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

newton's lawsby BAR communist Jared Ball
 
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We are constantly told that media fairness and effective access is always just over the horizon, awaiting the maturation of new technology. Yet we never arrive at the technological Promised Land. The internet, for example, will not cure what ails Black-oriented radio. It is quite possible that “the next generation of the internet will be less open than the already less-than-free medium that it is now.”
 
The Titans of Technology: The Internet, Radio and Our Newton’s Laws
by BAR communist Jared Ball
Dr. Huey P. Newton wrote that advances in technology do not improve social relations.”
Sir Isaac Newton once gave name to pre-existing universal laws of motion. His three laws can be summarized as nothing changes course without force, the size of what is to be changed determines the force required to change it and change comes to all involved in achieving it. There are, of course, political equivalents whose laws are equally universal and also pre-date another Newton who later gave them name and Black political relevance. Dr. Huey P. Newton, whose birthday was February 17, once wrote that he “studied the law to become a better burglar” and, extending the political equivalent of the other Newton, added that advances in technology do not improve social relations. They, in fact, intensify or worsen them. Advances in technology, he noted, are developed by exploiting the very workers who are then further suppressed by those advances. These laws are worthy of application to all forms of study, even those of mass media and especially their interaction with Black America. They are, in fact, what should be our Newton’s Laws.
For example, FMQB, an online media industry trade publication, reported this week that newly developing digital broadband internet technology is no immediate threat to established terrestrial radio. Simply put, the internet is a “one-to-one” communication technology where each individual listener comes at a cost of and to limited bandwidth. Radio, on the other hand, is a “one-to-many” technology allowing a set cost for broadcasting that is relatively fixed regardless of how many people tune in. The titans of technology have not quite figured out how to scale their economies so as to reach as many online as they do over the air. For the moment, it seems, radio as we know it is safe.
Consolidated ownership and advertising, payola-driven content and no news all mean that radio is a mess and needs change.”
But radio as we know and experience it is a real-life horror show. Consolidated ownership and advertising, payola-driven content and no news all mean that radio, and particularly that targeting Black people, is a mess and needs change. Many hope and even already claim that the internet is a positive solution. But here we are given information that says the internet is not prepared to take over radio’s popularity and we already have research, like that from the Pew Research Center, which shows that incremental increases in internet usage do not translate into more diverse sources, topics covered or broader ranges of frames of interpretation. The digital divide keeping Black people offline is still an issue and those following the struggle over net neutrality have every right to be concerned that the next generation of the internet will be less open than the already less-than-free medium that it is now.
The problem for the titans of technology, of course, is that control over mass media is for the purpose of having control over access to masses of people to assure their political and economic dominance. Right now even titans like AT&T cannot afford to supply enough broadband to their 9 million IPhone users and CBS denies international access to its internet streams in an attempt to protect its limited network. None are prepared to cover the hundreds of billions of dollars necessary to service an online audience that comes anywhere close to the 235 million listeners that still tune in to radio. The full media migration online is far from complete. However, we cannot afford to confuse migration with improvement. That is, the existing power struggle over radio is also migrating, carrying with it the old rules over who rules.
Our Newton’s Laws, while they demand that advanced technology will only heighten existing conditions, also demand active and aggressive response. Black Agenda Report has already called for the establishment of a News 4 The People Coalition to challenge Black radio to provide its audience with more politically relevant information. We need at least that much to honor the man whose laws we should by now adopt as divine commandments.
For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Jared Ball. And online go towww.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR columnist Jared Ball can be contacted atfreemixradio@gmail.com. 

Direct download: 20100223_jb_titans_of_tech.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 11:19am EST

Obama's nuclear night
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
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The Obama administration is preparing another huge corporate giveaway – this time to an industry that has been moribund for 30 years. “Nuclear power was all but dead because private capital saw the industry as a bad risk.” But, with Obama's proposed $55 billion in loan guarantees, “Wall Street can prepare to process billions of dollars in new loans, knowing it doesn't stand to lose one cent because the public is taking all the financial risk.”
 
