Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from a black left perspective.
The Insanity of the African American Racial ‘Critique’ of Cuba

Cuban boysA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
The 60 signatories to a letter denouncing racism in Cuba seem to consider themselves extensions of Barack Obama's State Department. The logic of their action, as articulated by Dr. Ron Walters, is to encourage the United States to “make the Black condition in Cuba 'part of any negotiations on the normalization of relations between the U.S. and Cuba.'” Then maybe the Cubans can negotiate with the U.S. on behalf of African Americans.
 
 
The Insanity of the African American Racial ‘Critique’ of Cuba
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Glen Ford and poet, playwright and activist Amiri Baraka will be part of a program to welcome a visiting delegation of the Federation of Cuban Women at the Harlem State Office Building in New York City, Mar 10. Details below.
They have allowed themselves to become tools of U.S. foreign policy, in the age of Obama.”
Late last year, a group of 60 prominent African Americans circulated a letter denouncing racism in, of all places, Cuba. I say, of all places, because almost any other country on the planet would be a better target than Cuba for a scathing and very public racial critique by African Americans. The letter claims that Cuba treats its Black population with “callous disregard.”
It is true that lines of color continue to exist in Cuba 50 years after Fidel Castro proclaimed the triumph of the revolution. Cuba had once been described as the most racist country in Latin America, a Spanish slave colony later subjected to 60 years of U.S. occupation and domination. It would be idiotic to think that such deep layers of racial oppression could be easily peeled away, or made to disappear by decree. But Cuba has made miraculous progress, helped in great measure by the fact that so many of its most racist citizens moved to Miami.Cuba’s solidarity with African liberation is unequaled among nations, both militarily and in support of African civil society. Cuba has offered its life-saving medical services to people of all nations, including the United States. And Cuba has been a haven, a home in exile, for Black American freedom fighters since the early days of the revolution.
So why would a celebrity list of Black Americans single out Cuba for special criticism? They have allowed themselves to become tools of U.S. foreign policy, in the age of Obama. The signatories include Dr. Ron Walters, a veteran activist and distinguished political scientist at the University of Maryland. In an article explaining his actions, Dr. Walters himself noted that there is only a one-year gap in life expectancy between Cuban whites and Blacks and mulattoes, and Cubans live slightly longer than the average for the United States. In the U.S., whites live more than six years longer than Blacks. Black Cubans live five years longer than African Americans. Dr. Walters also notes that Black and mulatto Cubans graduate at higher rates than white Cubans. These kinds of data are clear indications that the Cuban racial divide is far less pronounced than in the United States.
Black Cubans live five years longer than African Americans.”
The signatories cite figures that purport to show that people of African descent are more likely to be incarcerated than whites. But those same figures show a much lower rate of Black incarceration in Cuba than in the United States, and a far lower percentage of Blacks among Cuban political prisoners. Still, Dr. Walters wants to make the Black condition in Cuba “part of any negotiations on the normalization of relations between the U.S. and Cuba.” In that statement, Walters is saying that the United States – of all nations – should negotiate with Cuba on the status of Cuba's Black citizens, before the U.S. lifts its illegal embargo and otherwise starts behaving like a civilized neighbor. I must assume that means the Cubans will have the same right to negotiate the treatment of Black Americans: an end to mass Black American incarceration, freedom for Black American political prisoners, a lowering of Black unemployment – and all the rest of our problems. But of course, Dr. Walters and the other signatories aren't suggesting that. They're just making themselves useful to the Empire, and saying to Hell with solidarity.
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go towww.BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
 
