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

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A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by Glen Ford

The United States does as it pleases in Haiti, behaving as a conqueror while pretending to have no responsibilities for the welfare of the people whose government Washington has stolen. “The U.S. is obligated to spend as many billions as it takes on the human needs of the people of Haiti – not as a matter of charity, but as a solemn legal responsibility” – or set Haiti free.

 

America’s Obligations to Haiti

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by Glen Ford

Haiti is a U.S. possession in every practical sense of the term.”

If you want to know what the rulers of the United States would do if they had unchecked power to order the world as they saw fit, look at Haiti. It is in Haiti that the United States shows its true face: a face of infinite greed, boundless cruelty, absolute cynicism, naked aggression, and a total lack of respect for human dignity – especially, the dignity of Black humanity.

Since 2004, Haiti has been a de facto colony of the United States. By organizing and funding the armed coup that toppled the freely elected government of Jean Bertrand Aristide, and then physically kidnapping and transporting him into African exile, the United States made itself responsible for everything that has transpired, since. This is a principle embedded in international laws of war, of conquest: that the conqueror takes responsibility for the welfare and safety of the vanquished population. The rationale is simple: by conquering a people and seizing authority over the defeated country, the conqueror assumes the responsibility to protect the inhabitants and their human rights, since the conquered people have lost the means to provide and ensure that for themselves.

The United States helped codify that principle into international law more than 60 years ago, but fundamentally violates its spirit every day, in Haiti. The Americans claim they didn’t overthrow President Aristide, but simply had their Marines transport him to safety. The Bush administration installed in Haitian government the most vicious pack of criminals ever assembled in the Americas, and watched while these handpicked degenerates murdered thousands. But the U.S. claimed that was not their responsibility, since America had not conquered Haiti. The U.S. joined with the long ago colonial ruler, France, and the new-jack colonialist, Canada, to figure out what to do with Haiti, without seeming like they were legally responsible. The great white powers snapped their fingers and the United Nations appeared. Haiti became a kind of international protectorate, which is something like being everybody’s colony.

By conquering a people and seizing authority over the defeated country, the conqueror assumes the responsibility to protect the inhabitants and their human rights.”

But no one doubted, certainly not the Haitians, that the UN was just a blue-helmeted security service for Uncle Sam – that Haiti was a U.S. possession in every practical sense of the term. If any fool thought differently, last January’s catastrophic earthquake proved that the United States was the occupying power in charge. The Americans seized the Port-au-Prince airport, blockaded the coast, and sent in 22,000 troops whose word was LAW in Haiti. Washington did all of this unilaterally, as if it had every legal right – which it would have, if the Americans acknowledged themselves as the conquering power. But of course, that would mean the U.S. was obligated to spend as many billions as it takes on the human needs of the people of Haiti – not as a matter of charity, but as a solemn legal responsibility. After all, the U.S. took their government from them.

The Americans prefer to deny that they are the power-in-charge while pulling all the strings, including keeping former president Aristide's party – the most popular in the country – out of the November 28 election.

This is how the Americans would rule the world, if they could: standing on everyone's necks.

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: 20101117_gf_CaptiveHaiti.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:08am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR columnist Jared A. Ball

In the Seventies, Black radio news was a powerhouse reaching virtually every Black household with hourly newscasts that fueled political movements and incubated youthful Black leadership. Famed journalist and educator Phyl Garland chronicled and helped shape the era. “This time the struggle is not only for jobs and meaningful representation, but for the control of black minds through the grist they are fed by the communications media,” she wrote. The present generation’s mission is to seize control of Black-oriented media in service of the people.

 

More than Remembering Phyl Garland! Black Power and Community Controlled Broadcasting

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR columnist Jared A. Ball

Radio today has been stripped of its capability to produce relevant news to its audiences and has its musical content determined by no more than three European and Asian conglomerates.”

In October of 2011, from DC to Baltimore and probably a city near you, the most popular radio stations targeting Black and Brown people have their FCC licenses coming up for renewal. They offer no news, orchestrated play lists filled with songs selected by the companies that own them which are played with deadening repetition in between the sale of their audiences to the highest corporate bidder who can then advertise any number of useless and harmful products. These stations do not address our needs. Instead they redefine those needs into their interests. Our refusal to address this means we routinely turn ourselves and our loved ones over to the whims of others and suffer the consequences. So lets lay claim to the airwaves which belong to us already and forcibly redefine our relationship with our media environment. Its been done and it needs doing again.

Though she died four years ago this month Phyllis or “Phyl” Garland wrote forty years ago this month of similar efforts happening around the country. Garland herself taught and was the first woman granted tenure at the Columbia School of Journalism, she loved and wrote about music and had been a journalist with the Pittsburgh Courier and Ebony magazine. And in the November 1970 issue of Ebony magazine, she explained the one-to-one correlation between radio programming and radical political movements. She described efforts around the country among Black people who were threatening the very licenses which give our public airwaves to corporations who, in exchange for the extremely lucrative public property, are theoretically supposed to provide us with relevant information, cultural expression and freedom to make public the concerns of our communities. Garland was as right to cover those efforts as were the people who then claimed that those stations did them a disservice. And we would be right in our similar claims today.

The airwaves which daily convey news of wars, moon landings, consumer products and so-called entertainment to millions of Americans are the property of the people.”

