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

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

Troy Davis will be laid to rest this weekend in a public ceremony at Jonesvill Baptist Church in Savannah. The public figures and civil rights honchos who gravitated to his case will have prominent front row seats. What they won't have is an answer to why their kind of movement did not save Troy Davis, or what it will take to save the Troy Davises who will come after this one.

On Saving The Next Troy Davises

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

From the standpoint of civil rights lawyers and activists, the case of Troy Davis had everything. It had an attractive and well spoken defendant, and an almost transparently false conviction without a murder weapon or any physical evidence. Most of the eyewitnesses recanted, declaring they had perjured themselves under threats from police and prosecutors.

In the tradition of political test cases dating back to the Scottsboro Boys eight decades ago, public prayers, letter writing campaigns, op-eds, demonstrations, meetings, celebrity endorsements and exhortations proceeded around the world while Davis's lawyers worked every available legal angle, managing to bring his case to the Supreme Court not once but twice. By last week, tens of thousands were in the streets declaring their opposition to the death penalty and nearly a million had signed petitions demanding a new trial for Troy Davis. Corporat e news outlets like MSNBC even devoted several hours of breathless “coverage” at the countdown to this legal lynching.

Davis went to his death praying for his accusers and executioners, and talking about the Troy Davises that came before and will come after him. The civil rights style mobilization around his case could not and did not save this Troy Davis, and it will not save the Troy Davises who will come after this one.

It's good that so many people marched and met and prayed and circulated and signed petitions to save Troy Davis. But until we build a movement that stands up for the human rights of ALL the imprisoned, ALL the convicted and formerly incarcerated, including those whose innocence, however you construe that word is not so obvious, and those who may in fact not even be innocent ---- until we stand up for their human rights to education, to jobs and justice including the right to vote, even when behind bars, to health care and a decent chance at life by radically shrinking and ultimately ending the institution of prison, the machinery that convcts the literally innocent will retain its legitimacy and roll on, doing what it has always done.

In other words, coming out to oppose the execution of an attractive, well spoken and clearly innocent person like Troy Davis is low-hanging fruit. It's great that so many people are willing to reach for it. But we will rarely be able to save even these until our movements take conscious, public and deliberate aim at chopping the whole rotten tree down, at de-legitimizing and ending the institution of prison as we know it.

The day we get a million signatures on a petition not just to save an innocent man's life, but to roll back the prison state ---- that will be the day we know we have a movement that can free the next wave of Troy Davises, the day we are close to welcoming them back to help heal and rebuild their own lives, our broken families and our devastated communities.

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 a state committee member of the Georgia Green Party. He lives and works in Marietta GA, and can be reached at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20110928_bd_the_next_troy_davises.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:43pm EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Melissa Harris-Perry, the political scientist and columnist for The Nation, blames “white liberals” that hold Barack Obama to a “higher standard” for the president’s dwindling white support. Yet all the evidence indicates that Obama’s white support is evaporating most rapidly among ‘independents’ – the white ‘swing voters’ he caters to so slavishly – not reliably ‘liberal’ white Democrats. For some Black Obamites, preserving the icon in the White House is paramount, no matter what his crimes.

 

Obama Apologist Harris-Perry Says Support Prez Because He’s a “Competent” Black Man

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Clinton’s crew freed Wall Street predators from regulation, while Barack Obama rescued George Bush’s bank bailout and then put at least $14 trillion dollars into the accounts of finance capitalists around the world.”

Melissa Harris-Perry is one of the saddest examples of how the advent of a Black president has distorted the thinking of some of the most promising African American minds. She is a political scientist who has abandoned all the science of politics in order to build a higher Black Wall around Barack Obama, a war criminal with six simultaneous aggressions now running at full tilt, and the prime facilitator of the most massive transfer of wealth in human history. Writing from her roost at The Nation magazine, Prof. Harris-Perry flails about in search of a progressive position from which to defend the First Black President. There being none, she has to settle for saying that Obama is as competent as any white president – Damn it! – and it is white “liberals” that are bringing Obama down by “holding him to a to a higher standard” than his white predecessors – specifically, Bill Clinton.

