Wed, 5 May 2010
A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon
Language is the tool we use to frame our thoughts and thought processes. Every time we use, or tolerate the use around us of the terms “illegal” and “illegal alien” we are allowing white American nationalists, white racist, to tell us how to think. That can't lead to anywhere we really ought to go.
There are No Such People as Illegals” and No Such Things as “Illegal Aliens”
by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon
It's been said before, but some things are worth saying again and again until we get them right. So everybody repeat after me: There are no such people as “illegals” and there are no such things as “illegal aliens.” The terms “illegals” and “illegal aliens” are nothing but good old fashioned hundred percent white American hate speech, and any time we allow a friend, enemy, family member or co-worker to utter either in our presence without rebuke or reproach, gentle or otherwise, we are co-signing American white nationalism and white racism, pure and simple. And as black people, when has that ever been in our interest?
Language is a lot more than thinking out loud. Language sets the boundaries for which thoughts are permissible and which thoughts are, well, unthinkable. People can't be stripped of their human rights unless we invent the language that makes them subhumans, or non humans. Aliens. That's why white American nationalists insist on calling brown people “aliens,” and “illegals,” and insist that everybody follow their lead. It's a lead to a place we must not, we dare not go.
No sane or moral person in the 21st century can fix her mouth to say “illegal humans,” “illegal people,” or “illegal persons.” They all sound ridiculous to our ears because we recognize universal and “unalienable” human rights to be the foundation of all just laws. It is only after we allow white American nationalists to twist our language, and with it our thinking to turn brown people into “aliens” that we can make them “illegal.” When white American nationalists, and some of the black and brown people whose minds they have contaminated ask “what part of illegal don't you understand,” they are endorsing the claim that white racist American law trumps, supersedes and takes precedence over the rights of humanity itself.
Given our history, black people would be bigger fools than anybody to sign on to this nonsense. Once upon a time, the language of America deemed our very persons property, subject to the whims of the global market and local slavemasters. We really should know better. “Illegals” and “aliens” are the perverted and mind-twisting racist terminology of our oppressors. They are hate speech, every bit as unacceptable as unauthorized use of the n-word. So spread the word. There are no such humans as “illegals” and there no such things as “illegal aliens.” and the next time or two or twenty that you hear somebody use those words, correct them, gently or otherwise.
Our people and our allies fought for the extension of citizenship rights and human rights to everyone without exception, or else we would not have what fraction of these rights we possess today. If we co-sign the creation of a class of subhumans, of “aliens” inside the United States with few or none of the rights of citizenship or humanity today, how secure are our rights and our children's rights tomorrow?
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com.
Direct download: 20200505_bd_no_such_things_as_illegal_aliens.mp3
Category:immigration, blacks and immigration, blacks and browns -- posted at: 10:32am EDT
Wed, 5 May 2010
by BAR editor and columnist Dr. Jared A. Ball
If hip hop is more than a movement, but a “nation,” as some have suggested, then some militant hip hop nationalism is in order. Logically, such a militant hip hop nationalism would seek to seize control of the means of cultural production – which would earn a niche for hip hop in future May Day celebrations.
May Day and Hip-Hop Nationalism
by BAR editor and columnist Dr. Jared A. Ball
“Hip-hop, just like the Black community, merely responded, as the powerless often do, to what leadership is put before them.”
The Washington reported last week that the “first hip-hop president” has not included hip-hop in any of his many “White House Music Series” events. How could the community that so many say was responsible for his election not be invited? This issue of hip-hop’s involvement in electing the president has come up persistently since 2008 as it did again recently during a talk at the Center for Black Diaspora at DePaul University. But, as one present cynic questioned, “what did hip-hop do?” This question was answered quite accurately in a recent Boondocks spoof which reduced hip-hop’s participation to riding the president’s genitalia and truly does capture the role played. Hip-hop, just like the Black community, merely responded, as the powerless often do, to what leadership is put before them and then summarily played their role in promoting the latest brand or fad. Those who did not were summarily dismissed from relevance.
I thought of this again in the context of this week’s May Day celebrations. May Day is commemorated by people all over the world as representative of their struggles for equality, justice and power. Its origins are pre-religious commemorations of a coming summer that were later politicized as part of the labor movement in 1886 when workers fighting for an 8 hour work day were massacred in Chicago. Hip-hop is commemorated by people all over the world as representative of their struggles for equality, justice and power. Its origins are pre-religious and often include “bangers” as commemorations of coming summers and are still at times politicized by workers seeking to address their hopes which are being massacred by a politician from Chicago.
“KRS-One says he is willing to give up his ‘African-American-ness to become Hip-Hop.’”
