Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from a black left perspective.
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Like all things consciously Black in the age of “race neutrality,” Black Studies has been targeted for the irrelevancy file. “The truth is, Black Studies has always been in conflict with the powers-that-be, on campus and in the wider world.” Born of activism 40 years ago, Black Studies “leads to greater and more effective activism” - which makes the discipline dangerous to power and privilege.

 
Black Studies: Still Indispensable After 40 Years
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Those who have achieved power and inherited privilege through systemic racial oppression are the last ones to want to fund a discipline that examines past and present oppression.”
In 1968, the Black Student Union at San Francisco State University, in conjunction with other activists and faculty, demanded the establishment of a Black Studies Program. The next year, the Black Studies Program became a department. Forty years later, as many as 350 colleges and universities offer majors, minors and degrees in Black, African American, Africana and related studies, according to Dr. James Turner, of Cornell University’s Africana Studies and Research Center.
Just like the movement and politics that it sprang from, Black Studies is under assault, as irrelevant in today’s times. The truth is, Black Studies has always been in conflict with the powers-that-be, on campus and in the wider world. It was born that way, out of a movement and a people that were trying to find a way out of their own oppression and the ills afflicting humanity at-large. Only fools and the enemy can claim that this mission has been accomplished, and that Black voices should stand down, in academia or anywhere else.
Black Studies grew out of Black activism, and when the discipline is done well, it leads to greater and more effective activism, while deepening our understanding of the global society. This is, by definition, dangerous to those who profit from the status quo and the lies that prop up privilege. Those who have achieved power and inherited privilege through systemic racial oppression are the last ones to want to fund a discipline that examines past and present oppression.
Hostile forces proclaim Black Studies to be an obstacle on the road to 'race neutrality.'”
Naturally, opponents of Black Studies have always tried to marginalize it as a kind of special dispensation unworthy of accreditation and resources. In the Age of Obama, hostile forces proclaim Black Studies to be an obstacle on the road to “race neutrality” – another way of saying that those who illuminate and struggle against a problem, are themselves the source of the problem.
In a society that is truly committed to social justice, Black Studies would be viewed in much the same way as the study of medicine, whose ultimate purpose is to promote the health of human beings and to combat the diseases that plague us. Medicine ameliorates human misery, and seeks ways to make possible the maximum fulfillment of life for the greatest number of people. So does the struggle for social justice and its academic arm, Black Studies.
Black Studies provides a unique prism through which to identify that which ails us in the United States, and beyond. When Black Studies is devalued, Black people are devalued and all of humanity is diminished.
Those who think we are already liberated and can now dispense with Black Studies, are the ones most in need of an education.
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: 20090916_gf_BlackStudiesgf.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 5:19am EDT

coon huntin NYCA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Nightriding white terrorists are not confined to the South. They also roam the streets of New York City, in search of Black victims. The election of 2008 was especially rough for Up South white supremacists. Barack Obama's victory provoked four young New Yorkers to go on a Black-bashing spree that last week earned them serious prison time.
 
Coon Huntin’” in New York City
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
They piled into a car on a mission to show African Americans that whites were still boss in that part of the world.”
White folks used to call it “coon hunting” – terrorism as community sport. I’ve witnessed it myself: caravans of cars filled with white men in varying stages of drunkenness cruising country highways or the fringes of Black neighborhoods, in search of victims. In the Deep South, such “coon hunting” parties were not necessarily hitched to any special occasion or specific racial incident; any excuse would do to demonstrate that Blacks’ very existence in a White Man’s Country was a privilege that could be arbitrarily and violently revoked at any time.
Coon hunting” and related white racist rituals were never confined to below the Mason-Dixon Line. New York City contains enclaves of entrenched bigotry as concentrated and vicious as anyplace in Dixie. Last November, on learning that Barack Obama had won the presidential election, four young white men in Staten Island – the whitest of New York City’s boroughs – piled into a car on a mission to show African Americans that whites were still boss in that part of the world. They drove to a Black neighborhood, found a teenager walking by himself, and beat him with a metal pipe and a police baton. Not satisfied, they assaulted a Black man in another minority neighborhood, and drove off in search of a third victim. This time, they slammed their car into a man they thought was African American, but who turned out not to be. The victim’s head smashed the car’s windshield, and he stayed in a coma for weeks.
The four young white men admitted they set out to punish people they assumed had voted for Barack Obama.”
The four whites were last week sentencedto from four and one/half to seven years in federal prison. Loretta King, of the U.S. Justice Department, said the Civil Rights Division “will remain vigilant in our efforts to combat hate crimes.” Republicans in Congress continue to quibble about what constitutes a “hate crime,” who specifically should be protected from such crimes, and the circumstances in which the federal government can intervene. But the case from Staten Island, New York, certainly fits anyone’s definition of a hate crime that threatened federally protected rights. But it also says a lot more. The four young white men admitted they set out to punish people they assumed had voted for Barack Obama. But of course, they didn’t ask their victims who they voted for, or if they had voted at all, and one of them wasn’t even an African American. What these night-riders resented was the very presence of non-whites in Staten Island, or New York City, or in positions of prominence anywhere in the United States. They are terrorists whose hatred of Black people is general and uncomplicated – and renders them unfit to circulate freely in society.
It is also interesting to note that these modern, New York City, “Up South” terrorist nightriders’ surnames are Nicoletti, Garaventa, Contreras, and Carranza. They’re not the good ol' boys of your grandparents’ experience. But they’re just as dangerous.
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: 20090916_gf_CoonHunting.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 5:01am EDT

