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

Vowing to die, if necessary, inmates at the dreaded “SHU” section of California’s Pelican Bay prison begin a hunger strike on July 1. “Like the strike by inmates in Georgia’s prison system late last year, the Pelican Bay protest cuts across racial lines.” The core issue: a brutal, soul-killing policy of solitary confinement and other deprivations aimed at turning every inmate into a snitch on everyone else.

 

Pelican Bay: Hunger Strike in Super-Max

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Inmate organizers say prisoners have been subjected to solitary and a whole range of deprivations for ten, twenty, even forty years.”

On Friday, July 1st, between 50 and 100 men at the Security Housing Unit of California’s infamous Pelican Bay prison go on hunger strike to protest cruel and unusual punishment. It is a punishment inflicted, primarily, on their minds. At the heart of the protest is solitary confinement, the barbaric torture that deprives prisoners of contact with fellow human beings, condemning them to a kind of “social death” – some for decades.

This is the “dark side” of the American repressive arsenal that Vice President Dick Cheney was so happy to unleash as a weapon in the so-called War on Terror: the stripping down of captive people through methodical deprivation of everything that makes them human. Yet these excruciating mind-destruction techniques are routinely deployed on the domestic front, in the American prison gulag, at places like Pelican Bay.

Inmate organizers say prisoners have been subjected to solitary and a whole range of deprivations for ten, twenty, even forty years. They are most incensed at the policy euphemistically called “debriefing,” in which inmates are pressured to confess to every crime they have ever committed in life. They are then expected to inform on other prisoners, their crimes, conversations and gang affiliations. This information – whether true or false – is then used to throw fellow inmates into the special Hell of solitary confinement. It is a brutal, sadistic cycle of degradation, a bizarre world in which everyone is compelled to “snitch” on everyone else. Prisoners are routinely given indeterminate solitary on the mere word of an informer. The worst section of the SHU is called the “short corridor,” where 200 men languish in the deepest isolation. These are the men at the center of the hunger strike.

It is a brutal, sadistic cycle of degradation, a bizarre world in which everyone is compelled to ‘snitch’ on everyone else.”

One of them is named Mutope Duguma, formerly known as James Crawford. The “call” for the hunger strike was put out under Duguma's signature. It asks that “all prisoners throughout the State of California who have been suffering injustices in General Population, Administrative Segregation and solitary confinement…join in our peaceful strike to put a stop to the blatant violations of prisoners’ civil/human rights.” Like the strike by inmates in Georgia’s prison system late last year, the Pelican Bay protest cuts across racial lines, involving, in the prisoners’ words, “united New Afrikans, Whites, Northern and Southern Mexicans, and others.” The organizers warn inmates to “beware of agitators, provocateurs, and obstructionists” among the prisoner population.

The Pelican Bay hunger strikers vow to die, if necessary, in a struggle against dehumanization. In the San Francisco Bay area, supporters from the outside have formed Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity (prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity@gmail.com), to let the inmates know that they are not alone, and “to make sure their voices are heard outside of prison.”

From the inside, inmate Gabriel Huerta reminds us that “Using indeterminate total lock down to extract confessions istorture by international standards as is the use of prolonged solitary confinement.” This is a global, human rights issue.

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: 20110629_gf_PelicanBay.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:56am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

U.S. media show no remorse for falsely reporting that Libyan soldiers were using rape as a weapon of war, although Amnesty International has “not found any evidence or a single victim of rape or a doctor who knew about somebody being raped.” Yet these same fraudulent journalists are blind to the murder of hundreds of Black Africans – including Libyans – by rebels. A Black neighborhood of Misrata has been emptied by rebels who vow to wipe a nearby Black town off the face of the earth.

 

U.S. Media Imagine Nonexistent Mass Rape in Libya, But are Blind to Mass Murder of Black Africans

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The U.S. corporate media do not search for truth, they search for whatever buttresses the American government’s version of the truth.”

Cynthia McKinney says she now harbors “almost a hatred for the special interest press, because they are actively lying to us.” I feel the same way about the U.S. corporate media, whose incessant, daily lies about Libya are killing people and robbing them of their country. The U.S. press trumpeted the entirely unsubstantiated mega-lie, that Libyan soldiers were being fed rations of Viagra and ordered to engage in the mass rape of Libyan women. It was a total invention of the U.S.-backed rebels in Benghazi and, no doubt, their American and European handlers. Now, even Amnesty International, which has never been a friend of Moammar Gaddafi’s government, reports they “have not found any evidence or a single victim of rape or a doctor who knew about somebody being raped.” Nothing. The rebels and their foreign friends made the story up out of whole clothe. Such lies were used to justify continued NATO bombing of Libya as necessary to protect the Libyan people – to protect Libyan women from rape by soldiers.

The massed corporate media have far more resources than Amnesty International, or Human Rights Watch, which also found no evidence of rapes. The New York Times and CNN and the rest could have checked the allegation, and exposed it. Instead, they parroted the damnable lie as if it were fact. Why? Because the lie about mass rape conforms to the foreign policy objectives – the war aims – of the U.S. government. The U.S. corporate media do not search for truth, they search for whatever buttresses the American government’s version of the truth. They are whores, mercenaries and propagandists, posing as journalists. In times of war, that makes them complicit in every war crime committed by the U.S. government. The U.S. media are killers, facilitators of the most horrible crimes.

If they had bothered to check the rape allegations, they would have had to contradict Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who falsely accused Col. Gaddafi of using rape as a weapon of war. The U.S. media would have had to discredit Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the shameless, U.S.-butt-kissing prosecutor for the International Criminal Court. Moreno-Ocampo now admits he doesn’t have any evidence connecting Gaddafi to rapes, but he’s indicted him, anyway, for various and sundry “crimes” that are just as illusory.