Essentially, she contends that Clinton did do bad things to Black and poor Americans and to the cause of peace in the world. Obama’s record is, she maintains, “at the very least, comparable to that of President Clinton, who was enthusiastically re-elected.”

We could stop right there and agree with Prof. Harris-Perry that Bill Clinton and Barack Obama are political peas in a pod, both center-right corporate Democrats at the service of the rich, who are eager to ravage welfare as we used to know it, or Social Security as we still have it. Both presidents specialize in opening the doors to the Republicans that they pretend to be opposing. And yes, Obama is every bit as competent at playing the corporate game as Bill Clinton ever was – much better, in fact. Clinton’s crew freed Wall Street predators from regulation, while Barack Obama rescued George Bush’s bank bailout and then put at least $14 trillion dollars into the accounts of finance capitalists around the world. You can’t top that for competence in the service of finance capital.

Both presidents specialize in opening the doors to the Republicans that they pretend to be opposing.”

Obama has increased the military budget with utmost competence, surpassing George Bush and putting Bill Clinton to shame in his service to the Pentagon. And, when it comes to mounting a frontal assault on the New Deal and the Great Society, nobody can touch Obama, who came into office with a promise on his lips to put all entitlements on the chopping block, and has succeeded in doing so. He is, without question, not just competent, but a most excellent destroyer of social safety nets.

Prof. Harris-Perry’s beef is that “liberals” do not recognize Obama’s competence. She says these liberals are to blame for Obama’s dramatic fall in white approval ratings. It is true that whites, who gave Obama more of their votes in 2008 than they did Democrat John Kerry in 2004, are threatening to abandon him in 2012. But all the evidence indicates that Obama’s white support is evaporating most rapidly among “independents” – the white “swing voters” he caters to so slavishly – not reliably “liberal” white Democrats. That’s why Obama and his crew dismiss liberals – including Harris-Perry’s left liberal colleagues at The Nation – as having no place else to go, and instead spend all their time wooing the political middle of white America. And that’s the same reason Black people get nothing but ostentatious contempt from the White House. The problem is not white liberal racism, but that too many white liberals and African Americans will stick with Obama no matter what he says or does, and will make themselves look ridiculous – and incompetent – in the process. Prof. Harris-Perry, for example.

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

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

Direct download: 20110928_gf_HarrisPerryObama.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:40am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

It is the season of “occupations” – open-ended protests designed to “liberate” very finite bits of space that represent a larger world that has been alienated from humanity by the greedy grasp of a usurping class.” Three somewhat different occupations hope to “set off a chain of human reaction” that will wrest power from the denizens of Wall Street and their servants in Washington. Meanwhile, Newark, New Jersey, activists are busy occupying their own turf.

 

Occupations: Wall Street, Washington – and Newark

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The conditions that are inflicted on the people of Newark and every other American inner city have their source in those who rule from Washington in the service of Wall Street – the sites of those other occupations.”

Three “occupations” of significance are underway or about to begin in the United States. These people’s actions share overlapping themes of resistance to the oppression of the many by the few, and attempt to focus the minds of the many on very finite bits of space that represent a larger world that has been alienated from humanity by the greedy grasp of a usurping class. It is hoped that the symbolic liberation of those spaces, through physical occupation by the people, will set off a chain of human reaction culminating in a kind of Big Bang that gives birth to a new social universe.

Big Bangs have happened before; human progress depends on them, which is why people spend their entire lives trying to light the fuse.

The attempt to occupy ground on Manhattan’s Wall Street, the figurative and literal belly of the global finance capitalist beast, has been harassed and, increasingly, brutalized by police – as must occur if the protest is to crystallize into a narrative of struggle. The Wall Street protesters appear to be as they describe themselves, a “leaderless resistance” that is united against the “greed and corruption” of the “one percent” of the population that lords it over the rest of us. The protesters were, at least in the beginning, very young, very white, and transparently upscale in social background – just the kind of cohort in need of introduction to the blunt instruments underpinning the rule of the rich. The NYPD soon obliged them.

The protesters were, at least in the beginning, very young, very white, and transparently upscale in social background.”

