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

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

It has been more than a generation since the historic prison uprising at New York's Attica penitentiary. Since then, both much and little have changed, not all for the better. If there is one lasting lesson of the Attica uprising for our day, what is it?

Remembering Attica, 40 Years Later

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

Correctional officers and New York state police poured a hail of gunfire into the prison, killing at least 39 people...”

Forty years ago this week, inmates in upstate New York's Attica Prison took their lives and destinies into their own hands. The prison, designed for 1200 inmates at the time housed nearly double that number, and inmates were limited to one shower per week and one roll of toilet paper per month. Arbitrary beatings and religious discrimination against Muslim inmates were common.

We are men,” an inmate spokesperson declared, “and not beasts to be driven as such.”

Their demands were the mostly unremarkable stuff every human deserves --- decent and healthful food, and the ability to observe the dietary restrictions of some of their religions. They demanded warm clothing and bedding for the cold upstate winters, and serious efforts to exterminate their vermin-infested quarters.. They wanted books, self-improvement and educational programs to better prepare them to make a difference on the outside. They demanded medical care, transparency and justice in parole and prison administrative decisions, an end to religious and racial discrimination inside the prison, and the replacement of the prison warden.

They requested the presence of Black Panther Party chairman Bobby Seale and the Nation of Islam's Louis Farrakhan. Crack movement attorneys from around the country also flew in to upstate New York. It was 1971, and the whole world was watching. For four days, they negotiated with the office of New York governor Nelson Rockerfeller until the governor, eyeing a possible 1972 Republican presidential or vice-presidential nomination, shut the talks down and ordered a murderous assault on the prison.

Correctional officers and New York state police poured a hail of gunfire into the prison, killing at least 39 people, including ten correctional officers and civilian prison employees. After the re-taking of the prison, engaged in a savage orgy of reprisal beatings of surviving inmates, and dozens of murder charges were filed against the surviving inmates. Juries eventually acquitted all the inmates of murder charges, and although no police officers or state officials were ever indicted, the state eventually paid out tens of millions in settlements to surviving inmates and murdered correctional officers and their families.

We've come a long way since Attica, and not all of it the way we'd like. ”

Forty years on, both much and little have changed. Muslims in US prisons still experience vicious discrimination. Inmates nationwide are still denied adequate food and medical care, and the secrecy of prison administration continues to license arbitrary brutality on the part of correctional officers. The lowly corporal convicted of torture at Abu Ghareb was in civilian life a Pennsylvania prison guard.

But since the days of Attica, the US prison population has increased more than sixfold. We have become the world's first prison state, with nearly 70% of prisoners coming from the nation's brown and black one quarter. Imprisonment has become more and more the fate of the lowest income blacks as well. A college educated black man today stands one third the chance of incarceration he did in 1970, while today's black male high school dropout is seven times more likely to be jailed than his dropout uncle in 1970.

We've come a long way since Attica, and not all of it the way we'd like. The lasting lessons of Attica are that little will chance until current and former inmates, many times more numerous today than in 1971, again take their destinies into their own hands, declare themselves men, not beasts, and organize themselves and their communities in a political fight to roll back the prison state in their lifetimes.

For Black Agend Radio, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and based in Marietta GA where he is on the state committee of the Georgie Green party. He canbe reached at bruce.dixon@blackagendareport.com

Direct download: 20110830_bd_attica_remembered.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:54am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by Bruce A. Dixon

Only a generation ago, seeing or hearing black voices on the broadcast airwaves was a rare treat. Those were the days when segregation created a Jim Crow market that white corporate entities pretty much left alone. But no longer. Corporate media have become expert at targeting black audiences, in using black faces and voices to push its disempowering message of consumption and acquiesance to injustice and empire.

Huffington Post-AOL “Black Voices” Are Just More Corporate White Noise

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by Bruce A. Dixon

To the corporate media owners we’re just another market to be sliced, diced and delivered to the highest bidder.”

The August rollout of Huffington Post - AOL’s “Black Voices” was not a good thing for those who want to see, well, more black voices on the internet.  Just like corporate commercial black radio and TV, the “black perspective” of corporate internet sites like theRoot.com (owned by the Washington Post), theGrio.com (an MSNBC production), and Huffington-AOL’s Black Voices does not recognize African Americans as a polity or community with our own traditions and opinions.  To the corporate media owners we’re just another market to be sliced, diced and delivered to the highest bidder.

Ask yourself why HuffPo founder Ariana Huffington was able to unload Huffington onto AOL for $315 million earlier this year.  How do buyers expect to make that money back?  

The answer is that when you access Huffington Post from your computer, its marketing backend hooks with your FaceBook and/or Twitter and Google IDs to marketing databases which instantly know who you are, how much you make and spend, and what your entire online history is.  If you’re using a mobile device the marketers also know exactly where you are.  The marketing backends at places like HuffPo (or theGrio or theRoot) can auction off the right to advertise to you in tenths of a second based upon these factors, and let the web site and the winning bidders decide what they want to show or keep from you based on their extensive histories of your online habits.  This is the corporate marketing machinery that generates the millions to pay HuffPo’s bills and investors.

HuffPo AOL’s content model depends largely upon the free labor of bloggers, many of whom are activists in local democratic struggles around the country.  They are supplemented by a platoon of corporate PR shills and lobbyists, along with a stable of big name but out-of-office Democrats who can afford to write for free.  HuffPo won’t say which few of its contributors actually get paid or how much, although it does maintain a large paid editorial staff to carefully filter the work of unpaid contributors.

...prisoners and their families and friends typically hail from the lowest income parts of our community, and what advertiser really wants to bother with that?”

A few months ago, friends of some Georgia prisoners beat down after the 2010 inmate strike handed me a story on how prison guards and wardens were being investigated by other state agencies for the maltreatment of prisoners, and that the first of these had already been indicted, with more to come.  For the protection of the prisoners they needed their story before the widest possible audience in a hurry.  

I had a Huffington Post login so I wrote and posted it on a Sunday evening, hoping it would get through the editorial filters by some time Monday.  It didn’t.  Huffington Post editors finally told me on Thursday the story just wasn’t a “good fit” for them.  Not surprising, from a strict marketing point of view.  Black prisoners and their families and friends typically hail from the lowest income parts of our community, and what advertiser really wants to bother with that?

