baraka said so-called “liberal” Clinton supporters “are trying to undermine the moral authority that we have as a campaign that stands up for the working class in this country to advance principles that transcend the limitations of liberalism; to talk about a new kind of democracy and an economic liberation that goes beyond the limitations of capitalism.” Baraka, a veteran human rights activist and editor at Black Agenda Report, said the Clintonites slime the Greens as part of the ‘loony left’ to “try to undermine this oppositional moment.”

Black Is Back Coalition Stresses Centrality of Self-Determination

For decades, the conversation around Black liberation in the United States has been missing the critical element of self-determination, said Omali Yeshitela, chairman of the Black Is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations. The movement that emerged in Ferguson in 2014 “wasn’t about body cameras, and it wasn’t about police-community review boards. We criticized those who could not even make a demand on the system,” Yeshitela told a gathering of the coalition, in Philadelphia. The coalition approved a list of 19 demands as the basis for a Black Agenda for Self Determination, to be submitted to the annual Black Is Back national conference in Washington, November 5 and 6.

Ralph Poynter, the veteran activist and husband of people’s lawyer and former political prisoner Lynne Stewart, assumed the chairmanship of the coalition’s Political Prisoners Working Group. “The modern death penalty -- 80 percent Black -- moved lynching indoors,” said Poynter. “The police, as the army of occupation, have taken lynching outside, again. The lynch mob is the racist system, including the courts and the media.”

Detroit Schools Activists Win Court Battle

A Michigan judge excoriated the state-run Detroit school district for attempting to bar Steve Conn and Nicole Conaway from advocating teacher strikes against the privatization and forced deterioration of the public schools. The district’s request for an injunction against Conn, a former president of the local teachers union, and Conaway, of By Any Means Necessary (BAMN), was “offensive to free speech,” said the judge. “We’re certainly going to urge more protests to defeat the governor for destroying our schools,” said Conn.

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

Direct download: BlackAgendaRadio_20160822.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:18pm EDT

Blacks to Arrive at Promised Land in Year 2244

“In the year 2043, white households will already be a cool $1 million richer than Black households.”

No wonder there has been such an obscene growth in the Black “prosperity” church ministry. Study after study has shown that it will take a miracle for Black people in the United States to ever close the gap with whites in household wealth – that is, under the system of capitalism. The latest report on just how impossible that dream is, is titled the Ever Growing Gap. It was conducted by the Institute for Policy Studies and the Corporation for Enterprise Development, both located in Washington. Based on the steady erosion of Black and Latino household wealth compared to whites over the past 30 years, the authors project that it would take 228 years -- into the middle of the 23rd century -- for Black Americans to amass as much wealth as the median white household already possesses. Latinos are on a somewhat faster track; they would become as wealthy as present-day white families in the year 2097,.

Only 27 years from now, in the year 2043, when the U.S. Census Bureau projects that Blacks, Latinos and other people of color will outnumber white Anglos in the United States, white households will already be a cool $1 million richer than Black households, according to the new study.

Dedrick Asante Muhammed was one of the numbers crunchers. He was also instrumental in a 2004 “State of the Dream” report, that shocked and depressed Black folks with a prediction that Black parity in wealth with whites could not be achieved until the year 2099. This year’s study projects it will take almost a century and a half longer just for Black people to reach 2016 white wealth levels.

A 2010 study out of Brandeis University issued the most honest assessment of long term Black economic prospects in the USA, concluding that African Americans will NEVER gain wealth parity with Euro-Americans.

Parity = $1 Million Per Black Household

The numbers speak eloquently, and irrefutably. Unless this system is dismantled, root and branch, including a fundamental redistribution of wealth, Blacks will fall farther and farther behind whites -- and will be left in the dust by Latinos, as well. Dedrick Asante Muhammed and his colleagues have some suggestions for federal policy changes that might have some very marginal impact on the wealth gap – but not enough to make any real difference. The math is too formidable. To close the wealth gap between white and Black households within a reasonable amount of time – say, by the year 2043, when whites become a minority – the country would have to inject an extra one million dollars into each of the currently existing 16 million Black households, for a total cost of $16 trillion. That’s just a little bit less than the entire Gross Domestic Product of the United States, which is about $18 trillion dollars. If the United States wanted to bridge the wealth gap in 27 installments between now and the year 2043, they’d have to pump $600 billion extra a year into Black families’ pockets – which happens to be roughly the price tag of the annual U.S. military budget. So, Uncle Sam would have to give up his guns to pay Black folks a fraction of what is owed us. Sounds like a good deal to me – but I don’t think Washington will go for it.

