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

The Black poet-author-activist Amiri Baraka has turned his pen on Barack Obama, a man he defended like a pit bull as recently as…it seems like yesterday. “Baraka kept up the abusive barrage against anti-Obama ‘rascals’ of the left, right up to the president’s assault on Libya.” But, a change of heart is not sufficient. Baraka and a bunch of other ex-Obamites need to practice some serious and public self-criticism.

 

Amiri Baracka and Obama – Then and Now

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

All of a sudden, Obama was ‘a negro selling his own folk, delivering us to slavery.’”

It took a savage assault on Libya by America’s First Black President and his European colonial allies – but Amiri Baraka seems to have finally given up on Barack Obama. Sorry, but I’m not one of those who is ready to say: All is forgiven, Brother Baraka. Because, although he has given Obama a tongue-lashing, in his inimitable, slashing and gutting style in the poem “The New Invasion of Africa,” Amiri Baraka has neglected to criticize himself for serving as a Left attack dog for Obama for more than three years. During that time, Amiri Baraka excoriated and defamed Obama’s “Black and progressive critics” as “anarchists,” “criminal” and whatever other insults traveled from his mind to his mouth. He said that it “is criminal for these people claiming to be radical or intellectual to oppose or refuse to support Obama.” That was back in June, 2008. He called Green Party candidate Cynthia McKinney a “pipsqueak” and disparaged as “rascals” all Blacks who did not swear fidelity to the Obama campaign. “We should be supportive of what Obama is trying to do,” said Baraka. “We should spend our energy opposing the far right and the Republicans.” Obama was not to be challenged. Instead, Baraka declared, “It is time for the left to really make some kind of Left Bloc to support Obama.”

Thus, Amiri Baraka was among those who proposed to create a left flank for Obama, in order to shut down left criticism of Obama. The theory was that Obama would help the left if the left helped him become president, with no questions asked. Which is really too stupid to be called a “strategy” – as history was very quick to demonstrate.

Baraka excoriated and defamed Obama’s ‘Black and progressive critics’ as ‘anarchists,’ ‘criminal’ and whatever other insults traveled from his mind to his mouth.”

Amiri Baraka kept up the abusive barrage against anti-Obama “rascals” of the left, right up to the president’s assault on Libya. Then, all of a sudden, Obama was “the negro yapping” to make imperial aggression “seem right” – “a negro selling his own folk, delivering us to slavery.”

Some of us who have been wise to corporate, center-right Obama for going on eight years consider Baraka’s recent epiphany to have come far too late for redemption. Others say, better late than never. But surely, his new position is incomplete without an explanation and recantation of his politics of the last three years.

Bill Fletcher is an even worse case. Fletcher was a founder of Progressives for Obama, with the same idea as Amiri Baraka: to shut down Obama critics on the left. But, you wouldn't know that to hear him now. Fletcher claims the left's mistake was not making demands on Obama from the beginning – without acknowledging his own role in preventing any such thing from happening.

New Black Panther Party leader Malik Zulu Shabazz, who put up a spirited, although weak, defense of Obama at one of our Great Debates in Harlem, right after the election, now shouts that Obama “represents the White Man” and that his wifeought to leave him.

And there are plenty of others, too many others, who used whatever influence they had to ensure that Obama was not challenged from Blacks and progressives in 2008 and the two dismal years that followed. Failure to provide a genuine self-criticism reflects not only on their judgment – which is already discredited – but on their character. 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: 20110330_gf_Baraka.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:05am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

In the media euphoria at news that Blacks were leaving the cities en mass for the suburbs and the South, corporate media seemed to make a collective decision to eliminate gentrification from the equation. A huge reverse migration and suburban exodus was depicted as wholly voluntary, having nothing to do with a crescendo of Black push-out from the whitening inner cities. “It is no wonder that 17 percent of Blacks that relocated to the South in the past decade were New Yorkers, far more than from any other state.”

 

Not a Word About Gentrification as Black Urban Population Declines

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

It is also assumed, against all relevant evidence, that this mass movement of Black people is totally voluntary.”

The corporate news media greeted new census data detailing the drastic and general decline of Black populations in center cities as if the phenomenon were, somehow, a vindication of the American dream – a cause for celebration. The dramatic increase in the movement of African Americans back to the South, which actually began decades ago, is held up as proof positive that America’s racial conflicts will soon be a thing of the past. Newsrooms seemed filled with jubilation, that the nation’s cities will soon be liberated from two generations of concentrated Black presence. Underlying the upbeat news coverage is the assumption that a diffusion of Blacks is, by definition, a good thing for the nation as a whole, and for Black people, themselves.