Another Corporate Bailout: Obama Goes Nuclear
A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by Glen Ford
Obama is determined to pull off a nuclear resurrection.”
Opponents of nuclear power have now joined the ranks of those who are bitterly disappointed with President Obama, who is proposing to triple loan guarantees to the nuclear power industry. Barack Obama has long been allied with nuclear power, as have his two closest confidants, political advisor David Axelrod and White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel. The Chicago-based Exelon corporation, the biggest nuclear power operator in the United States, was a major Obama campaign contributor. Obama’s support for nuclear power has never been a secret. If environmentalist Obamites were surprised by their president’s all-out push for nukes, they have only their own self-delusions to blame.
Back during the campaign, when Obama was getting huge checks from Big Nukes and Big Coal, environmentalists were giving him a political blank check for no other reason than Obama wasn’t George Bush. But it turns out that regarding nuclear power, Obama is worse than George Bush – three times worse. By boosting federal loan guarantees for new nuclear reactors from $18.5 to $54 billion, Obama is attempting to bring back to life an industry that has been all but dead for almost three decades. More than just a bailout, Obama is determined to pull off a nuclear resurrection.
It turns out that regarding nuclear power, Obama is worse than George Bush.”
The demise of U.S. nuclear power is generally dated to the partial meltdown at Pennsylvania’s Three Mile Island plant in March, 1979. But nuclear power has always been a failed business model in the U.S. Construction costs consistently run amok, at three, four and five times advertised. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that loans for nuclear plant construction have a more than fifty percent chance of never being repaid. Environmental opposition to nuclear power is not the reason the industry has been moribund for 30 years. Nuclear power was all but dead because private capital saw the industry as a bad risk. So Wall Street helped elect a president who would put up the people's money. With public dollars reviving the industry, Chicago-based Exelon's stock should shoot through the roof. Wall Street can prepare to process billions of dollars in new loans, knowing it doesn't stand to lose one cent because the public is taking all the financial risk.
The public is also taking all the risk for the health hazards of nuclear power. Private industry will not insure against accidents, which could amount to hundreds of billions of dollars in damages. The public will ultimately pay for any cleanup.
Late-stage finance capitalism, like nuclear power, can only exist as a parasite on the larger society. The people pay all the costs: financial, safety, and health. The investment class puts up no money unless guaranteed a payback plus big profits. This isn't about the environment. It's about Wall Street stealing the people blind, through their bought-and-paid-for servants in the Congress and the White House. It's really a crime story.
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go towww.BlackAgendaReport.com.

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

Direct download: 20100224_gf_ObamaNukes.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 11:16am EST

sean bell murder protest

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
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In an age of pervasive racial profiling and militarized policing, impunity is the order of the day in local law enforcement. When summary execution and casual sadism pass for justice at the street cop level, where is the appeal of last resort? Certainly not the Obama Justice Department.
 
Obama Justice Department Joins the Sean Bell Murder Whitewash
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Police can organize instant firing squads or shove objects up people's rear ends, with near impunity.”
Twice in the space of a week, in New York City, the criminal justice system has proven incapable of protecting non-white citizens from a predatory police force. This past Monday, an officer was acquitted of shoving a police baton up the rectum of a young man who had been smoking marijuana. Two other officers got off on charges of covering up the sodomy attack – one of them was quoted as telling the victim, “You liked it, you liked it.”
The previous week, federal officials announced that the cops that fired 50 bullets at Sean Bell and two unarmed friends on the morning of Bell’s wedding, in November, 2006, would not face federal charges in the killing. The policemen had already been acquitted, in April of 2008, on charges ranging from manslaughter to reckless endangerment, a verdict that provoked a series of demonstrations resulting in the arrest of 200 people, including Bell’s surviving friends, his parents and fiancée, and Rev. Al Sharpton.
Sean Bell's death reached into the presidential campaign. Barack Obama, visibly ill at ease with the subject, tersely advised that, “The judge has made his ruling, and we're a nation of laws, so we respect the verdict that came down." Obama then counseled that “resorting to violence...is completely unacceptable and counterproductive."
Hillary Clinton's response was more sensitive to deeply felt Black anger. “My thoughts are with Nicole and her children and the rest of Sean's family during this difficult time,” said Clinton. She continued: “The court has given its verdict, and now we await the conclusion of a Department of Justice civil rights investigation.”
They concluded that unleashing a 50-bullet fusillade against unarmed men, resulting in death, was not a violation of anyone's civil rights.”
That investigation has succeeded only in federalizing the whitewash of Sean Bell's killing. The Obama Justice Department, the FBI, and the U.S. Attorney's office for the Eastern District of New York all concluded that unleashing a 50-bullet fusillade against unarmed men, resulting in death, was not a violation of anyone's civil rights.
The Obama administration's refusal to seek justice for Sean Bell through the civil rights statutes should cause us to review the history. The feds began to prosecute killers on denial of civil rights grounds because southern white law enforcement agencies and juries refused to mete out punishment to racist murderers. Federal prosecutors felt compelled to take the civil rights route because entrenched racism made justice an impossibility in the state courts. More than two generations later, in the age of mass Black incarceration, a police state exists on the streets of New York and all our major cities. Police can organize instant firing squads or shove objects up people's rear ends, with near impunity. The circumstances cry out, just as forty-plus years ago, for federal intervention. But even the horrifying facts of the Sean Bell case are not enough to move the Obama administration's Justice Department.
Sean Bell's family will pursue civil damages. The victim of police sodomy has already filed a $440 million lawsuit against the city. There's a chance that both will win significant damages. But there is a lesson, here, for the victims of police abuse: You might eventually get some money, but you'll never get justice.
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go towww.BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted atGlen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
 