On October 6, a coalition of organizations with many veteran leaders will descend on Freedom Square in Washington, DC, for an open-ended, non-violent occupation of federal space. Drawn from social and economic justice, environmental and peace groups, the activists say they “will demand changes that shift power away from concentrated corporate capital and free us to create solutions that lead to a just and sustainable future.”

In Newark, New Jersey, the People’s Organization for Progress, or P.O.P., has launched a different kind of occupation, claiming public space at two busy intersections of the city for daily demonstrations that they plan to continue for 381 days, the duration of the 1955 Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott. P.O.P. is, in my estimation, the most effective grassroots, Black-based outfit in the country, with hundreds of dues paying members and many more active associates. The demands of their “People’s Daily Action for Peace, Jobs, Equality and Justice” are as comprehensive as those of a national organization – as they must be, since the conditions that are inflicted on the people of Newark and every other American inner city have their source in those who rule from Washington in the service of Wall Street – the sites of those other occupations.

The activists in Newark are intent on occupying public space in their own city, for more than a year or as long as necessary. That is the most profound kind of occupation: a non-stop mobilization of people embedded in their own communities, yet consciously connected to the larger world. A struggle in which there will be no change of venue, until all the people’s venues are liberated.

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

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

Direct download: 20110928_gf_Occupations.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:38am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by editor and columnist Jared Ball

The grotesque spectacle of Georgia’s final execution of Troy Davis may have been politically useful to the pretenders to the mantel of Black leadership, but in the end the misleadership class proved useless to Troy. “My last words would have been to spread out, break those ranks and let Sharpton, Barack and Jealous know, no more show time for you and the God you keep praising as all ‘capable’ when he can’t keep me from the poison.”

Troy Anthony Davis and Useless Leadership

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by editor and columnist Jared Ball

Amy Goodman used his death like CNN used Desert Storm.”

Not long after the 4-hour additional torture imposed on Davis by the Supreme Court, and after the final word came that Troy was dead, I got a phone call from an angry friend. He began by asking, “what is the value in electing or investing support for a leadership that cannot stop even this? What is the value in investing support behind these so-called ‘movements’ that benefit useless leadership more than the people they claim to be moving for?” And then he said, “Troy was definitely a better man than me.”

Word?” I asked. “That’s my word,” he said. He took a breath to calm himself and went on. “First of all, his last words were praise to his supporters and all those gathered around the world. Then he had words of encouragement for the family of the cop he didn’t kill. No way man. I would have been of no use.” That line struck me. “What do you mean, ‘no use’?” I asked. “Everyone knows he didn’t do it,” he went on. “Everyone knows it and yet they all use him while he dies in convenient fashion.” “Convenient fashion? That’s deep my man,” I said. “Did you watch the coverage on Democracy Now! last night?” he asked. “Every minute,” I said. “Then you know what I mean. The cop’s family got polite support from a man from whom they gained closure, the activists got praise from a man they were too soft to save, and Amy Goodman’s people got love for doing what they should have been doing for at least 10 years.”

You saw their coverage right?” “Yes,” I said. “Then you noticed how it is on the night Troy is killed that they gave more attention to his case than during the entire 20 years of his incarceration. And how often do they talk about the associated issues of mass Black imprisonment?” “Ok,” I said. But he went on, increasingly angered, “What you saw was spectacle. Amy Goodman used his death like CNN used Desert Storm, you heard her say, ‘and we are the only ones here covering the moment.’ Just like CNN she was locking up 10 more years of support from the Left as the major media.” “She didn’t do some good with coverage?” I asked, sounding like the people I usually refer to as soft. “Whatever good she did was useless to Troy and the rest of us. And look what she did the next day; went right back to her real top stories, Israel and Palestine and mainstream journalist book writers.”

Make them storm trooper cops need that gear they brought to the rally.”

