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

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

What can President Obama do to show that he cares, just a little bit, about Black Americans? Since he has done nothing so far in his term, a good a place as any would be to free political prisoners, many of whom have been held for three and four decades. Black lawyers “are calling for the United States to be held to the standards of conduct established by the United Nations’ Human Rights Council (HRC) and Convention to End All Forms of Racism and Discrimination (CERD).”

 

Political Prisoners? Black Lawyers Say Obama Could Free ‘Em All

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

This call by Black lawyers to free those this country denies are political prisoners remains as important a bright-line standard as any other.”

With their call this week for president Obama to free all political prisoners the National Conference of Black Lawyers (NCBL) have given him yet one more opportunity to actually address a specific concern of many Black and other well-meaning people around the world. And he might as well because, as Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor has written recently, Obama hasn’t done much else for Black America since assuming office.

Instead of championing or even making plain by highlighting and careful simple explanation the plights of Black Americans, Obama is instead only reapplying a very old strategy of preparing a base support of voters. Deploying a national propaganda campaign reminiscent of the early 20th century Creel Commission, Obama has Michael Blake, as he says himself, “crisscrossing the country… taking our stories directly to people about how the African-American community is benefiting from the Obama administration... For those who say we don't have a Black agenda,” continues Blake, “I would challenge them and ask, 'How are our policies not helping the African-American community?”

Well, Ms. Taylor provides as succinct an answer to anyone not living it or not able to look out their own windows. Black adult men are suffering the highest rate of unemployment ever measured, 43%. Twenty-six percent of the Black population lives beneath the poverty line, a line already set so low as to hide how bad it really is. For a family of 4 with a household income of roughly $20,000, “poverty” is too nice a term. These are so-called “Third World” conditions. Besides, as Taylor reminds us, 8% of African America has lost their homes and 21% more are in “imminent” danger of being next. And since, as Ms. Taylor also notes, there has been no real follow up to organize and mobilize by the Obamaton community of liberal leadership many other severe concerns continue to go unaddressed.

For a family of four with a household income of roughly $20,000, “poverty” is too nice a term.”

Among these include the repressive levels of incarceration and the continued political imprisonment of dozens of movement heroines and heroes. So this call by Black lawyers to free those this country denies are political prisoners remains as important a bright-line standard as any other. These lawyers are calling for the United States to be held to the standards of conduct established by the United Nations’ Human Rights Council (HRC) and Convention to End All Forms of Racism and Discrimination (CERD). In part and in short this would mean releasing political prisoners who, though not recognized as such, have been demonstrated to have suffered incarceration largely due to the unjust and illegal practices of the FBI and their Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO). This systematic and illegal attack on Black activists and those in support of Black liberation now has dozens held in anti-human conditions. Having been there more than three and four decades they are elderly and deserving of relative freedom.

Two new books are either out already or soon to come. One is Marshall Law by Marshall Eddie Conway and the other is Love and Struggle by David Gilbert. These are to be added to existing works on or about political prisoners such as Safiya Bukhari’s The War Before, Jalil Muntaquim’s We Are Our Own Liberatorsand the many works of Mumia Abu-Jamal among others and made the centerpiece of symposia, study groups and classrooms so that we may turn them into living documents of political organization and platform agenda items.

So while many continue to say that Obama is not the president of Black people he can still be challenged to amend his nation’s mistakes on behalf of the Black Americans still at least nominally held as citizens. He has done so little. These political prisoners certainly deserve their release, we certainly deserve them back in our communities and the world deserves to know that if they are not freed that all words emanating from this country regarding human rights are as baseless as the claims it makes to freedom and democracy.

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

Dr. Jared A. Ball is author of the newly released I Mix What I Like! A Mixtape Manifesto (AK Press). All proceeds from the book go to support political prisoners. More information can be found online at: IMixWhatILike.com.

Direct download: 20110525_jb_PoliticalPrisoners.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 9:18am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Public education’s corporate enemies – Democrat and Republican – now wage open warfare against teachers unions, seeking to strip them of collective bargaining rights. But that’s just the beginning. “The billionaires, and the politicians they have purchased, want nothing less than to destroy teaching as a profession.” In the ideal corporate world, most teachers would have the status of temps.

 

The Corporate Dream: Teachers as Temps

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Under the guise of ‘reform,’ the United States is moving in exactly the opposite direction as the rest of the world.”

As Democrats hustle to shovel a billion dollars into President Obama’s campaign coffers – making promises to rich people and their corporations every step of the way – America’s billionaires are spending even more money to seize control of the nation’s public schools. Although super-wealthy capitalists like Microsoft’s Bill Gates, fellow computer mogul Michael Dell, real estate magnate Eli Broad, and the rapacious owners of Wal-Mart, the Walton Family, would like people to think of them as philanthropists, they are nothing more than down-and-dirty investors who hope to reap much more than they sow. This mega-buck mafia's goal is to gain access to the $600 billion per year that taxpayers pump into public schools, and then to profit in perpetuity by shaping the nation’s educational system to their corporate needs. The corporate education project has nothing to do with growing new generations of smarter, socially aware, independent-thinking citizens, but is designed to raid public treasuries through wholesale contracting-out of public schooling.