Direct download: 20100224_gf_SeanBell.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 11:15am EST

Sharpton, Jealous and Morial Make Small Talk at the Big House

 three stooges visit the presidentBlack Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

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The three civil rights leaders attempted a tricky maneuver with last week's visit to the White House.  How could they appear to pressure President Obama to finally act on Depression-level Black unemployment, while making no such demand? It was a fool's errand, for which they were well suited.

 

 
Sharpton, Jealous and Morial Make Small Talk at the Big House

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“They left the meeting babbling about helping the president with Republicans, but with no larger commitment in hand from Obama.”

When NAACP chief Ben Jealous emerged from a White House meeting with Barack Obama, last week, Jealous told the media:"What's clear is that we have a president who gets it." Barack Obama “gets it,” alright. He gets it, that organized Black leadership is grateful just to be allowed into the presidential presence. Obama gets it, that so-called civil rights leadership is terrified of even the appearance of exerting pressure on or, heaven forbid, making demands of the first Black president. Obama gets it, as he always has, that he can treat the civil rights establishment like fools, and they will dutifully oblige him by acting the part.

By their own accounts, Ben Jealous, National Urban League president Marc Morial, and Rev. Al Sharpton, spent much of their hour with President Obama discussing ways they can help Obama garner Republican support for his programs. This is deep, deep farce. The three Black civil rights figures have virtually no influence on Republican Party politics. That’s not their constituency and not their job. The expectation was that Sharpton, Jealous and Morial went to the White House on behalf of Black people, among whom they theoretically have some influence, to pressure Obama to take stronger action on Depression-level Black unemployment. Instead, they left the meeting babbling about helping the president with Republicans, but with no larger commitment in hand from Obama.

The president himself declined to make any statement concerning the meeting – an indication of its relative unimportance in the White House scheme of things.

“Obama still hasn't come forward with a serious jobs plan for the cities.”

In fact, the three civil rights figures have been spinning their wheels and wasting everybody’s time. They seem most giddy about having clarified to the White House what Black people mean when they cry out for action on reducing Black unemployment. "This is about place. It's not about race," rhymed the NAACP’s Ben Jealous. Government jobs programs targeted on the cities would effectively bring down Black unemployment, since Black people reside disproportionately in the cities. Nobody is demanding that jobs be created specifically for Black people, said Jealous.

But that's always been the case. There has never been a serious legislative proposal to create “Black” jobs. That's a red herring created by Barack Obama, himself. It was Obama who replied to every question on Black unemployment by saying he would never support any specifically Black jobs program – even though no one was asking for one! Obama was setting up a straw man – a Black demand that did not exist – in order to knock it down.  His purpose was to impress white people by appearing to be standing up to Black folks.

Through this dishonest and despicable ploy, Obama succeeded in deflecting criticism on Black unemployment for over a year. Now Ben Jealous says the president “gets it.” But Obama still hasn't come forward with a serious jobs plan for the cities. Black people have been demanding a “Marshal Plan for the Cities” in every election in the past 40 years – except for the election of 2008, when Blacks made no demands at all on candidate Obama. And the NAACP, the Urban League, and Al Sharpton still cannot fix their mouths in the shape of a demand. A pitiful excuse for leadership.