Whoever imagines the addition of a new “Black Voices” section would change that is not thinking clearly.  Its executive editor is a former CEO of the Oprah Winfrey Network and an ex-president at MTV, and a BET co-founder holds the position of “strategic advisor.”  These are people who’ve been filtering and limiting the black conversation on behalf of their corporate cronies for a generation now.  

New and exciting Black Voices telling the stories that need to be told?  Not really.  HuffPo’s Black Voices are just more corporate white noise.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Bruce Dixon.  Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and based in Marietta GA where he is on the state committee of the Georgie Green party. He canbe reached at bruce.dixon@blackagendareport.com

Direct download: 20110830_bd_blackvoices_whitenoise.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:59am EDT

Every movement has its symbols and icons.  But when these are separated from their context and content they become mere brands. Brands are symbols used to short circuit critical thinking and evoke manufactured desires, imagined memories or convenient attitudes in an audience. The invocation of Dr. King by corporate hip hop, like the corporate sponsorship of the DC King Memorial aim to erase his revolutionary context, to excise his transformative content, to rebrand Dr. King in their image and for their purposes, not ours.

Sponsorship Matters! Of Name Drops and Memorials: Dr. King Gets Love from Hip-Hop

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by Jared Ball

King has his life reduced to one-liners and to childish distinction from Malcolm X”

According to Thomas Conner and the Washington Post, you know, that veritable clearinghouse of Black history, radical politics and cultural expression, hip-hop has finally found a place for Dr. King. The newspaper said this week that finally, after long-last, King’s “dream has a place in hip-hop” and that this has not always been the case. Where once upon a time rappers chose Malcolm X as their singular icon today King finds more room on that mantle. For the Post this piece is meant to connect to the resurgence of King’s name in popular media due to the now postponed corporate memorial dedication and, perhaps more importantly, the article means to assign to this transformation a sense of progress or maturity. The once hostile art form is now over 40 and is showing signs of its age. It is now pragmatic, thoughtful and able to see past its own radical nose to the bright, liberal and corporate future. Now that companies sponsor everything from memorials to the greatest of cultural expressions their versions must now be branded as legitimate whether or not we agree.

Conner and the Post do precisely what they must given the very nature of media generally speaking and that of the paper in particular. That is, they return both King and hip-hop to their own very narrowly constructed views of each. King has his life reduced to one-liners and to childish distinction from Malcolm X. Rap music is reduced to a handful of corporate rappers whose own brilliance isn’t evidenced precisely because it wasn’t sought. In each case the subjects are used to re-tell an important – albeit entirely inaccurate – narrative of political struggle and cultural expression. King, from the perspective of the Washington Post, is distorted into the anti-Malcolm X and an acceptable sign of progress should he be adopted today by rappers who traditionally – naturally – tended toward Malcolm X, the one these emcees perceived as more radical. The new trend is conveyed as a microcosm of the more generally encouraged shift among Black people away from unsanctioned revolutionary politics and toward the more responsible assimilationist ones which, of course, are most realized in Barack Obama. It doesn’t matter if the true politics of King or Malcolm are actually ever discussed or described. This is about brand and sponsorship. It has nothing to do with reality.

And the Post knows they are full of it. They know they are complicit in what was a total pre-assassination hit job in the national press where in their very own pages King went quickly from a civil rights hero to an anti-capitalist villain. Less than 90 days before he was killed it was the Washington Post calling him a “Leninist” who was too friendly with Stokely Carmichael and ultimately a threat to national security. The Post also knows it has participated in an annual re-assassination of King as he has been returned to his hero status by a press bent on denying any real discussion of his politics or his assassination. So when rap music itself equally sponsored by the corporate world is applauded for now being more willing to adopt King’s “dream” it is a cry of the victory of brand, the victory of sponsorship.

That which delivers your worldview must be interrogated. Corporations don’t want radical change.”

So the same racist, war-mongering corporations who now bring us King’s memorial also bring us the rappers the Post cites as advancing toward King. To ignore the messenger is to ignore the political context in which communication occurs. In a kind of twist of Marshall McLuhan, the sponsor is the medium and, therefore, the message. Who cares if Lil’ Wayne, Common or Lupe Fiasco drop King’s name in a verse without context? Jah Rule once appropriated George Jackson and Wiz Khalifa named a song Huey Newton. K’Naan’s anthem lost any bite once Sony and Coca-Cola bought it. Once a message is sponsored by its political enemy it goes immediately limp. And this, of course, is why sponsors sponsor.

Sponsorship matters. That which delivers your worldview must be interrogated. Corporations don’t want radical change. They want references to radicalism that actually claim change has occurred or deny that it is still necessary. Hence the corporate memorial to King and the corporate promotion of mostly empty musical references to him. It, by the way, is also why the corporate-sponsored Barack Obama would happily dedicate the similarly sponsored memorial but would not allow his administration to honor a recent request to pardon Marcus Garvey. Garvey’s image is not so easily reconciled.

For Black Agenda Radio I’m Jared Ball. On the web go to 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: 20110830_jb_sponsorship_matters.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:39am EDT

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

The newly unveiled MLK Memorial is designed to ensure that “King be forever separated from his anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist and anti-patient work for a genuine revolution.” The great leader’s image and narrative have been walled in by the likes of “JP Morgan, Murdoch’s Direct TV, Exxon, Target and Wal-Mart – other bastions of workers’ rights and liberty.”

 

The Dr. King Memorial and The Burial of a Movement

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

The very entities against which the movement that produced King have struggled for centuries have now attached themselves to him as if to claim victory over, rather than along with, that man and that movement.”

Dr. King and the liberation movement he represents will again suffer a brutal blow this week when all are permanently entombed under the violent euphemism of “memorial.” The dedication of this $120 million stone sculpture is to be a national tribute to a man whose entire body of work was designed to destroy the very structure that now claims to honor him. It is no honor. It is a burial. The very entities against which the movement that produced King have struggled for centuries have now attached themselves to him as if to claim victory over, rather than along with, that man and that movement. This memorial should be seen as the hostile, disingenuous aggression against Dr. King that it is and should continue to be a reminder of the absolute absence of sincere change in this society.

Deborah Atwater and Sandra Herndon have written about the meaning of memorials and museums saying, in part, that they serve the “nation-state” by communicating an “official culture” whose job, “through sponsorship,” is to “retain loyalty” and the “virtue of unity.” Atwater and Herndon describe memorials as helping the state develop a “ collective American public memory” and a “shared sense of the past.” Museums and memorials become “the spaces in which that [public] memory is interpreted.” Perhaps most importantly is that memorials are said to also “give meaning to the present.” But given the vicious re-imaging King suffered before his assassination, the vitriol he withstood from a nation determined to resist the change he represented, and given the post-assassination routine destruction of his advancing radical politics, it is simply not hard to determine just what this memorial intends to convey or the present meaning it intends to define.

It is fitting that this memorial be established while a Black president presides over the falling conditions of Black Americans and the falling bombs over African homes.”

The collective which has formed to create the memorial seems to be a marriage of the exact forces King spoke most aggressively against: White liberals, corporations and the Black petite-bourgeoisie. The “leadership” team consists of Andrew Young and two current and former executives from General Motors. Their support leadership group consists of people like, Russell Simmons, J.C. Watts and Earl Graves, but of course Tommy Hilfiger, football team owner Daniel Snyder and NBA commissioner David Stern. But better still is the “major contributor” list which consists of such leaders in the march toward peace and equality like defense contractor Boeing and the media empire Viacom. Certainly Disney and Coca-Cola have, when not producing drawn racism or supporting the assassination of laborers, been among the brightest beacons of freedom. Of course, there are others like JP Morgan, Murdoch’s Direct TV, Exxon, Target and Wal Mart – other bastions of workers’ rights and liberty. All have come together to ensure that King be forever separated from his anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist and anti-patient work for a genuine revolution.

It is fitting that this memorial is placed so as to sit “along the axis of the Jefferson and Lincoln memorials” permanently fixed between two of this nation’s greatest representatives of enslavement and anti-Blackness. It is fitting that this memorial is being established by the very segments of this society King worked strongest against and to which he offered his most biting criticism. And it is fitting that this memorial be established at a time when King’s words and deeds are least known or followed, while a Black president presides over the falling conditions of Black Americans and the falling bombs over African homes. And it is fitting that the dedication of the memorial will come 48 years after his most famous speech and 44 years after he would call his dream a “nightmare.”

For when we see the dedication ceremony and as we look upon the sculpture itself what we will see is not a true dedication to a great man, instead we will be witnessing the funeral and headstone of a movement.

For Black Agenda Radio I’m Jared Ball. On the web go to 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: 20110824_jb_bury_da_king.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:27am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Believing the Libya assault to have been a shining success, the United States will feel confident in launching new aggressions under the insidious rubric of R2P – Responsibility to Protect. The 2004 invasion and of Haiti was the precedent, “when the United Nations Secretary General lent his seal of approval to the occupation and endorsed Washington’s interpretation of the Responsibility to Protect.” Washington has turned international law on its head.

 

Obama’s Responsibility to Protect is a License to Kill

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Obama assured the Pentagon he would be more effective in getting U.S. allies to go along with Washington’s wars, as willing accomplices.”

If the NATO aggressors finally do seize effective control of Libya, after five months of heroic resistance by the Libyan army, the world will enter an even more dangerous period. The Obama administration now believes it has found the formula that will allow it to pick up where George Bush was interrupted in the unconstrained use of American force in the world. This is the mission Barack Obama auditioned for as a candidate, when he vowed to build international coalitions that would endorse U.S. war policies, rather than go it alone. Obama did not promise to be a more peaceful president. Rather, he assured the Pentagon he would be more effective in getting U.S. allies to go along with Washington’s wars, as willing accomplices.

This is why we at Black Agenda Report predicted more than two years ago that the emerging Obama war doctrine would rely heavily on the insidious, illegal construct called Responsibility to Protect, or R2P. Responsibility to Protect turns international law on its head, allowing militarily powerful countries to claim a moral and legal responsibility to interfere in weaker nations’ internal affairs in order to protect the people from their own government. Short of well-founded and broadly accepted evidence of genocide, there is no place for R2P in international law. But, with the U.S. invasion and occupation of Haiti, in 2004, the U.S., France and Canada sought to justify effectively stripping Haiti of its sovereignty on the grounds of Responsibility to Protect its people – first, from their elected president, whom the Americans deposed and exiled, and then, apparently, from the Haitian people, themselves.

From the U.S. perspective, the R2P scam worked like a charm. The United Nations Secretary General lent his seal of approval to the occupation and endorsed Washington’s interpretation of the Responsibility to Protect. The newly minted International Criminal Court became an arm of U.S. foreign policy, concocting rationales for the U.S. to take out foreign leaders that might harm their own citizens. The U.S. succeeded in getting Brazil and other countries that should have known better, to join in the occupation of Haiti – all under the rubric of R2P.

The R2P scam worked like a charm.”

When Barack Obama was elected, much of the world hoped he would seek to lessen world tensions by working with other nations for peaceful resolutions of conflict. But Obama’s intentions were just the opposite: to build coalitions that would make it easier for the United States to justify aggression, using Responsibility to Protect as a cover. If it worked in Haiti, why not anywhere else?

When the Arab Spring struck terror in the hearts of Europe and the U.S., Obama quickly created a coalition between NATO and the Saudi Arabians and other royal Arab theives, to show who was really boss in the region. Although there was never the slightest threat of Moammar Gaddafi committing anything remotely resembling genocide in Libya, the U.S., Europe and the scum of the Persian Gulf successfully invoked Responsibility to Protect. International law was made into its opposite. The Haitian precedent had now become a war-making doctrine with its own, built-in rationale. Obama has become Bush, only with more allies and a more civilized-sounding justification. The only question is: Who’s the next alleged enemy of the people?

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: 20110824_gf_LibyaTwo.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:06am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

NATO has proven it has the capacity to kill thousands of Libyan soldiers from the skies, but it cannot “convey honor and legitimacy” to the rebels under its killer wings. “They are little more than extras for imperial theater, a mob that traveled to battle under the protective umbrella of American full spectrum dominance of the air.” The incinerated bodies of her soldiers have secured Libya’s place in history.

 

The Libyan Soldier: The True Heroes of NATO’s War

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The Libyan armed forces maintained their unit integrity and personal honor, with a heroism reminiscent of the loyalist soldiers of the Spanish Republic, in the late 1930s.”

The story is not over – not by a long shot – but the saga of the Libyan resistance to the superpower might of the United States and its degenerate European neocolonial allies will surely occupy a very special place in history. For five months, beginning March 19, the armed forces of a small country of six million people dared to defy the most advanced weapons systems on the planet, on terrain with virtually no cover, against an enemy capable of killing whatever could be seen from the sky or electronically sensed. Night and day, the eyes of the Euro-American war machine looked down from space on the Libyan soldiers’ positions, with the aim of incinerating them. And yet, the Libyan armed forces maintained their unit integrity and personal honor, with a heroism reminiscent of the loyalist soldiers of the Spanish Republic under siege by German, Italian and homegrown fascists, in the late 1930s.

The Germans and Italians and Generalissimo Franco won that war, just as the Americans, British, French and Italians may ultimately overcome the Libyan army. But they cannot convey honor or national legitimacy to their flunkies from Benghazi, who have won nothing but a badge of servitude to foreign overseers. The so-called rebels won not a single battle, except as walk-ons to a Euro-American military production. They are little more than extras for imperial theater, a mob that traveled to battle under the protective umbrella of American full spectrum dominance of the air. They advanced along roads already littered with the charcoal-blackened bodies of far better men, who died challenging Empire.

The so-called rebels won not a single battle, except as walk-ons to a Euro-American military production.”

One thing is sure: the Americans and Europeans have never respected their servants. The so-called rebels of Libya will be no different. Washington, Paris and London know perfectly well that is was their 18,000 aircraft sorties, their cruise missiles, their attack helicopters, their surveillance satellites and drones, their command and control systems, their weapons, and their money, that managed to kill or wound possibly half the Libyan army. Not the rabble from Benghazi.

The rebels should not take too seriously being fawned over by the ridiculous hordes of corporate media tourists that have come to Tripoli to record the five-month war's finale. They are highly paid cheerleaders. And, although it may appear that they are cheering for the rebels, don't be fooled – at the end of the day, the western corporate media only cheer for their own kind. They are celebrating what they believe is a victory over the Libyan demon they have helped to construct in their countrymen's minds. Next year, rebel, that demon might be you.

Or next year, it might be many Libyans, including those who were no friends of Col. Moammar Gaddafi. The Americans treat their native minions like children in need of supervision – and there is a certain logic to this, since whoever would entrust his nation's sovereignty and resources to the Americans is, surely, either exceedingly stupid, or hopelessly corrupt. But Libya's honor and her place in history has already been secured by a small African army that held out nearly half a year against the NATO barbarians.

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: 20110824_gf_LibyaOne.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:53am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

At least five Black Democratic congresspersons are in Israel, part of the one-fifth of the U.S. House that accepted an expensive vacation paid for by AIPAC, the Israel lobby. Clearly, it is thought wiser to take blood money from the Israelis, than to anger them. Meanwhile, Rep. Ron Paul is the lone presidential contender in either party that opposes America’s widening wars.

 

Black Democrats Go to Israel, Ron Paul Puts Democrats to Shame

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Black lawmakers, who represent the American constituency that is most sympathetic to the plight of Palestinians, apparently do not feel they have compromised themselves by taking the equivalent of $8,000 from AIPAC.”

Nearly one out of five members of the U.S. House of Representatives – 81 of them – this month accepted an invitation to Israel, the biggest congressional junket to the Jewish apartheid state, ever. The entire tab for congressperson and spouse, was paid for by AIPAC, the American Israel Political Action Committee, the most feared lobby on Capitol Hill. Among the 26 Democrats that put themselves at the disposal of the Israelis are at least five members of the Congressional Black Caucus. There may be more, but at press time AIPAC had not released the full roster. The Black members reportedly on the junket are:

Yvette Clarke, of New York; Jesse Jackson, Jr., of Chicago; Gwen Moore, from Milwaukee; Frederica Wilson, of Miami; and Hank Johnson, of suburban Atlanta.

Again, this is not a U.S. government trip; it is a gift of the Israel lobby. These congresspersons will not be speaking to Hamas, the Palestinian faction that runs Gaza and won the 2006 elections for the Palestinian Parliament. The Israelis have been blockading Gaza ever since, and killed 1,500 Palestinians when they attacked Gaza just before President Obama took office. Americans have been imprisoned for giving what authorities call “material assistance” to Hamas, but it’s quite alright for members of the U.S. Congress, who make the laws that funnel billions of dollars to the Israeli state and military, to accept gifts from Israel’s lobbyists on Capitol Hill. And Black lawmakers, who represent the American constituency that is most sympathetic to the plight of Palestinians, apparently do not feel they have compromised themselves by taking the equivalent of $8,000 from AIPAC. Rather, the real nightmare in Washington is to get on the wrong side of AIPAC and Israel, as former Black congresspersons Cynthia McKinney, of Atlanta, and Earl Hilliard, of Alabama, learned in 2002, when pro-Israel money contributed heavily to their defeats. Hank Johnson, who took the AIPAC trip to Israel, now holds McKinney’s seat.

McKinney went on to run for president on the Green Party ticket, and is now one of the guiding lights in the U.S. peace movement.

Ron Paul drew loud applause, as well as boos, when he blasted ‘war propaganda’ against Iran.”

But you won’t find any such anti-war lights illuminating Democratic presidential politics, where most believe it is a foregone conclusion that the warmongering Barack Obama will be effectively unopposed for his second nomination.

All the peace talk is in the Republican presidential primary, where Congressman Ron Paul drew loud applause, as well as boos, when he blasted “war propaganda” against Iran. “Iran does not have an air force that can come here,” said Paul. “They can't even make enough gasoline for themselves.” He slammed the war hawks in both parties for leading the nation into yet another war. “They're building up this case…just like we did in Iraq.  There was no al Qaeda in Iraq,” said the old, libertarian from Texas.

Now, until Ron Paul can put thousands of white, right-wingers and Tea Partyers into the streets in opposition to U.S wars, we shouldn’t take any so-called conservative peace movement seriously. But we also can’t take seriously Black lawmakers that take $8,000 vacations from AIPAC, which is the same thing as taking a kickback on blood money from Israel.

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: 20110817_gf_IsraelJunket_RonPaul.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:40am EDT

Latinos overwhelmingly voted for the First Black President. And why not? He wrapped himself in the mantle of Dr. King, made explicit promises to humanize the immigration system, and even spoke out against some of the racist scapegoating of immigrants. But that was then, as a candidate. After two and a half years as president, Obama's record marks him out as the bait-and-switch president.

Deported 1 Million, Separated Countless Families Since 2009, to Latinos Obama is the Bait & Switch President

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

In 2008, Latinos delivered a whopping two thirds of their vote to the candidate of Hope and Change, to Barack Obama, who opposed the building of border walls who spoke out against the politics of demonizing immigrants, and who promised a clear path to citizenship for millions living in the shadows. The well-funded layer of corporate and Democratic Party Latino leaders whose careers and condo payments depend on it hope to turn out a massive Latino vote for Obama in 2012. But the tide may be against them.

