Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from a black left perspective.
DC Rally Organizers:  "Arne Duncan Must Go!"

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The Obama administration is steamrolling the privatization of the U.S. public schools, imposing a corporate model in which there is no place for teachers unions or for “anything resembling community control.” Education chief and Obama buddy Arne Duncan’s public school demolition derby would be denounced by “every progressive force in America” – if he were a Republican.

 

DC Rally Organizers: “Arne Duncan Has To Go!”

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“If Arne Duncan were a Republican, every progressive force in America would be demanding his resignation or firing.”

The Obama administration last week named the first two winners in the $4 billion-plus Race to the Top. The bizarre contest pits the states against each other to determine which states are willing to be most ruthless in stripping away teachers’ union rights and shutting down public schools to make way for charter schools. Delaware and Tennessee won a total of $600 million. Round two of the diabolical competition begins in June. With their mad Race to the Top, President Obama and his education hatchet man, Arne Duncan, have imposed corporate morality and operational methods on American public education. Nowhere in this model is there a place for unions, and nowhere is there a place for anything resembling community control.  Public education is reduced to a “marketplace” for exploitation by cutthroat capitalists. The awesomely destructive process is called education “reform,” but looks and smells very much like disaster capitalism.

In New Orleans, school privateers welcomed Hurricane Katrina as a kind of “divine wind” that virtually swept away public education, replacing it with a system that is almost entirely charter schools. In New York City, where a judge halted the closing of 19 mostly Black and Latino schools, mass conversion to charter schools is leading to increased racial and economic segregation – an outcome confirmed on a national scale in a study by the UCLA Civil Rights Project. In Detroit, education “reform” means shutting down 44 public schools and replacing them with 70 new charter schools. Public school activists warn that private foundations plan to convert 75 percent of Detroit’s schools to charters within the next five years – moving the city closer to the New Orleans model without the need of intervention from a hurricane.

“Mass conversion to charter schools is leading to increased racial and economic segregation.”

It is, therefore, appropriate that the latest challenge to the Obama administration's assault on the public schools is centered in Detroit, headquarters of the organization called BAMN – By Any Means Necessary. BAMN heads up a national coalition that will converge on the U.S. Education Department, in Washington, on April 10 under the banner, “Our children are not for sale.” Education Secretary Arne Duncan, say the organizers, plans to create a national network of 5,000 “publicly-financed, privately-run, minimally-regulated charter schools.” The $4 billion dollar Race to the Top competition is just the bait for the planned big switch. The “race” is the cruelest kind of contest, creating a “mad scramble to abandon all tried-and-true reforms to get desperately needed federal funding and the insane competition of school-against-school, state-against-state.”

According to BAMN activists, “If Arne Duncan were a Republican, every progressive force in America would be demanding his resignation or firing.... For any real pro-student educational reforms to occur, Duncan must go now.”

But, of course, Duncan is not a loose cannon. He's Barack Obama's basketball buddy from Chicago, where Duncan closed Black and brown schools and fired Black teachers with abandon. When demonstrators gather at the Department of Education on Saturday, April 10, they will be denouncing Arne Duncan, but the policies are Barack Obama's.

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: 20100407_gf_SchoolsRally.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 11:43pm EDT

Burn Hollywood Burn!

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR editor and columnist Jared Ball

Hollywood distorts – and whitens – everything it touches. Now, the city of cinematic Euro-fantasies has grabbed onto the story of Winnie Mandela, first lady of the South African liberation movement.  “Mandela herself has said she has not been contacted, is not at all in support of the film and is likely to sue.” Best to consign this flick to the bonfire of imperial vanities.


Burn Hollywood Burn!

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR editor and columnist Jared Ball

Will Winnie Mandela’s support of armed struggle be treated fairly, within the context of anti-imperial warfare?”

Brace yourselves everyone, the unrelenting purveyor of psychological warfare known as Hollywood is gearing up for a new round of abuse.  bell hooks, Ishmael Reed, and other students of semiotics, race and eugenics get your mighty pens ready, crack those knuckles and get plenty of rest.  We expect you to be busy.  Announcements and predictions abound regarding the developing projects of Winnie, the story of Winnie Mandela to be played by Jennifer Hudson, and Hoover, a new Clint Eastwood joint starring Leonardo DiCaprio as J. Edgar, himself.  Public Enemy had it right years ago and it remains, Burn Hollywood Burn! 

But perhaps it was prophetic that in that classic track from Public Enemy the song ends with Flavor Flav in dialogue with an unknown film executive inviting him to play some Stepin Fetchit role only to have Flav defiantly say no when told he would not be depicting Huey P. Newton or H. Rap Brown.  Well, we’ve all seen how that turned out.  And never mind the long history of a film industry whose very fabric is sewn with the bloodied images of African people whose real life bloodied bodies far outweighed the scenes which helped produced them.  Just look today at the anti-Black, anti-woman, anti-poor cinematic hit job whose name is quite ironically Precious.  Or the film Doubt, whose subject is supposedly a pedophile priest, has as its only and most condemned figure the never-seen-on-screen Black male father.  Clint Eastwood’s last film, Gran Torino, is little more than a well-funded excuse to call Asians anything but their rightful name or to have rape victims disappear once they’ve served their role as white man’s host.  And what is perhaps the counterpart to the forthcoming film about his former wife we recently were treated to Invictus, also directed by Eastwood, where the story of Nelson Mandela is told through Matt Damon’s white male rugby player.  The one line in that film worthy of any real focus was, of course, said, never-repeated, nor ever again addressed.  In response to a question about why he was so focused on this rugby team Mandela turns to his aid and says, “because they,” the whites, “still control the economy and the military.” Shhhh….