The rebels have put up signs vowing to “purge slaves [and] black skin.”

These same media pretend not to see that which has been obvious from the very beginning of the Libyan crisis: The rebels use anti-Black racism as a tool of war. They have slaughtered many hundreds of Black immigrant workers as well as fellow Libyans who are Black. Right in front of the eyes of western reporters in Misrata – who have made heroes and saints of the rebels – a whole neighborhood of Black Libyans was ethnically cleansed, the residents sent in hiding with bounties on their heads. Fortunately, the Wall Street Journal saw fit to print this story, probably on the theory that businesspeople need real facts to safeguard their money. Rebels in Misrata are threatening to erase the mostly Black city of Tawergha, just 25 miles south of, off the face of the earth, and to bar the Black Libyans from working or going to school ever again in Misrata. Along the road, the rebels have put up signs vowing to “purge slaves [and] black skin.”

It has taken four months for one major U.S. media outlet to report on the race war the U.S. has instigated in Libya. So, yes, Cynthia McKinney, I hate them, too. For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go towww.BlackAgendaReport.com.

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


Direct download: 20110629_gf_RapeRaceLiesLibya.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:48am EDT

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

The world of sports is disproportionately Black, but the world of sports talk radio can be a blizzard of whiteness. Dr. Ball relates an on-air clash of Black realities and white male fantasies. In the Black corner, Harold Bell: “Here was Bell, a ‘native Washingtonian,’ Black, irreverent, well-credentialed in his community if not in the establishment halls of sports radio, alerting the very White Mike Wise to a history of Black DC….”

 

Sports Radio and Apartheid North America

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

Bell was reminding his White antagonists of their real worst nightmare: Not every native loves the natives you’vechosen to love.”

Sports talk radio is the single most listened to radio format by Black men between ages 35-54 according to the latest Arbitron study of Black Radio. To the extent that this is true my own tendency to listen to so much of it is at least partially explained by this overall popularity among my demographic cohort. And anyone who listens to sports radio at all knows just how White, male and conservative sports radio is. In fact, as much as I listen I know to turn the dial as soon as the conversation leaves sports proper because despite the necessity of politics, race, class and history to any honest discussion of sports these usually descend into soft-core racist White male rants against the lesser Black beings making so much money and often breaking those stern morals exhibited by those in sports journalism. But every once in awhile the twice-a-day correctness of the broken clock of commercial radio gets real exciting and even revelatory.

A few weeks ago there was a great on-air exchange between White sports radio host Mike Wise and the Black, DC-native and sports journalist Harold Bell. It was hostile and aggressive. It was great radio. And it was also another shining example of this country’s continuing imposed racial exclusion and separateness. It is, of course, no surprise that this happened in the nation’s capital, the city still referred to as a “colony” and a “plantation” whose politics and media environment has been compared to that of any traditional colony. It was an argument that speaks to the apartheid nature of the country itself and the almost total disconnect that exists between Black and White America, the kind of disconnect that exists between any who are colonized and those who are colonizing them. Always near the settler is the colonized; near and essential to the well-being of the colonizer, but never with the colonizer.

Bell’s target was John Thompson, the now retired head basketball coach at Georgetown University and current host on the city’s other major sports radio station.”

On its surface the argument, which even for commercial sports radio had become quite heated, started when Bell was invited on the Mike Wise Show to discuss his recent article in which he truly took down a legend. Bell’s target was John Thompson, the now retired head basketball coach at Georgetown University and current host on the city’s other major sports radio station. In a long piece filled with Black insider DC sports and media history Bell’s views were summarized in his claim that Thompson’s “secret to success…” is his being “… big and black…” his use of “…profanity and ‘the race card’ to successfully intimidate his players and white folks!” Thompson, said Bell, fabricated and took advantage of racist acts and then used to them solidify himself as an anti-racist crusader and leader of Black people and all humanity. But, said Bell, none of this was real and those who know Black DC know better, from former players to mainstays in the sports, media and political world.

Mike Wise and his White colleagues were incensed. They defended Thompson and dismissed Bell as the fraud. They defended Thompson as one would expect if in fact Bell’s accusations were correct. White men defending their validating native, their accepted super Negro, the one who justifies and even appeases the current relationship. This was what Fanon meant by the role of radio in a colony; its purpose is to satiate the settler and make settlement acceptable. This requires preferred versions of the colonized. And here was Bell, a “native Washingtonian,” Black, irreverent, well-credentialed in his community if not in the establishment halls of sports radio, alerting the very White Mike Wise to a history of Black DC, of Bell’s own pioneering sports radio work which prefigured the current format that now spoke against Bell, viciously, as any colonizer’s media must. But mostly Bell was reminding his White antagonists of their real worst nightmare: Not every native loves the natives you’ve chosen to love.

Charles Mills has said that the “consensual hallucinations” Whites have concocted to protect their delicate settler psyche’s are now beyond their own interpretation. They don’t even know the world they’ve created. This small example from sports radio also demonstrates the larger disconnect that keeps Black America off the agenda for real change in the world and why Black Thought said “the ghetto might as well be the Gaza Strip,” and also why nobody takes flotillas to the hood.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Jared Ball. On the web go to BlackAgendaReport.com.

Dr. Jared A. Ball is the author of I MiX What I Like! A MiXtape Manifesto and can be reached via the web atIMIXWHATILIKE.COM.

Direct download: 20110629_jb_SportsTalk.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:37am EDT