Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from a black left perspective.
immigrantion protestA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Tens of thousands of mainly Latino demonstrators demanded immediate action on immigration reform from President Obama, last weekend. But Obama supports a “bipartisan” bill that would vastly increase raids and arrests. Unfortunately, “as with every other issue, when Barack Obama stands for an expanded police state, most of the American Left sits down and shuts up."

 
Immigrants Should Be Careful What They Wish For From Obama
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
On the immigration front, Obama’s practice is little different from that of the Bush administration.”
Tens of thousands of immigrants and their supporters gathered in Washington this past weekend to beseech President Obama to move this year on immigration reform. It’s doubtful they will get their wish, but supporters of meaningful change in U.S. immigration policies ought to be careful what they wish for. This president is no more interested in real reform in U.S. immigration policy than in genuine reform of the health care system.He is joined at the hip with those corporate forces that would condemn immigrants – especially those who are not white – to a world of shadows and perpetual insecurity, always at the mercy of some kind of cop.
Obama was cheered by thousands of demonstrators when his image appeared on giant screens on the Capitol Mall. “I’ve always pledged to be your partner,” said Obama, “and that’s a commitment that I reaffirm today.” But Obama’s commitments to common people are rhetorical and transient, while his ties to the economic and political elite are permanent. On the immigration front, Obama’s practice is little different from that of the Bush administration.
His administration continues Bush’s policy of deputizing local police agencies to enforce immigration laws, a formula for racial profiling and police abuse on a massive scale. The infamous 287(g) program was passed into law in 1996, in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing. The perpetrator of the Oklahoma City attack was a white, right-wing terrorist, but the law allowed the federal government to turn local law enforcement loose on mostly non-white immigrants. In many localities, the program has the effect of putting people who appear to be “foreign looking” at the mercy of every racist with a badge. President Obama could bring the local police immigration enforcement programs to a virtual halt, administratively, without consulting Congress, but he has not – which shows his true intentions.
This president is no more interested in real reform in U.S. immigration policy than in genuine reform of the health care system.”
Obama is on record in support of a U.S. Senate immigration bill co-sponsored by New York Democrat Charles Schumer and South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham. Under their legislation, it is generally agreed that immigration authority raids will increase, resulting in huge growth of immigrant detention centers, which already incarcerate 350,000 people per year – the fastest growing sector of the American Prison Gulag. The bill would require a national ID card – something even George Bush found repugnant, and that progressives have long opposed. But, as with every other issue, when Barack Obama stands for an expanded police state, most of the American Left sits down and shuts up.
The Schumer/Graham/Obama bill would ensure that U.S. corporations get all the low wage immigrant workers they want through programs in which guest workers would have little leverage to improve their working conditions. And, of course, the Obama administration has no intention of altering their beloved “free trade” policies that have destabilized the peasant and working classes of Mexico and Central America, fueling the human flow northward.
Jesse Jackson, Cornel West and the heads of the NAACP and the National Urban League spoke in solidarity with immigrants – which is as it should be. But there can be no triumph for immigrant civil rights in a police state, or in a world where inequality is the biggest U.S. export.
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: 20100324_gf_Immigration.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 6:34am EDT

team tavisby BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball, Ph.D.

Event Meister extraordinaire Tavis Smiley gathered his hand-picked Black All Stars for a “Black Agenda” conference, in Chicago, over the weekend. The usual suspects were in attendance, shining and rhyming luminously and voluminously. President Obama’s stock had fallen, but “blind adherence” to the Democratic Party still reigned near-supreme.

