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

For a generation, the CBC's Annual Legislative Conference, popularly known as “CBC Week” has billed itself the penultimate gathering of Black America's political elite, its best and brightest and most forward thinking minds brought together for our collective advancement. If that's anywhere close to the truth, then why are there no workshop sessions on black mass incarceration or the unjust wars in Africa and the Middle East which are massively unpopular in black communities? Why no sessions on how to stop privatizations, or defend public libraries, public schools, public transit or the public sector?

Black Mass Incarceration, Unemployment, Unjust Wars, Corporate School Reform, Rampant Privatizations Are All “Off The Table” at CBC's Annual Legislative Conference

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

There was a time when the Congressional Black Caucus reflected to some degree, the political will of its constituents. Elected from the most reliably antiwar and pro- job creation, pro- education constituencies in the nation, every year during the dark years of Reagan and Bush 1, the caucus, to leverage and make visible the will of their communities introduced and held hearings on their own budget recommendations, demanding the diversion of tens of billions from the Pentagon's weapons programs, unjust wars and global network of bases into what Dr. King called programs for human uplift --- education, job creation, mass transit, health care and housing.

Neither the wishes of black voters nor the needs of black communities have changed much since the 80s. But today's Congressional Black Caucus does little or nothing to project the political will of black communities onto the national stage. A quick look at the session schedule for the CBC's signature event, its Annual Legislative Conference, popularly known as CBC Week, reveals the immense gap between the priorities of the current black caucus and those if the communities they supposedly represent.

The plague of mass black imprisonment touches nearly every African American family in the land. We are one eighth the nation's population, but half those in its prisons and jails. The war on drugs is waged exclusively in our communities. Apart from a single workshop on the topic of ex-offender re-entry, the CBC's weeklong festival of backslapping and mutual admiration sessions utterly ignore black mass imprisonment. Black political leaders, if there were any such, would be about the business of figuring out how to roll back the numbers of us in prisons and jails, about ending mandatory sentencing and restoring families and neighborhoods by rolling back the nation's longstanding policy of black mass incarceration.

What you can find at CBC Week are plenty of workshops on how to get paid, how to be a contractor with the Pentagon, with the police state at the Department of Homeland Security...”

Black communities are the most steadfast bastions of antiwar sentiment in the country. But the subject of how to leverage the widespread antiwar sentiment in black communities on the national stage to affect policy is a non-starter for any workshop sessions at this year's CBC Week. The same goes for the wave of public school closings, de-fundings and privatizations. The privatization of public schools, and for that matter the plague of privatizations affecting water and transit systems, roads and other public assets in black communities are also absent from the concerns addressed at this year's CBC Week.

The black unemployment rate is at its highest in sixty years, but the CBC is not interested in mobilizing its constituents to demand real job creation to replace the millions of jobs that have disappeared. African American communities everywhere are sites of the worst toxic dumps, chemical spills and industrial pollution, and have the least access to remediation, and this too is ignored at CBC Week.

What you can find at CBC Week are plenty of workshops on how to get paid, how to be a contractor with the Pentagon, with the police state at the Department of Homeland Security, how to get in on government procurement and the like. Although there are no sessions on the need for support of public transit, you can find a session on how your business can get some surface transit money.

The fact is, CBC Week, and the CBC itself have been swallowed by big business. The head of the CBC foundation, which puts on the affair, is a black AT&T exec. She is surrounded by her peers from MCDonalds, Wal-Mart, Bank of America,and Lockheed, by military contractors and the banks that gave us the sub-prime scare, and more. The congressional Black Caucus has become indistinguishable from its big business funders, and almost from their white colleagues. It's time to stop pretending that the CBC's Annual Legislative Caucus has any relation to the needs or political aspirations of our people.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20100811_bd_cbc_week.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:48pm EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Precisely like his predecessor, President Obama empowers a pro-western Murder Inc. in Black Africa, a roster that includes the most vicious mass murderers and assassins on the continent. One of them, Rwanda's Paul Kagame, who is culpable in the death of millions in Congo, recently held an election in which he got 93 percent of the vote. But you won't hear any complaints from the White House.

Paul Kagame: America's Genocidaire in Central Africa

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Paul Kagame and Woseri Museveni are the two main architects of the genocide in the eastern Congo.”

One of the United States’ main allies in Black Africa recently declared himself the winner of a farcical presidential election with 93 percent of the vote. But there will be no outcry from Hillary Clinton’s State Department or Barack Obama’s White House, or even much of a fuss from the New York Times, because President Paul Kagame, of Rwanda, serves U.S. interests. You will never hear western governments and media call Kagame by his true name: a dictator and warlord from the minority Tutsi tribe that holds sway over the majority Hutu population through a reign of terror. Instead, western capitalists shower his regime with money and high praise as an example of how Africa should be governed.

Paul Kagame and his mentor and fellow warlord in neighboring Uganda, President Woseri Museveni, were given the green light by the West to kill and steal at will in Central Africa. They are the two main architects of the genocide in the eastern Congo, where some estimate six million people have died since Rwanda and Uganda invaded the region, in the mid-Nineties. The soldiers of these two U.S. henchmen are still there, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, looting precious minerals for sale to multinational corporations under cover of tribal warfare – wars created and nurtured by Kagame and Museveni, themselves, for the sake of power and profit and the favor of the United States and Europe. Kagame and Museveni have more blood on their hands than any combination of men in Africa – which makes them heroes to the West.

Kagame and Museveni have more blood on their hands than any combination of men in Africa.”

