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

Wearing a strange smile, Barack Obama announced that he wanted a government that the size of Dwight Eisenhower’s – the ultimate logic of having accepted the Republican premise that the nation’s greatest problem is debt. Far from “winning the future,” Obama asked the country to join him in a “return to an era before Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society and the great social movements that brought some level of civilization to a savage and brutal America.” New census data show African Americans have already slid halfway to the Fifties. “Black America has already been pushed back at least a generation, to a point somewhere before 1984.”

 

Black Economy Disintegrates As Obama Welcomes Return to the Eisenhower Era

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

There can be no fair sharing between rich corporations and individuals who might lose a few tax breaks and deductions, and people who already have next to nothing.”

Who could have imagined that a Black U.S. president in the 21st century would invite the nation to “cut domestic spending to the lowest level it’s been since Dwight Eisenhower was President.” But that’s what Barack Obama offered this past Monday night, asking the public to endorse trillions of dollars in permanent cuts that will, indeed, bring us back to the Fifties. Barack Obama was smiling as he asked the nation to embrace a return to an era before Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society and the great social movements that brought some level of civilization to a savage and brutal America. He was confident that his most loyal constituency, Black America, would accept being Shanghai’d into his backwards time machine. “While many in my own party aren’t happy with the painful cuts,” said Obama, “…enough will be willing to accept them if the burden is fairly shared.”

But of course, there can be no fair sharing between rich corporations and individuals who might lose a few tax breaks and deductions, and people who already have next to nothingAnd Black people have already been in the time machine, having lost 53 percent of their meager household wealth between 2005 and 2009. According to the Pew Research Center, Black median household wealth fell from one-tenth to one-twentieth that of whites in just four short years, the largest racial disparities since the Census Bureau began tracking such data, a quarter century ago. Thirty-five percent of Black households have zero wealth, or negative net worth. How can there possibly be fairness in shrinking the government to a size that cannot possibly be of support to the one-third of Black households that own nothing, or less than nothing?

Obama was confident that his most loyal constituency, Black America, would accept being Shanghai’d into his backwards time machine.”

The Black middle class, which is employed disproportionately by the government, is at the edge of oblivion. Obama’s “Grand Bargain” with the Republicans, if they will only take it, would push hundreds of thousands of Black families into the abyss. The nine percent of Blacks that owned stocks in 2005 lost 71 percent of their portfolios by 2009. Whites lost only nine percent of their stock holdings. Bye-bye, Black capitalism.

Black America has already been pushed back at least a generation, to a point somewhere before 1984. And what does Obama propose? That we revert to an Eisenhower-era government.

His smug confidence that his Black base will remain loyal, is well placed. African Americans are more concerned with Obama’s fortunes than their own – or, to be more precise, confuse and conflate their own fortunes with his. Back in January of 2010, the same Pew Research Center that just detailed the scope of the economic catastrophe that has befallen African Americans, found that Blacks were under the illusion that they were better off than at any time in the last 25 years. That same month, Black unemployment hit a 25-year high. Subsequent surveys by other polling organizations confirmed that Black people, far more than any other group and despite all the evidence of their own eyes and ears, are filled with confidence in their own and the nation’s future. I call it “The Obama Delirium Effect.”

Barack Obama is counting on this delirium to neutralize Black people’s historical political senses. That’s why he uses his presidential pulpit to ask his supporters to drink the potion and to look forward to waking up back in the days of President Eisenhower. Obama has got to be one of the most cynical men on Earth. 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: 20110727_gf_ObamaPulpit.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:21am EST

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The Obama campaign has succeeded in placing it’s Black pit bull in MSNBC’s prime time slot, where Al Sharpton will more than fulfill his promise to never say anything critical of the First Black President. MSNBC ejected a mildly leftish analyst to provide Sharpton with a megaphone to keep African American politicians and activists on the Obama reservation, where they can do no harm to Wall Street’s rulers – a perfect position for an “eminently buyable man.”

 

Is Sharpton Move to MSNBC Black “Progress”?

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

All we will get from Sharpton is a demand that Blacks build a “wall” around Obama to keep him safe and secure in the White House for another term.”

Is Rev. Al Sharpton’s move to a prime time slot on MSNBC television a good thing for Black people? There was a time, two generations ago, when the placement of just about any Black personality in front of the TV cameras was assumed to be a pure plus – that is, unless that person somehow embarrassed “The Race” in full view of white people. But that was before whites with power learned how to put Black faces to corporate use. They discovered that there were plenty of African Americans that were so eager to be on television, they would say anything. These aspiring anchors would read news copy full of racist code words like “forced bussing” without complaint – glad to get the check and to be on the tube. The news didn’t really get better, in terms of its treatment of Black people and the issues that mattered most to the African American community. In fact, it’s generally gotten worse. But the presence of Black faces on the screen created the illusion that television’s news content was now friendlier, and more relevant, to Blacks.

Lots of Black folks are still playing that face-counting game, and for them, MSNBC’s decision to put Al Sharpton out front at 6pm is a sign of Black progress, maybe even a kind of coup. Look at Reverend Al! He used to take it to the streets to challenge authority, and now he’s the authority, holding down a prime-time spot. That must be good for Black people, right?

Wrong. MSNBC’s choice of Sharpton over the leftish young Turkish American Jenk Uygur is a net loss for everyone outside the orbits of power. Al Sharpton is President Obama’s paid pit bull, whose main mission is to maul and mangle any Black politicians and activists that might consider leaving the Obama reservation. He has beenbankrolled by billionaire New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is running Black and brown folks out of the Big Apple as fast as hyper-gentrification will allow. Sharpton – always buyable and never trustworthy – has completed his biggest deal yet with Power, Wall Street power, and the power of a White House that serves Wall Street. He is nestled in the bosom of the rulers, and will savage anyone that tries to mess with his sugar daddies: Obama and Bloomberg.

MSNBC’s choice of Sharpton over the leftish young Turkish American Jenk You-gur is a net loss for everyone outside the orbits of power.”

So, how do Black people, or anyone else seeking to understand reality, benefit from having Obama’s pit bull and Mayor Bloomberg’s pet taking up space on the MSNBC set, every night? Who will be better off when Rev. Al hosts Obama administration officials, or even the president, on his show? Rev. Al is not going to put forward any questions worth asking – that would violate the terms of his service to Obama and Wall Street. No, all we will get from Sharpton is a demand that Blacks build a “wall” around Obama to keep him safe and secure in the White House for another term – no matter how much of the social safety net he signs away forever.

The young Turkish American host, Jenk Uygur, showed that he could be counted on to confront the Obama administration on questions of policy. That’s why he was replaced by the mercenary, Al Sharpton.

So, we will have our Black face at 6pm. Some African Americans think what’s most important is to have Black role models on TV, for the sake of the children. That’s what’s so scary: Al Sharpton, the eminently buyable man, a role model for Black kids. 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@BlackAgendarport.com.

Direct download: 20110727_gf_SharptonMSNBC.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 5:15am EST

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

If you’re longing for the definitive movie about A Tribe Called Quest, you may have to wait a couple more decades. The Sony-produced Beats, Rhymes and Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest is a “flippant approach to a group, to a time, to a cultural expression that today so desperately needs some thoughtful reflection.” This shallow piece of cinema proves the truth of a line the rap group wrote back in the day: “Industry rule number 4080: record company people are shady”

 

Beaten Rhymes and Strife: The Instinctive Travels of A Tribe Called Colonized

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

The film encourages no deeper appreciation for the legends and no deeper understanding of why so few today who are like them could become as big as they once were.”

A documentary film about the legendary rap group A Tribe Called Quest should be a very big deal. A film about them should be as wide-ranging as this collective of talent. And the film should be as powerful as the time and culture that produced them. Most importantly, it should educate and inspire its audiences as did the group themselves. Instead it’s just another film that mirrors so much of what remains wrong in general; the story of truly dope Black people produced by a far less dope White one and, of course, now owned by Sony whose music wing currently assures that nothing like A Tribe Called Quest ever again even approaches a radio broadcast or video screen. Beats, Rhymes and Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest is a film for its times capturing the low end of a theory that has been so ravaged by marauders at midnight that its rhymes are beaten and stripped of their content like, as you’ve no doubt guessed, a wallet left in El Segundo.

What should be colossally ironic is that the film comes from Michael Rapaport, whose film career has, as kind of bookends, the underground interracial love affair of Zebrahead (1992) and the most appropriate portrayal of the super-wigger television executive in Spike Lee’s Bamboozled (2000). Its this role that seems to be best representative, the White boy who assumes himself to be more authentically Black than Black can be and who, like Quentin Tarantino in another of Lee’s films Girl 6 (1996), can make the quintessential Black movie – or at least the quintessential movie about a seminal Black rap group. And it is just another reminder of how little power the colonized have over themselves, their art or their image.