Despite concrete promises and lofty rhetoric the Obama administration has built and extended border walls, massively increased the numbers of workplace audits and raids at firms suspected of hiring the undocumented. President Obama has declared that states like his home Illinois can no longer opt out of the so-called Secure Communities program, and must send fingerprints and identifying data on everybody they arrest to the feds to be checked against immigration databases. The First Black President has deported an all time high of more than 1 million immigrants since taking office in 2009, and tens of thousands on any given day more await similar fates in his vast, and often privatized, network of immigration prisons and jails.

Unlike black Americans, who can still get misty-eyed at the sight of Michelle Obama and her pretty kids walking across the White House lawn to the Marine helicopter, Latinos have a much harder time fooling themselves about the fundamental nature of the Obama presidency. In that community, almost everybody has recent immigrants in the immediate family or among the in-laws, recent immigrants living downstairs or across the street, and more recent immigrants among the people they work, worship or go to school with.

Thus nearly everybody has neighbors, relatives and co-workers who've been stopped for traffic offenses or arrested for misdemeanors and disappeared into the maze of immigration detention. Hundreds of thousands know people at workplaces that have been audited by ICE and the bosses forced to fire undocumented employees, people whose workplaces were raided, and employees arrested on the job. Thousands have taken in children of parents facing deportation, and hundreds of thousands actually know the names and faces of family members, co-workers, neighbors and friends whose families are being cruelly separated.

in a National Day of Action on Tuesday, August 16 hundreds of immigrants and citizens delivered thousands of petitions demanding an end to the Secure Communities Program at Democratic party offices in Houston, Atlanta, Charlotte and Miami, and Barack Obama's campaign headquarters in Chicago.

If the President continues to alienate Latino voters he will lose the election, plain and simple," said Carlos Roa from Presente.org, a national online advocacy group that seeks to empower Latinos nationwide.  " He cannot expect Latino voters and an entire community to simply stand by and watch...”

The threat is not an idle one. Can corporate funded and Democratic Party Latino leaders bring out a huge vote for Obama a second time, despite his abominable record on immigration? I wouldn't bet on it.

For Black Agenda Report, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20110817_bd_barack_on_immigration.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:32am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Given the extreme violence of American life, when compared to other rich nations, why would the Brits consider for even an instant emulating the U.S. criminal justice system? What could American cops teach them? How to fill prisons to overflowing, make millions of citizens hate authority, and saturate the nation with guns and drugs? But then, why do white Americans tolerate such a system? The answer: the aim of white supremacy is not efficiency or justice, but to keep non-whites in their place. White racists in Britain “are jealous of the absolute savagery of the U.S. criminal justice system’s treatment of Black people.”

 

British Regime Jealous of America’s Savage Police

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

For white racists in Britain, just like their counterparts in the U.S., it’s not about efficient and effective policing, or any civilized notion of justice. It’s about hate.”

In the wake of rebellions that spread to much of urban Britain, the ruling Conservative Party government is not only sounding like their racist American cousins, they were at least toying with the idea of importing William Bratton, the former police chief of New York, Los Angeles and Boston, to put the fear of the law into the U.K.’s darker residents. On first examination, it seems counterintuitive that anyone would look to the United States for role models in the criminal justice arena. The U.S. is by far the most violent among the wealthy nations of the world. Gangs are endemic, the U.S. is the drug marketplace of the planet. Guns are everywhere, both legal and illegal. It’s a scary place to live. What could the British possibly find to envy about America, when it comes to law and order?

The United States is the Great Gulag Nation, the planetary prison dungeon, home to 25 percent of its prison inmates. One out of every eight imprisoned persons in the world is a Black American….

Wait a minute! That’s got to be the allure to the white racists in Britain. They are jealous of the absolute savagery of the U.S. criminal justice system’s treatment of Black people. They look with awe on American cops like Bill Bratton whom, they imagine, would punish British Blacks in London, Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester as he did it America’s big cities.

When it comes to shooting Blacks and Latinos down in the street like dogs, nobody beats the American cop.”

Not that the Brits aren’t trying to live up to American standards of racist law enforcement. Blacks in the U.K. are 26 times more likely to be stopped and frisked on the streets than whites, and seven times more likely to go to prison. But it’s all in the scale of things. The Americans stop, arrest, and imprison far larger numbers of people, both by percentage and in raw numbers. Whereas 150,000 people were stopped and frisked on all the streets of England and Wales in 2008, nearly 600,000 were stopped in New York City alone. Britain’s total incarcerated population is less than 100,000 people. The U.S. is only five times as large as Britain, but imprisons 24 times as many people: 2.4 million. Andwhen it comes to shooting Blacks and Latinos down in the street like dogs, nobody beats the American cop, in eagerness to fire his weapon or the number of bullets he’s willing to pump into a Black body.

The Brits, having a “special relationship” with the United States, know all this, but they want to follow in America’s bloody footsteps, anyway. Because, for white racists in Britain, just like their counterparts in the U.S., it’s not about efficient and effective policing, or any civilized notion of justice. It’s about hate. It’s about racial dominance. It’s about keeping Black people in their place.

That’s why the British courts are sending 60 percent of people arrested in the rebellion to jail to await trial, rather than the usual ten percent. That’s why a single mother who accepted the gift of a pair of shorts that turned out to be looted got five months behind bars. And that’s why the prime minister is spouting racist nonsense about the inferior culture of non-whites – especially Blacks – in Britain.

It’s all so very familiar to us on the western side of the Atlantic, in the nation that was built on genocide, slavery and racial supremacy. To the Black people of Britain we say, “Welcome to America.” Welcome to the Terrordome.

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: 20110817_gf_BritRiots.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Britain’s Black rebellion shocked the nation, but has not produced the kind of carnage that routinely accompanies urban unrest in the United States. “Had London’s current disturbances occurred on a similar scale in New York City, with outbreaks across the various boroughs, the police would have unleashed a bloodbath.” Which is not to say that the United Kingdom’s criminal justice system is not as thoroughly racist as its American cousin. It’s just that white Brit society is – relatively speaking – less bloodthirsty.

 

Black Britain Revolts: What If It Had Been New York?

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

When it comes to state violence against people of African descent, Britain isn’t even in the same league with the United States.”