“We recently were treated to ‘Invictus’ where the story of Nelson Mandela is told through Matt Damon’s white male rugby player.”

So what can we predict? We may not be prophets, but analysis is useless if it produces no preparation.  Winnie, with the selection of an African American actress, has justifiably angered some in South Africa, as did Invictus, who feel as though their country should provide their “Mother of the Nation” with her portrayal.   Mandela herself has said she has not been contacted, is not at all in support of the film and is likely to sue.  The book upon which the film is based was equally unsupported by Mandela, includes very few primary sources and because it apparently “writes off” a woman very much still alive has been questioned for its “participation in the neocolonial project.”  What then are we likely to learn about the recently re-emergent critical relationship Winnie maintains with the post-apartheid government?  Will we see honest attempts to answer her still relevant question of “are we in power or just in government?”  Will her support of armed struggle be treated fairly, within the context of anti-imperial warfare? And what prominent white character, real or imagined, will be installed as necessary balance a la films like Biko, The Last King of Scotland or Blood Diamond?

And ah yes, it was this last film that brought us DiCaprio’s pretty face as cover for what is the scourge of a Western-inspired (but barely depicted) anti-African diamond trade.  And now it appears as though those same looks will be used to clean up the ugliness of Hoover’s face and, worse still, his actions.  What can we expect from the aforementioned Clint Eastwood? Will Hoover’s role in the assassination or imprisonment of countless heroes be exposed or is the fact that the film is being written by the man responsible for Sean Penn’s Milk a foreshadowing of a focus on a more scandalous rumored life of the former FBI director?

One thing is easily predicted.  We must prepare our intellectual torches for the Bob Marley-like Burnin’ and Lootin’ of all illusions developed by the permanent enemy known as Hollywood.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Jared Ball.  Online go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com

BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball, Ph.D. can be contacted at freemixradio@gmail.com.

Direct download: 20100407_jb_burn_hollywood_burn.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 11:39pm EDT

U.S. Pushes for Somalia Offensive, But Settles for Starving the People

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

What's a super-power to do when its puppet is too weak to wage a proxy war on the big guy's behalf? Starve the population, to make the whole country scream. The U.S. used the UN Security Council to sabotage the international body's aid program for Somalia, endangering the lives of millions. So much for Washington's doctrine of “humanitarian intervention.”

 

U.S. Pushes for Somalia Offensive, But Settles for Starving the People

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“Washington’s Somali puppets have far too few troops to launch an offensive against anyone.”

The American-backed offensive in Somalia was supposed to be underway by now, based on months of Pentagon-planted stories in the corporate press. But there is, as yet, no offensive, because the puppet regime doesn’t even have enough soldiers to hang on to its little corner of Somalia’s capital city, Mogadishu.  This is a big problem for the Obama administration, which is anxious to expand its imperial offensive from Yemen across the Red Sea to the Horn of Africa. Unfortunately for Washington, its Somali puppets have far too few troops to launch an offensive against anyone.

Unable to make headway against the Shabab Islamic militants that control 95 percent of south and central Somalia, the Americans step up their war against the civilian population, withholding food from the millions that depend on foreign aid to keep from starving.

The subjugation of Somalia is a Euro-American affair. The European Union is paying for the training of 2,000 Somali recruits in Uganda, Washington’s always-eager mercenary best friend in Black Africa. Uganda also provides thousands of its own troops to guard the Mogadishu airport, without which the puppet Somali regime would be cut off from the outside world.

Another 2,500 new Somali recruits are in neighboring Kenya, but there’s a problem getting them into action, as well. Many of the ethnic Somali recruits are Kenyan citizens. The traditional Somali homeland includes huge chunks of Kenya and Ethiopia, as well as the French and American outpost in Djibouti. The Kenyans are afraid they will lose control of these Somali soldiers if they are turned over to the regime in Mogadishu. Kenya wants their Somalis to guard the Kenyan border against other Somalis, and has refused to turn them loose for service to the U.S. -backed puppet government.

“The Americans used one section of the United Nations to attack the UN aid mission in Somalia.”

Ethiopia, which invaded Somalia in late 2006 at the instigation of the United States, is also careful which Somalis get guns and training, and where they are stationed. Ethiopia has vetoed the deployment of some Somali militias, fearful they will wind up turning on Ethiopia. But the Ethiopians have also armed other Somali militias that promise to fight the Shabab Islamists in Mogadishu.

Frustrated that unlimited American money and military resources still can't get an offensive going against the rag-tag Shabab, Washington earlier this year decided to starve out the Somali population, to force the Shabab to surrender. But United Nations and international food agencies loudly protested, forcing U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice to temporarily back off from charges that United Nations food was being diverted to the Shabab. The Americans then made an end run around the United Nations Secretariat structure, using the more compliant Security Council apparatus to issue a “report” backing up U.S. claims. Thus, the Americans used one section of the United Nations to attack the UN aid mission in Somalia. The ultimate casualties are, of course, the millions of displaced and hungry Somalis who were plunged into humanitarian crisis by the U,S. and Ethiopian invasion, more than three years ago.

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: 20100407_gf_SomaliaFood.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 11:35pm EDT