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

Direct download: 20100217_gf_WHMeeting.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 12:17am EST


A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
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When it comes to civil and political liberties, the U.S. is a far less free place than it was, a generation ago.” Citizens acting under the slogan “Free Nelson Mandela” would have been prosecuted as criminals under the Patriot Act, as interpreted by both the Bush and Obama administrations.
 
Obama Would Have Been Jailed Under Patriot Act
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
In some ways, the post-9/11 political and legal climate is worse than in the bad old days of the McCarthy era.”
If the Patriot Act had been in effect when the Free South Africa Movement was in full swing in the 1980s, hundreds of thousands of Americans would have been liable for imprisonment on charges of rendering “assistance” to “terrorists.” When it comes to civil and political liberties, the U.S. is a far less free place than it was, a generation ago.
On February 23, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on the scope of the Patriot Act’s ban on rendering “support” to organizations designated as “terrorist” by the U.S. State Department. The Obama administration’s interpretation of the law, like it’s predecessors’, is so broad, it could put American citizens in prison for engaging in almost any contact with any person the government linked to a designated group. This includes organizations that have never attacked the United States, and have no direct grievance with United States.
It’s all in the language, the interpretation of the statute. Justice Department lawyers claim it is a violation of the Patriot Act even to file a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of an organization on the list. In the case before the High Court, the U.S.-based Humanitarian Law Project insists on its right to help mediate conflicts among peoples abroad, such as the Kurdish people’s struggle for national expression and self-determination in Turkey. The Law Project wants to assist in finding a peaceful solution to the conflict between the Turkish government and the Kurdistan Workers Party. But the Kurdish party is on the American terror list, and the administration contends that even doing peace work with the Kurdish group amounts to assisting in terror. Once on the list, Americans are banned from virtually any contact whatever with the designated organizations.
Americans are being prevented from exercising their free speech rights to promote peace in the world.”
It should be noted that the Kurdish Workers Party has no fight with the United States, has never attacked American installations, and is a secular party not connected with Islamic fundamentalism.
The New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights argues that Americans are being prevented from exercising their free speech rights to promote peace in the world.
In some ways, the post-9/11 political and legal climate is worse than in the bad old days of the McCarthy era, almost 60 years ago. Back then, said veteran civil rights lawyer Ralph Fertig, “It was not illegal to help the communists or to be a communist. You might lose your job, you might lose your friends, you might be ostracized. But you’d be free. Today,” Fertig told the New York Times, “the same person would be thrown in jail.”
Imagine, then, if the Patriot Act had been in force in the 1980s. Ronald Reagan had placed the African National Congress of South Africa and the world's most famous political prisoner, Nelson Mandela, on the State Department's terror list, from which they would not be removed until 2008. Yet hundreds of thousands, millions, of Americans offered every assistance possible to the liberation movement – including, or so he claims, Barack Obama, himself. Yet, the Obama Justice Department is just as eager as the Bush regime to wield the Patriotic Act as an awesome weapon of fear.
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: 20100217_gf_TerrorAct.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 12:10am EST

haiti kidsA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Haiti's people don't need occupying armies; they “deserve a massive human response to their material needs, and they deserve solidarity in their struggle to regain national self-determination.” Join the Black is Back Coalition this weekend for a National Mobilization in Defense of Haiti. “A free and independent Haiti can only rise under the democratic direction of Haitians, themselves – not under the guns of U.S. neocolonialism.”
 
