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

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT