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

Sunday’s election is the last thing Haiti’s majority wants or needs. It is the United States that needs Sunday’s election in Haiti to provide “a veil of legality on the theft of Haiti’s sovereignty and independence by U.S. imperialism and its allies.” Haitians have been given a choice to validate their own re-enslavement. Most will choose No.

 

Haiti Election: Theatrical Prelude to Colonization

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

It is a charade, paid for by the United States, to provide a veneer of legitimacy to America’s colonization of Haiti.”

The United States, having stolen Haiti’s government in a 2004 coup and re-invaded the country with 22,000 troops after last January’s catastrophic earthquake, now foists a farce of an election on the cholera-wracked nation. It is an election designed, not to allow the Haitian people to express their political aspirations, but to impose a veil of legality on the theft of Haiti’s sovereignty and independence by U.S. imperialism and its allies. In other words, this Sunday, when a small minority of Haitians go through the motions of casting votes for a president, they will in effect be participating in the very opposite of a democratic process. This election is not for their benefit – it does not enhance the power of Haiti’s people to determine their own destiny. Rather, it is a charade, paid for by the United States, to provide a veneer of legitimacy to America’s colonization of Haiti.

Whoever is eventually chosen among the 19 candidates for president – most likely in a runoff election between the two top vote-getters, in January – he or she could not possibly be the choice of the Haitian people. That’s because the party of ousted President Jean Bertrand Aristide, Fanmi Lavalas, which is by far the most popular political organization in the country, has once again been barred from taking part in the election. As a result – and also because of widespread opposition to holding elections at all when cholera is raging in the country – turnout will be low and the outcome unsatisfactory to the majority of people.

Which is the only kind of outcome that the United States will tolerate. The American ambassador to Haiti, Kenneth Merten, who is a notorious liar, nevertheless spoke the truth when he told the Washington Post that he hadn’t met anybody among the contenders that he “can’t work with.”

Real power belongs to the Haiti Recovery Commission co-chaired by former U.S. President Bill Clinton and totally dominated by foreign governments and bankers.”

The United States owns this election, because Washington has paid for it. The nominal cost is $15 million for Sunday’s election machinery. But one must also factor in the cost of arming and training the death squads that swept into Haiti from U.S.-financed bases in the Dominican Republic to reverse by violence the Haitian people’s electoral choices, in 2004. U.S. costs for the colonization of Haiti include funding and organizing the minority political opposition to President Aristide, so that the majority’s will could be thwarted. And it includes the huge expense of bribing and orchestrating the United Nations to become a kind of 12,000-man rent-a-cop security outfit for the occupation of Haiti, against the people's will.

What the U.S. is paying for in this election, is a grotesque caricature of a vote that will produce a nominal president who will sit as a pitiful figurehead over a state that has no power. Real power belongs to the Haiti Recovery Commission co-chaired by former U.S. President Bill Clinton and totally dominated by foreign governments and bankers whose mission is to restore Haiti to the colonial status it escaped two centuries ago.

Through blockades and invasions and coups and, finally, electioneering theatrics, the Americans think they have purchased a Black Krayol-speaking colony in the Caribbean. They will soon find out they have bought an island of resistance. 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: 20101124_gf_HaitiElection.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:50am EDT

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

Hip-hop has become a meaningless word – or worse, a word shellacked with so many saleable commercial and political meanings that it becomes a weapon against the very people that originated the genre. A new film is circulating, with clarifying impact. “The film forces a real conflict over who defines hip-hop, who uses it for what and what those of us who claim to know better are actually doing to address these and related concerns.”

 

Black August and Crises of Hip-Hop as Euphemism

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

“’Hip-hop’ has become more a euphemism that erases the blackness of its progenitors and their condition.”

If you didn’t know already, let me be the first to tell you that there is indeed a crisis in hip-hop politics and intellectualism. It is a crisis of separation, a crisis of deracination and of political trajectory. In part it is a crisis of euphemism and in this case it’s as old as calling the horrors of enslavement a “triangular trade.” But unlike the way, say, “urban” has become a euphemism for Black, and one known as such, “hip-hop” has become more a euphemism that erases the blackness of its progenitors and their condition. The euphemistic erasure of blackness, of Africanness, has long-reached crisis proportions, where it is used to confuse, justify or make invisible the people and their lived experiences. And it is a crisis that needs to be more aggressively addressed by those who accept the brand-naming of a “hip-hop generation,” “hip-hop studies” or “hip-hop activism.” And whether or not she meant to challenge this euphemism, Dream Hampton has so nicely done so with her new film, Black August: A Hip-Hop Documentary Concert.

Since 1998 the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement’s Black August Hip-Hop Project has made its mission the exposure of political prisoners and the issues surrounding political imprisonment to new generations of young people. Since then organizers have created nice blends of concert performances and political education as methods of raising funds for and awareness of political prisoners. The existence of the work and the making of a film about the work by definition explodes the fallacy of hip-hop’s popular separation by euphemism from the communities of Black and Brown people that created it, the conditions these communities still suffer and the status of some of those captured in struggle against those conditions. The film forces a real conflict over who defines hip-hop, who uses it for what and what those of us who claim to know better are actually doing to address these and related concerns. And at a recent screening of the film in Washington, D.C. all of these wonderful tensions were evident.

De-politicized and empty conversations simply cannot coexist with this film, hence its unyielding brilliance.”

After watching the film, which explores some of the history of Black August, first organized to honor “fallen freedom fighters” like George Jackson in the 1970s, a lively discussion occurred. It was clear that this discussion was one of euphemism v. unmasked reality. Some expressed shock at the very existence of political prisoners. Others talked of joining and reviving a chapter of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement. Others exchanged community efforts to support and even mimic aspects of the work of those currently incarcerated, exiled or those who had been assassinated. But what was most clear was that no euphemism could withstand the film itself. No tired discussions of hip-hop as some distinct culture divorced from any specific origin, no nonsense of hip-hop being color blind, or of hip-hop as a mechanism of communal economic empowerment or some disconnected intellectual enterprise were even attempted. Nobody even repeated ridiculous claims that hip-hop elected Obama in 2008 or caused his party’s downfall in 2010. In fact, Obama was only raised as an issue of what now impedes the work represented in the film. No, de-politicized and empty conversations simply cannot coexist with this film, hence its unyielding brilliance.

The post-screening discussion, which was not held just among activist circle regulars, or what Obama’s folks call the “professional left,” went straight to the matters at hand. What and who are political prisoners, what do they want, what did they do then and what are we going to do now since not one of their issues has been positively resolved. And this is the power of the film and the work depicted in the film. That those themes might resonate beyond the activist or intellectual elite and explode the euphemism hip-hop has become is precisely the point. Black August addresses the crisis of euphemism which is a crisis in our political consistency. Dead Prez have famously said that “it’s bigger than hip-hop,” and so is this film. It may depict performance but, as Black August organizer Monifa Bandele can be heard closing the film, “It ain’t no damn concert.”

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Jared Ball. Click, link and bookmark us at BlackAgendaReport.com.

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

Direct download: 20101124_jb_BlackAugustFilm.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:45am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

It is right to howl at the indignities inflicted on airline passengers – but hypocritical, if the howls come from folks who applaud or remain silent while police in big cities across the country subject hundreds of thousands of Black and Latino males to arbitrary stop and frisks. “As a Black male who is often perceived as Latino or Middle-Eastern, I expect to get stopped and questioned, pulled from the crowd and patted down.”

If the Airport is a Police State, What is the Ghetto?

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The police state has long been in effect in Black America – so long, it is experienced as routine.”

Critics of the Obama administration’s escalating intrusions on the dignity and violations of the privacy of air travelers are certainly correct in raising holy hell with the voyeurs and bullies that run the homeland’s security apparatus. The president’s men are a nasty little bunch, who seem to respond to every hint of danger by shouting “strip!” and fondling everyone within reach. But I must admit that I’m not personally overly upset at the government’s deployment of machinery that electronically renders one naked, or the prospect of more frequent and intrusive pat-downs.

As a Black male who is often perceived as Latino or Middle-Eastern, I expect to get stopped and questioned, pulled from the crowd and patted down. My teenage and young adult years coincided with the frequent hijacking of flights to Cuba. I fit the profile. That coincided with the war on drugs that never ended, a war that treated me like an enemy combatant, and still does. A pair of narcotics detectives used to stop me without fail, among thousands of other train passengers, each week, same time, same day, as I passed through Union Station commuting from New York to Washington.

La Migra,” the immigration authorities, have challenged me in DC, all dressed up for an expensive business lunch at nigh noon on K Street, demanding to know if I was a citizen. I’ve been pulled off a bus full of other journalists on the tarmac at the airport in Vienna, Austria, by machinegun-toting police, for no other reason than my physical type. My hometown neighborhood is a designated drug zone – like every Black neighborhood in Jersey City, New Jersey – where anyone can be stopped and questioned about their reasons for being in the area; where one is presumed guilty until the police decide you might not be.

If Philly were New York-sized, the cops would be stopping and frisking 1.2 million people on the streets each year.”

I spend much of my time in New York City, where about 600,000 pedestrians, the vast majority of them Black or Latino and male, will be accosted by cops, by the end of this year. There is an eight-block area in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, where 50,000 stops were made over two years, many if not most involving the same Black, male neighborhood residents over and over again.

But it gets worse. In Philadelphia, a city one-sixth the size of New York, at least 200,000 mostly Black, male pedestrians are stopped each year. That means, if Philly were New York-sized, the cops would be stopping and frisking 1.2 million people on the streets each year, twice as many as in the Big Apple. This is stop-and-frisk gone wild, used as a weapon of racial bullying and control, and as an intake valve for Black mass incarceration, sending huge proportions of Black makes into institutions where they don't render you naked electronically, but up close and personal, at any and all times the prison authorities see fit, and where visiting family members are subject to have their bodily orifices explored.

So, Yes – federal search policies at airports are a sign of a growing police state. But the police state has long been in effect in Black America – so long, it is experienced as routine. I fear that some of those who recoil at heightened airport security also believe that the people in the Bed-Stuys of America get what they deserve.

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: 20101124_gf_AirportVsGhettoes.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:57am EDT