Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from a black left perspective.
by BAR Executive Editor Glen Ford
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With the statue of limitations due to expire in six months, federal officials have extracted one guilty plea in a New Orleans police slaughter of Black Katrina survivors. The white reign of terror remains largely unpunished. But we must also ask: Why did the city harbor so many racist cops after a quarter century of Black administration?

Death at the Bridge in New Orleans
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
The cops converged on the Danziger Bridge, apparently in search of Black people to kill.”
When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in September, 2005, it unleashed a tidal wave of police violence against that city’s Black citizens. One particularly vicious gang of at least seven cops converged on the Danziger Bridge over the Industrial Canal, apparently in search of Black people to kill during the post-storm confusion. The officers encountered an unarmed family of five and a friend walking across the bridge on their way to a supermarket and opened fire on them, seriously wounding four and killing one. Then the cops went to the other side of the bridge and came upon two brothers on their way to a family member’s dental office. The cops killed one of the brothers, who was mentally disabled. When they were finally finished shooting, the cops put their criminal minds together to concoct a cover story and plant a weapon on the scene.
Last week, a police lieutenant pleaded guilty to his role in covering up the police rampage. The federal conspiracy charges only carry a maximum five-year prison term and $250,000 fine. The seven officers involved in the shootings were all originally indicted on state murder and attempted murder charges, back in 2006. But a judge found that prosecutors had acted improperly in preparing the evidence, and threw out the case, leaving further action up to federal authorities.
Now the five-year statute of limitations is due to expire in August or September for the Danziger Bridge shootings and at least five other cases of New Orleans cops running amok. One involves the death of a Black man four days after Katrina hit. The victim, Henry Glover, was shot, probably by police. Later, Glover's friends sought medical assistance from a group of cops, who set upon the Black men, beat them, then drove off in Glover's car with the wounded man in it. Weeks later, Glover's car and body were discovered, incinerated near a levy in the Algiers section of New Orleans.
For more than a generation, the city's Black leadership failed to create an environment in which Black lives were treated as having value.”
It is in many cases difficult to separate New Orleans police lawlessness from the murderous white civilian vigilantism that rocked parts of city in the wake of Katrina. The white reign of terror is meticulously documented in A.C. Thompson's investigative report “Katrina's Hidden Race War,” published in The Nation in December, 2008. Police and other officials didn't even bother to keep track of Black bodies. New Orleans Parish coroner Frank Minyard told Thompson that “he'd simply chosen not to autopsy some twenty-five to fifty corpses.”
For 25 years before Katrina, New Orleans was run by a Black mayor and mostly Black city council. Yet in all that time – more than a generation – the city's Black leadership failed to create an environment in which Black lives were treated as having value. Clearly, there is something wrong with the African American leadership model when, after a quarter century of Black administration the police force remains so racist at its core, it descends into barbarity at the first opportunity, turning New Orleans into a killing field for its Black citizens. It's not just New Orleans. Not one Black-led major city can claim that it has substantially eradicated institutionally racist policing. Apparently, that's not a priority of the Black misleadership class.
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at


Direct download: 20100303_gf_NOLAcops.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 6:22am EDT

Diversity Schmifersity: When It Comes to Black Even the Left Ain’t Right
not even the left gets it rightby BAR columnist Jared Ball

Democracy Now! is easily the progressive Left flagship multimedia daily news program.” Yet, when subjected to the same racial diversity test as Meet the Press, the Left alternative news program scores even lower than the corporate product. “ Maybe when it comes to democracy, it's time to ask "when?"