A Tribe Called Quest deserve better. Never mind that the film may indeed be a low budget affair, it felt more like watching a student’s final film exam, or the film of someone with privilege and access who just one day picks up the closest thing resembling a camera and says, “Hey! I want to make a movie about my favorite band!” They have only ended up just recently, and seemingly, to have reconciled struggles over the group’s on-screen depiction and the all-important money splits. In a now famous email front man Q-Tip received by mistake and then read live on MTV, executives openly looked to deny the band producer credits and equal pay. But worse of all is that after more than two decades in the game and legendary status the band’s inability to control its image and the financial and social capital they generate leaves us with what is ultimately a flippant approach to a group, to a time, to a cultural expression that today so desperately needs some thoughtful reflection. The film encourages no deeper appreciation for the legends and no deeper understanding of why so few today who are like them could become as big as they once were.

It is just another reminder of how little power the colonized have over themselves, their art or their image.”

For instance, the film only quickly passes by the political and cultural shifts of the late 1980s into the 90s, never fully developing that context out of which A Tribe emerged. The group members are never shown on camera responding in-depth to those shifts and their involvement in them. Through direction their encouraged responses to the dashikis they once wore were dismissively described as the off-brand move of nerds. Maybe, but in a rare Dutch television documentary on the group from the 1990s currently posted to the website of DJ Premier these very same men discuss that time as one of revolutionary political and cultural shifts building off of movements in the streets and universities to reclaim an African past and to build a more radical future.

Or how is it that you make a documentary about the group who to this day has one of the most memorable and referenced anti-industry lines in rap music history and they are not asked to discuss, nor is any investigation made into, “industry rule number 4080, record company people are shady”? In fact, quite the opposite. Record exec Barry Weiss is so warmly involved in the film that he is even give free run to haphazardly opine on the personality flaws of Tribe front man Q-Tip. No. Instead it is far sexier and marketable to Sony’s audience to focus the film on the internal beef between group mates and to waste other opportunities to interview legends like De La Soul by having them only to quickly comment on the demise of their fellow Native Tongues.

So the group that made songs named after Steve Biko and asked “What’s a Black nation without Black unity?” has its answer in a film made about them; a community without control and without proper honor. But shoot, it’s almost that time anyway, so if you want a truly good documentary on hip-hop, go back to last year’s release from Dream Hampton on the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement and Black August.

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

Dr. Jared A. Ball is an associate professor of communication studies at Morgan State University in Baltimore and is the author of I Mix What I Like! A Mixtape Manifesto (AK Press). He can be found online at: IMIXWHATILIKE.COM.

Direct download: 20110727_jb_TribeCalledQuest.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:12am EST

Former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney addressed a crowd of 450 people at Atlanta's Shrine of the Black Madonna on the US war in Libya.

Direct download: 20110724_ATL_libya-report_7_cynthia_mckinney.mp3
Category:US Empire -- posted at: 7:35pm EST

Lucy Greider-Bradley is a longtime Atlanta activist who traveled to Libya in June 2011.  She reports on her experiences under NATO and US bombardment.

Direct download: 20110724_ATL_libya-report_6_lucy_greider_bradley.mp3
Category:US Empire -- posted at: 7:11pm EST

Ramsey Clark a former US Attorney General during the administration of Lyndon Baines Johnson, has been in the storm a long time.  A frequent traveler to Libya and throughout the African continent, he offered the Atlanta audience a unique perspective born of his decades in the struggle for human rights.

Direct download: 20110724_ATL_libya-report_4_ramsey_clark.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:56pm EST

Rev. Derrick Rice is pastor of Atlanta's Sankofa United Church of Christ, and has also visited Libya recently.  Sankora UCC can be contacted at http://www.sankofaucc-atl.org

Direct download: 20110724_ATL_libya-report_5_pastor_sankofaUCC.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:44pm EST

The NOI's Akbar Muhammad, besides being part of the Dignity delegation in June 2001, has visited Libya on several occasions.  He addresses the audience in the importance of Khadaffy's contribution to the struggles of African Americans, Africans in the Diaspora, and the cause of continental unity and solidarity against western imperialism.

Direct download: 20110724_ATL_libya-report_3_akbar_muhammed.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:36pm EST

Diane Mathowitz is a longtime Atlanta activist representing the International Action Center

Direct download: 20110724_ATL_libya-report_2_diane_mathowitz.mp3
Category:US Empire -- posted at: 4:52pm EST

This event was held at the Shrine of the Black Madonna in the West End neighborbood of Atlanta.  

In this segment, a local grad student offers a brief summary of Libya's history in the 20th century.

Direct download: 20110724_ATL_libya-report_1_background.mp3
Category:US Empire -- posted at: 3:19pm EST