Evo Morales, the first indigenous president of Bolivia, uses each May Day to pay tribute to the nationalism which produced him by nationalizing his country’s resources, saying that “basic services cannot be private business.” KRS-One, the first “teacher,” “philosopher,” and now “citizen of Hip-Hop” has, with others, called for a "governing body” of pioneers through whom all hip-hop-related projects must go. Tabling, at least momentarily, our own tendencies towards dismissive criticism, lets consider encouraging this as a step towards a much needed Hip-Hop Nationalism. If, as Charise Cheney has said, Black people are a “nation within a nation… and a nation without a nation,” certainly hip-hop too can claim Benedict Anderson’s definition of nation as, “an imagined political community.” That’s cool with me, but then lets act like it.
KRS-One claims that his new book, The Gospel of Hip-Hop, is about his concept of hip-hop being a new civilization. He says he is willing to give up his “African-American-ness to become Hip-Hop.” And before we all hate on that idea we should consider it as a logical progression from previous positions taken by many that hip-hop is indeed a “nation;” a multi-racial, multi-ethnic, anyone is down, community. If so, then we should have our own religious texts and myths, our own leadership and clarity that the wealth we create be used to benefit those who make it. This is the essence of May Day, and of Morales’ plans, and if we can make this the plan for our new “governing body,” it would certainly be better than what we have now. Remember, for example, one of the companies being forced out of Morales’ Bolivia is France’s Suez, who along with another French company, Vivendi, are looking to control the world’s water. But Vivendi also owns Universal Music Group which owns millions of songs and works in league with two other companies to, through their ownership, determine at least 90% of all rap music played on radio and video across the nation every week. They make a ton, the stations make tons and advertisers make tons while the artists and their communities make nothing. Morales is throwing them out. So why not we take a cue from Bolivia and push KRS and other hip-hop leaders to do the same.
For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Jared Ball. Online go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
Jared Ball can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Direct download: 20100505_jb_mayday_n_hiphop.mp3
Category:hip-hop, black nationalism, corporate media, May Day -- posted at: 10:09am EDT
Wed, 5 May 2010
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Corporations – and President Obama – are betting that hunger for jobs will trump all else to make Blacks allies of nuclear power. Nuclear energy promoters worked on the same assumption 30 years ago – but that was before the blossoming of the environmental justice movement.
The Jobs Scam: Selling Blacks on Nuclear Power
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
“Nuclear power corporations to believe that Blacks will be far more enthusiastic than whites about any industrial scheme that holds out the hope of jobs.”
The nuclear power industry will soon launch a major propaganda campaign in Black America, hyping atomic energy as a jobs program. I’ve seen it all before, up close, more than 30 years ago, when the Westinghouse Corporation became a regular advertiser on the syndicated television news interview program I co-owned and hosted, America’s Black Forum. That was back in 1978, a year before the near-meltdown at Three Mile Island. The Pittsburgh-based nuclear power corporation had just completed a study that showed African Americans were more interested in jobs, and less concerned about environmental issues, than whites. Westinghouse’s executives figured that jobs-hungry Black folks would serve as a counter-point to the long-haired white kids and tree-huggers that the media caricatured as the core of the environmental movement. We should note that the data in Westinghouse’s survey did not say that Blacks were friendlier to nuclear power than whites – only that they cared more about jobs, as a logical consequence of having fewer of them. The idea was to convince Blacks that nukes = jobs, and that words like “environment” and “ecology” had nothing to do with them. So, with great hopes of political success, Westinghouse bought advertising - lots of it – on my show and other Black-oriented media around the country.
1978 was also the year that the modern environmental justice movement began, under the godfathership of Dr. Robert Bullard, a Black environmental sociologist who was documenting how America dumps its industrial and other unwanted wastes disproportionately in Black neighborhoods. Dr. Bullard’s data provided the objective evidence that proved the crucial link between environmental issues and social justice.
“Westinghouse’s executives figured that jobs-hungry Black folks would serve as a counter-point to the long-haired white kids and tree-huggers that the media caricatured as the core of the environmental movement.”
As far as Dr. Bullard is concerned, the racial politics of nuclear power is no different than the politics of other industrial hazards; it’s easier to dump them in Black neighborhoods. And now, as
thirty years ago, Black unemployment remains roughly twice the rate of whites, leading nuclear power corporations to believe that Blacks will be far more enthusiastic than whites about any industrial scheme that holds out the hope of jobs.
With President Obama's blessing and more than $8 billion dollars in guaranteed public money, the nuclear power folks plan to build two new plants in majority Black and desperately poor Burke County, Georgia, where cancer rates are far higher than surrounding regions and jobs are still scarce for Blacks even though nuclear plants have been located there since the 1950s. In an article in the Huffington Post, Dr. Robert Bullard told Black Agenda Report's Bruce Dixon that Black communities on the fencelines of nuclear plants “don't get the jobs. They get pollution and more poverty. And they get sick.”
But corporate promoters are already re-revving their propaganda machines to sell Blacks on nuclear power with the same jobs-creation argument they pushed three decades ago. Nuclear companies have been flying Black and brown delegations to visit happy neighborhoods around power plants in France. The Black press is onboard, too, because that's where the advertising dollars are, and because the Black president says that nukes mean jobs. 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.