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

An objective reading of the data from the Pew Research Center leads to one conclusion: Black Americans are suffering cognitive delusions regarding their actual condition, brought on by the advent of a Black president. But one Black writer doesn't has a different view. He sees a leap of faith.
 
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Black Faith VS Black Reality in the Age of Obama
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
"Every detail of data pointed to 'Obama euphoria' having unsettled lots of Black folk's brains."
Black America has been the group most devastated by the Great Recession, both in absolute and relative terms. Many of the gains of recent decades - which have not been all that dramatic to begin with - have been wiped out. So deep is the damage to Black employment, household wealth, and the viability of whole sections of cities, the data are not yet sufficient for a complete assessment. The threats posed by structural changes wrought by the two deep recessions of the 21st century, are even more disturbing.
At least, such facts should be deeply disturbing. The fate of African American generations to come will hinge on the contemporary Black political response to economic and political crisis. But the results of polling by the authoritative Pew Research Center shows that Blacks claim to be the least disturbed of any demographic group at the state of the economy - despite having suffered the most. There was absolutely no doubt that Black people's ability to assess their own and their neighbor's actual economic situation had been severely compromised by the election of the first Black president. Every detail of data pointed to "Obama euphoria" having unsettled lots of Black folk's brains, way beyond Election Day.
We published two commentaries on the Pew polls, this year, one on January 20 and another last week. The January piece was titled, "Living a Black Fantasy: The Obama Delirium Effect." In it, we concluded that "ObamaL'aid is a mind-altering substance, a hallucinogen" that also "behaves like an opiate, blocking out pain." The July 7 July 14 piece was titled, "First Black Presidency Has Driven Many African Americans Insane." I wrote that "a large segment of Black America became disconnected from reality... rendered incompetent and politically useless to themselves and their families by the mere existence of a Black president."
"This is not about Sam Cooke singing, 'A Change Gonna Come.'"
Last week, Lee A. Daniels, Director of Communications for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, published an article on the organization's website, TheDefendersOnline, that  had an entirely different take on the Pew polls. Blacks were not responding irrationally to the economic crisis, said Daniels. Instead, he said, "The gateway to understanding the optimism blacks feel even in the face of an alarming deterioration of their economic position can be put in one word: Faith." Blacks' "profound experience with economic adversity" has required faith to overcome, and this is just another such episode.
But of course, the Pew data deal with much more than simple optimism. This is not about Sam Cooke singing, "A Change Gonna Come." The data show that large chunks of Black America believe that Blacks are better off economically today than ten years ago, although the opposite is true. We are not talking about hopes for the future, but a grasp of reality in the present. Lee Daniels comes close to sounding like those white racists who justify keeping Blacks in poverty because Blacks have, supposedly, been conditioned to it. It also reminds me of a quote from Harriet Tubman, who emancipated hundreds of slaves. "AnchorAnchorI could have freed more," she said, "if they knew they were slaves."
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: 20100714_gf_Faith.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 1:20am EDT

by BAR columnist Jared A. Ball, Ph.D.
Post-racialism and race neutrality are fantasies; the Oscar Grant killing and trial, and the Black reaction to the verdict, are real. And so is the pervasive rage that is a characteristic - a "property" - of being Black in America.
 