The U.S. Ain't No “Model”: Defend Haiti in Miami, February 20
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Make our response to Haiti’s humanitarian and political crisis a model of solidarity.”
The United States ambassador to Haiti is claiming that the U.S. military takeover of that stricken nation is a “model” for American behavior in the world. If so, then the world is in great trouble. Let’s make our response to Haiti’s humanitarian and political crisis a model of solidarity with the victims of natural and man-made catastrophe. On Saturday, February 20, join with the Black is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations, in Miami, Florida for a National Mobilization in Defense of Haiti. Haiti doesn’t need a U.S. or United Nations occupying army. Her proud and long suffering people deserve a massive human response to their material needs, and they deserve solidarity in their struggle to regain national self-determination. Haiti’s future must be shaped by her own people, not by the occupiers that stole her independence, banned her most popular political party, exiled her president, massacred her most dedicated community activists, and laid her economy naked to foreign exploitation.
Haiti's dignity must be restored, along with her ability to feed, house, clothe and govern her own people. Join with the Black is Back Coalition on Saturday, February 20, in Miami, to declare that solidarity with Haiti does not come out of the barrel of U.S. guns. Demand all U.S. troops out of Haiti, and the return of President Jean Bertrand Aristide. A free and independent Haiti can only rise under the democratic direction of Haitians, themselves – not under the guns of U.S. neocolonialism.
Haiti’s future must be shaped by her own people, not by the occupiers.”
The Americans pile one crime against Haiti upon another, and then try to justify their illegal occupations on humanitarian grounds, while calling themselves benefactors and role models. What hypocrites and nation-stealers! The U.S. and France owe Haiti billions in reparations for their raw thievery of Haitian national resources, revenues and rights over centuries and to the present day. On February 20, in Miami, demand that the debt be paid, so that Haiti can be rebuilt along its own model, for the benefit of the Haitian people.
Washington claims to have Haitian interests at heart, but makes Haitian refugees persona non grata on U.S. soil – because they are Black and proud. The Black is Back Coalition demands that Haitians be treated the same as Cubans when seeking entrance to the United States. The U.S. pretends to be a model, but it is a model of racism. If Washington has empathy for Haitian poverty, then it should stop charging an $80 fee for Haitians to apply for Temporary Protective Status in the U.S.
Haiti owes the United States nothing, and never has. It is the U.S. and France that owe Haiti. The least that the Obama administration can do is to cause the World Bank and other financial institutions that it controls to erase Haiti's debts, and remove all restrictions on trade and aid to Haiti.
If Washington truly wants Haiti to recover from the earthquake, it must get its boot off Haiti's neck. Join the Black is Back Coalition on Saturday, February 20, in Miami, in Defense of the Haitian people. For more information, go to www.blackisbackcoalition.org.
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted atGlen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Contact stpeteinpdum@yahoo.com or (727) 821-6620 for information on the National Mobilization in Defense of Haiti, or go towww.blackisbackcoalition.org. 

Direct download: 20100217_gf_HaitiDemo.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 11:45pm EST

corporate personsA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Legislation to begin the process of amending the U.S. Constitution, introduced by Black Congresspersons John Conyers and Donna Edwards, “deserves broad support.” There is no greater enemy of mankind than the global corporation, which has now been empowered by the U.S. Supreme Court to further monopolize the American political conversation.

 
Amend the Constitution – and Whatever Else It Takes to Break Corporate Power
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
The Supreme Court empowered corporate speech to drown out all other speech in U.S. society.”
For a long time, the very idea of amending the U.S. Constitution filled many people on the Left with dread – myself included. History has given us good reason to believe that masses of angry American white folk cannot be trusted anywhere near the Constitution. As often as not, those who called for changes in the text or interpretation of the Constitution were seeking to strip Black people of any protections provided by that Founding Document.
For that reason, when Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. and his assistant Frank Watson released their 2001 book, A More Perfect Union, with its call for 8 amendments to the Constitution, some of us that supported Jackson's political goals were nonetheless leery of the amendment process, which looked like the kind of national free-for-all, barroom brawl that the racist Right is better at than the Left is. Opening up the Constitutional Pandora's Box, we feared, would more likely result in the abolition of the Bill of Rights than in guarantees of the right to equal and high quality education, affordable housing, full employment or any other newly explicit constitutional rights.
It seemed safer to leave the Constitution alone, rather than risk setting a process in motion that the Right might wind up controlling.
But that was before the finance capitalist class swallowed the American state, whole, in 2008 and 2009, expropriating the current and future wealth and full faith and credit of the nation, in order to back up their chips in Wall Street’s casinos. Then, in January of this year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that corporations have every right to use their ill-gotten trillions to monopolize the American political conversation. The Supreme Court empowered corporate speech to drown out all other speech in U.S. society.
There is no short road to freedom from corporate rule.”
If there is to be any future for progressive electoral politics in the United States – indeed, if there is to be any point in conducting legal, above-ground political agitation of any kind, then the looming corporate monopoly on speech must be broken.
Corporate power is the enemy of all humanity. It strangles the productive forces of the world in its tentacles, creating poverty and war as the inevitable consequence of its diabolical existence. Not one of the myriad crises that threaten the planet can possibly be resolved, unless the death grip of international corporate power is removed from around humanity's throat.
In the last decade, corporate power has infested the internal workings of Black politics in the United States, spawning a new class of African American political prostitutes beholden to their paymasters in the boardrooms. The battle for independent Black politics is, of necessity, a fight against corporate power.
The constitutional amendment route to limiting corporate speech is a long and dangerous one, requiring approval by two-thirds of the Congress and three-quarters of the states. But there is no short road to freedom from corporate rule. The constitutional amendment legislation introduced in the House by Representatives John Conyers and Donna Edwards deserves broad support, as one of many strategies in the epic struggle to put people, not corporations, in charge of human affairs.
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: 20100210_gf_Amend.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 11:26pm EST