It is also assumed, against all relevant evidence, that this mass movement of Black people from New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Detroit, Oakland, and so many other cities is totally voluntary – that economic push-out has played no major role in emptying the cities of Blacks, and sending hundreds of thousands down to Dixie. It is an absurd assumption, by journalists whose elation at the Black exodus compels them to ignore gentrification as one of the main factors.

People who are priced out of the cities by gentrification cannot be considered voluntary migrants. Gentrification has become an overarching fact of Black urban existence, making life less tenable every day. – especially in New York. It is no wonder that 17 percent of Blacks that relocated to the South in the past decade were New Yorkers, far more than from any other state. When gentrification places the monthly rent hopelessly out of reach, there is no choice but to leave – and why not South, where it’s cheaper, and there are so many people who look like you, some of whom are related.

It is not only the poor who are pushed out, but also better off families and singles for whom city life is no longer viable.”

Those who would characterize the Black southward movement as overwhelmingly voluntary and non-economic, speculate that folks are going South to be near family. But “family” has always been there. Why the big rush to join them now? There is literally no statistical basis in the U.S. Census data to conclude that the urge to strengthen family ties is an important factor in reverse Black migration. But white corporate media – and the types of Black folks that work for it – have no problem substituting their own favorite scenarios for real data and facts.

Black movement from inner cities to the suburbs is also intertwined with gentrification. It is not only the poor who are pushed out, but also better off families and singles for whom city life is no longer viable. But all suburbs are not alike. Study after study shows that Blacks more often wind up just outside the borders of the central city in older suburbs, many of which have the characteristics of inner city ghettos, without the conveniences and urban amenities. Such suburbs hug the edges of Washington, Chicago, and Detroit. Other suburbs may appear to be racially “integrated” today – but that is only a snapshot in time. These places will be much Blacker or browner tomorrow because of white flight – the root source of segregation in America.

Whites are also in flight from the truth: that the deeply racial dynamic of gentrification is forcing Black folks to cheaper suburbs and the lower-cost South – including many Blacks that claim the move is strictly voluntary. For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, to towww.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20110330_gf_BlackPop.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:32am EDT

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

It’s long past time that we revisit the remarkable life and work of Malcolm X, especially when revisionist frauds have attempted to somehow confuse Malcolm’s legacy with the “post-racial,” corporate politician in the White House. “Malcolm X was among the first of the major figures of the era to speak so openly and caustically against the hypocrisy of this nation’s claims to be fighting wars for democracy while warring against its own captives right here.” Hopefully, Manning Marable’s long-awated biography of Malcolm, due out on April 4, will spark a genuine discussion of America’s aggressions at home and abroad.

 

Malcolm X and the Wars at Home

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

Nothing that Malcolm X gave his life fighting to destroy has even been weakened since he was killed.”

Next week, on April 4th, we finally get to see the long-awaited biography Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable. For years many of us have been hearing of this book’s eventual publication and engaging in all the kinds of pre-hype discussion that often accompanies ambiguity. But now, apparently, the wait is coming to an end and not a moment too soon. For just as those gathered this weekend at the Black Is Back Coalition’s “National Conference on The Other Wars” described in great detail, nothing that Malcolm X gave his life fighting to destroy has even been weakened since he was killed.

An honest book about Malcolm X published on April 4th during yet another Western invasion of the African continent beautifully synthesizes so much of the contradiction and hypocrisy that accompanies imperialism. April 4th of course marks the date in 1967 when Dr. King most publicly unveiled his staunch and lonely stance against imperialism. And, of course, it is also on that date a year later when he would be made to pay with his life for that position. But a beautiful contradiction is also found in this nation’s attempt to freeze King in one moment, one mention of a dream, just as it has come to freeze Malcolm in one moment, one mention of prayer in Mecca, to distract us from the specifically anti-imperialist politics of either man; all while again bombing an African nation on the orders of a son of Africa who is also the first Black president.

Town halls both live and conducted via all forms of media must be convened on Marable’s book. What it reveals anew or simply reminds us of Malcolm X must be discussed as widely as possible and precisely within this context of Malcolm’s anti-imperialism. These town halls should not only encourage deep analysis of Malcolm’s life and work but should also encourage that more of us follow the patterns established by that life and work. The wars he struggled against continue, in fact, they intensify. And we are simply not being well-enough prepared, educated and or organized to resist.

Malcolm X said that ‘the police do locally what the military does internationally.’”

The Black Is Back Coalition’s “National Conference on the Other Wars” powerfully made these points and more. And that this was done so soon before the publication of Marable’s book only increases the urgency and anticipation. Malcolm X was among the first of the major figures of the era to speak so openly and caustically against the hypocrisy of this nation’s claims to be fighting wars for democracy while warring against its own captives right here. King too would eventually reach those same conclusions with equal hostility to them. And here too those gathered at this weekend’s conference seem similarly positioned and similarly distinct from much of the prevailing wisdom of the day.

Those gathered at this weekend’s conference were cognizant of this fact. Its conveners clearly stated their opposition to and distinction from the liberal left, Black and white, who refuse to acknowledge the continuity of Western imperialism and the wars at home caused by that imperialism. So everything from police brutality and mass incarceration to the daily rounding up of 35,000 so-called “undocumented” Mexicans, to gentrification or social and ethnic cleansing, to even domestic food insecurity were all placed in this context of U.S. and Western imperialism. And given some special attention at the Conference on the Other Wars were some of those other wars occurring in blacker and, therefore, less popular regions of the world like Somalia and the Congo where tens of millions have been killed, displaced and looted by African forces from Uganda and Rwanda all serving their U.S. sponsors.

Malcolm X said that “the police do locally what the military does internationally.” The imperial circle drawn in full. It is the analytical equivalent to bearing witness today to a Black president bombing our African home while presiding over wars waged at home against Black people.

We can only be helped by critical readings of Malcolm’s words and words written about Malcolm. We need mass public discussion of Marable’s book on Malcolm X and even more organization around his legacy.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Jared Ball. Online visit us at BlackAgendaReport.com.

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

Direct download: 20110330_jb_Malcolm.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:52am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Barack Obama has the gall to claim that the U.S. supports democracy in Haiti when, as the world knows, “the United States snuffed out democracy in Haiti in 2004.” The farcical, U.S.-imposed elections have yielded grotesque results: “The most popular person in Haiti, Aristide, and his supporters are treated as political outlaws, while the presidency is guaranteed to go to an associate of the most hated man in Haiti, “Baby Doc” Duvalier.

 

The Election Charade Masks U.S. War Against Haiti

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Barack Obama has no right to put the words Haiti and 'democracy' in the same sentence.”

In the South American nation of Chile, this week, President Obama delivered a fantasyland narrative on America’s benign intentions towards its southern neighbors, including an obscene claim that the recent elections in Haiti are proof of a U.S. commitment to democracy in the region. The truth, of course, is that the United States snuffed out democracy in Haiti in 2004, when it deposed, kidnapped and exiled the democratically elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Aristide returned to Haiti only days ago over the most strenuous objections of the United States. These sham elections, in which only 22 percent of eligible voters participated in the first round, in November, were stage-managed by the United States to provide the form, but absolutely none of the substance, of democracy. The elections excluded Haiti’s most popular political party: Aristide’s Fanmi Lavalas. The result was the exact opposite of democracy: the two U.S.-approved presidential candidates are both closely connected to former dictator Jean Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, who returned to Haiti in January with the obvious blessing of the United States. Obama's version of democracy has produced the most grotesque spectacle imaginable: The most popular person in Haiti, Aristide, and his supporters are treated as political outlaws, while the presidency is guaranteed to go to an associate of the most hated man in Haiti, “Baby Doc” Duvalier. No democratic system could possibly result in such a travesty.

Barack Obama has no right to put the words Haiti and “democracy” in the same sentence. His fairytale of U.S. beneficence in the America’s or anywhere else in the world is an insult to humanity’s intelligence and fools no one outside an ignorant and self-possessed audience in the United States. It is as if he were taunting the Haitian people, whose rightfully elected president was stolen from them by force of arms by George W. Bush. Barack Obama has made himself a full accomplice in the crime.

The criminality of the U.S. in Haiti is ongoing in nature – a crime in progress that began with the armed invasion, and now includes the imposition of sham elections.”

But, what is the nature of the crime? It is far more than simply rigging an election. It is a crime against peace, the most serious violation of international law – the crime for which most of the Nazis executed after World War Two were convicted. The criminality of the U.S. in Haiti is ongoing in nature – a crime in progress that began with the armed invasion, and now includes the imposition of sham elections. And yet, who in the United States speaks of Washington's illegal war against Haiti. Certainly not the U.S. anti-war movement, which tends to recognize as wars only those U.S. conflicts in which American troops are endangered by armed resistance. The rape of Haiti's people's right to self-determination, her humiliation under foreign occupation, the terrorizing of her citizens by thugs installed at the point of American bayonets, and the latest elections atrocity – none of this is considered war by much of the American public, including some who call themselves progressives.