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

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

 

Direct download: 20160817_gf_WealthGap.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:42am EDT

Greens are Alternative to “Democratic Plantation”

Ajamu Baraka, the veteran Black activist tapped as Jill Stein’s presidential running mate, said the Green Party can make a difference, this year, by “building an alternative to the Democratic plantation” and “transcending the politics of fear.” Baraka is a co-founder of the U.S. Human Rights Network and an editor and columnist for Black Agenda Report. “With the continued deterioration of the democratic processes, and of this economy, and the clear tendency on the part of the state to repress political opposition, our time is limited in terms of the extent we can take advantage of the limited democratic space that does exist,” said Baraka.

Neither Trump Nor Clinton Can Resolve Crisis

Although both major party candidates acknowledge that the economy is benefiting only the One Percent, the difference between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton lies in how they “identify the source of the problem,” said Dr. Anthony Monteiro, the Duboisian scholar and Black Radical Organizing Committee activist from Philadelphia. “Clinton says that the policies of financialization, of Wall Street privilege, of trade deals like NAFTA and TPP, are not fundamentally wrong – that we should tweet them, not change them,” said Dr. Monteiro. “Trump, in essence, argues that the problem of the American economy is grounded in the export of capital, and that this is the source of the impoverishment of the American working class.” Monteiro believes “Trump’s stating of the problem is far more accurate than Clinton’s,” but neither of them “provide a solution to the problem.”

Roots of Black Movement for Self-Defense

Black scholars and activists came together, in Detroit, to celebrate the life of Robert F. Williams, the former NAACP leader in Monroe, North Carolina, who in the 1950s formed a Black Armed Guard to defend Black people from racist violence. Among the speakers was Dr. Akinyele Umoja, chair of the African American Studies Department at Georgia State University and author of the book We Will Shoot Back: Armed Resistance in the Mississippi Freedom Movement. “There were already people in the South practicing armed self-defense,” said Dr. Umoja. “The thing that distinguishes Williams is that he was an advocate. Most people were quite” members of informal protective networks, but Williams advocated self-defense in his newspaper, The Crusader, and “people began to look at the movement he and others were talking about.”

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

Direct download: BlackAgendaRadio_20160815.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:07am EDT

Greens are Alternative to “Democratic Plantation”

Ajamu Baraka, the veteran Black activist tapped as Jill Stein’s presidential running mate, said the Green Party can make a difference, this year, by “building an alternative to the Democratic plantation” and “transcending the politics of fear.” Baraka is a co-founder of the U.S. Human Rights Network and an editor and columnist for Black Agenda Report. “With the continued deterioration of the democratic processes, and of this economy, and the clear tendency on the part of the state to repress political opposition, our time is limited in terms of the extent we can take advantage of the limited democratic space that does exist,” said Baraka.

Neither Trump Nor Clinton Can Resolve Crisis

Although both major party candidates acknowledge that the economy is benefiting only the One Percent, the difference between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton lies in how they “identify the source of the problem,” said Dr. Anthony Monteiro, the Duboisian scholar and Black Radical Organizing Committee activist from Philadelphia. “Clinton says that the policies of financialization, of Wall Street privilege, of trade deals like NAFTA and TPP, are not fundamentally wrong – that we should tweet them, not change them,” said Dr. Monteiro. “Trump, in essence, argues that the problem of the American economy is grounded in the export of capital, and that this is the source of the impoverishment of the American working class.” Monteiro believes “Trump’s stating of the problem is far more accurate than Clinton’s,” but neither of them “provide a solution to the problem.”

Roots of Black Movement for Self-Defense

Black scholars and activists came together, in Detroit, to celebrate the life of Robert F. Williams, the former NAACP leader in Monroe, North Carolina, who in the 1950s formed a Black Armed Guard to defend Black people from racist violence. Among the speakers was Dr. Akinyele Umoja, chair of the African American Studies Department at Georgia State University and author of the book We Will Shoot Back: Armed Resistance in the Mississippi Freedom Movement. “There were already people in the South practicing armed self-defense,” said Dr. Umoja. “The thing that distinguishes Williams is that he was an advocate. Most people were quite” members of informal protective networks, but Williams advocated self-defense in his newspaper, The Crusader, and “people began to look at the movement he and others were talking about.”