This mega-buck mafia's goal is to gain access to the $600 billion per year that taxpayers pump into public schools.”

Teachers are the biggest obstacle in the way of the corporate educational coup, which is why the billionaires, eagerly assisted by their servants in the Obama administration, have made demonization and eventual destruction of teachers unions their top priority. Corporations hate collective bargaining, or working people’s power of any kind, but their vision goes way beyond simply neutralizing teachers unions. The billionaires, and the politicians they have purchased, want nothing less than to destroy teaching as a profession. Plutocrats like Bill Gates and politicians like Barack Obama may make noises about respecting teachers' life-long commitment to learning, but their actions prove the opposite. At every opportunity, whenever a real or manufactured educational crisis presents itself, the corporate gang champions charter schools and imports platoons of young, mostly white, inexperienced rookies from programs like Teach for America. Most of these neophytes have no intention of making teaching a career, so they accept low wages, turnover is high, and they have no long term interest in any particular school, or school system, or the profession in general. They are temporary teachers – which is precisely the point.

Just as corporations have revamped the private white collar workforce, replacing full-time, salaried personnel with “temporary” workers – a system in which some managers are officially temps – such are the prospects for teachers in the brave new corporate world of education “reform.”

The billionaires' propaganda machinery claims the corporatization of American education is necessary to make the United States “competitive,” internationally. But teachers in most of the countries that lead the U.S. in learning are highly respected, if not revered, and relatively well compensated. Under the guise of “reform,” the United States is moving in exactly the opposite direction as the rest of the world. The American people are being conned by billionaire hustlers who are stealing the public schools – and the national future – right in front of our eyes.

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: 20110525_gf_TempTeachers.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 9:03am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Since when does the leader of an empire voluntarily “reset” to become a non-interfering power? Never. President Obama’s speech, last week, was mainly geared to maintaining U.S. supremacy in the Mideast and North Africa following the shock of the Arab Reawakening. Obama chided Arabs and Africans who believe colonialism is the root of their problems. But “if colonialism is a thing of the distant past, then why are the combined militaries of the world’s historical colonial powers, the U.S. and Europe, bombing and strafing their way through Africa?”

 

Obama Claims to “Reset” the Imperial Clock

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The United States is still the boss, even if you think it’s springtime for Arabs.”

When the world starts spinning away and the situation is no longer in control, the first inclination of the control freak is to reset the clock, so that nobody else knows what time it is. The people of the Arab and Middle Eastern world know that it’s way past time to get free of American corporate and military tentacles. Oh no, said President Obama in his speech last week, insisting on the “indispensable role that our country can play – and must play – in the world.” Translation: The United States is still the boss, even if you think it’s springtime for Arabs. Off camera and thousands of miles away, NATO was making Obama’s point, having by then flown over 2,500 bombing sorties over Libya.

Obama chided those who blamed the West “as the source of all ills, a half century after the end of colonialism.” But if colonialism is a thing of the distant past, then why are the combined militaries of the world’s historical colonial powers, the U.S. and Europe, bombing and strafing their way through Africa? The president praised the “moral force of non-violence” among Arab reformers, even as the U.S. and its European allies demonstrated their ghastly capacity for violence against Arabs in the heart of Arab North Africa. Then, as if there were no contradiction, Obama switched to the other teleprompter to assure his audience that the United States “will not tolerate aggression across borders.” That is, unless it is sanctioned or carried out by the United States.

We have a chance to pursue the world as it should be,” but with “humility,” said Obama. As a superpower for the last 65 years and the only superpower for the last twenty, one would have thought that the United States had had plenty of chances to pursue such a world all along. The U.S. and the Europeans of NATO are mainly responsible for the Arab and African worlds being underdeveloped and with only recent histories of self-rule. And yet the U.S. and Europeans are still there, imposing their will. Isn’t it time, Mr. Obama, with all humility, that you allow these countries to pursue their own national aspirations?

The U.S. will be sending in lots of money and political operatives, to subvert the young people's political organizations and create phony “movements” friendly to U.S. interests.”

Obama artfully mouthed non-sequiturs entangled in maddening contradictions. The United States “can and will speak out for a set of core principles,” said the president. And Obama speaks very well – all the while shredding the core principles of international law.

Now that new forces are in motion in Egypt and Tunisia – no thanks to the United States and Europe, which propped up dictators willing to look out for the interests of American and European corporations – Obama promises to “reach the people who will shape the future -– particularly young people.” Translation: The U.S. will be sending in lots of money and political operatives, to subvert the young people's political organizations and create phony “movements” friendly to U.S. interests. And Obama vows to “promote integration with U.S. and European markets.” That's corporate-speak for deeper penetration of the Egyptian and Tunisian economies by American and European multinationals, further tightening the grip of New York, London and Paris.

So, it turns out that when Obama resets the Mideast and North African clock, it's still superpower time, and the Arab spring has not yet sprung. 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: 20110525_gf_ObamaReset.mp3
Category:US Empire -- posted at: 8:53am EDT