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
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The Tea Party crowd is as old as notions of American Manifest Destiny. They are White Nationalists, who yearn for “a time when the United States was a self-proclaimed White Man's Country.” Tea Partiers are most threatening to the cohesion and identity of the Republican Party. But they appear to have panicked some Blacks and progressives, who want “circle the wagons around the Obama administration” in the face of racist attacks.

 
Tea Partyers Are White Nationalists, Pure and Simple
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
The GOP is, at its core, a Rich Man's Party that relies for its mass support on people who want to vote for a White Man's Party.”
Corporate media go through all manner of contortions of logic and historical gymnastics to sanitize the Tea Party phenomenon – anything to avoid calling the people grouped under the Tea Party umbrella by their proper name: White nationalists. White nationalism is a taboo subject in most corporate circles – and even among some on the Left. The continued appeal of a loud and boisterous White Nationalism threatens the prevailing American mythology, shared by the likes of corporate Democrat Barack Obama and corporate Republican John McCain: the myth that racism is not endemic to American life and history.
Obama made that claim in his famous – and completely fatuous – Philadelphia campaign speech on race. Obama denounced former friend and mentor Rev. Jeremiah Wright for expressing, in the candidate's words, “ a profoundly distorted view of this country — a view that sees white racism as endemic.” But there it is, for all to see, alive and kicking in the 21st century in the form of a Tea Party “movement” in whose mouths the phrase “take back America” means return to a time when the United States was a self-proclaimed White Man's Country. The Tea Partiers need go back no farther in time than Ronald Reagan, who completed Richard Nixon's “Southern Strategy” by kicking off his 1980 presidential campaign with a speech in Philadelphia, Mississippi, a place made infamous by the murder of three civil rights workers. White Nationalist support for the Republican Party is the reason the center of GOP power lies in the states of the Old Confederacy. And it is the Republican Party that is most threatened by the White Nationalist Tea Partiers.
The spectacle of raging White Nationalists on the march makes corporate-minded Democrats look positively leftish by comparison.”
The GOP is, at its core, a Rich Man's Party that relies for its mass support on people who want to vote for a White Man's Party. The two are not necessarily the same thing, as the White Nationalists of the GOP discovered with the bi-partisan Wall Street bailouts of 2008 and 2009. Anti-Wall Street sentiment runs deep in White Nationalist ranks, much of it rooted in anti-Semitism: the association of bankers and Jews. Republican Party leaders have good reason to fear that the Rich Man's Party is losing control of some of its most fervent White Nationalist troops.
Progressives have very different reasons to worry about the Tea Partiers. The spectacle of raging White Nationalists on the march makes corporate-minded Democrats look positively leftish by comparison. But that's an illusion. African Americans are especially susceptible to calls to “circle the wagons around the Obama administration” in the face of racist attack. Black activist Dr. Ron Daniels made just such an appeal, this week. It is a foolish, knee-jerk reaction, one that plays into the hands of the banking class and its servants in the Obama administration. Just because some neo-Confederates call President Obama racist names, does not mean Black folks should abandon demands on their own government for jobs, peace and neighborhood stability. Dr. Daniels wants Blacks and progressives to hold a march to support Obama. What we need to do is organize and agitate and march in support of our people's social and economic interests. There's a big difference between the two. For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaRadio.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
 

 

Direct download: 20100210_gf_WhiteNationalism.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 11:25pm EST

stop and searchA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
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Stop-and-frisk is the race-based law of the land, the American police state in its most elemental, predatory form.” In cities across the nation, police stops of Blacks and Latinos have doubled, tripled and, in New York City, sextupled since 2002. In public housing, police stops are three times more frequent than in surrounding neighborhoods with the same rates of crime.

