Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from a black left perspective.
French Cops are Racist, Too
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
 
If you're Black and tired of getting stopped by the police on the streets of New York City and elsewhere in the United States, then Paris isn't the city for you. “A new study of the Paris police shows that...persons the police consider Black are stopped six times as often as whites.” And Arab-looking people are stopped even more frequently than that. Although racial profiling is illegal in France, the police studiously avoid keeping records on race.
 
 
French Cops are Racist, Too
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Researchers interviewed 500 people whom they observed being stopped by police at two mass transit stations.”
Police in Paris practice racial profiling against non-whites at least as vigorously as their counterparts in New York City – and that’s saying a great deal. Anew studyof the Paris police shows that people that appear to be Arab are stopped by police for identity checks 7.5 times more often than whites. Persons the police consider Black – meaning, of sub-Saharan African origin or from the Caribbean – are stopped six times as often as whites.And Blacks and Arabs that are stopped by French police are much more likely to also be frisked.
The sheer volume of people stopped, questioned and frisked by New York City police is awesome. By the end of the year, cops will have stopped 628,000 people, about half of them Black, and most of the rest Latino. Whites make up about 45 percent of New York’s population, but only 10 percent of those stopped by police.
Paris is a much whiter place. In creating the new study, called “Ethnic Profiling in Paris,” researchers interviewed 500 people whom they observed being stopped by police at two mass transit stations. Although Black- and Arab-looking people only constituted about ten percent of the crowds at the two stations, they accounted for 47 percent of those who were stopped by police – a higher rate even than in New York.
In 1961, the cops went on a killing spree, murdering at least 210 Arabs on the streets of Paris.”
Paris police have a long and murderous history, especially in dealing with Algerians. In 1961, the cops went on a killing spree, murdering at least 210 Arabs on the streets of Paris. One would have to go back to the police riots in New Orleans and Memphis after the Civil War for an historical comparison with the United States.
The French keep their racial minorities out of the central cities, when possible, shunting them off to rings of poor suburbs. In 2005, riots erupted in 300 cities, suburbs and towns across France. The current French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, was then Minister of the Interior with his eye on the top job. Sarkozy played the riots like a French version of Bull Connor, head of the Birmingham, Alabama police in 1963 – the villain who set the dogs on Dr. Martin Luther King’s young demonstrators. Sarkozy tapped deeply into white French racism, calling Arab and Black young people “scum,” “riff-raff,” “thugs,” and “hoodlums.” He declared “zero tolerance” towards violence and sent in companies of riot police to arrest what he called “gang leaders, drug traffickers and big shots.” Apparently the white French electorate enjoyed Sarkozy’s racial antics, and elected him President in 2007.
Racial profiling is illegal in France, as it technically is in much of the United States. But the police get around the law in the same ways on both sides of the Atlantic, claiming they stop and frisk based on where criminal activity takes place, not on the racial characteristics of the citizens on the street. The results of the new study give the lie to police claims. In France, the government conveniently hides and denies racism by refusing to keep data on race. The police leave no paper trail on the ethnicity of who they stop. No data, no legal basis for complaint.
For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

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

Direct download: 20090701_gf_FrenchPolice.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:48am EDT

High Court Tries to Freeze White Privilege in Place

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The real “activist” judiciary if represented by the U.S. Supreme Court majority than is determined to re-enshrine white privilege in law. The New Haven firefighters ruling is an assault on Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. “The High Court decision would preserve an ethnic, clan and family racial protection racket that has been embedded in fire and police departments for generations.”
 
