Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from a black left perspective.
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR columnist Jared A. Ball Ph.D.
Some folks are too dense even for cartoons – when they’re produced by Aaron McGruder. The Boondocks author’s political take on President Obama is too heavy for at least a portion of the audience, who tend to see the world as divided between those who are “hatin’” on Obama and those who are not. McGruder’s attempt to create Black political “space” for meaningful discussion confronts the empty spaces inside people’s heads.
 
The Boondocks as Black Public Sphere
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR columnist Jared A. Ball Ph.D.
If this is to be the last season of the Boondocks we need to be working to develop space for more public criticism of our horrific conditions.”
To all those who felt that Aaron McGruder had begun this season’s Boondocks with too much criticism of Obama you can rest easy, at least for now. Week two was quite a drop-off from the season-opener. After week one, where McGruder had set such a high-standard of criticism, less directly focused on Obama than on our reaction to the brand, some were actually calling him a replacement of Tavis Smiley as our “high profile… post-racial hater.” He was accused of airing our dirty laundry and was even asked why he had not felt it necessary to have Huey Freeman, his Black revolutionary “terrorist,” choose exile during the reign of Bush as opposed to only after the election of Obama. But what many seem to have missed was that Huey’s inability to pull off his escape of Obama being about having no ride was an allusion to our own political powerlessness and absence of a public sphere where these debates can actually take place. It was just as in Huey’s previous attempt at freeing political prisoner Shabazz K. Milton Burrow where he also couldn’t get a ride and where he also had no space to publicly debate or organize an end to the continued unjust imprisonment of a Black Panther Party revolutionary.
The “public sphere” has often been defined as space where a mostly bourgeois elite meet to openly discuss the politics of their time. The Black public sphere has been defined as one that challenges such class bias and which occurs in what are often considered alternative spaces but no less political or substantive in their exchanges. Churches, beauty and barbershops, street corners, parks and even – for a time – Black popular music all reflected the role of the public sphere. However, the impact on these spaces resulting from gentrification, to worsening economic crises and, most immediately relevant, to increased media consolidation among fewer owners has made these spaces harder to find. According to one scholar, if the public sphere is to be defined as that which allows for public critique of, and an offer of remedy to, the horrific conditions faced by African America, then, “A Black public sphere does not exist in contemporary America.” And it is this absence which has so many either angry at McGruder’s public airing of our dirty laundry or others of us so frustrated that this is as good as it ever gets.
According to one scholar, ‘A Black public sphere does not exist in contemporary America.’”
Given our current media environment where else is critical public discussion to occur? Even those who dismiss Tavis Smiley as being too hard on Obama need to ask where is the more private discussion they claim they want going to occur? Huey wanted exile after Obama precisely because of the deadening impact the election has had on our own political activity, as voiced by his grandfather, “the Black struggle is officially over.” He had little to say because, as demonstrated by the angry mob, even disinterest or a lack of excitement, not to mention actual fact-based critiques of the president, is risky business. As Huey did say, “hope is irrational.”
And we need more haters out there. Why should only conservatives and apologists have access to any popular media? Where are the critiques of their routine and public bashing of Black people? Why isn’t Obama properly taken to task for publicly airing our dirty laundry, especially when he airs it so often and so out of context? The president just spoke at Hampton University and dared to tell those students to stop paying so much attention to media technology, calling them a “distraction,” when his own pre- and post-election strategy has been openly expressed to be one of branding and media ubiquity with the purpose of making him difficult to pin down and critique. This level of hypocrisy was only matched by this week’s airing of Radio and TV One’s Cathy Hughes with Minister Farrakhan where she actually joined him in lamenting negative popular imagery of Black people. Her own role in killing Black radio and furthering these negative images was left untouched just as Obama’s media use and branding was not mentioned to those unsuspecting Black students.
In the absence of a real Black public sphere we have to enjoy what little we get while we work toward its development. If this is to be the last season of the Boondocks we need to be working to develop space for more public criticism of our horrific conditions. I mean, where else can we find so many public references to Ronald Reagan as a “devil?” No amount of “N-bombs” in The Boondocks can dampen that or worsen the damage done by Black political discussion as it takes place in the Washington Post, New York Times or even TheRoot.com. If we are truly dissatisfied with The Boondocks it is only because we have not cultivated our own Black public sphere.
For Black Agenda Radio I’m Jared Ball. Online go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
Dr. Jared Ball can be reached at jared.ball@morgan.edu.
Direct download: 20100512_jb_boondocks_publicsphere.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 6:00pm EDT

A Black Agenda radio commentary by Glen Ford
We were right when we said it in the Sixties. The police are an occupation army in the Black community. Secret NYPD tapes reveal the cops’ quota system for stopping and frisking hundreds of thousands of innocent minority residents every year. But when New Yorkers of color are victimized by crime, they “are often threatened with arrest, themselves, by belligerent detectives trying to fudge the figures.”
 