Compared to the Congolese genocide, stealing an election in Rwanda is child’s play. The majority of the Hutu population lives in terror of the Tutsi-dominated regime, which is rooted in the guerilla army that invaded Rwanda from its bases in Uganda and set off the genocidal tribal violence that killed hundreds of thousands of Tutsi and Hutus – although the Hutu victims of Paul Kagame’s army must be mourned in silence. It is a crime in Rwanda to even raise the question of mass killings of Hutus during the violence of 1994, as Kagame fought his way to power. Indeed, any criticism of Kagame’s regime is guaranteed to get one branded as a genocidaire – an advocate of genocide – or a proponent of “divisionism,” which means saying anything that might tend to undermine the people’s obedience to Paul Kagame. You might just turn up dead, as did several of the regime’s opponents in the run-up to the sham election. No serious opposition was allowed to compete. The Kagame police state has ways to ensure that almost everyone votes for The Leader. Voters mark their ballots with their fingerprints next to the chosen candidate, so no one’s vote is a secret.

The two African heads of state most despised by the United States, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, and Omar al-Bashir of Sudan, have held elections that were far more fair and credible than Rwanda's Paul Kagame. Presidents Mugabe and Bashir would never arrange for themselves to get 93 percent of the vote, because they would be denounced as vote thieves by the West. But the genocidal dictator and Paul Kagame flaunts his disregard for the democratic processes, and the West loves him for it. He is doing the U.S. and Europe's killing for them, and they are pleased. 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: 20100811_gf_Rwanda.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:26am EDT

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

The recent Netroots Nation conference shows that Obama'Laid is easily dispensed in digital form, inebriating millions. What does it matter if 25 percent of Twitter users are Black, when “by 2012 75 percent of the country will have only one Internet service provider offering high-speed broadband Internet?” Clearly, the revolution will not be Twitterized. A real mass movement is needed.

Social Media Is Not Social Movement: Obama’Laid and the Internet

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

The Internet didn’t prevent Oscar Grant’s murder from occurring or prevent his killer from being handed an unjust non-sentence.”

Obama’Laid is a nasty drug of delusion. And like most drugs the method used to ingest it is less an issue than the drug itself. It may indeed be healthier to eat THC than smoke it but both will get you high. Enough alcohol whether in beer or shot form will get you drunk. And whether it comes in discussions of race, war or the economy Obama’Laid still packs a punch. One powerful form of Obama’Laid is certainly found in discussions of Obama’s use of and planned policies for the Internet. These highly intoxicated discussions include the ill-informed claims of the Internet as a mechanism for “changing the racial narrative,” or leveling the political playing field in the national public sphere. More and more often these days people are describing the use of “social’ media” and the “success” stories of people organizing this or that event with the use of the Internet, Twitter or Facebook. Books today now often include some chapter about how the Internet and blogging is revolutionizing politics and media. So much so that there is even the horribly liberal and co-opting theft of the term grassroots by the unofficially Democratic Party Netroots Nation conference which held its fifth annual convention this summer in Las Vegas. The Internet has so captured liberal politics that they cannot help themselves but to further denigrate genuine grassroots radical politics by suggesting that such movements are being developed, in fact can only be developed, online. It is an easy and safe conclusion but its incorrectness is simply dangerous.

For instance, participants at the Netroots Nation conference this and in recent years could be heard touting the wonders of the internet in bringing more people into the public sphere and offering outlets for more diverse voices – especially now that 25 percent of Twitter users are Black! As one conference participant said, with mobile devices being so popular among Black and Brown people, there no longer is any significant race or class-based digital divide or unequal access to the Internet. And, of course, some again uncritically applauded the Internet as being what brought young people into the process of electing Obama and others suggested that the use of this “social media” played some positive roll in the wake of the killing of Oscar Grant. It seems not to matter whether or not Obama is good for us, or that his Wall Street funding is what made his Internet presence what is was, or that the Internet didn’t prevent Grant’s murder from occurring or prevent his killer from being handed an unjust non-sentence. But this is what Democratic Party liberal politics leads to, what Fred Hampton once described as, the “explanations that don’t explain… and the conclusions that don’t conclude.”

Verizon and Google continued to take advantage of a weak Federal Communications Commission, with a weak chair who serves a weak president.”

This past week dealt another blow to those who will soon be suffering the hangover of all this Internet Obama’Laid binge-drinking. Verizon and Google continued to take advantage of a weak Federal Communications Commission, with a weak chair who serves a weak president. Both Obama and his FCC chair Julius Genachowski once said they would be champions of a free and equally accessed Internet. But as Obama has done with health care, bailouts and wars his appointee Genchowski is bowing to media industry corporate pressure. This is a first in what is assuredly a coming onslaught of death blows to Net Neutrality and will allow the two media giants to determine which websites users can access at full speed versus ones they deem unworthy. And because they are initially focused on the mobile devices most used by the poor to access the Internet the previous delusion of those devices erasing the digital divide will soon be further exposed as such. Similarly, in a separate study, it was reported that only 1% of financed Internet start-ups are Black-owned.

It is this precise imbalance in corporate-backing and influence that has resulted in a soft liberal political leadership that supports these and worse conclusions. This is why those who claim grassroots end up not developing any counter-balance of power and in the end support a president who claims to want to extend broadband Internet while keeping it equal but then supports an FCC chair who seems not to want to fight a previous court decision which tells him he has no jurisdiction over the Internet and who develops a national broadband strategy which, according to one report, says that by 2012 75 percent of the country will have only one Internet service provider offering high-speed broadband Internet.

At the Obama’Laid Stand the Internet flavor is just as popular as the others. But it is still just a flavor. Whether war, race, jobs or the internet, this nation is simply stoned on the fundamental drug of Obama’Laid.

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

Jared Ball can be reached via email at: jared.ball@morgan.edu

Direct download: 20100811_jb_Internet.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:22am EDT