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

In any global battle of the racists, the U.S. and Britain are always top contenders. A new study has some putting odds on merrily racist Old England (and Wales) for the honor of white supremacist society in-chief. “The figures would seem to indicate that Blacks in England and Wales are targeted by police with even more ferocity than their counterparts in New York City.” But the Big Apple takes a back seat to no one, when it comes to bigoted police behavior on the streets.

 

Whose Cops are More Racist, America’s or the Brits'?

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Blacks in England and Wales are 26 times more likely to be stopped and frisked on the streets than whites.”

The United States criminal justice system has been called the most racist on the planet. And, by most measures, that’s true. But Blacks in Great Britain are also under siege by police – enough to generate a recent visit to London by Rev. Jesse Jackson. A new study shows that Blacks in England and Wales are 26 times more likely to be stopped and frisked on the streets than whites, a figure that Rev. Jackson said “undermines the moral authority” of the United Kingdom. It would be hard to criticize the analysis for sloppiness; it was conducted by the London School of Economics, in collaboration with the Open Society Justice Initiative.

On the face of it, the figures would seem to indicate that Blacks in England and Wales are targeted by police with even more ferocity than their counterparts in New York City, where a similar stop-and-frisk campaign has scooped up progressively larger numbers of Blacks and Latinos in recent years. In England, Section 60 of the 1994 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act was originally promulgated to deal with rowdy soccer hooligans, most of whom are white, but has in recent years turned into a mechanism to disproportionately stop Blacks on the streets.

New York City’s stop-and-frisk regime has drastically escalated under billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has also dramatically ramped up the pace of gentrification. Strong pressures also exist in England to contain the non-white population.

U.S. cops stop a much higher percentage of the people – about 25 times as many per capita.”

But, are the police in England and Wales really more viciously racist than New York City cops? With Black Brits 26 times more likely to be stopped than whites, while Black New Yorkers are only 9 times more likely, one might conclude that the English cops behave in a more racist manner. But the sheer numbers of stop-and-frisks in New York City may say otherwise. In 2009, only about 150,000 people were stopped on the streets in all of England and Wales, home to 54 million people. New York City has 8 million residents, less than one-sixth the size of England and Wales, but its cops stopped nearly 600,000 people, four times as many, the vast majority of them Black and Latino.

The conclusion: When English cops stop someone on the street, it is more likely to be a Black person than a white – more likely than when New York cops make a stop: 26 to 1 versus 9 to 1. But U.S. cops stop a much higher percentage of the people – about 25 times as many per capita. What that would tend to indicate is, that a Black Brit might think he had it bad in England, but he'd be more likely to get picked out to be stopped and searched on the streets of New York, because of the sheer volume of stops in the Big Apple.

The same applies to prison. The Black-white incarceration ratio is worse in Britain than it is in the United States. But the U.S. imprisons four times as many people per capita as the Brits do and holds a full 3 percent of the Black U.S. population behind bars. For Blacks in Britain, it's only 1 percent. So yes, it's true: the U.S. does have the most racist criminal justice system in the world. 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: 20101027_gf_BlackBritsPolice.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:25am EDT

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When the White House wanted to get its latest message out to black communities, it didn't call a press conference. Its spokespeople didn't turn to BET or black radio. They called in black bloggers, most of them not even remotely political, and few if any working journalists. What the White House hoped to accomplish was crystal clear --- to use them the manner corrupt and lazy reporters are used, to seduce them with the illusion of “privileged access” in return for the ability to plant anonymous stories and gossip as “news” items.

Black Bloggers Get Played By the White House

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

Real journalists would have laughed those anonymous spokesperson and “off the record” requirements right out of the room. Ethical journalists only grant anonymity to sources like whistle blowers with well-founded fears of retaliation..”

In the words of I.F. Stone, one of the 20th century's great investigative journalists, “Governments lie. All governments lie.” Stone's words are as true now as they were when he uttered them more than half a century ago.

When the White House invited black bloggers in for a Columbus Day meeting, they were told they could print anything they heard in the first half of the meeting, but that they could attribute none of it to any White House spokesperson by name, while the second half of their meeting would be completely “off the record.” Fortunately, or perhaps by design, none of the invited bloggers were actually journalists. They hailed mostly from celebrity gossip sites like ConcreteLoop, and Young, Black and Fabulous, from BET and Essence magazine, from BlackSingles.Com.

Real journalists would have laughed those anonymous spokesperson and “off the record” requirements right out of the room. Ethical journalists only grant anonymity to sources like whistle blowers with well-founded fears of retaliation, not to police to mayors or to prosecutors, not to military or civilian government officials. The only reason for representatives of these powerful institutions to speak to reporters, or bloggers “off the record” is to lie to them with the expectation that they will pass untraceable falsehoods on to the public as news, or in the case of Young, Black and Fabulous, celebrity gossip.

Sure enough, cell phone video of the president dropping in to briefly address the bloggers hit the internet the very next day, prompting the Atlantic's token black commentator Ta Nehisi Coates to grouse about colored folks who didn't understand what “off the record” meant, as if being the covert mouthpieces of the powerful were something they really should strive to be.

Black Agenda Report was not invited to the White House briefing, and that's perfectly OK with us. “

One of the invitees was a friend and colleague of ours, Ms. Leutisha Stills, now at JackAndJillPolitics.Com. Observing that the White House hadn't called black bloggers in since the 2008 presidential campaign, she opined that the bloggers were being, as she put it, “pimped.” We think Ms. Stills was correct, but for the wrong reasons. To be “pimped” is to be manipulated for some underhanded and shameful purpose. Whether bloggers, or journalists are shamefully used once every couple years, or three times every week is a difference only in the frequency of the act, not in the roles of the players or of the played.