prisonA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Small white towns are not typically welcoming to the prospect of large numbers of Black residents – unless they are locked up in cages. The town folks will fight tooth and nail for the privilege of hosting job-creating prisons, and to exercise the inmate's voting rights, as well. “Prison towns and prison-dependent counties are no more eager to relinquish their claim to be 'home' to their incarcerated residents than the slave master was to part with his human property.”

The Stolen Count: Prison Inmates and the Census
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
The Census problem with prison inmates, is where to assign their official residency.”
People of West Indian descent are being urged to check their ethnicity as “other” on the U.S. Census form, presumably so they’ll be counted separately from the African American community. The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights urges great care be taken to get an accurate count in the Gulf States, where population movements have still not settled, four years after Katrina. And every ten years there is controversy on how to best avoid undercounting Blacks, Latinos and undocumented aliens. There is one group, however, that is easy to find and enumerate, since they line up for the count at least once every day: the 1.3 million inmates of state and federal prisons. (At any given time, another million people are in local jails, but that’s another matter.)
The problem with state and federal prison inmates isn’t about getting the numbers right, but where to assign their residency. And although the question of who gets to count an inmate as a resident may not mean much to the incarcerated individual, it is a matter of great importance to his home community, possibly hundreds of miles away.
Denizens of small 'prison towns get to vote on the inmates’ behalf.”
The 40-year national policy of mass Black incarceration has robbed urban communities, not just of men and women, but of federal and state monies that are distributed based on population. When a young man from, say, the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn gets sent upstate to Attica prison, his share of Bed-Stuy’s funding for schools and other public services goes upstate with him, to benefit the town where the prison guards live. Those denizens of small “prison towns” also get to vote on the inmates’ behalf. As an article in the publication “Progressive States” explains, these mostly white, small town people whose livelihoods are dependent on a steady flow of prisoners doing as much time as possible, are not likely to vote in the interests of the inmates or their families in the inner cities. The closest analogy would be to the days when Blacks could not vote in most of the South, but were counted for purposes of allocating seats in state legislatures and the Congress. White folks were allowed to vote, both on their own behalf and, in effect, to cast Black people’s ballots, too. Put another way, simply by showing up on the U.S. Census in a southern state, Black people were forced to vote against themselves and for the white politicians that oppressed them. Prison inmates face much the same situation.
New York City residents, for example, make up 66 percent of state prison inmates, but 94 percent of them are incarcerated upstate in overwhelmingly white counties. This caged population has so skewed the allocation of state senate seats, if the inmates were not counted Republican strength in the legislature would be significantly weakened. In eight upstate New York counties, more than half the “official” Black population actually lives in prison.
Prison towns and prison-dependent counties are no more eager to relinquish their claim to be “home” to their incarcerated residents than the slave master was to part with his human property. But states can begin listing prisoners by their addresses before incarceration, or at least exclude inmates for purposes of drawing up legislative districts. That won’t bring any inmate freedom, but it will help the folks back home.
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: 20090916_gf_PrisonCensus.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 1:11am EDT