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