Thus when Keli Goff, a Huffington Post and theLoop21.com blogger, called the White House briefing “a good first date,” she was publicly signaling her willingness to be used any way, any time by the powerful. There's a word for people who play that role, and that word is not “journalist.”

In his long career, the great investigative reporter I.F. Stone broke scores of original stories about war, peace and corruption. He never asked for, and he never got the privileged and “off the record” access to the powerful, which Ta Nehisi Coates imagines black reporters should aspire to, the private interviews with mayors, admirals and presidents, who would have been much too afraid of his direct and probing questions anyway. Stone got his stories the old fashioned way, with diligent research.

Black Agenda Report was not invited to the White House briefing, and that's perfectly OK with us. We understand that reporters and bloggers too, who subsist on privileged access to the powerful in return for passing their anonymous tidbits to the public as news, that such people are being pimped. Which makes them.... well.... you know....

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

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and based in Marietta GA.. He can be reached at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20101026_bd_blackbloggers.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:46am EDT

by BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball

The U.S. government’s COINTELPRO assault on Black and radical political activists wasn’t just a Sixties episode: it was part of the continuity of oppression stretching from the European invasion of the Americas and the slave trade to this very day. American regimes are prepared to deploy COINTELPRO-like repression whenever popular movements threaten the established order. “Assassination, imprisonment, surveillance and encouraged internal strife [are] employed to forcibly dissolve these movements.”

COINTELPRO 101

by BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball

It is an introduction to the often omitted history of the FBI’s illegal wars of terror waged against the full spectrum of radical Left movements in this country.”

COINTELPRO 101, the latest film release from The Freedom Archives, is nothing like the all-too-common soft, liberal documentary which tells of worse and distant horrors so as to lessen the pain or awareness of those still occurring. It is not a film that imposes a happy ending by suggesting that its subject is somehow past. It is a film that makes plain the fact that all of your problems of today, from war, to incarceration, to banking crises, joblessness and environmental catastrophe, still exist because movements to do away with them suffered and continue to suffer the greatest levels of repression from the most powerful state apparatus in world history. And worse still, as Black Panther Party veteran Kathleen Cleaver states unequivocally, unlike the official Counter Intelligence Program of previous decades, today’s version is perfectly legal.

COINTELPRO 101 is just that. It is an introduction to the often omitted history of the FBI’s illegal wars of terror waged against the full spectrum of radical Left movements in this country. The Counter Intelligence Program which emerged in the post-WWII era of international struggles for human rights and national liberation simply focused internally to the United States all that had been carried out against populations abroad. It turned so-called U.S. citizens in the 20thcentury into insurgent rebels to be dealt with as any foreign army or movement. Assassination, imprisonment, surveillance and encouraged internal strife were employed to forcibly dissolve these movements. But, as this film so skillfully demonstrates, this all was merely an extension of a continuing state project of enslavement, genocide, theft of land, culture and humanity that pre-dates even the official declaration of U.S. nationhood.

The film’s brilliance is not simply its nicely-styled aesthetic elements. They are there of course. Strong interviews, rarely seen clips, high quality audio and video production across the board with equally strong narration from Liz Derias. But it is the film’s ability to force new confrontation with the political reality of today, as much as with the past, that truly demonstrates its value. The simple point made by Geronimo Pratt is also its strongest; that COINTELPRO made official the illegality of politics, the “criminalization of positions” represented by its targets. COINTELPRO was the political and legal descendant of its ancestors, slavery and genocide, and is now itself an ancestor to the still-implemented policies of, for instance, the Patriot Act. This central theme of the film is its most important because it forces us to put in context the current and horrific state of peace, freedom and labor movements.

It turned so-called U.S. citizens in the 20th century into insurgent rebels to be dealt with as any foreign army or movement.”

As CONTELPRO 101 makes vividly clear, “the Black misleadership class” described so often in the pages of Black Agenda Report is the result of having first destroyed the rightfully ascending Black leadership class of that time. This film helps re-establish lost cognition imposed by popular anti-histories which allow for so many to falsely assume that Obama is a natural progression from Civil Rights and Black Power movements. The film inserts stolen pages of history that result in an assumption that Native America went willingly to the reservations and then happily stayed there having never having attempted movements to protect whatever remaining autonomy they might have had. No one who sees this film can return to conventional and now popularly re-emerging arguments over immigration or human “illegality.” In fact,COINTELPRO 101 goes further than most histories of this phenomenon in reminding us of the threats posed by the Puerto Rican and Chicano independence movements. One can only imagine with a kind of hope what these discussions would sound like were they to take place in this film’s context of state repression and specifically the killing of Chicano movement activists like Ricardo Falcon. Indeed, would these arguments even exist without first the assault on these movements and their representatives?

CONTELPRO 101 is the latest in an increasingly long line of collected, preserved and produced media from The Freedom Archives which seeks to appropriately tell the stories of diverse but unified efforts toward liberation. It powerfully summarizes the continued need of those in power to suppress and, in their own words, “neutralize” movements and individuals so that more acceptable replacements can be developed and promoted. For if, as the film asserts, the continued imprisonment of people like American Indian Movement activist Leonard Peltier is a “symbol” to, through discouragement, protect the state from further similar activity, then what do popular, sanctioned, elected leaders of today represent?

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

Jared Ball can be reached via email at: freemixradio@gmail.com.

Direct download: 20101027_jb_CointelproFilm.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:42am EDT