Defining the importance of public challenges to radio and television broadcast licenses Garland wrote, “Black Power, that dynamic political economic concept born of both hope and pride, is finding new directions in these uncertain days of ‘good news, bad news and Agnews.’ The objective has been selected, the strategy plotted and the offensive is underway. This time the struggle is not only for jobs and meaningful representation, but for the control of black minds through the grist they are fed by the communications media... The distantly perceivable results could revolutionize a people.”

She continued, “The premise supporting this battle is the underpublicized fact that the airwaves which daily convey news of wars, moon landings, consumer products and so-called entertainment to millions of Americans are the property of the people. They are only leased to those who use them through licenses granted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) a regulatory government agency which is supposed to determine whether the licensee is upholding his obligation to ‘fulfill the tastes, needs, and desires of his community.” Broadcasters have not often lived up to this responsibility, so far as blacks are concerned, and gradually this neglected segment of the public is coming to understand that it has a right to challenge the media barons who have so blatantly ignored black tastes.”

She writes of an Atlanta-based “ad hoc Community Coalition on Broadcasting composed of civil rights groups” who pressured and got signed agreements from 23 of 26 local stations to employ more Black workers both “on-air and behind the scenes” and to return some of their millions of dollars of revenue back into the community via scholarships, job-training programs and to “more accurately reflect black life of the past and present.”

As we’ve highlighted for years radio today is as important in Black America as ever, but has been stripped of its capability to produce relevant news to its audiences and has its musical content determined by no more than three European and Asian conglomerates. Let’s flood the public files of these radio stations with emails and letters that express our concern over their programming. Specifically, we must begin to further document the absence of news, local reporting and locally-based artists from the airwaves. We must challenge the complete dominance over our programming, music and news, by an ever-decreasing number of white-owned corporations and advertisers who reduce even nominal Black ownership to meaninglessness.

Stay tuned for more calls to build new Community Coalitions on Broadcasting, or what we have more recently called a News For the People Coalition. Lets begin by making the fundamental point that the airwaves are ours to begin with and what happens with them is up to us.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Jared Ball. Check us out at BlackAgendaReport.com.

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

Direct download: 20101117_jb_PhylGarland.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:59am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Still unwilling or unable to admit that they were “psyched out” by Barack Obama and his corporate handlers, Lefties search for psychological reasons that the First Black President has been such a disappointment. It’s the failure to fight thing, or the lack of vision thing, or the failure to communicate thing, they say. “It isn’t that Obama has trouble conveying his vision, it’s that his actual vision is unacceptable to progressives.” As for his willingness to fight, Obama fought his own left wing, and “stomped their butts into the dirt” over his corporate health care plan.

 

Psycho-Babbling Obama

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Rather than face the fact that Obama is not a friend of the people, leftish commentators insist on conducting a psychological analysis of the president.”

For two years we watched Barack Obama undercut the left wing of his party at every turn, with a disdain so palpable his minions could not resist insulting leftists in the most juvenile terms. For two years we watched the First Black President facilitate the greatest transfer of wealth in human history – $12 to $14 trillion – to Wall Street, and we watched as he put the U.S. war machine back on the offensive in the world. For two years we heard Obama say over and over again that he had no intention of taking targeted action to help Black and brown communities that had been targeted for destruction by banks. After two years, one would think that folks on the Left would have gotten the idea that Obama is pro-Pentagon, pro-Wall Street, and doesn’t have a transformative bone in his body regarding either race or class. But, for many, the message, however obvious, has not sunk in. Rather than face the fact that Obama is not a friend of the people, leftish commentators insist on conducting a psychological analysis of the president. They seem to be trying to find some quirk in Obama’s personality that can by corrected in time for the Armageddon showdown with the Republicans.

Take Paul Krugman, of the New York Times, for example. People on the Left quote him a lot, which I find strange, since Krugman can talk about the political meltdown of 2008 for 45 minutes and never say the word “corporation” – as if corporations had nothing to do with the meltdown. But anyway, the liberal Krugman insists that Obama’s problem is, he tried to transcend partisan divisions, not understanding that sometimes one has to fight. That’s a recurring theme with Obama apologists, that Obama won’t fight. But Obama showed plenty of fight during the health care debate. He fought the left wing of his own party every step of the way, exiling single-payer supporters to the margins while he kissed Republican boodie and empowered Blue Dogs and DLCers. He didn’t just fight progressives, he stomped their butts into the dirt.

They seem to be trying to find some quirk in Obama’s personality that can by corrected in time for the Armageddon showdown with the Republicans.”

Dr. Ron Daniels, of the Institute for the Black World, thinks the problem is Obama’s “failure to effectively communicate” his “vision, programs and policies.” I think Obama has communicated quite effectively, that he wanted expanded theaters of war, trillions for Wall Street, and nothing special whatsoever for Black or brown America – those places that he says don’t exist. It isn’t that Obama has trouble conveying his vision, it’s that his actual vision is unacceptable to progressives. Of all people, Barack Obama doesn’t need communications lessons.

William Greider, probably the left-most of our three subjects, says Obama “needs to learn hardball” so he can fight the Republicans that are “trying to bury him.” This, however, would require a 180 degree vision change on Obama's part, since his actual “vision” has always been to join with Republicans at some point much further to the right than the rest of us would ever want to go.

The psychological problem is not Obama's. It's the problem of much of the Left, who imagined an Obama that never existed. That's why it was so easy for Obama and his corporate handlers to psyche-out the Left. If you think Obama is salvageable, then you're the one with the psychological problem.

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: 20101117_gf_ObamaBabble.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:27am EDT