Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from a black left perspective.

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

There is no advice Black and brown parents can give their children to avoid being stopped and frisked by New York City police. Cops last year stopped almost half a million non-whites on the streets based on "furtive movements," appearing to "case" a person or location, or for reasons explained only as "other." Apparently, Blacks are nine times as "furtive," felonious-looking, or "other"-wise threatening, as whites.

 

A Police State for Black and Brown New Yorkers

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

"Stop-and-frisks have reached astronomical heights - increasing five-fold under the current police commissioner - on direct orders of City Hall."

A full-blown police state exists in New York City. It is not the result of a crime wave; crime has been on the decline for decades, as successive city administrations proudly boast. The New York police state has been methodically constructed by the city administration to create an environment of fear and intimidation in Black and brown neighborhoods. Last year the racist police state juggernaut swept up nearly half a million African American and Latino New Yorkers, while affecting only 53,000 whites.

A Center for Constitutional Rights' lawsuit forced the city to begin keeping racial data on police activity following the 1999 police killing of Amadou Diallou. The latest data show that Blacks are nine times as likely to be stopped and frisked as whites. And these are anything but polite police procedures; in about one out of four cases, police draw their weapons or throw people to the ground. Still, only about six percent of the stops result in a formal arrest. In other words, in three out of four cases in which cops draw their weapons or use violence against New Yorkers on the street, in involves totally innocent persons, unworthy of arrest. Police used force against only 19 percent of whites, but against 27 percent of Blacks. Those whites that are among the very small proportion stopped by police are slightly more likely to be arrested than Blacks, and one-and-a-half times more likely to be carrying a weapon.

The Center for Constitutional Rights concludes, as would any sane observer, that the stop-and-frisk numbers reflect racial bias, and that they are flagrantly unconstitutional. It is equally clear that stop-and-frisks have reached astronomical heights - increasing five-fold under the current police commissioner - on direct orders of City Hall. The pace of unjustifiable stops has become too fast and furious even for some street cops. The Village Voice newspaper is publishing a series of articles based on secret police recordings of supervisors as they impose relentless and escalating quotas for stops and petty summonses on residents in Black and brown Brooklyn.

"In nearly half the cases, cops claim they stopped a pedestrian because he was making 'furtive movements.'"

This has nothing to do with crime, and everything to do with enforcement of a racist social order.

The cops claim that they are simply exercising their right to stop people based on "reasonable suspicion." But of course, white racism has its own system of reasoning, its own logic - it even invents or imagines its own facts. Police fill out forms to list the "facts" as they see them, after every stop-and-frisk on the street, as required by New York City law. In nearly half the cases, cops claim they stopped a pedestrian because he was making "furtive movements." What are "furtive movements"? Apparently, whatever the police think or imagine they are. The second biggest excuse for frisking people - listed in 30 percent of the stops - is that they were "casing a victim or location." In other words, the cop could just look at the subject and see that he had felonious intentions - that criminal "look" about him. In 19 percent of the cases, the cops don't even bother to be specific about why they made the person a target of the state; they simply check "other" as the reason.

Why has New York created a police state for Blacks and Latinos? Because the powers-that-be think that a voting majority of citizens approve, and because Black and brown leadership are in the pockets of those in power. 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: 20100519_gf_copfrisks.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:33am EDT

Malcolm X and the "Pan-African Pantheon"

It is a mistake to ask, What would Malcolm do if he were here, because if Malcolm had lived we would not be in the situation that confronts us, today. "What exists today is in part the willful result of his assassination." Deprived of a clear mind and voice, the Black movement ultimately faltered, and failed.

 

Malcolm X and the "Pan-African Pantheon"

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR columnist Jared A. Ball, Ph.D.

"Malcolm X represented an incorruptible proponent of revolutionary politics."

Today would have been the 85th birthday of Malcolm X.  It is also the 85th anniversary of the birth year of what living legend Elombe Brath calls our "pan-African pantheon;" Malcolm X, Patrice Lumumba and Frantz Fanon.  And in each case the analyses and movements that produced this pantheon are as necessary as ever.  Lumumba's Congo remains mired in a Western-inspired and Western-supported world war costing the lives of at least 10 million Congolese and counting.  Fanon's Martinique remains impoverished, consumed by labor strife and said by the French president Nicholas Sarkozy to forever be the property of France.  And despite mythological delusions of progress Malcolm's Black America is so impoverished, suffering world record-levels of un- and under-employment, a recession said to be "permanent," and rates of incarceration seen as so systematic as to have that process compared to a modern state of enslavement.

And while there is the annual temptation to ask, "what would Malcolm say or do in response to today's conditions," it is best to remember at least of couple of things: First, today's conditions and a living, breathing Malcolm X are absolutely mutually exclusive.  One could not exist with the other.  There is not one trace of evidence to suggest that Malcolm X would have, over the last 40 years, found ways to accept or rationalize the loss of a movement and a momentum that was designed to rid us of the conditions faced here and abroad, so we have to conclude, based on all existing evidence, that what exists today is in part the willful result of his assassination.  This is, of course, the purpose of political assassinations, to stunt or end movements represented by the target.  What do we think those in power killed him to achieve?