The Oscar Grant Verdict: A Rage In Black America
by BAR columnist Jared A. Ball, Ph.D.
"It is this being Black in America, which as a matter of national state policy, defines Black people, limits Black people, oppresses Black people, that consciously or not draws the deepest ire from Black people."
There is a rage in Black America.  It is righteous.  It is justified.  It is unrequited.  It is a rage at being Black in America that has existed ever since there has been Black in America.  After hearing of the pitifully soft verdict handed down by the all white jury in the Oscar Grant murder trial I thought again of this rage.  And I remembered reading a few years ago one scholar's survey of Black history and his being intrigued by "the extent to which African Americans have fantasized about political violence - specifically, violent revolt" as a matter of political "instrument" or "catharsis."  He surveyed a swath of Black writing which in poem, novel or political statement included many references to what some Europeans have called "divine violence."  Frederick Douglas, DuBois, Langston Hughes, Ida B. Wells, Robert Williams, Sonya Sanchez and Jeru the Damaja were all referenced as having at one time or another, in one way or another, described acts of violence as just, even necessary.  He quoted Nikki Giovanni's lines, "What can I, a poor black woman do to destroy America? This is the question, with appropriate variations, being asked in every black heart. There is one answer-I can kill. There is one compromise-I can protect those who kill. There is one cop-out-I can encourage others to kill. There are no other ways."
I remember being at a hip-hop show featuring Dead Prez and Rebel Diaz where it was first announced that Lovelle Mixon had killed 4 cops in Oakland California.  I remember how it was reported and received as a response to Oscar Grant's killing and how this brought the very diverse crowd to increased heights of rebellious exuberance.  I saw this fervor again on display again in the pre-verdict documentary on Grant Operation Small Axe featuring Oakland's grassroots embedded journalist JR of Block Report Radio.  I see it in the post-verdict reports and online videos.  And I saw it again at a recent showing of Small Axe in Washington, D.C.  A crowd had gathered to watch the documentary which happened to coincide with the verdict coming down and the post-screening discussion went immediately to these feelings of rage and those fantasies of violent revolt.
"Black writing contains many references to what some Europeans have called 'divine violence.'"
This rage even carried most in the room to almost happily accept the powerful contradiction raised by a sister who drew attention to the fact that while many were respectful of Mixon's act few seemed to know or be concerned with the fact that he was suspected of several rapes of young women and girls in the community.  This was why the police were after him in the first place.  It was similar to the contradiction raised at a recent rally for Aiyanna Jones in Detroit where another sister drew attention to the fact that too many are angry at the police when Black men kill far more Black people than law enforcement.
But these apparent contradictions are, to me at least, explained by the fundamental rage at being Black in America.  It is this being Black in America, which as a matter of national state policy, defines Black people, limits Black people, oppresses Black people, that consciously or not draws the deepest ire from Black people.  None were excusing rape or murder committed by Black people.  But none were forgetting the fundamentality of our rage against the very nature of the state's relationship to Black people.  Malcolm X once said that simply being Black in America "radicalizes you."  We hope so because it certainly does continue to enrage.
And in just a clip of our Brother Amari's brilliant remake of Scott-Heron's Whitey on the Moon we continue to hear that rage in the face of popular contradictions: "Up Lovelle Mixon! Up Mark Essex!
 Up the mighty BPP! Understand white justice is a lie. And appeals won't get us free.
So while we sit and shout and complain and cry.
For something we'll never see. Just remember this one last thing:
Lebron is headed to Miami."
For Black Agenda Radio I'm Jared Ball.  Online go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
Jared Ball can be reached at jared.ball@morgan.edu.

Direct download: 20100715_jb_black_rage.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 1:08am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Having transferred trillions of public treasure for the sake of Wall Street's health, Obama now picks up where George Bush left off on Social Security. Obama's deficit commission is pre-programmed to assault the last vestiges of the social safety net. The president "is the right wing's most potent weapon, the one before which liberal Democrats throw down their arms in surrender without the dignity of a fight."
 
Obama Can't Say "No" to the Rich
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
"Once Wall Street was on its feet, Social Security would be back in the crosshairs."
Before Barack Obama had even taken the oath of office, in January of 2009, he promised to put all of the so-called "entitlement" programs "on the table," for cutting. There was no reason to doubt that Obama really planned to go after Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and other programs despised by the rich. After all, he had just been elected to a four-year term in a landslide and was, therefore, as secure as any politician can be. Obama was telling everyone who cared to listen that he was would certainly not stand in the way of gutting what's left of the American social safety net. Rather, Obama was telling Big Business that he agreed with them, that the poor and the elderly were sucking up too much of the nation's wealth, and there must be a day of reckoning.
The new president immediately started the clock ticking on Social Security and other entitlements by scheduling a so-called "deficit summit" for later in 2009. But it was not yet the time for a full-court-press on poor and elderly people's programs. First, Obama needed to shore up the finances of the Wall Street bankers that were among his earliest and most generous supporters. The bank bailout was priority number one, to be followed by a farcical health care bill designed to funnel trillions to the insurance and drug industries. A frontal attack on Social Security would have to wait a year or so. It would not do for Obama to join with Republicans in stealing from the old and the poor at the exact same moment they were bailing out the filthy rich. But, once Wall Street was on its feet, Social Security would be back in the crosshairs.
"Obama's so-called 'deficit commission' is stacked with rich sociopaths sharpening their knives to carve up, sell off or otherwise doom Social Security."
Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Speaker of the House who was once the co-chair of the Progressive Caucus, pretended back in January of 2009 that she hadn't heard Obama when he said "everything" was "on the table" for cutting - except, of course, the military, which is immune no matter how high the deficit. "The only thing we didn't want to put on the table," she said, "is eliminating Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid."
In April of this year, Obama once again reminded everyone that everything is and has always been "on the table," as far as he's concerned, including Social Security. His so-called "deficit commission" is stacked with rich sociopaths sharpening their knives to carve up, sell off or otherwise doom Social Security. It is a battle that safety net defenders thought they had won against George Bush. Barack Obama has picked up Bush's marbles and put them back into play. He is the right wing's most potent weapon, the one before which liberal Democrats throw down their arms in surrender without the dignity of a fight. Obama, working in plain sight over the past 18 months, has constructed and rigged a deficit commission to render a kind of death sentence to the foundational program of Roosevelt's New Deal.
Obama will pretend that circumstances and Republicans are forcing him to call for austerity. But that's a lie; he came in singing the GOP's song, and is behaving precisely as one would expect from a center-right administration. Obama is in his ideal element, constantly saying "yes" to the Party of "no."
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: 20100714_gf_Deficit.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 12:46am EDT