Diversity Schmifersity: When It Comes to Black Even the Left Ain’t Right
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR columnist Jared Ball
88 percent of Democracy Now! shows had no African American guests.”
The legendary counselor to power Walter Lippman once explained the role of the popular press in what he considered to be their essential function, the manufacturing of consent. He said that public opinions, “must be organized for the press… not by the press...” The mainstream press is not here to assist in the expansion of ideas or methods of interpretation, it is not here to offer challenges to popular or conventional wisdom. It is, as C. Wright Mills once said, here to assure that common sense be “more common than sense.” All of this came to mind again this week as we heard of more concern that in light of the pending Comcast merger with NBC that its standard-bearing flagship news program Meet the Press was still lagging woefully behind in the diversity of its on-air guest experts.
This development of a national common sense anchored by manufactured public opinion has always required a carefully manicured Black image that just as often meant an omission of Black thought – hence the name of The Roots front man. An absence of Black thought in mainstream media is nothing new and we also know that genuine diversity goes far beyond gender or skin color. True diversity is only found in ideology or politics. However, if Blackness is to be omitted in general than certainly Black progressive or radicalism stands no chance. But a focus on the mainstream alone is a bit too easy and lets off the hook entirely those who should be more of an ally to the causes of Black progressive politics. If the flagship of the mainstream suffers from an absence of diversity what of the flagship of those who sit ostensibly in critical adjacency to that dominant norm?
74% of Meet the Press broadcasts contained no Black guests.”
Democracy Now! is easily that progressive Left flagship multimedia daily news program. It, over the last decade, has solidified itself as the premier progressive alternative to the mainstream. But when we adjust our study for a focus on the presence of African American guest analyst experts we see that when it comes to diversity they too often parody the mainstream. The National Urban League 2006 study, Sunday Morning Apartheid, concluded that 74% of Meet the Press broadcasts contained no Black guests. From January 2009 to January 2010 Democracy Now! has aired 261 shows, that is, one show every week day. Of these shows 88% had no African American guests.* As it pertains to Black America the leading progressive news program is actually worse than the leading mainstream news program.
At least two points, however, must be included. One, of the Black guests invited to Democracy Now! versus Meet the Press there is a decidedly left-leaning and important difference. The politics represented by those invited to Democracy Now! would never manage their way on to Meet the Press or any other mainstream media outlet. Secondly, the overall diversity of Democracy Now!, their representation of other so-called “minorities” can easily be said to far out-pace that of all the mainstream. The broad range of worldly views incorporated into their programming is impressive and important. However, it remains, that even with far more broadcasts per week than the weekly shows considered by the Urban League report, the representation of Black perspectives is equally absent.
For Black Agenda Radio I am Jared Ball. On the web go to Jared Ball can be contacted at
* The methodology employed here was simply visiting the online archives of Democracy Now! and counting Black guests. Of the 261 shows only 30 had Black American guests or 11.5%


Direct download: 20100303_jb_JaredDiversity.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 5:51am EDT

Harold FordA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Harold Ford Jr's latest senatorial hopes have been shot down, but the Black Blue Dog who lied that his own grandmother was white and avowed his “love” for George Bush, can be counted on to ooze up yet again from the corporate swamp.
Good Riddance Harold Ford…Again
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Before Wall Street and Barack Obama discovered each other, Harold Ford was the Great Black Hope of the super-rich.”
Harold Ford, Jr. rises periodically like muck from a sewer to pollute the national political conversation with corporate obscenities posing as public policy. After a brief but nauseating bid for the Democratic senatorial nomination in New York, the former five-term Tennessee congressman has thankfully flushed himself back to his Wall Street cesspool. Ford backed out of the race this week, claiming he wants to save the Democratic Party from a bruising battle between himself and incumbent Kirsten Gillibrand, who was the most right-wing Democrat on the New York delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives before being appointed to the Senate last year. Harold Ford made Gillibrand look like Angela Davis.
Ford is truly a prince among corporate political prostitutes. That’s why the Merrill Lynch investment house, which is owned by Bank of America, pays him the princely sum of $2 million dollars a year – a guaranteed salary to a lawyer who has never passed the bar and has no history or visible talent in the field of investment banking. But his racial background is what has always made Harold Ford special in the eyes of the financial oligarchy.
Before Wall Street and Barack Obama discovered each other, Harold Ford was the Great Black Hope of the super-rich – the up-and-coming young politician who would make corporate predation palatable to African Americans at-large. Ford was an instant darling of the DLC, the Democratic Leadership Council, the mechanism for distributing corporate money within the Democratic Party. In return for Harold Ford’s worthless soul, the DLC anointed him keynote speaker at the 2000 Democratic National Convention – the same prize they would bestow on Barack Obama, four years later.
Harold Ford made Gillibrand look like Angela Davis.”
Thirty-year-old Harold was catapulted to national prominence, his reward for having created a small right-wing faction within what had previously been an almost uniformly progressive-leaning Congressional Black Caucus. Ford became one of only two Black Blue Dog Democrats, and one of only four Black members to support the invasion of Iraq. But Ford’s faction in the Caucus grew, nurtured by corporate contributions. By 2005, the Congressional Black Caucus had been rendered all but useless to progressive politics – Harold Ford’s great service to the right wing. Ford became George Bush’s favorite Black politician, an ally in the Republican assault on Social Security. In his unsuccessful U.S. Senate bid in 2006, Ford flirted openly with the racist Tennessee redneck vote.
Harold Ford may be a whore with no shame – but he is Wall Street’s whore. He's still pulling down $2 million a year as a Black front for white capital. He's still chairman of the DLC, the corporate headquarters of the Democratic Party. And he's still filling the air with flatulence on MSNBC. Harold Ford will never have to pass the bar or sell a toxic security to make a living. He's a made man for the corporate mob, and loving it.
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at

Direct download: 20100303_gf_ByeByeHarold.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 5:24am EDT