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

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball

What can President Obama do to show that he cares, just a little bit, about Black Americans? Since he has done nothing so far in his term, a good a place as any would be to free political prisoners, many of whom have been held for three and four decades. Black lawyers “are calling for the United States to be held to the standards of conduct established by the United Nations’ Human Rights Council (HRC) and Convention to End All Forms of Racism and Discrimination (CERD).”

 

Political Prisoners? Black Lawyers Say Obama Could Free ‘Em All

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball

This call by Black lawyers to free those this country denies are political prisoners remains as important a bright-line standard as any other.”

With their call this week for president Obama to free all political prisoners the National Conference of Black Lawyers (NCBL) have given him yet one more opportunity to actually address a specific concern of many Black and other well-meaning people around the world. And he might as well because, as Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor has written recently, Obama hasn’t done much else for Black America since assuming office.

Instead of championing or even making plain by highlighting and careful simple explanation the plights of Black Americans, Obama is instead only reapplying a very old strategy of preparing a base support of voters. Deploying a national propaganda campaign reminiscent of the early 20th century Creel Commission, Obama has Michael Blake, as he says himself, “crisscrossing the country… taking our stories directly to people about how the African-American community is benefiting from the Obama administration... For those who say we don't have a Black agenda,” continues Blake, “I would challenge them and ask, 'How are our policies not helping the African-American community?”

Well, Ms. Taylor provides as succinct an answer to anyone not living it or not able to look out their own windows. Black adult men are suffering the highest rate of unemployment ever measured, 43%. Twenty-six percent of the Black population lives beneath the poverty line, a line already set so low as to hide how bad it really is. For a family of 4 with a household income of roughly $20,000, “poverty” is too nice a term. These are so-called “Third World” conditions. Besides, as Taylor reminds us, 8% of African America has lost their homes and 21% more are in “imminent” danger of being next. And since, as Ms. Taylor also notes, there has been no real follow up to organize and mobilize by the Obamaton community of liberal leadership many other severe concerns continue to go unaddressed.

For a family of four with a household income of roughly $20,000, “poverty” is too nice a term.”

Among these include the repressive levels of incarceration and the continued political imprisonment of dozens of movement heroines and heroes. So this call by Black lawyers to free those this country denies are political prisoners remains as important a bright-line standard as any other. These lawyers are calling for the United States to be held to the standards of conduct established by the United Nations’ Human Rights Council (HRC) and Convention to End All Forms of Racism and Discrimination (CERD). In part and in short this would mean releasing political prisoners who, though not recognized as such, have been demonstrated to have suffered incarceration largely due to the unjust and illegal practices of the FBI and their Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO). This systematic and illegal attack on Black activists and those in support of Black liberation now has dozens held in anti-human conditions. Having been there more than three and four decades they are elderly and deserving of relative freedom.

Two new books are either out already or soon to come. One is Marshall Law by Marshall Eddie Conway and the other is Love and Struggle by David Gilbert. These are to be added to existing works on or about political prisoners such as Safiya Bukhari’s The War Before, Jalil Muntaquim’s We Are Our Own Liberatorsand the many works of Mumia Abu-Jamal among others and made the centerpiece of symposia, study groups and classrooms so that we may turn them into living documents of political organization and platform agenda items.

So while many continue to say that Obama is not the president of Black people he can still be challenged to amend his nation’s mistakes on behalf of the Black Americans still at least nominally held as citizens. He has done so little. These political prisoners certainly deserve their release, we certainly deserve them back in our communities and the world deserves to know that if they are not freed that all words emanating from this country regarding human rights are as baseless as the claims it makes to freedom and democracy.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Jared Ball. Online go towww.BlackAgendaReport.com

Dr. Jared A. Ball is author of the newly released I Mix What I Like! A Mixtape Manifesto (AK Press). All proceeds from the book go to support political prisoners. More information can be found online at: IMixWhatILike.com.

Direct download: 20110525_jb_PoliticalPrisoners.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 9:18am EDT