HARLEM Welcomes Cuba’s Visiting Delegation
THE FEDERATION OF CUBAN WOMEN
Wednesday March 10, 2010
6 To 9 PM
Harlem State Office Building/2nd Floor
163 West 125th Street
*Women in Cuba Today *Cuba’s Solidarity with Haiti
* US Embargo Against Cuba *Campaign to Free the Cuba Five
*Race in Cuba Today
Special presentation by US activists: In Defense of Cuba: Expose on the Politics behind Carlos Moore’s acrimonious campaign charging Cuba with government sanction racism: Glen Ford, Executive Editor, Black Agenda Report, poet, playwright and activist Amiri Baraka.
On Wednesday, March 10, 2010 Harlem will have a unique opportunity to share an evening of information and dialogue with the leadership of the Cuban Federation of Women (FMC). Maritzel Gonzalez, Foreign Relations Representative of FMC, North America Region and delegates Ana Violeta Castaneda and Yamila Gonzalez are in New York City to participate in the United Nations’ annual activities for International Women’s Day observed on March 8th.
Established in 1960 FMC’s membership is composed of 85.2% of all eligible Cuban women over 14 years of age. Its important achievements: women’s rights to higher education, paid maternity leave, childcare provisions, and free abortions and birth control. Cuba has the third highest proportion of female Members of Parliament in the world; over 70 percent of its health sector workers are women, including 64 percent of doctors; and its Family Code obliges men to share domestic duties and child care responsibilities equally with women.
Endorsements: Sankofa Law Firm, Harlem Anti-War Coalition, Cuba Solidarity NY, December 12th Movement, International Action Center, Working People’s Voice, Glen Ford (Black Agenda Report), Harlem Fight Back, Harlem Tenants Council, Carlito Rovira, (other endorsements forthcoming).
Photo ID required for entry into building. Travel information: 2 or 3 Train to 125th/A, C, D to 125th. Additional information: 647-812-5188
 
 

 

Direct download: 20100310_gf_CubaRace.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 1:05pm EDT

Love and Struggle: The On-Going Scandal of Political Imprisonment

free all political prisonersA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Jared Ball
From President Obama on down, powerful forces maintain that the Black Freedom Movement is not only over, but ended in complete success. Yet decades later, scores of veterans of that movement still languish in prison. If we won, how come our bravest are still behind bars? “Despite all the hope to the contrary, there has been no successful completion of a freedom movement in this country.”
 
Love and Struggle: The On-Going Scandal of Political Imprisonment
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Jared Ball
No civil or human rights movement can claim victory while its most ardent supporters remain imprisoned.”
Hi All. My parole was denied today after a 2 to 3 hour hearing and my case was referred to a 3-member panel to determine the size of my next 'hit' which may be outside the normal 3 year guideline. In other words they will probably set my future parole-hearing date at more than 3 years away. I thank all of you for the fine effort you made in trying to get me released and know that you did all that was humanly possible under the circumstances. Love, and Struggle, Sundiata.”
And so were the words last week of Sundiata Acoli, one-time computer programmer for NASA turned Black Panther Party freedom fighter, whose actions in support of a liberation struggle remain, after 36 years, defined as criminal. His statement of parole denial comes on the heals of the recent and similarly decided hearings of Jalil MuntaqimMumia Abu-JamalLeonard Peltier and Hugo Pinell and, like those, is the kind of myth-breaking state-sponsored response that deserves far more attention precisely because of what it means not only for the individuals who suffer the horrors of imprisonment but what it says about the state of broader civil and human rights struggles. The denial of parole to these and others and their particular status as political prisoners, that is, people who are incarcerated because of “their political views and/or actions,” is a stark reminder that, despite all the hope to the contrary, there has been no successful completion of a freedom movement in this country.
The prison-industrial-complex is the latest in an historically uninterrupted series of legal and political machinations designed to enforce white supremacy.”
For all the on-going discussions of Obama’s place in history, illusions of progress, or arguments over whether or not there is or should be ablack agenda, the incontrovertible fact imposed on us by the continued incarceration of political prisoners is that no civil or human rights movement can claim victory while its most ardent supporters remain imprisoned specifically for their involvement in those movements. Regardless of the particular accusation none would remain imprisoned if these movements had succeeded. Their actions would not then be seen as crimes. At worse, as once described by fellow political prisoner David Gilbert, any mistakes made by these women and men would be judged by the communities for whom they work not by those against whom they struggle. It is truly this standard that should be applied to all discussions of progress. Whenever we are confronted with the latest set of myths of improvement, even before we get to the data which demonstrates the lie of forward motion and improved material conditions, we should simply ask, “which of our dozens of political prisoners has been set free?”
And while at it, we might as well throw our support behind those working to expose and end a broader system of mass incarceration which, according to yet another recent study from the Critical Studies of Race and Ethnicity program at St. Catherine University in Minnesota, describes a prison-industrial-complex that, “is the latest in an historically uninterrupted series of legal and political machinations designed to enforce white supremacy with its economic and social benefits both in and with the law.” And more to our immediate concern over the political imprisonment of those seeking to make progressive change, this study addresses this system as a response to “movements for Abolition and Civil Rights” which “worked to end the institutions of slavery, lynching and legalized segregation,” but were met with “new and more indirect mechanisms” resulting in a “color-blind… de facto racism… where people of color, especially African Americans, are subject to unequal protection of the laws, excessive surveillance, extreme segregation and neo-slave labor via incarceration…”
If Obama were the real change represented by the culmination of a successful movement he would apply at least the same standard to political prisoners as he has seen fit for Bush and Cheney. If those two are not to be prosecuted for crimes against humanity because, as the president has said, he prefers “to look forward as opposed to looking backwards,” then why not avert his eyes from the past long enough to immediately release these political prisoners with reparations and apologies?
For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Jared Ball. Online go towww.BlackAgendaReport.com.