Tavis Smiley’s Annual Black “Radical” All-Star Game
by BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball, Ph.D.
For every Louis Farrakhan ‘testicular fortitude’ there was a Michael Eric Dyson ‘ovarian audaciousness.’”
This week the already blood soaked, broken and dead carcass of a murdered Black radicalism was further kicked around, then adorned, by Tavis Smiley and all those gathered at his annual Black political All-Star Game. And it truly was an all-star gathering where everyone came to play on the big stage. It had all the political ally-oops, 360 degree word play, dazzling no-look Biblical references and behind the back, through the legs, ankle-breaking alliterations. Cornell West looked spry prancing around the roundtable cheerleading and for every Louis Farrakhan “testicular fortitude” there was a Michael Eric Dyson “ovarian audaciousness.” And all but one of the attendees brought flashy Blacker-than-thou critiques of the president, all in love, of course, as was the theme Smiley laid down literally with a so-labeled centerpiece placed dramatically mid roundtable. But this truly was conservatism draped in radicalism. None advocated breaks with the established political parties, none adopted a tradition of radical intra-racial socialized economics and none called for mass protest or civil disobedience. It was post-election criticism, calls for conservative individualized self-help and obedience to the established political order.
Smiley was clear that he wanted his guests to answer for the absence of an overt support of a Black agenda by the president. So now, and only after his election, Jesse Jackson wonders why it is only a Black agenda that Obama ignores, and Farrakhan says Obama was “selected not elected” and lords over the “White House” for “white people,” and Dyson boldly proclaims Obama to be “Pharaoh… not Moses…” or even Dr. King. Dyson went on to say that he has known Obama the longest and supported him first as the political “Jackie Robinson” who might not be the best but is best suited to be first. This should, of course, be seen as an admission of political ineptitude and the fact that neither Dyson nor anyone else who appreciated that comparison brought up the impact of Robinson on the death of the Negro Leagues or use of him by the state to speak against more radical Black leaders like Paul Robeson, means that the real power of that analogy went without discussion.
None advocated breaks with the established political parties, none adopted a tradition of radical intra-racial socialized economics and none called for mass protest or civil disobedience.”
And other juicy contradictions were all over the place. Like when the sole youth representative, Raven Curling, asked about the absence of mass protests, and Jackson agreed we should not abandon such tactics, Smiley would later say that he and his roundtable of leaders couldn’t make such calls and that actions should be “individual.” The economic equivalent of the individual as power came from Author Tom Burrell who was first to shift blame of Black poverty to Black spending habits with that favorite myth of Black buying power. This sophomoric economic analysis was championed again by Julianne Malveaux and by Louis Farrakhan who took the myth to even greater contradictory heights. The minister, with calls of “do for self,” suggested separately that America was declining and, therefore, was both “for sale,” and leading toward a time when the U.S. dollar would be “worthless.” Following this “logic” we should use a mythological $1 trillion in buying power to purchase equally mythological wealth-building assets from a declining country whose currency is soon to be worthless. With confusion like this it is little wonder why there is so much to lament in the condition of Black America.
There was little more clarity in the arena of electoral politics. Ron Walters twice called for a “Black Party” but confusingly only as a bloc within the Democratic Party. This kind of blind adherence to the Democrats was further displayed when in response to audience member Phil Huckleberry of the Illinois Green Party, who said that his party was the only party with a real Black agenda, all-star panelist Angela Blackwell actually agreed but only that “green jobs” and a “green economy,” not alternative political party development, were part of a Black agenda. It is this kind of confused analysis that led roundtable participant and Civil Rights veteran Dorothy Tillman to say that Black “political empowerment” is as “diminished” today as she has ever seen it and that this is a result of the ascendancy of president Obama. But it is also true that Obama’s ascendancy and that of the gathered all-stars is also the result of a previous murder of Black radicalism.
For Black Agenda Radio I’m Jared Ball. Online go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
Dr. Ball can be contacted at freemixradio@gmail.com.
 

 

Direct download: 20100324_JB_TavisAllStars.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 6:29am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen FordACORN in NOLA
The armory of the Left, such as it was, has been greatly diminished with the demise of ACORN, the nationwide grassroots organization. It couldn’t have come at a worse time, “with Black and progressive forces at their weakest state in at least two generations.”

R.I.P ACORN: The Revolution Will Not Be Subsidized
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
There no longer exists a mass grassroots organization with the numerical forces or political will to directly confront rampaging capital and its servants in government.”
The loss of the grassroots social change organization ACORN is a huge setback to the cause of economic and racial justice in the United States. Born in the Seventies from roots in civil rights, welfare rights and workers rights organizing, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now once boasted membership of 400,000 families in chapters across the country.
This week ACORN, or what was left of it, announced that it would fully dissolve itself by April 1. Most of the group’s 20 chapters had already disbanded, in order to reorganize under different names. New York ACORN has become New York Communities for Change. California ACORN now goes by, the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment. And ACORN Housing became Housing Centers of America. Some ACORN activists say they are not disbanding, but simply re-branding.
No matter what it's called, the demise of the national operation is as complete as it was sudden. ACORN was brought low by what began as a political sting operation in which two right-wing operatives posing as a pimp and a prostitute tricked local ACORN staffers into appearing to give advice on hiding ill-gotten income. Republicans seized on the footage, and previous problems with the organization’s voter registration activities, to nail ACORN to the cross. Congress was easily stampeded into passing a bill to withdraw all federal funding to ACORN affiliates that assisted low-income Americans on housing and other matters – work that had earned ACORN $54 million over the years.
The legislation was, in fact, an unconstitutional “bill of attainder” – that is, special legislation designed specifically to harm a political opponent. A federal judge agreed, and issued an injunction prohibiting Congress from cutting off ACORN funds, now or in the future. But the damage was done. A cascade of private contributors withdrew their support, sending ACORN into a death spiral.
ACORN was the rock on which resistance to predatory lending stood.”
Now, with Black and progressive forces at their weakest state in at least two generations, there no longer exists a mass grassroots organization with the numerical forces or political will to directly confront rampaging capital and its servants in government. ACORN has passed into the realm of nostalgia.
For decades, ACORN was the rock on which resistance to predatory lending stood. No organization came close to ACORN in documenting and organizing against financial sector housing policies that finally came crashing down on minority neighborhoods nationwide, destroying generations of Black wealth. In recent years, it fought an ultimately unsuccessful battle for a living wage in New Orleans, the poorest big city in the United States, and provided the troops for a momentous fight against Wal-Mart in Chicago. ACORN, it seemed, was everywhere in the struggle.
And now it's gone. There are many lessons to be learned from the practice of an organization that has been at the forefront of struggle for 40 years. One is, don't depend on Democratic politicians in a pinch. They are mostly worthless. And two, don't build your house on federal funding, because the revolution will definitely not be subsidized.
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: 20100324_gf_ACORN.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 6:18am EDT