It is impossible to observe the outbreak of Black rebellions on the streets of Great Britain without a comparison with the United States. In many respects, the confrontations with police that began in the Tottenham district and quickly spread to neighborhoods around London and to the cities of Liverpool, Nottingham, Bristol and Birmingham, England’s second largest city, followed patterns that would be familiar to any Black American.

Just as with virtually every U.S. urban rebellion over the past 75 years, the London police set off the violence when they shot to death a young Black man. African Americans would also immediately recognize the institutionalized racism that pervades the British criminal justice system. Black Brits are six times more like than whites to be stopped and searched on the street by police, and are incarcerated at about seven times the rate of British whites, although studies show that whites are just as likely to commit crimes as Blacks. Racial reformers in the United Kingdom point to many of the same social imbalances as highlighted by their counterparts in the United States. For example, “for every African Caribbean male on [college] campus, there are two in jail.” People of African descent in Britain are heavily ghettoized and clustered in relative poverty.

African Americans would immediately recognize the institutionalized racism that pervades the British criminal justice system.”

Black Brits and Black Americans are, indeed, in many ways, in much the same boat. But the difference is in the scale of racial repression in the two countries. When it comes to state violence against people of African descent, Britain isn’t even in the same league with the United States. At the time of this writing, besides the initial Black victim, possibly one person had died in days of disturbances in London and other cities. In contrast, the 1992 Los Angeles rebellion left 54 dead, thousands injured and 7,000 people arrested. There can be no doubt that, had London’s current disturbances occurred on a similar scale in New York City, with outbreaks across the various boroughs, the police would have unleashed a bloodbath. And if the disturbances were to spread to Chicago and other cities, a post-911 United States would likely declare a kind of marshal law.

British police struggle to cope with young people linked by instant-message technology who move from neighborhood to neighborhood in “flying squads” of mopeds and bicycles to find the best looting opportunities. But authorities were reluctant to impose curfews, and rejected the use of rubber bullets or water cannon. British Home Secretary Theresa May explained: “The way we police in Britain is not through use of water cannon. The way we police in Britain is through consent of communities.”

You will never hear a cabinet-level officer of the United States government speak of respecting the “consent of communities” while imposing order – certainly not the consent of African American communities. In Philadelphia, at the same time that parts of London were burning, the Black mayor slammed a curfew on the city in reaction to a couple of incidents of “flash mobs” that caused little more than public anxiety, and promised harsh measures if people did not go home and stay home. In the U.S. of A., that means deadly force.

So, yes, the workings of racism in Britain bear many similarities to the United States. But the Brits don't come close to matching the Americans in the sheer scale of racist violence and repression. 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: 20110810_gf_BlackBrits.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:24am EDT

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

How did billionaire Bill Gates, who is heavily involved in the hijacking of Africa's food supply, and the privatization of education here in the US get to be the keynote speaker at the National Urban League's annual meeting in Boston the week before last? The answer is that the Urban League is utterly dependent on the generosity of corporate donors, and Bill Gates is potentially among the biggest.

Corporate Funding of Urban League, NAACP & Civil Rights Orgs Has Turned Into Corporate Leadership

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

Not only is Bill Gates a cousin,” gushed academic Henry Louis Gates at the Urban League convention in Boston last week, “Bill Gates a brother.” Bill Gates, of course, is the founder of Microsoft, and one of the wealthiest men on earth. Invited to deliver the keynote address at the National Urban League's annual meeting in Boston last week, the billionaire lectured the assembled on education and poverty, although Gates is not qualified to teach an hour in any classroom in the land, and has certainly never been poor.

Bill Gates has never been a friend of black people anyplace on earth. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a large investor in Monsanto, the company that invented genetic engineering, actually creates hunger on the African continent and undermines the food security of African nations by pushing genetically modified crops upon reluctant African farmers and their governments. If African farmers can be locked into planting patented crop varieties, instead of planting and saving their own seed as they have the last ten thousand years, they will be obliged to buy the expensive and environmentally destructive pesticides these frankenfood crops require, along with paying yearly license fees.

Inside the US, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has been a key player in the drive to privatize public education. Gates Foundation staff helped write the guidelines for the Obama Administration's Race To The Top program, under which states and school districts, in order to receive any federal education funds at all, had to hire consultants, often from the same Gates Foundation to write the detailed plans for closing thousands of neighborhood public schools, implementing high stakes testing and turning teachers into the cowed, insecure and casual WalMart style workforce preferred by private, often for profit charter school operators.

So how did the National Urban League become the mouthpiece and cheering section for corporate experiments on black school children at home and the hijacking of the global food system in Africa? The answer is that like the NAACP, the National Committee on Black Civic Participation, the National Council of LaRza, the National Conference of Black State Legislators and even the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, the Urban League is now and has for some time past been completely dependent on corporate donations to keep going. Those that pay the bills, call the shots.

This is the new model of African American leadership – a leadership that covets, courts, kowtows and accomodates to power rather than speaking truth to it. This is why whenever the interests of ordinary black people conflict with those of corporate America, a great number of our well-funded black misleaders will inevitably side with their corporate sugar daddies rather than their constituents. It's why the Congressional Black Caucus and Operation PUSH assisted in foisting subprime mortgages on countless black families, and why the NAACP speedily forgave the predatory loan practices Wells Fargo and Bank of America. It's why Sharpton, the NAACP and the Urban League all endorsed the merger of AT&T with T-Mobile and Comcast's swallowing of NBC.

It's time to turn the page on the venerable civil rights organizations, whose model of corporate funding has allowed them to be utterly taken over by corporate interests and used against us at every opportunity. It's time for something completely different.

For Black Agenda Radio I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com.



Direct download: 20110810_bd_corporate_blk_leadership.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:18am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

More people die because of U.S. military and economic attacks in places like Somalia and Congo than in the more widely acknowledged wars of American empire. These “Other Wars” consume “hundreds of thousands – millions – of lives, and have resulted in, or contributed to, the two worst humanitarian crises in Africa over the past four years.” President Obama’s announcement of $105 million for Somalia is a cynical diversion from the fact of U.S. use of food as a weapon of war.

 

Starving Somalia: U.S. “Other Wars” Kill More than Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

International aid agencies feared retribution from the Americans if they distributed food in Shabab-held territory.”

On August 20, the Black is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations has called for an International Day of Action on the “Other Wars.” People’s first question is: What do you mean by “Other Wars.” Any explanation must include the U.S. war against Somalia, as part of the American project to militarize and dominate the Horn of Africa.