 
Secret NYPD Tapes Document Routine, Massive Police Racism
A Black Agenda radio commentary by Glen Ford
The New York City police are revealed as an occupying army that views residents of color as an enemy population.”
The New York City police force systematically withholds protective services from minority victims of crime, while simultaneously stopping and frisking hundreds of thousands of innocent Black and brown citizens on the streets for no legitimate reason. Hundreds of hours of secret recordings by a disgruntled New York City cop prove beyond question that the most aggressive forms of institutional racism are the guiding management principles of the NYPD. Just as the Black Panther Party and others charged two generations ago, the New York City police are revealed as an occupying army that views residents of color as an enemy population.The predatory nature of New York City policing is captured, digitally, in a police lieutenant’s exhortation to his officers at the beginning of their shift. "You're working in Bed-Stuy,” says the shift supervisor, “where everyone's probably got a warrant."
The recordings were made during a continuous 16-month period in 2008 and 2009, and are the basis of a series of articles now running in the Village Voice newspaper. They show how the relentless pressures exerted by billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his top police brass result in a total perversion of the criminal justice system in places like Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant section, where the cop with a pocket digital recorder was assigned. The turncoat cop’s recordings show that the police operate under a quota system, driven by their superiors to hand out vast quantities of summonses for petty offenses and to stop and frisk huge numbers of people. It is this quota system at the core of official police policy, that has resulted in two million innocent people being stopped and frisked on the streets of New York since 2004, close to 600,000 in 2009, alone. Eighty-five percent of the victims of this police state practice were Black or Latino – only 9 percent were white, although New York City is about 38 percent white. From roll call to end off shift, the New York police sweep the streets of non-white neighborhoods, stopping and searching more than fifteen hundred mostly Black and Brown pedestrians every day – the vast majority of whom are found to be carrying nothing illegal. Contrary to the police lieutenant's admonition to his officers, not everyone in places like Bedford-Stuyvesant has an outstanding warrant – but the police routinely act as if they do.
Police systematically discourage residents from reporting actual crimes committed against them.”
This has nothing to do with fighting crime. In fact, the secret recordings show that police systematically discourage residents from reporting actual crimes committed against them, in order to keep the crime statistics artificially low, and thus make the top brass and the mayor look good. Citizens that complain of being assaulted or robbed are often threatened with arrest, themselves, by belligerent detectives trying to fudge the figures. Felonies are routinely downgraded to misdemeanors - not because of clogged courts, but to give the appearance of a safer city. After police suppression of crime statistics was exposed in Bedford-Stuyvesant, preventing the cops from intimidating victims, felony assault statistics jumped 76 percent.
The Black and brown residents of New York City are stopped, harassed and abused by the millions, while the real crimes committed against them are swept under the rug by an occupation army in blue, masquerading as law enforcement. 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: 20100512_gf_NYPDtapes.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 6:00pm EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Weasel corporate media operatives strain to erase the stain of racism from the Tea Party “movement” – largely a media creation – while white nationalist leaders hide the hoods and nooses in the darker recesses of their bunkers. Yet the data seem to show that racism is what gives the Tea Party mass appeal (45 percent approval) among whites.
 
The Tea Party's Mass White Appeal
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
A near majority of whites approve of the Tea Party, and majorities of them subscribe to the most debased stereotypes of Black people.”
The corporate media have a problem. The so-called Tea Party movement that is the latest incarnation of centuries-old white American nationalism, cannot escape its racist roots, which makes everything the Tea Partyers say fruit of the racially poisoned tree. Having nurtured the Tea Party phenomenon at every stage of its existence, the corporate media now twist and turn and contort themselves in search of ways to make white nationalism respectable. That’s a difficult mission, since the racism of both the Tea Party’s rank and file and its leadership is not easily sanitized.
Polls associated with major newspapers and broadcast networks have historically been woefully inadequate when dealing with matters of race – as should be expected, since corporate media excel at papering over racial divisions so as not to upset important segments of their audiences. That’s one reason why corporate media speak in “code,” cloaking movements and events that are actually heavily charged with race in coded phrases like “family values,” law and order,” and “fiscal responsibility.” Ever since the Republicans replaced the Dixiecrats as the White Man’s Party, two generations ago, there has been a gentlemen’s agreement among all but the most undisciplined racists to clean up their language in public – to use code when speaking of race, so as not to embarrass one another.
There has been a gentlemen’s agreement among all but the most undisciplined racists to clean up their language in public.”
But loud and obnoxious elements of the Tea Party movement have not felt bound by this agreement. They have communicated their rage at the erosion of white supremacy in ways that are not only understandable to Blacks, whose antennas are always alert to racial threats, but also to code-speaking whites, a huge number of whom like what they hear.
While the corporate media find ways to fudge the racial character of the Tea Party, academic researchers at the University of Washington released a study showing the Tea Partyers have achieved real mass appeal among whites. Fully forty-five percent of whites either strongly approve or somewhat approve of the Tea Partyers. And, among those whites favorable to the Tea Party movement, “only 35% believe Blacks to be hardworking, only 45 % believe Blacks are intelligent, and only 41% think that Blacks are trustworthy.” Put another way: a near majority of whites approve of the Tea Party, and majorities of them subscribe to the most debased stereotypes of Black people. Which means, the majority of whites who look kindly on the Tea Party are themselves hardcore racists.
But it's worse than that. The real story lies in how much the general white public shares the worldview of the Tea Partyers. Sixty percent of Tea Partyers agree with the statement, “We have gone too far in pushing equal rights in this country.” But 42 percent of white people in general also think that way, marking them as unreconstructed racists.
In short, the Tea Party's biggest drawing card is its racism, just as white racism was central to the success of the Republican Party's “southern strategy,” beginning in the late Sixties. Forget about the Tea Party's other supposed issues, like the budget and the bank bailout. That's not what puts fire in their bellies. This is America, remember? Race is all some white people understand. 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: 20100512_gf_TeaPartyPoll.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 6:00pm EDT