But that wouldn’t have worked with me,” he went on. “Because I would have used my last words to tell them to go home, go back to the stories you prefer. I don’t want to become a fund-raiser for you. You didn’t tell my story enough or in ways to get your audience to get me out, I am about to die anyway, so to me, you are useless.” “In fact,” he said, with even more venom in his voice, “I would have told everyone gathered out front, everyone listening to whatever media was covering me, that they should go become a problem, the kind of problem that keeps me alive or gets me out. Make them storm trooper cops need that gear they brought to the rally. Tell them that I won’t be the only one to transition tonight. But don’t use me to add to your phony activist credentials. If indeed we are ‘all Troy Davis’ then we all should be prepared to die tonight.”

He noticed that my silent discomfort. He sensed my fear of my own politics. But he was angry and relentless. “My last words would have been to spread out, break those ranks and let Sharpton, Brock and Jealous know, no more show time for you and the God you keep praising as all ‘capable’ when he can’t keep me from the poison. Your God is useless. We don’t praise the same one, if we praise one at all. My God wouldn’t let me and mine suffer while others use that suffering to enrich and reposition themselves.” “I feel you,” I said. “And it was even more infuriating to listen to them apologize for Obama’s inability to inter…” I could not even finish the sentence.

Obama’s uselessness was so evident and emblematic” he interrupted. “A Black president, a Black attorney general, a Black supreme court justice, two Black men on the Georgia parole board, all the Black civil rights glitterati and still nothing could be done. It is final proof, if we still needed it, of the uselessness of what is called ‘leadership’.”

I agree but only wish I had the courage to say it myself.

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: 20110928_jb_TroyDavis.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:34am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

There is no “new” Obama. He’s the same guy who put Social Security on the chopping block before even taking the oath of office, and “gave away the social programs store” in an attempt for forge a “grand bargain” with the GOP. “He will accept anything that can remotely be construed as a tax hike on some wealthy people as sufficient cause to return to his previous passion for savaging Medicaid and Medicare.” This isn’t about tax fairness; it’s about preserving what’s left of the New Deal and the Great Society.

 

Obama’s Phony “Pivot” on the Budget: The Trickster is At It, Again

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The president has not altered one iota his intention to sacrifice the legacy of the New Deal and the Great Society on the alter of deficit reduction.”

President Obama remains as eager as ever to slash away at Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and every other social program despised by his corporate backers – his new tone of voice and body language notwithstanding. There has been no substantive “pivot” in his debt reduction policies, only a cynical, cosmetic change of posture.

Obama’s own words betray him, if only people would actually listen. A straightforward reading of his remarks on Tuesday shows the president has not altered one iota his intention to sacrifice the legacy of the New Deal and the Great Society on the alter of deficit reduction. He simply asks that the Republicans make him look good doing it, by allowing some undetermined – and almost certainly token – taxes on the rich.

This supposedly “new Obama” –which he hopes resembles the much older Obama of his supporters’ imaginations – claims he will resist future reductions in Medicaid and Medicare – that is, unless the Republicans allow additional taxes on corporations and the wealthy. But he is perfectly willing to chop away if the Republicans budge from their position. Knowing Obama as we do after two and a half years, he will accept anything that can remotely be construed as a tax hike on some wealthy people as sufficient cause to return to his previous passion for savaging Medicaid and Medicare. All the president now insists upon is that the cuts not be one-sided.

All he wants is Republican cover to carry out his own deficit reduction massacre.”

Obama claims he is removing Social Security from the chopping block, if only temporarily. But he is the one who put Social Security there in the first place before he was even sworn into office, and has kept it in jeopardy ever since. Administration officials are telling reporters that Obama is not ruling out resurrecting the draconian cuts he proposed back in July – if only the Republicans would put a little grease on the wheels on the corporate tax side.

So, let us be clear about what has happened. The Republicans have consistently balked at any tax increases for the wealthy. Obama, who caved to Republicans on the Bush tax cuts for the rich late last year, and who had been perfectly willing to give away the whole social programs store this summer, now primps and postures as if he is defending those same social programs. But he’s not. All he wants is Republican cover to carry out his own deficit reduction massacre.