It is an undeclared war, like all of America’s “Other Wars” – the ones that the old-line, white-dominated U.S. anti-war movement doesn’t feel rate inclusion in their list of wars. Yet, these wars consume hundreds of thousands – millions – of lives, and have resulted in, or contributed to, the two worst humanitarian crises in Africa over the past four years. The U.S. has stolen not only the lives of the people of Somalia, but their sovereignty over their homeland. If that’s not war, then the very word is meaningless.

Somalia had a semblance of peace, and a government to protect the peace, for a very brief time before the U.S. armed and instigated an Ethiopian invasion of the country, in late 2006. They crushed and scattered the Islamist government – called the Islamic Courts – whose youth wing, the Shabab, then mounted a guerilla resistance. Almost immediately, the country was plunged into what the United Nations called “the worst humanitarian crisis in Africa.” The Americans used foreign soldiers from Uganda and Burundi, its African clients, to prop up a pitiful, fraudulent mini-state in the capital, Mogadishu. Unable to control the countryside, or even most of the capital, the U.S. then made it extremely difficult for foreign food providers to reach the people in Shabab-held areas. This set the stage for the next great humanitarian crisis, when the worst drought in 60 years struck much of the Horn of Africa, threatening tens of millions in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti. But the Somalis were the most exposed, because international aid agencies feared retribution from the Americans if they distributed food in Shabab-held territory.

Obama’s $105 million is less than half the assistance the U.S. sent to Somalia back in 2008.”

Now, President Obama has announced, with great fanfare, that the U.S. will set aside $105 million to feed Somalis, wherever they are hungry. But many aid agencies don’t believe the U.S. is serious about halting its use of food as a weapon of war, and are reluctant to renew distribution. And, Obama’s $105 million is less than half the assistance the U.S. sent to Somalia back in 2008, after the first U.S.-made humanitarian crisis. So, tens of thousands will continue to die – from starvation, and from U.S. drone and Special Forces attacks in its shooting war against the Shabab.

Six million have died in Congo because of American proxy wars. Haiti’s sovereignty and dignity was snatched away by American force of arms. Colombia ranks number one on the planet in the number of displaced persons – most of them Indigenous and Afro-Colombians – as a result of U.S. colonization of that country. America’s “Other Wars” are, in fact, more destructive of human life than the recognized conflicts in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq. Since Obama claims not to be at war with Libya, maybe that should also be called one of the “Other Wars.”

The Black Is Back Coalition’s August 20 Day of Action unfolds in cities around the United States and abroad. In New York, a teach-in will be held at St. Mary’s Church, in Harlem. Educate yourself about America’s many, simultaneous wars against humanity: the “Other Wars.” 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: 20110810_gf_SomaliaOtherWars.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:10am EDT

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

The military and economic superpower attempting to bend the world to its will, is also a communications superpower bent on drowning out all worldviews at variance with its own. “An ability to be sovereign requires an ability to communicate that need, to make it a popular idea among a given community, and to protect against the psychological assaults from hostile entities.” The colonized, including Africans in America, find their representations of sovereignty smothered.

 

Mass Media and African Sovereignty

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

African people are under assault, and in new ways, not the least of which is the damaging presence of Barack Obama as an imperial president.”

It is always appropriate for a people to question the status of their sovereignty. It seems especially timely during the month of August, or as some refer to it, Black August; the time when we commemorate the Black liberation struggle, prison reform movement and political prisoners. This past week the question of African sovereignty was again raised during a panel hosted by the Association of Black Psychologists. It is an important question, one of sovereignty, for as Lia Bascom said recently, the powerful battle over nationalism has largely subsided while the liberal politics of assimilation have simply taken over.

The panel touched on any number of vital elements all of which currently work to inhibit the sovereign aspirations of anyone – and especially Black people – around the world. Culturally, economically, politically and psychologically African people are under assault, and in new ways, some never-before experienced not the least of which is the damaging presence of Barack Obama as an imperial president. My own focus remains and is at times myopically focused on media, communications, propaganda or simply put, psychological warfare. For how are a people to be free if oppositional ideas are so easily and powerfully disseminated among them?

This question of communication forced Huey Newton to amend his ideas of nationalism, recreating these into the internationalist perspective he called “intercommunalism.” His concerns included the ability of imperial powers to control mass communication and, therefore, to have inordinate ability to breakdown nearly all tendencies of colonized people to be sovereign. The single superpower dominance of the United States which wields its media intentionally as a militarized weapon with atomic capabilities to dominate the globe renders all other claims to nationalism meaningless. Decades later his political opposite would agree. Zbigniew Brzezinski would write that this country’s imperial reach will outlast other pretenders to that throne precisely because of its control over “popular entertainment and mass communication.” And he may have been right. Perhaps, given today’s small but important shifts in state power, our understanding of imperial power may need to be disassociated from any particular state and be seen more as an amorphous international elite. But the point remains that an ability to be sovereign requires an ability to communicate that need, to make it a popular idea among a given community, and to protect against the psychological assaults from hostile entities.

Perhaps our understanding of imperial power may need to be disassociated from any particular state and be seen more as an amorphous international elite.”

And just where are we with that today? As we have routinely reported here, in the United States, from within the seat of global power, we have very little room for these discussions to occur. Worsening the already horrific state of media affairs for Black people here is the recent sale of legendary Black radio network Inner City Broadcasting to a private-equity firm headed by White male billionaire Ron Burkle, just after, of course, the move of even the liberal and bourgeois Johnson Publishing Company to the JP Morgan empire. And even my beloved mixtapes, hip-hop’s original mass medium, are becoming more and more the source of promotional work for record companies as opposed to the liberated medium they once were and still are in their many varied but lesser popular forms.

Our current ability to defend against the media weaponry of imperialism is as weak as at any point in our history. Just consider for a moment the ability of major imperial media to immediately assign blame for the recent massacre in Norway as an Arab/Muslim “terrorist” attack and then upon learning of the killer’s super Whiteness redefined him as the “lone wolf” which, particularly for young men of similar origins, has been video-gamed into a powerful compliment. Remember the “Army of One” campaign? It is practically code for “hero” or “thank you!”

But this poor state of media power is only the reflection of an equally poor state of nationalist organization or of even nationalist fantasy. Fanon once wrote that, “The settler’s work is to make even dreams of liberty impossible for the native. The native’s work is to imagine all possible methods for destroying the settler.” It would certainly seem they have done their part but as for us…?

