Wed, 18 March 2015
In its 105 years, the National Urban League has done a lot of indisputable good, not just for the reputations of its founders and funders, but also for the actual communities it claims to serve.
But lately, like the NAACP, NAN, and the whole lot of corporate funded dinosaur civil rights organizations, the League seems to pay a lot more attention to what its corporate donors need, as opposed to its constituents.
There's the Urban League's lucrative embraces of Common Core, high stakes testing, charter schools and privatizing public schools. The League receives generous gifts from Microsoft founder Bill Gates, now chairman of the Gates Foundation, whose consultants helped write the president's privatizing Race To The Top program. The League is solidly behind the drive to turn public schools in poor neighborhoods into privatized, heavily policed and often remotely instructed holding tanks. In return for speaking out against teachers, communities, standing up for privatization, and a little aggressive flattery, the Urban League gets handsomely rewarded. The 2012 keynote at the National Urban League's annual affair was a “dialog” between Skip Gates and Bill Gates, whom the professor called his “brother”.
Bill Gates is a major investor in Monsanto, another generous giver to the Urban League. Monsanto wants to hijack the food supplies of Africa, Latin America and even the US, so when California voters put a 2012 referendum on the ballot that would have required GMO foods to be labeled, the Urban League took Monsanto money to campaign against that as well. The Urban League, NAN, NAACP, Operation PUSH earned their gifts from Verizon, Comcast, AT&T and others by testifying against network neutrality, in favor of corporate mergers and the digital redlining of their own communities, and with them, requested that they not be required to mention it when they testify on matters affecting their funders.
“...while you can never have too many Republicans or Democrats in office, even one socialist is way too many...”
The list of policy positions and actions undertaken by the League in the interest of its funders, often against those of its presumed constituents, is quite a long one, and about to get longer still. The latest League atrocity is in Seattle Washington, where voters in a city council district elected a socialist three years ago. That council member, Kshama Sawant helped lead a multi-year effort to raise the minimum wage in Seattle. The CEO of Seattle's Urban League, a longtime political insider with great fundraising connections wants to run for local office. Apparently there are no neoliberal pension-cutting Democrats for her to go after in Seattle, and no neolithic Republicans worth dethroning either.
The number one and only target of of Seattle Urban League CEO's Pam Banks' campaign for office will be the socialist, because she knows things. Pam Banks knows that while you can never have too many Republicans or Democrats in office, even one socialist is way too many. CEO Banks knows that while you can never have too many corporate funded politicians, even one elected official that doesn't take the corporate cash makes everybody else feel nervous and look bad. Banks knows that when gentrification is a problem, rent control is probably not a solution her funders would appreciate, even though it makes perfect sense to residents in danger of displacement. Banks knows that any run against a socialist incumbent will be well funded by forces who already call the League, and her, their good friend. They just might not be friends of the people of Seattle.
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com.
Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and serves on the state committee of the GA Green Party. He can be reached at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.