The whole conversation is out of whack. Progressives should not tolerate the bargaining away of programs that are vital to the health and welfare of the people, in return for taxes on the rich that will only go to reducing the deficit. Higher taxes on Exxon or Wal-Mart, even if they can be extracted from the Republicans, cannot make up for Social Security benefits or health care programs for those in need. The rich can spare some of their money. Medicaid beneficiaries cannot spare life-sustaining services. Obama is making this into an argument about notions of tax fairness, when the real struggle at hand is to maintain the meager social services that the United States still provides to its citizens.

The truth is, Obama is presenting the people with a losing proposition. If he somehow wins tax increases on the rich, then he will reciprocate, eagerly, with massive cuts to people's programs, and then call it victory. Under those circumstances, the best we can hope for is gridlock. Any Obama deal, is a bad deal.

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: 20110921_gf_ObamaDebtScheme.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:28am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by editor and columnist Jared Ball

Kevin “Rashid” Johnson’s book has some calling him “this generation’s George Jackson,” the Black Panther and “Soledad Brother” assassinated in prison in 1971. Johnson, like Jackson, became a revolutionary behind bars, where he has spent over a decade in solitary confinement. Johnson presents “a powerful commentary on the failure of that which poses as political leadership in our world today” and of “revolutionary transformation while inside” the tomb of incarceration.

 

Defying the Tomb, Defying Illogic

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by editor and columnist Jared Ball

Johnson’s is a powerful commentary on the failure of that which poses as political leadership in our world today.”

Earlier this year when we received word of an attempt by Maryland prison officials to ban the recently published book by former Black Panther Party leader and current political prisoner Marshall “Eddie” Conway, we were reminded of the immediacy of the threat ideas can represent to established order. It was a reminder that only specific forms of incarceration and the impact of that incarceration are acceptable for mass consumption. Prison rape, assassination, criminal organization and all kinds of violence waged by and against guards is somewhat acceptable. Even escapes. Everyone routed for Clint Eastwood in Escape from Alcatraz just as we all did for Tim Robbins in ShawshankRedemption. But one aspect of incarceration we are certainly discouraged from truly considering and engaging is revolutionary shifts in consciousness that, through implementation, threaten not only the order imposed on prisoners but that imposed on all of us.

Defying the Tomb, last year’s published book of essays and letters from Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, is another example of the kinds of revolutionary change some undergo while locked up in this country’s prisons, or what Lawrence Bobo calls “internal colonies.” Unlike Conway’s once-banned book, Johnson’s is not the tale of one previously politicized and incarcerated for that political development and action. Johnson’s is one of revolutionary transformation while inside. It describes the particular response some have to imprisonment – both in and out of jail. It describes one man’s – actually, several men’s – grappling with revolutionary concepts, the very ones so many of us who are nominally free consider immature, passé. But in what world do we live where ideas of revolutionary nationalism, historical and dialectical and materialism, anti-colonialism, socialism, communism and violence have no relevance? What utopia have we achieved with the more acceptable and safe discussions of democracy, free-market, pluralism, or indeed, post-racialism?

In what world do we live where ideas of revolutionary nationalism, historical and dialectical and materialism, anti-colonialism, socialism, communism and violence have no relevance?”

In fact, as Johnson describes, the truly oppressive nature of this society creates a tendency to rebel against insufficient change. And this tendency took hold of him – as it does with many of us – long before becoming consciously revolutionary. The endless cavalcade of euphemisms used to deny the on-the-ground reality did little to prevent Johnson from almost immediately rebelling against the disorganized nature of anti-police sentiment, or as he says, “I’ve always been in something of a running battle with the establishment.” But the threat Johnson represents, a threat that has led so many familiar with him to call him this generation’s George Jackson, is the threat of organizing around an ever-increasingly radical and well-studied analysis of this society. The threat Johnson represents, one that has had him held in solitary confinement for well over a decade, is his unyielding willingness to continue, as he writes, “… studying, refining my views, and testing them in practice.”