Jared Ball can be contacted at freemixradio@voxunion.com. Read more about Dr. Ball HERE. 

Direct download: 20100310_jb_politicalprisoners.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 12:55pm EDT

obama at the blackboard in law schoolA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
The president has signaled loudly and clearly that he and education secretary Arne Duncan have a “'final solution” for public education. Like Ronald Reagan, Obama is portraying the unions as a threat to the national welfare. “The fundamental logic of Obama’s so-called Race to the Top program, is to break the teaches unions.”
 
Obama Acts Like Reagan 1981, the Union-Buster
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Obama is is going after the teachers unions with a hatchet – just like Reagan went after the air traffic controllers.”
President Obama’s endorsement of the firing of the entire faculty and staff of a Rhode Island public school is reminiscent of Ronald Reagan’s crushing of the air traffic controllers union, nearly three decades ago. Back then, President Reagan made an example of a union that had supported his presidential candidacy, firing its members and ultimately decertifying the union when it went on strike. The move sent a signal to the bosses in all sectors of the U.S. economy: the president – the U.S. government – is on management’s side, and unions are a considered a threat to the general economic welfare.
Last week, President Obama sent the same kind of signal to teachers unions, when he cited the Central Falls, Rhode Island, school shutdown as an example of the “accountability” he is demanding of poorly performing schools – which invariably means poor, non-white schools. Teachers union leaders appeared to be shocked by Obama’s language and tone – but they shouldn’t have been. The Rhode Island mass firing was not substantively different than the wholesale sacking of teachers and abrogation of their union contracts elsewhere in the country. The fundamental logic of Obama’s so-called Race to the Top program – a multi-billion dollar competition to show which states are most willing to fire teachers, shut down classrooms and replace them with charter schools – is to break the teachers union. If the teachers want to save their union, their dignity, their contracts, and the institution of public education, they will have to break with Obama. Because he is going after them with a hatchet – just like Reagan went after the air traffic controllers, despite their having supported his 1980 candidacy.
Obama takes Bush's No Child Left Behind scheme to its logical, blood on the floor conclusion.”
Obama's hatchet man and basketball buddy is Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who envisions waves of school closings, teacher firings and charter school openings for the next “five or six years.” That sounds like a kind of “final solution” for teachers unions – and for public education.
Obama's plans for America's classrooms are even more aggressivethan George Bush's policies. Obama takes Bush's No Child Left Behind scheme to its logical, blood on the floor conclusion: corporate education without the encumbrances of organized teachers. Obama's anti-union vision is more ambitious than that of the old arch-reactionary, Ronald Reagan, who destroyed a union of only 13,000 members. The American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association have combined memberships of over 4 million. They have the capacity to fight back, to make this president back off. But, like so many others who drank the Obama Kool Aid, they are in denial, refusing to believe that they backed a union-buster who is making teachers the scapegoat for America's historical failure to serve the educational needs of all its children.
Private teacher training outfits are turning out young and hungry replacements for todays teachers, anticipating a huge turnover in public schools as Obama swings his hatchet. Teachers need to revolt against this administration while they still have a union to fight for them.
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: 20100310_gf_ObamaSchools.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 12:39pm EDT