 
 
 
On Black Streets and Public Housing, Bill of Rights is Dead Letter
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Public housing tenants in New York are three times as likely to be stopped in their own complexes than people in surrounding neighborhoods with similar crimes rates.”
When many Americans use the terms “police state” or “creeping fascism,” their point of reference is the Patriot Act or some other mechanism of the national security state. But for Black America, the police state is the daily reality of arbitrary, relentless stops on the streets of their own neighborhoods, or in the hallways of their own public housing projects.
When the numbers are tallied, they are expected to show that more than 600,000 peoplewere stopped by police on the streets of New York City, last year, 89 percent of them Black and brown. That’s almost six times the number of “stop-and-frisks” in 2002. Philadelphia stopped 200,000 people on its streets in 2008, twice the number as in the previous year. Los Angeles stop-and-frisks hit a quarter million in 2008, double the rate in 2002. And that doesn't count the people stopped in their cars in L.A.
Stop-and-frisk is the race-based law of the land, the American police state in its most elemental, predatory form, a system of methodical mass racial profiling that debases and criminalizes all African Americans, and which now serves as the primary intake mechanism for the national policy of mass Black incarceration.
The legal justification for the mass stopping and frisking of Blacks roughly dates to the beginnings of modern mass imprisonment of Blacks. In 1968, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that police can stop and detain citizens based on “reasonable suspicion” of involvement in crime, rather than the higher standard of “probably cause.” Of course, in a racist society, singling out Blacks for more intensive surveillance and questioning seems eminently reasonable. And when mass Black profiling ultimately results in far more Blacks being sucked into the criminal justice system, then the racist society concludes it was right all along – that African Americans are more prone to commit crimes. Mass Black profiling is guaranteed to find what it's looking for: more Black crime. Mass Black profiling and mass Black incarceration are organic elements of the same, diabolical system that preys on African Americans as a group and makes the words “crime” and “Black” synonymous in the public mind.
Mass Black profiling is guaranteed to find what it's looking for: more Black crime.”
Nowhere is police predation more merciless than in public housing. New York City public housing is home to 400,000 people, 95 percent of them Black and Latino. The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund has filed suit, charging that police so-called “vertical sweeps” from floor to floor of public housing buildings serve no legal purpose, and routinely subject residents and visitors to illegal stops and false arrests. Studies have shown that public housing tenants in New York are three times as likely to be stopped in their own complexes than people in surrounding neighborhoods with similar crimes rates. Police stops have doubled in public housing since 2004. Visitors are so harassed and intimidated by police behavior, many no longer visit their friends and relatives in public housing. The citywide public housing tenant organization says the perception among residents is that they are living in “penal colonies.” For millions of Black Americans, the Bill of Rights no longer exists on the streets and in the hallways of their city. 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: 20100210_gf_StopFriskPubHousing.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 10:22pm EST

The Shibboleth of "Black Buying Power”
A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by Jared Ball
We've been hearing the same song for decades: “Black people's buying power is [x] billions of dollars. When will we harness our buying power?” But it's all a crock, designed to fool people without wealth into believing there is magic in their pockets. “Black people have no money.” But Blacks do have twice the credit card debt as whites.

 
 