That's why the Black Is Back Coalition is compelled to hold a “National Conference on the Other Wars,” this Saturday, March 26, in Washington. U.S. imperialism wages the full spectrum of wars all across the globe. We need to call these wars by their true name and bring the perpetrators to justice. Anything less is to disrespect the humanity of America's victims, including Barack Obama's victims in Haiti.

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.

For information on the Black Is Back Coalition “National Conference on the Other Wars,” go tohttp://www.blackisbackcoalition.org/mobilization3.shtml.


Direct download: 20110323_gf_HaitiOtherWars.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:01pm EDT

For five hundred years, Europeans made war on virtually all the other people of the planet, erasing whole societies and nations in a crime wave that has not yet ended. These ongoing depredations against people of color, worldwide, are the focus of a Black Is Back Coalition “Conference on the Other Wars,” Saturday, March 26, in Washington, DC. “Among those ‘other wars’ are the continuing settler colonial domination of Indigenous nations, abuse suffered at the hands of the police and broader system of mass incarceration and one we might need to add; the growing hate group phenomenon occurring across this country.”

Hate Groups and the “Other Wars”

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

Barack Obama uses none of his talent and position to address this nation’s real problems with race and class.”

There is truly good reason for this week’s upcoming Conference on the Other Wars being convened in Washington, DC by the Black Is Back Coalition. For even among progressives in this country there is a tendency to be swept away by the latest foreign atrocity and to ignore the original national tendency toward anti-Blackness. This often means that the well-meaning will be distracted from national issues which are equally long-standing and often more likely to be easily addressed. Among those “other wars” are the continuing settler colonial domination of Indigenous nations, abuse suffered at the hands of the police and broader system of mass incarceration and one we might need to add; the growing hate group phenomenon occurring across this country.

The recently reported increase in domestic hate groups is a development to be blamed solely on the weakness of the political Left. Hate groups feed on the incompleteness of domestic revolutions and freedom movements along with the general refusal among elements of that Left to consistently focus on this nation’s failed attempts at real change. In fact, these hate groups are said to be gaining strength from the persistence of high unemployment which enflames pre-existing hatred, the continuing rightward lean of elected officials which encourages these groups to press harder, and the election of a perceived threat in Barack Obama who uses none of his talent and position to address this nation’s real problems with race and class.

In last month’s Southern Poverty Law Center study, which describes a massive increase in domestic hate group organization, the authors note that both the election of President Obama in 2008 and the subsequent election of hard right-wing politicians across the country have only emboldened the effort of these groups. According to the report, “The Year in Hate 2010,” these hate groups now total more than 1,000 and have increased by 7.5% since 2009 and 66% since 2000. They are inspired by the election of Obama the perfect symbol of all that has gone wrong for them and these groups are not at all mollified by an increase in political representation, indeed quite the opposite. The radical shift rightward and election of Tea Party candidates and mainstream Republicans are all the result of hate group-inspiring concessions of the Left.

Hate groups are said to be gaining strength from the persistence of high unemployment.”

These concessions include, of course, the kind of capitulation to capital represented in Obama’s refusal to invest in the public sector while only bailing out Wall Street and then appointing all of corporate America’s best friend’s to his cabinet and community of advisors. But these concessions also include similar refusals to strongly condemn a culture of racism or to strengthen through public support progressive efforts looking to improve the national understanding of race, class, gender, religion and so on. Instead the Obama administration condemns the political Left. This is precisely what Glen Ford spoke to recently when comparing the current administration’s use of the Tea Party to Bill Clinton’s use of the 1990s takeover led by Newt Gingrich. In each case progressive elements in the country were stifled by warnings that worse forms of “crackers” are waiting in the wings.

And media who might be expected to better cover things like the hyper-acceleration of hate groups or domestic terrorists make similar defensive claims to be saving us from CNN who claims to be saving us from Fox. These, by the way, are often the same media reformers who praise the coming of the internet as a revolutionary medium while ignoring the basic fact that overtly violent white supremacist hate groups have access to the web too. In fact, as Adam Klein wrote last year in his book A Space for Hate: The White Power Movement's Adaptation into Cyberspace, their websites are “the new Ku Klux Klan meeting halls” and “the latest Nuremburg rally town squares” that are no longer the “American subculture.” They are widely-visited and “globally accessible to everyone.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center report concludes that because Obama serves as a “lightening rod” for these hate groups that things are likely to get “worse before they get better.” To that we must add the predictably worsening impact on all this of a Black president who is more busy appeasing his corporate sponsors than confronting these age-old domestic hostilities. And that is why we must promote attention to those “other wars.”

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Jared Ball. Using the internet for good we are at BlackAgendaReport.com.

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

For information on the Black Is Back Coalition “National Conference on the Other Wars,” go tohttp://www.blackisbackcoalition.org/mobilization3.shtml

Direct download: 20110323_jb_OtherWars.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:39pm EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Bruce Dixon

Apartheid South Africa responded to Angola's 1974 independence from the Portuguese with a US-backed military invasion.  Declaring that "the blood of Africa" flowed through Cuban veins, Fidel Castro dispatched the Cuban armed forces to confront the armies of racist South Africa in Angola.  Between 1974 and 1988 more than 1100 Cubans laid down their lives in Africa to hasten the end of apartheid.  This week is the anniversary of the historic battle of Cuito Cuanavale, in which Cuban, Angolan and Namibian forces routed the supposedly invincible land and air forces of white-ruled South Africa, eventually making possible the release of Nelson Mandela from prison, and the end of apartheid in South Africa itself, and earning for Cuba the lasting enmity of the United States. If we in the U.S. were serious about racial reconciliation, we too would celebrate the March 23 anniversary of Cuito  Cuanavale. 

 

The Beginning of Apartheid's End – March 23 is the Anniversary of the Battle of Cuito Cuanavale

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR Managing Editor Bruce Dixon

Ceremonies in several African countries and the Caribbean this week marked the March 23 anniversary of the historic 1988 battle of Cuito Cuanavale in Angola. In this military engagement, which Nelson Mandela called “a decisive turning point in the struggle against apartheid”, the Angolan army and Namibian liberation movement, along with tens of thousands Cuban troops and aircraft inflicted a decisive defeat upon the land and air forces of white-ruled South Africa, ultimately forcing South Africa's rulers to the negotiating table.

Back in 1974, the Portuguese army ended its bloody wars of colonial subjugation in Angola and elsewhere by overthrowing its own government and withdrawing from Africa. Almost immediately after Angolan independence, America's puppet dictator of the Congo, Mobutu sent forces into Angola from the north, while white ruled South Africa, also with Washington's blessing, invaded Angola from the south.

White South Africa's armed forces were presumed to be the most powerful on the continent, capable of driving from Cape Town to Cairo with little opposition. The Angolans, even with limited aid from the Soviet Union, were thought to be doomed. The long night of apartheid seemed likely to be prolonged in southern Africa. Though most regimes on the continent opposed racist South Africa rhetorically and diplomatically, not one sent a single man with a stick to oppose the South African invasion. Only Cuba, of all Africa and the African diaspora possessed the resources of moral courage and determination to aid the armed resistance to apartheid.

Responding to the request of the new Angolan government, and to the call of their own African ancestors thousands of Cuban military personnel re-crossed the Atlantic and with tanks, aircraft and other weapons arrived to confront the racist South African army. Though the Cubans and their Angolan allies drove the white South African army and its black puppets from the vicinity of Angola's capital, the South Africans remained able to bomb and raid Southern Angola, sometimes with fairly large forces.

By 1988 South Africa had acquired nuclear weapons and its apartheid army had re-invaded Angola with the usual American approval, threatening to take the crucial air base and river junction of Cuito Cuanavale. Cuba organized a massive air and sea lift, and with the help of Barbados and Guyana, which risked US disapproval by refueling Africa-bound planes carrying arms, equipment and military personnel assembled a formidable force. Cuban pilots knocked South African aircraft from the skies. Cuba concentrated 40,000 troops in an operation which stopped and rolled back the South African advance clear to the Namibian border.

The battle of Cuito Cuanavale forced the apartheid South Africa's white rulers to abandon their dreams of military domination of the region. South Africa was compelled to begin negotiations on the independence of black Namibia, which it had occupied since 1915, and to agree to the release of Nelson Mandela and eventual majority rule in South Africa itself. The new South African state became the first in history to unilaterally renounce and destroy its own nuclear arsenal. “The history of Africa,” asserted Fidel Castro, ”will be written as before and after Cuito Cuanavale.”

Nelson Mandela agrees. “The defeat of the racist army at Cuito Cuanavale has made it possible” he says “for me to be here today! Cuito Cuanavale is a milestone in the history of the struggle for Southern African liberation.”

It was the victory at Cuito Cuanavale which marked the beginning of apartheid's end. It's a victory that should be more widely known, and celebrated here.

Bruce Dixon is based in the Atlanta area and can be contacted at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com

Direct download: 20110322_bd_cuito_cuanavale.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:22pm EDT

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

A significant tendency in Hip-Hop Female Studies provides “a crunk feminist mode of resistance” that “will help you get your mind right.” Properly armed with the canon, “You might not only break the ‘Madonna/Whore split’ when dealing with ‘women in rap music,’ but you might even break up the two-party political system or better still the haves and have-nots!”

 

Women’s History Month, Hip-Hop and The Ten Crunk Commandments

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

We are drunk off the heady theory of feminism that proclaims that another world is possible.”

They may claim that their commandments are to reinvigorate Hip-Hop Feminist Studies but as I heard them discussed by the brothers at TRGGR Radio this week, The Crunk Feminist Collective, authors of the Ten Crunk Commandments, may be able to reinvigorate much more than any one particular field of inquiry. Intellectuals, activists and artists have a more or less constant need to be reinvigorated and generally speaking those in the hip-hop community are no different. So it is good to know some strong women are endeavoring to yet again save us all.

As the collective explains, the term “crunk” combines “crazy,” or “chronic” and “drunk,” to describe a state of being “crazy drunk.” It signifies hyper-intoxication but, here, as they say, “ …where merely getting crunk signaled that you were out of your mind, a crunk feminist mode of resistance will help you get your mind right… As part of a larger women-of-color feminist politic, crunkness, in its insistence on the primacy of the beat, contains a notion of movement, timing, and of meaning-making through sound, that is especially productive for our work together… In other words, what others may call audacious and crazy, we call CRUNK because we are drunk off the heady theory of feminism that proclaims that another world is possible.”

You can read The Ten Crunk Commandments in their entirety online but here are my thoughts on why these commandments are so valuable, beyond their importance to the important work of Hip-Hop and Feminist Studies:

Their first commandment, “Know your history,” is great. We should have and know the canon in any field that we enter or want to improve. But just like they say in their second commandment, “Don’t romanticize the Past.” As they say, “there is no Hip Hop Eden” and that’s true musically, as well as, intellectually. We are collectively getting our butts kicked out here so lets definitely raise up the canon and then fire one [cannon] at it filled with today’s conditions and questions to see how it holds up. This requires the third commandment, “Positions – Knows Yours/Take One.” Place yourself politically and state that position and, as commanded, “be willing to take intellectual and creative risks, to question orthodoxy.”

We must ‘Recognize the Power of the Collective.’”

Number four, “Contextualize and Situate” the socio-political conditions which have shaped these fields of inquiry precisely because they have shaped the people themselves. This will help to, number five, “Avoid the pitfalls of presentism” to know that these conditions are part of a continuing process that your investigations must not be so narrow as to miss and, therefore, have less relevance. So when you, number six, “Embrace ambivalence” or “reject false binaries” you might not only break the “Madonna/Whore split” when dealing with “women in rap music,” but you might even break up the two-party political system or better still the haves and have-nots!

This requires that we, number seven, “Envision the possibilities,” to move beyond merely “deconstructing” and to actually begin asking questions about what society we want to build. So we definitely need to, number eight, “Wield technology” specifically, as the collective commands, for “social movements.” Its bigger than Twitter because, number nine, “Lived Realities Still Matter.” Our work must be “accountable to the people” and reflect their immediate and future needs. Because, as the tenth commandment states, we must “Recognize the Power of the Collective.” That is where the power is. With the people, not the famous, not the rich and not the politician the rich and famous tell us to vote for.

The sisters are speaking and that’s some of what I heard.

Acknowledging that Women’s History has no Month, I’m Jared Ball for Black Agenda Radio.

For more, including links to more evidence sent to us by friends that hip-hop is very much alive and in the hands of brilliant women, see us online at BlackAgendaReport.com.

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

Hip-Hop Lives, Check Her Out:

Stahhr - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-qWUj_ZXNvU

Boog Brown - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0SGeFP68VfY

Sa Roc - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nCfaVFIijP0

Rita J - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ksbUUS-iTls

Kalae - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=igh--Qv5n1k

Psalm One - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9Ls9KSmhTw

Tiye Phoenix - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ccc9p5am7mo

SoulFlower - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v-x6dKTBJUI

Tiff The Gift - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mFFcUfxwuJ8&feature=related

Akua Naru - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AyVbOFLkOw8&feature=related

Invincible - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FxZbpbCKKL4

Dominique Larue - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CcihEc2XoqA&feature=related

Jean Grae - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xJMgnuUnrBU&feature=related

She the Hard Way - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=joWKTN49BDE

Direct download: 20110316_jb_WomensHistory.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:37am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The surfacing of a 1970 open letter from 69 Black journalists “reaffirming” to the Black community that they would “not be spies for anybody,” stands in stark contrast to the current state of African American journalism. “It is almost impossible to imagine that so large and prominent a group of Black journalists would affirm their responsibility to the Black community, today, or even acknowledge that such a responsibility exists.”