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: 20110803_jb_MassMedia.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:03am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Historically, it has been very difficult for Blacks to find jobs in the firehouses of many major cities. But in New York, a good ole boy network apparently helps white ex-offenders become first responders, “thus perpetuating the extreme racial imbalance.” The FDNY even welcomed into its ranks two of the cops that mowed down Amadou Diallo, in 1999.

 

White Criminals and Killer Ex-Cops Preferred at New York City's Fire Department

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Nothing but the most brazen kind of good ole boy networking can explain why the fire departments of New York and so many big cities resemble job banks for white men – including those with records.”

Studies have shown that white job applicants who have done time in prison are more likely to get a call-back for an interview than Black men with no criminal record. Apparently, when it comes to getting a job as a New York City firefighter white ex-offenders are also first in line to be hired – or even have a line all to themselves if they have relatives and friends in the department.

Business as usual at the New York Fire Department – which remains overwhelmingly white in a two-thirds non-white metropolis – means forgiving and forgetting the past crimes of applicants who have connections to the already existing work force, thus perpetuating the extreme racial imbalance. The sleezy workings of what is effectively a racial preference system were revealed at hearings in a Brooklyn federal court where Black firefighters of the Vulcan Society are asking that a special monitor be appointed to change the way new hires are recruited. In a sworn deposition, a former assistant commissioner for personnel described how ranking firemen requested that candidates’ past problems with the law be overlooked. She called it an attitude of, “Let the boys be boys.” Of course, most of the “boys” were white, like the officers that vouched for them.

Given the blue collar skill sets required of firefighters, nothing but the most brazen kind of good ole boy networking can explain why the fire departments of New York and so many big cities resemble job banks for white men – including those with records. The former commissioner recalled hearing ranking officers lobby for the relatives and friends of relatives and friends with records. It would go something like: “He beat his wife but his wife took him back so he shouldn’t be considered a wife beater. He still could be a good firefighter.”

Which might be true. And there are doubtless many Black job applicants with troubled pasts who would also make good firemen, if given a second chance. However, because of generations of racial discrimination, it’s unlikely that the Black ex-offender will have connections to the good ole boy firemen’s network.

Whites use backroom strategies to keep the department disproportionately Euro-American.”

White firefighters, like whites in racially exclusive positions everywhere, know perfectly well how the system works for the benefit of people like themselves. Still, they cry reverse discrimination whenever the system is challenged – for example, in Brooklyn, where Blacks last year convinced the federal court to throw out discriminatory employment tests. The same court is now learning how whites use backroom strategies to keep the department so disproportionately Euro-American.

Two of the former cops that killed Amadou Diallo in a hale of bullets, in 1999, were hired by the fire department after beating murder charges. A lawyer for Black firefighters asked a guy named Dean Tow, who is director of candidate investigations for the department, if he had “any concern that, perhaps, in shooting an innocent civilian [the cops’] judgment, although not criminal, may have been faulty?”

No,” said Mr. Tow, who makes decisions every day about who is fit to be a New York City firefighter. And that says volumes about what goes on in the city’s firehouses, bastions of racial exclusion and hypocrisy.

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: 20110803_gf_WhiteFirefighters.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:57am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Forty-six years after the assassination of Malcolm X, a large segment of Black America believes the FBI played a part in the Black leader’s death. But the first Black U.S. attorney general refuses to reopen the case, and the FBI has claimed for 30 years – amazingly – that it never investigated Malcolm’s murder. If the FBI is to be believed, “there can be only one reasonable conclusion: that they knew exactly what happened at the Audubon Ballroom, and either facilitated it or criminally failed to prevent a capital crime from occurring.”

 

Justice Department is Hiding Something on Malcolm X Murder

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The Justice Department is engaged in stonewalling that is equal to a coverup of its institutional involvement in Malcolm’s elimination.”

The Obama administration’s Justice Department says there is no compelling reason to reopen the investigation into the assassination of Malcolm X. More precisely, Attorney General Eric Holder’s people claim “the matter” of Malcolm’s death “does not implicate federal interests sufficient to necessitate the use of scarce federal investigative resources.” With such cold, contemptuous bureaucratese, the first Black Attorney General, serving at the pleasure of the first Black President, dismisses the 1965 murder of the guiding spirit of Black America’s 1960s Freedom Movement as not worth the cost.

In flat-out denying that the case could “implicate federal interests” the Justice Department is engaged in stonewalling that is equal to a coverup of its institutional involvement in Malcolm’s elimination. It is a matter of settled public record that FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover hated Black militants and that his agents had thoroughly infiltrated the Nation of Islam in the period that Malcolm was its lead spokesman and after he split with the organization. If anyone could provide evidence as to who really killed Malcolm at the Audubon Ballroom, it is the FBI. Yet the last we heard from the Bureau on the matter was in 1980, when the FBI claimed that it had never investigated the assassination of a man they followed around the country and the world until his dying day. A man who was the central personality in a movement they were attempting the “neutralize” under the COINTELPRO political police program.

If anyone could provide evidence as to who really killed Malcolm at the Audubon Ballroom, it is the FBI.”

If we are to believe that the FBI did not investigate Malcolm’s murder, there can be only one reasonable conclusion to be drawn from the Bureau’s conduct: that they knew exactly what happened at the Audubon Ballroom, and either facilitated it or criminally failed to prevent a capital crime from occurring. There is no statute of limitation on such crimes. The Justice Department’s statement that the limitations have passed is erroneous, because they do not allow for the possibility of either direct FBI involvement in the Malcolm’s murder, or criminal facilitation of murder, or homicide by depraved indifference, which is equivalent to murder. Yet the vast bulk of Black opinion strongly suspects one of these three murder scenarios involving the FBI. To dismiss these fact-based, reasonable suspicions out of hand amounts to a whitewash, 46 years after the crime.

Attorney General Holder, the top federal lawman, has no moral or legal right to arbitrarily absolve his Department of involvement in Malcolm’s death. What is already known of the FBI’s activities – including, and especially, the 1980 denial that it ever investigated Malcolm’s death – is grounds for ample suspicion for any reasonable person, on its face.

The Bureau also claims that Malcolm X’s murder was not a civil rights violation because the killers were Black. But the point is, millions of people suspect that the guys who pulled the strings for the hit, or who made the killers job easier, or who watched with satisfaction and did nothing, were white officers of the law. Attorney General Holder, and his boss in the White House, are determined to allow the question to remain buried, along with Malcolm – which makes them no better than J. Edgar Hoover.

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: 20110803_gf_MalcolmFBI.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:46am EDT