The Shibboleth of "Black Buying Power”
A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by Jared Ball
Poverty is a well-structured, planned outcome of an economic system which demands that it exist.”
What is there to say when gaps between demonstrable reality and people’s perceptions are as wide as the ever-widening gaps in wealth? 2010 begins with another promotional round of the popular mythology of Black “buying power.” But this economic Easter Bunny comes at great material consequence. The “great disconnect between our people’s wishful mis-perceptions and the objective reality that actually shapes our lives,” as Glen Ford has said recently, is in part due to misinformation and the conclusions reached by so many prominent thinkers in our world.  For precisely at a time when Black unemployment is worsening and predicted to reach even further epidemic levels we also hear of research which suggests that Black Americans think their lot is actually improving. This is precisely the kind of “necessary illusion” required for those targeted for massive exploitation and, in this case, is the result of the false and empty claims of economic strength which are attendant to the lies inherent to phrases like “Black buying power.”
In other words, while official unemployment numbers have Black unemployment at 16.2% and predicted to soon be well over 17%, the Pew Research Center shows that 39% of Black America, compared to 20% in 2007, now say that the situation in this country is better than 5 years ago. 53%, versus 44% in 2007, now say that the future will be brighter. This delusion, no fault of Black people, is the result of Goebbels-quality propaganda which is routinely imposed on the nation.
Precisely at a time when Black unemployment is worsening and predicted to reach even further epidemic levels we also hear of research which suggests that Black Americans think their lot is actually improving.”
This time the shibboleth – the popularly-held belief which at least some of us know to has no real meaning – comes from the laudable, but what should be laughable, BET. Their “study,” which is based on a “comprehensive” survey of “80,000 African American consumers,” concludes that because of an increased Black population, one which spends more on technology and is predicted to have a “buying power that will reach $1.2 trillion by 2013,” that there is an economic strength among Black people that simply does not exist. We must do our best to clarify, repeatedly, that “buying power” is a marketing phrase meant to define the ability of a demographic to spend its money with this or that corporation. It is not an indicator of income, wealth or access to assets (such as land, stock, rental property, etc.) all of which are real indicators of economic power and all of which point to an absolute lack of power in Black America. From these misleading numbers and conclusions we get equally misleading analysis that suggests – and by design reaffirms the lie – that, as the esteemed Black spokesperson Dr. Boyce Watkins said in response to this latest “study,” “Unfortunately, when African-Americans make money, we spend it. We don’t use it to invest or produce… When we get our tax refund, we go straight to the store.” This is an absurd explanation of poverty.
“’Buying power’ is a marketing phrase meant to define the ability of a demographic to spend its money with this or that corporation.”
First of all, it must be understood that there is no collective $1.2 trillion that wealthy investors choose to spend frivolously on clothing or hair-care products. These numbers are aggregates of money spent by millions of hard working, mostly poor people spending in relatively small amounts on items which are available to them. There are no offers of stock, nor is there land and property all awaiting sale but being ignorantly passed up by foolish savages who are incapable (apparently) of making intelligent use of their billions. Poverty is not the result of spending habits. Poverty is a well-structured, planned outcome of an economic system which demands that it exist.
Phrases like “buying power” are used to convey what is actually anti-reality or a disuniting myth. It is a psychic assault, a violent act of aggression meant to stunt people’s appropriate responses to worsening conditions. A phrase like “Black buying power” intentionally conjures a sense of economic strength and by design simultaneously convinces the world of a potential meritorious Black uplift and forces a class divisive implosion within Black America where a potentially threatening segment of society can further be bought off to testify against its own. Where else would the well-paid Black minions find such an abundant source of fuel for their invectives against the Black poor. And so it goes, “Come on People” says Bill Cosby. Stop ascribing to “victimology” says John McWhorter.
Poverty is not the result of spending habits.”
Black people have no money. Black median net worth is less than $6,000 compared to $90,000 for whites. An already wealth-deprived Black community has 90% of that little bit held by a smaller 25 % Black upper class. Black people still only earn $.62 for every dollar of white income and must withstand what will be a wage and salary loss of $142 billion by 2012. And, in fact, corporations have their fooled and hired guns to promote this myth of “buying power” while not fully explaining how this is impacting the increasing debt incurred when exercising this “power” with credit cards. Here too Black Americans have twice the credit card debt as whites, which “strangles wealth” potential. But of course it is true that those targeted for “permanent” poverty and inequality only be given access to debt increases as opposed to wealth-building assets which, it is most important to note, would require a transfer of wealth from those who currently have it to those who do not. And it is precisely this reality which the wealthy have been looking to prevent since there has been wealth to protect.
So it is true. Black people do have tremendous “buying power,” but it is a power to enrich corporations by assuming further debt to those most dominant institutions. This is not the fault or the result of Black behavior unless we read the issue of behavior in terms of continuing freedom movements. To overcome the lie in the phrase “Black buying power” we need to remove the word “buying” from the phrase and reignite the struggle called for in the two words which remain.
For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Jared Ball. For more join us online at BlackAgendaReport.com.

Jared Ball can be contacted at freemixradio@gmail.com.

Direct download: 20100210_jb_BlackBuyingPower.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 10:20pm EST