A Reminder of When Black Journalism Meant Something

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

We are not the white world’s spies in the black community nor will we be used as such.”

It has been so long since there existed a vibrant, principled and effective Black journalism, few young people today have experienced it. The Black printed press is a flickering shadow of its former self, Black radio news is less than a whisper, having been made nearly extinct decades ago, and television offers a menagerie of Black news readers who don’t even write their own lines or care what comes out of their mouths. So, I felt privileged when I recently received an electronic copy of a February, 1970 advertisement in the New York Amsterdam News, a Black paper that, thankfully, still exists. The 41 year-old ad was a “message to the Black community” from 69 Black Journalists, in support of Black New York Timesreporter Earl Caldwell. Caldwell had been covering the Black Panther Party for the Times for more than a year, when the FBI subpoenaed him to testify before a federal grand jury, in California. They wanted to pick his brain and his notebooks in order to build a case against the Panthers. Caldwell refused – an act of personal courage and principle.

Caldwell’s defiance of the Nixon Administration galvanized a Black press corps that had grown in both size and militancy during the previous decade and, most importantly, considered itself part of, and beholden, to the Black Freedom Movement. Their words, published in the 1970 newspaper ad, are worth hearing, today.

The Black press corps considered itself part of, and beholden, to the Black Freedom Movement.”

It is of the utmost importance,” the Black journalists wrote, “that our position as black men and women in the news business be reaffirmed to the black community. We do not intend to be used as spies, informers or undercover agents by anybody – period!”

The open letter continued:

We are not the white world’s spies in the black community nor will we be used as such. We are not undercover agents for local, state and Federal law enforcement agencies, nor will we be used as such. We are not spokesmen for the black community. As black journalists we are attempting to interpret, with as great an understanding and truth as is possible, the nation’s social revolutions.”

That was February of 1970. It is almost impossible to imagine that so large and prominent a group of Black journalists would affirm their responsibility to the Black community, today, or even acknowledge that such a responsibility exists. In the intervening four decades, corporations have consolidated their hegemony over the means of communication, creating a kind of bubble of disinformation, propaganda and just plain nonsense that makes Americans possibly the most uninformed and misinformed people on earth. Serious, genuine Black-controlled news gathering has been missing for so long, most people wouldn't recognize it if they stumbled upon it. But I'm grateful to Tamara Nopper, the Philadelphia-based writer and researcher who dug and dug until she uncovered the ad supporting Earl Caldwell in the Amsterdam News, an almost archeological find from a time when Black journalism had real social force, when Black journalists saw their mission as one of service to their people, rather than climbing up a corporate ladder.

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.

Tamara Nopper can be contacted at kiljakim2003@yahoo.com

Direct download: 20110316_gf_BlackJournalism.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:27am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Racism is a powerful potion. It invents fungible constructs that can be deployed against new targets that are not comprised wholly of people of color. “Public workers have now become fair game for abuse, because they are associated with Blackness – the ultimate American curse.”

 

The Blackenization of Public Sector Employment

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Public employees have been associated with Blacks ever since they began unionizing.”

America’s racist chickens are coming home to roost – in Wisconsin, Ohio, New York and California, under Republican governors like Scott Walker and John Kasich, and Democratic governors named Andrew Cuomo and Jerry Brown, as well. Racism has always been the Achilles Heel of the U.S. labor movement, the insurmountable obstacle centered in white American hearts and minds that has prevent the United States from forging any kind of real, lasting compact between its peoples. If there is an American exceptionalism, it is race, which has kept the U.S. from even coming close to forming a true working people’s party.

It is racism that allows poverty to be perceived as something that Black people have afflicted on the nation, rather than the other way around. It is the multitudinous crimes of racism that have made criminality synonymous with Black in the American mind. And, through the remarkable powers of racial transference, public workers have now become fair game for abuse, because they are associated with Blackness – the ultimate American curse.

The fact that Blacks are disproportionately represented in government employment makes the entire public sector vulnerable to attack – not just because billionaires like the Koch brothers back Tea Party politicians, but because huge sections of the white public are prepared to withhold solidarity for racial reasons. When the Post Office became perceived as too Black, public support for the Postal Service began to evaporate. Black people’s relative success in the public workforce, where civil service regulations limited the reach of raw racism, has allowed rightwing politicians to slander public workers as the equivalent of “welfare queens.” Many of the same white workers that feel so assaulted by the language of the Right, deployed the same vocabulary against Black people they considered shiftless and lazy freeloaders and malingers. That’s the chicken coming home to roost.