High Court Tries to Freeze White Privilege in Place
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
What the racist majority is actually attempting to do is to freeze white privilege in place.”
In siding with white firefighters in New Haven, Connecticut, the 5-4 Supreme Court majority treats white dominance in firefighting as a kind of harmless “tradition” rather then evidence on its face of systemic, institutional racism in hiring and promotion. The ruling reflects a general white American worldview, that sees the Irish fireman as an iconic figure, even in neighborhoods that long ago turned Black or Latino. Under the terms of the past world the majority seeks to preserve, the white fireman and cop is a wholesome and “natural” presence, rather than an affront to every non-white resident of the neighborhood.
The Supreme Court majority, in striking down Federal Appeals Court Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s ruling in New Haven, is raising the bar significantly for minorities seeking entrance or promotion in these historically white men’s clubs – the police precincts and station houses. The justices now demand “strong, basic evidence” of previous discrimination. Yet such evidence is everywhere available in the firefighting and police professions. What the racist majority is actually attempting to do is to freeze white privilege in place. In this case, the High Court decision would preserve an ethnic, clan and family racial protection racket that has been embedded in fire and police departments for generations – the most raw and obvious form of on-the-job apartheid.
A general white American worldview sees the Irish fireman as an iconic figure, even in neighborhoods that long ago turned Black or Latino.”
The white-dominated society, through its media and cultural institutions, actively glorifies this historical white entitlement to jobs by reserving special places of honor for men, and now women, who are third and fourth generation fire and police persons. Most whites do not even question how white ethnic groups, clans and individual families perpetuated themselves in relatively well paid, stable and prestigious civil service employment, from one generation to the next. It is accepted as simply “the way of the world” and a good thing, a comforting situation to most white people – and especially comforting to the sons and daughters that feel entitled to follow their fathers and grandfathers into the firehouse or on the beat or into the white ethnic-dominated construction trades.
The rightwing judges that now dominate the federal judiciary constantly warn against judicial “activism” – when in fact it is they who are on a reactionary political mission to preserve white privilege. They attempt to dismantle key elements of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. As Dr. Ron Walters has written, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act has been “settled law” for 35 years. Its clear intent was to prevent the “protected classes” – which, at the time, meant Blacks – from being excluded from employment as a result of testing devices. The forces of white privilege have been trying to turn the Act on its head, ever since, by framing whites as in need of protection. As if society has ever been weighted against the interests of white men.
The actual impact of testing in New Haven and elsewhere has been to exclude Blacks and Latinos. These are the facts that racist judges willfully ignore. Instead of facts, they substitute color-blind mumbo-jumbo, a thin cover for race privilege preservation.
For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
Direct download: 20090701_gf_SCOTUSfirefightrs.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 5:33am EDT

Giving Honduras the Haiti Treatment
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
President Obama has joined all of Latin American in denouncing the coup in Honduras. But Washington's words should always be taken “with whole spoonfuls of salt.” Obama could restore democracy to Haiti immediately, if he chose to, by allowing the return of deposed President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, but instead shuts Aristide's party out of recent Senatorial elections. President Zalaya “was aligning himself with Venezuela, Nicaragua, El Salvador and other left-led nations.... It is inconceivable that the U.S. looks forward” to his return.
 
Giving Honduras the Haiti Treatment
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
“The kidnapping was somewhat reminiscent of the seizure of Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, by U.S. troops back in February, 2004.”
With the overthrow of President Manuel Zelaya, Honduras has fallen under military rule of the kind that dominated the Central American nation from 1963 to 1981. The man named by Honduras’s Congress to serve out the remainder of Zelaya’s term, Robert Micheletti, will of course claim that civilians are still in charge. But when soldiers oust a sitting president and decide who his successor will be, it is the soldiers that rule.
Two hundred soldiers came in the night to overpower President Zelaya’s guard, and bundle him off for a flight to Costa Rica. The kidnapping was somewhat reminiscent of the seizure of Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, by U.S. troops back in February, 2004.  The United States claimed it was saving Aristide from death at the hands of gunmen armed and organized by…the United States. Aristide was sent to the French-dominated Central African Republic. 
After the military put Honduran President Zelaya on a plane to Costa Rica, they claimed he had signed a letter of resignation. That’s the same lie told by organizers of the U.S.-backed coup against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, back in 2002. Chavez returned to power with the help some elements of the military and hundreds of thousands of his supporters in the streets.
“The oligarchy and its military enforcers feared Zelaya would win the referendum, increasing the momentum for change in Honduras.”
The Organization of American States has denounced the coup in Honduras, and so has President Barack Obama, who really had no other choice given the rise of leftist politics and U.S isolation in Latin America. But Washington always talks out of at least two sides of its mouth. It is inconceivable that the U.S. looks forward to the return of President Zalaya, who was aligning himself with Venezuela, Nicaragua, El Salvador and other left-led nations. Zelaya was overthrown while preparing for a public referendum on whether he should be allowed to run for another term. The vote would not have been binding, and international observers were gathering to monitor the polling. But apparently the oligarchy and its military enforcers feared Zelaya would win the referendum, increasing the momentum for change in Honduras.
When President Obama says, "We believe that the coup was not legal and that President Zelaya remains the democratically elected president there," we must take his words with whole spoonfuls of salt.  Let us return to Haiti.  The United States broke every international law and standard of decency in orchestrating the overthrow and exile of Haitian President Aristide, more than five years ago. The U.S. put criminals and depraved torturers in power, causing the deaths of thousands and stripping Haiti of any element of effective national sovereignty. The U.S., France and Canada engineered the making of Haiti into a ward of the United Nations, whose military still occupies the country.  And the U.S. has conspired with a small Haitian elite to shut Aristide’s political party, Family Lavalas, out of recent Senatorial elections. If free and fair elections were held today, there is little doubt that Aristide and his party would win. The United States makes sure that doesn’t happen.
So, if the Americans won’t allow democracy in Haiti, where they have the power to do so, why should anyone believe Washington wants restoration of democracy in Honduras.
For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
Direct download: 20090701_gf_HondurasHaiti.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:21am EDT