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

Direct download: BlackAgendaRadio_20160815.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:07am EDT

NAACP and Movement for Black Lives Call for Moratorium on Charter Schools

“School privatization ‘strips Black people of the right to self­determine the kind of education their children receive,’ said the coalition.”

As the Obama administration heads into the sunset, its devastating policy of public school privatization through charters has met fierce resistance from two distinct political currents in Black America. The NAACP, at its annual convention last month, adopted a resolution calling for a halt to the spread of privately-owned charter schools. The NAACP has long been critical of charters, but the language of this year’s resolution was the strongest, yet, charging that charters contribute to an increase in school segregation and are as destructive to poor communities as predatory lending practices by banks. The civil rights group demanded an end to tax breaks and other advantages for charters and reaffirmed its support for high quality, free public education for all children. The privately appointed boards of charter schools, said the NAACP, “do not represent the public yet make decisions about how public funds are spent.”

About a week later, the Movement for Black Lives, representing more than 50 organizations, unveiled its platform on a broad range of issues, including a demand for community control of schools and for a cut-off of federal aid to school districts that are not run by elected school boards. School privatization “strips Black people of the right to self­determine the kind of education their children receive,” said the coalition, charging “this systematic attack” is “bankrolled by billionaire philanthropists such as Bill and Melinda Gates, the Walton Family, and Eli and Edythe Broad, and aided by the departments of Education at the federal, state, and local level.”

Cops Out of Schools

The Movement for Black Lives called for and end to Teach for America, President Obama’s favorite tool for displacing veteran educators; a moratorium on all suspensions of students; a shutdown of all juvenile detention centers; and removal of police from the schools. The coalition vowed to “build an international movement of people of African descent to force nations to ratify and recognize education as a human right, and to end privatization.” The coalition specifically called for an end to President Obama’s signature program, Race to the Top, which coerces states to increase charter schools or lose billions in federal education funding.

The NAACP, which most often acts as a virtual annex of the Democratic Party, and the Movement for Black Lives, which has righteously refused to endorse any party or political candidate, are both on the same page when it comes to charter schools. Indeed, the NAACP resolution cites the work of the grassroots organization Journey for Justice, an alliance of community, youth, and parent-led organizations in 21 cities across the country, which also worked on the Movement for Black Lives platform on charter schools. The convergence on this issue between two very different Black political tendencies shows that there is a growing, principled consensus in Black America on the need for democracy in public education, through community control of schools. The struggle for Black self-determination is inseparable from defense of public education.

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

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

Direct download: 20160810_gf_NAACP_BLM_Schools.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:39pm EDT

Black Agenda Report for Week of August 8, 2016

Voters Have Choices Outside the Duopoly

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are both “evil” people, but U.S. voters do have choices this election season, said South Carolina activist and author Kevin Alexander Gray. “It’s good that people are running on various third parties, to give Americans a little bit of education,” as opposed to watching them make one or the other bad choice,” said Gray, author of Waiting on Lighting to Strike. “One of the good things about Barack Obama leaving office, particularly for Black people, is that perhaps they’ll pick up their signs, pick up their feet, and follow behind the youth that are out here in the streets challenging the system.”

Low Wage Workers to Converge on Richmond

The U.S. labor movement made an historic error in the post-World War Two era in failing to commit sufficient resources to organizing in the heavily Black South. But activists in the current movement to unionize low-paid workers and raise the national minimum wage to $15 an hour vow not to repeat that mistake. “We will highlight that low wages and racial inequality is not only hurting Black and brown people, it’s hurting the working poor white people, as well,” said Terrance Wise, a leader of Fight for 15, which will hold a national conference of low-wage workers in Richmond, Virginia, the former capital of the Confederacy, August 12 and 13. “Until we can build our movement and bring all workers together to demand economic justice and racial equality, we won’t gain any ground,” said Wise, a Burger King employee from Kansas City.