Racism has always been the Achilles Heel of the U.S. labor movement.”

Monica Wilson, a Black Madison, Wisconsin organizer, puts it this way: “They came for us already, and now they’re coming for all of them.”

Public employees have been associated with Blacks ever since they began unionizing. Nelson Lichtenstein, of the University of California's Center for the Study of Work, Labor and Democracy, says “the origins of public sector unionism coincide with the rise of the civil rights movement.

The most famous strike in American history, today, is the Memphis sanitation strike,” in support of which Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated. Dr. Lichtenstein says the Memphis strike has “eclipsed” the 1936 Flint, Michigan auto workers strike, “and probably eclipsed Homestead,” the 1892 steel workers strike - two seminal moments in U.S. labor history.

And now Wisconsin and Ohio are moving to break their public sector unions. What does the future look like? It threatens to look like the same place most Black folks came from, and where more than half still live: the South. The future, if it is allowed to happen, looks like the present in Black activist Kevin Alexander Gray's home state. Gray will tell you that “South Carolina is first when it comes to everything bad, and last when it comes to everything good.” The nation's fate is anything but unknown. The chickens know where they came from.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20110316_gf_BlacksUnions.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:59pm EDT

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

In the spirit of those brave and selfless Georgia prisoners who stood up for their human rights last December, formerly incarcerated people from across the country convened their own first national meeting in Alabama last week. The next is scheduled for November in Los Angeles. They stand for the full restoration of civil and human rights, and the rollback of the nation's policy of mass incarceration.

First National Conference of Formerly Incarcerated Persons Convenes In Alabama

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

Many have declared that the real Freedom Movement of the 21st century will be a broad civic mobilization to confront the prison state and the policies of mass incarceration it inflicts upon the black, the brown and the poor. If so, the clearest sign that such a movement is truly underway is the awakening and self-organization of the formerly incarcerated.

Last week, The Ordinary Peoples Society of Alabama hosted the first national gathering of the Formerly Incarcerated & Convicted Peoples Movement. The three day meeting was attended by ex-prisoners from all 50 states and included formerly incarcerated leaders from dozens of groups from round the country, including co-conveners All of Us or None (CA), Women on the Rise Telling Her Story (NY), National Exhoodus Council (PA), A New Way of Life (CA), Direct Action for Rights and Equality (RI) and many more.

Many of these one-time prisoners had long ago seized control of their lives and destinies to found service and self-help organizations in their own cities. Up till now, much of their activism has been about providing counseling to former inmates and their families, helping them find jobs, health care, housing and a tenuous foothold from which to re-enter society. They have led local efforts to curb violence and drug use, to keep kids in school, as well as restorative justice initiatives designed to make the victims of crime whole and heal the wounds of their families and communities. Separately, the former prisoners and the organizations they founded have waged local, statewide and national campaigns to curb the vicious and pervasive discrimination against former prisoners in employment and housing and to fully restore their civil and human rights.

Participants at the meeting pointed out that 700,000 prisoners were released from state and federal custody every from 2005 to 2009, mostly into communities with few jobs, little health care, dim economic prospects, and not many educational opportunities. These lives cannot be rescued, they said, unless the communities they come from and return to are rescued as well.

In the end, more prisons are not the answer to crime,” Pastor. Kenneth Glasgow of Dothan Alabama, one of the event's principal organizers told Black Agenda Report. “Mass incarceration,” he emphasized, “locks long-term poverty in place for the communities many prisoners come from and return to. Our work changing individual lives has led us back here, back to Selma and Montgomery,” said Pastor Glasgow. “Just as we've changed ourselves, we are going to challenge America, to change America, and to roll back this prison state.”

The meeting of the Formerly Incarcerated Persons Movement was funded in part by the good people of the Drug Policy Alliance. It was conducted in the spirit of the Peoples Movement Assemblies, which are a spin off of the U.S. and World Social Forum Movements. Participants in the meeting left with commitments to begin the political education and organization of the formerly incarcerated, their families and their communities across the country as part of their ongoing self-help agenda.

That is how mass movements for real change grow. The next national gathering of the formerly incarcerated will take place in Los Angeles this November. You can contact the national Movement of Formerly Incarcerated Persons on the web at wearetops.com, or through links on our web site, www.blackagendareport.com.

For Black Agenda Report, I'm, Bruce Dixon.

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: 20110309_bd_formerly_incarcerated.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:26am EDT