Secondly, as we have argued previously, the fact that those who took up the mantle of a struggle defined by Malcolm X remain marginalized academically, omitted journalistically or left to languish in prisons absent any legitimate legal justification, is conclusive proof of the continuity of power and the incompleteness of that movement.  This especially after this past week's release of a man who admits to having carried out the killing of brother Malcolm.  If this man can serve his time and be allowed to go safely home while so many others whose efforts were in the lineage of Malcolm X remain incarcerated or exiled there can be no discussion of "progress," or "completion." 

"Malcolm X had become the international standard by which our struggle was measured."

And finally, it is as Dhoruba bin-Wahad said many years ago, "If Malcolm were alive today he'd be a political prisoner and we'd be saying nothing of him because we don't support our political prisoners."  Malcolm X represented an incorruptible proponent of revolutionary politics that defies a single name but combined a kind of revolutionary nationalism, pan-Africanism and anti-imperialism with a grassroots focus that is today as threatening as ever.  It is why Wahad noted that as soon as Malcolm X's image became powerful again among the youth of the early 1990s that it had to be destroyed.  This is part of a continuing semiotic warfare Malcolm himself noted when he proclaimed correctly that the United States "had perfected the science of image-making."

Congressman John Lewis wrote in his memoirs said that in 1964 as a member of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee he toured the African continent on a path that happened to follow one recently taken by Malcolm X. Lewis noted that at each stop African leadership warned his contingent that if they were anywhere to the right of Malcolm no ear would be given them.  Malcolm X had become the international standard by which our struggle was measured.  Today, that standard has been reset along lines far farther to the right of Malcolm X than Lewis and SNCC represented in 1964 and to our severe detriment.

Lets make yet another call to commemorate Malcolm X by encouraging further enrollment in efforts attempting to continue his work.  We have the examples, beginning next week with the release of his missing autobiographical chapters in New York City, as well as, The Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, whose Washington, DC chapter will be hosting a Malcolm X Day event May 29 and the Black Is Back Coalition whose work around the country is beginning to reignite and reset the standards of an anti-war movement.  In the end Malcolm's Organization for Afro-American Unity had as part of its mission a Black united front that sought to further the phrase he helped to popularize, "by any means necessary."  That kind of political unity is a missing component to a truly commemorative effort of our "shining Black prince."

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

Jared Ball can be reached at freemixradio@voxunion.com.

Direct download: 20100519_jb_malcolm-x.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:13am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

As Arizona moves past the "tipping point" of non-white population, its government scrambles to safeguard historical white lies from exposure by public school ethnic studies programs. The governor "intends to wipe the white historical slate clean of actual genocides, enslavements, land piracies, and all manner of crimes against darker peoples." The truth shall not be spoken in Arizona."

 

The Truth Shall Not be Spoken in Arizona

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

"The truth shall not be spoken in Arizona, if it is detrimental to the reputation and sensibilities of white people."

The State of Arizona has very ambitious goals. It will not be satisfied simply to impose a kind of apartheid system in which Latino-looking persons have no rights that a policeman is bound to respect. Oh no, Arizona's legislature and governor have a grander plan, a much larger vision to rewrite history so as to place white people back where they think they belong: at the unchallenged center of all things worth knowing and learning. In order to do that, it is necessary to erase and outlaw the past and present of those who are not white. Governor Jan Brewer thinks she can whitewash history and put barbed wired around the present and the future with the stroke of a pen. In signing what is effectively a ban on teaching any version of history other than the approved, white version, in elementary and secondary public schools, the governor seeks to impose an ethnic cleansing of the mind - a kind of official genocide of past generations. She intends to wipe the white historical slate clean of actual genocides, enslavements, land piracies, and all manner of crimes against darker peoples. The truth shall not be spoken in Arizona, if it is detrimental to the reputation and sensibilities of white people. Apparently, the true facts of history cause white Arizona great pain, like sunlight shining on Dracula. Gov. Brewer wants to shut out the light, by shutting down ethnic studies in the classroom, making the schools safe for white lies.

Whites make up less than 60 percent of Arizona, which is apparently past the tipping point at which many of them become terrified at the prospect of losing their monopoly on power, including the power to hijack history to the service of one group: whites. One of the ways whites dominate other ethnic groups, is by denying that whites are an ethnicity, at all, but the normative form of human being.  When Arizona's legislature prohibits teaching classes that are, in the language of the new law, "designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group," they mean classes designed for non-whites. Of course, schools in the United States have always tailored classes to one ethnic group: whites. History has always been a white narrative, and therefore by definition, a lie and a slander against the other ethnicities. Arizona wants its white lies back.

"Governor Jan Brewer thinks she can whitewash history and put barbed wired around the present and the future with the stroke of a pen."

It is now forbidden to teach that which causes "resentment toward a race or class of people." Since it is impossible to teach the truth of genocide, slavery, aggressive war and conquest, racial discrimination and all the other central facts of America's past and present, without arousing some degree of resentment among the victims, only falsified versions of history will pass legal muster in Arizona.

The state reveals itself as the unreconstructed heartland of Latter Day McCarthyism, where subversives lurk under every classroom desk. The new law puts schools off-limits to materials that advocate "overthrow of the United States government." What they really mean is: overthrow of white dominance over the rest of us. That includes preserving the sanctity of White American Manifest Destiny. What is actually manifest is that the destiny of Arizona, and America, is to lose its white majority. In the process, the United States will also shed all those books full of white lies - which is what Gov. Brewer is afraid of.

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: 20100519_gf_Arizona.mp3
Category:immigration, blacks and immigration, blacks and browns -- posted at: 11:34pm EDT