Russell “Maroon” Shoatz Wins Solitary Confinement Settlement

Pennsylvania prison officials have agreed to pay a monetary settlement to political prisoner Russell “Maroon” Shoatz, and to never again place the former Black Panther in solitary confinement, where he spent 22 of the past 44 years. His daughter, Theresa Shoatz, is “elated because it opens the door to other prisoners who are still in solitary confinement in Pennsylvania.” The legal action was spearheaded by the Pittsburg-based Abolitionist Law Center, with virtually no assistance from Black elected officials. “Our state representatives are useless,” said Ms. Shoatz.

Afro-Colombian Rights Recognized in Peace Talks

FARC guerillas and the government of Colombia have agreed in principle to “make sure the rights and interests of Afro-descended and indigenous peoples will be respected” in the resolution of the South American country’s two generations-long civil war, said Charo Mina-Rojas, of the National Afro-Colombian Peace Council. Representatives of the Colombian government and demobilizing guerillas agreed to include such assurances in the peace document being hammered out at negotiations in Havana, Cuba. However, Mina-Rojas said some elements of FARC have not agreed to lay down their arms and “do not fully recognize” Afro-Colombians’ collective land rights.

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

Direct download: BlackAgendaRadio_20160808.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:41pm EDT

Coalition Declares Black Self-Determination Back on the Agenda

The Coalition ‘does not believe that our future should be in the hands of any institution that does not have its origins within our own community and has not been forged through the struggles of our people.’”

There have always been two main political imperatives in Black America. One has sought “representation” at all levels within the surrounding, hostile, white supremacist society, and celebrates the elevation of individual Blacks to high social, political and economic status. As a practical matter, under this kind of politics, the condition of the Black masses is secondary -- yet, the great bulk of Black people are expected to follow the political direction of the upwardly mobile minority. This “representationalist” Black politics makes no transformative demands on the United States, and is quite satisfied if there is a steady growth in the number of Black faces in high places.

The other main political tendency in Black America seeks self-determination: independent political, economic and social power for Black people as a group. Those that seek self-determination contend that Black people have the right to determine their own destiny and are certainly not answerable to a white society that has enslaved, oppressed and reviled them.

Throughout Black people’s history in the U.S., these two political tendencies have maintained an uneasy coexistence, even simultaneously inhabiting the same individual Black brain. However, with the fall of legal U.S. apartheid in the mid-Sixties and the crushing of Black self-determinationist forces by the U.S. State a few years later, a Black Misleadership Class emerged that was concerned solely with its own narrow interests -- with putting their own selfish faces into high places. This grasping and venal political class collaborated with the U.S. State to impose a mass Black incarceration regime -- what Michelle Alexander calls the New Jim Crow -- and ushered in a two-generation-long era of Black social disintegration, economic retrogression and political confusion.

Today, however, the Black imperative to self-determination is in ascendance. Especially in the last several years, Black people have rediscovered and revived the Black Radical Tradition, with self-determination at the core. The emerging movement that goes under the heading of Black Lives Matter is largely animated by the drive for Black self-determination, albeit commingled with notions of representationalism. Both tendencies find expression in the Movement for Black Lives newly released demands.

19 Points

The Black is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations, founded in 2009, has always put Black self-determination first, and has now codified this principle in a 19 point National Black Political Agenda for Self-Determination, to be offered “for discussion and adoption” by Black people in a process that begins at a national conference in Philadelphia, August 13 and 14. The 19 points cover the broadest range of Black political concerns, from Black Community Control of Police, ending mass Black incarceration, freedom for political prisoners; to demands concerning Black women and families, gentrification, reparations, self-defense, nationalizing the banks, the right to housing, heath care, education, and universal enfranchisement; the necessity for socialist democracy, the defeat of U.S. imperialism and a payback of the Western debt to Africa, freedom for Palestine, and saving the Earth’s environment from the capitalist system that is destroying it.

Each and every of the 19 points is formulated through the prism of Black self-determination. As the Black Is Back Coalition states in its Declaration on the need for a National Black Political Agenda for Self-Determination, the Coalition “does not believe that our future should be in the hands of any institution that does not have its origins within our own community and has not been forged through the struggles of our people.”

The August 13th and 14th conference in Philadelphia will set the stage of discussions of the Agenda for Self Determination in cities across the country, culminating in a conference in Washington, DC, following the Black Is Back Coalition’s traditional rally and march on the White House, in November. Black is Back, and so is Black self-determination, because there can be no democracy without it.

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

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

Direct download: 20160803_gf_BiBSelfDetermination.wav
Category:general -- posted at: 10:43pm EDT