Johnson represents a necessary resurgence of deep study, deep commitment to the people and the depth of radical ideas. His is a powerful commentary on the failure of that which poses as political leadership in our world today and the value of the suppressed ideas that, while unpopular, are still correct. After all, it is not simply the similarity in analysis or the fact that the book contains letters written between brothers, comrades striving to improve their ideas and organize around them that begs the comparison to George Jackson; it is the continuity of conditions or the permanency of the relationship held by Black people to the state and the state’s relationship to the world. Johnson’s book, its argumentation, its conclusions, even his artwork are further reminders of the incomplete revolution and the failure of our most popular “leadership” to advance what, as Tom Big Warrior writes in the book’s foreword, is the coming “revolutionary situation… not because of the actions of the Left [but] in spite of the Left’s inaction and decline.”

Defying the Tomb defies more than the incarceration of one man. It defies popular illogic concerning the conditions of the people and what they must do about them. It is a programmatic ideological blueprint for us all.

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: 20110921_jb_Defying_the_Tomb.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:19am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

After giving California prison officials weeks to demonstrate they were serious about negotiating five core demands, inmates at Pelican Bay state prison are preparing to go on hunger strike, again. The state seems intent on expanding its regime of torture and arbitrary solitary confinement. “Prison official Scott Kernan said the system planned to expand its solitary confinement regime to include allinmates categorized as being part of any ‘disruptive group.’”

 

California Prisons Hunger Strikes to Renew

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Many of the Pelican Bay inmates are in a weakened state of health.”

Inmates at the infamous Security Housing Unit of California’s Pelican Bay state prison say they will go back on hunger strike on September 26, convinced that prison officials have no intention of making a meaningful response to their fivecore demands. Pelican Bay was the nexus of 21 days of protest in July that, at one point, involved 6,500 inmates at 13 prisons. The protest draw national attention to the routine practice of torture behind prison walls in California and throughout the vast American Prison Gulag.

On July 20, inmate representatives voted to temporarily suspend their strike in order to give prison officials “a couple of weeks” to make good on their promise to give serious attention to the inmates five “core demands,” including clean, adequate and wholesome food, an end to group punishment, and a chance to get out of long-term isolation from human contact, in which inmates are held in solitary for 23 hours a day. But the weeks went by, and inmates finally concluded that prison officials were not about to meet any of the core demands. On September 1, Pelican Bay inmate representative Mutope Duguma told the San Francisco Bay View newspaper that the hunger strike would resume. There are indications that inmates at Calipatria State Prison will also be involved.

Supporters on the outside caution that this round of protest will be different than the first, both because many of the Pelican Bay inmates are in a weakened state of health, and because California authorities are anxious to keep the lid on the protest and avoid embarrassment for the state. On some levels, the authorities have gone on the offensive, claiming their practices are not torture, but meet constitutional standards, and that it is necessary to use the harshest methods to control what they claim are 3,000 gang “generals” – not captains or majors, but “generals” – who would otherwise kill guards and other prisoners on sight.

Prison officials claim it is necessary to use the harshest methods to control what they claim are 3,000 gang ‘generals.’”

Rather than subjecting their policies to an honest review, prison officials seem prepared to turn up the heat. In a meeting of the California State Assembly’s Public Safety Committee, prison official Scott Kernan said the system planned to expand its solitary confinement regime to include all inmates categorized as being part of any “disruptive group.” That’s a code word for gangs, but in reality can mean anything the authorities want it to mean, including politically-inspired inmates or any of the tens of thousands of prisoners who are arbitrarily labeled as gang-affiliated.

Faced with such state intransigence, the inmates at Pelican Bay see no alternative but to resist. Prison officials justify their torture regime, describing the Securing Housing Unit, or SHU, inmates as the “worst of the worst.” These officials preside over a system that is in the business of dehumanizing men, on an industrial, military scale.

Pelican Bay and the other torture chambers of the American Prison Gulag are among the theaters of war waged against Black and brown people in the U.S., a war that has plunged millions into captivity – including lots of whites as collateral damage. Those confined to the SHU are the treated as the equivalent of enemy combatants, with no rights, and no protection. Human dignity cannot survive in a nation that tolerates the existence of Pelican Bay.

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: 20110921_gf_PelicanBay.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:56am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Rev. Walter Fauntroy has so far failed to follow up on his abbreviated tale of witnessing European special forces troops on an orgy of massacres and beheadings in Libya. The former DC congressional delegate's story loses credibility with each day that he withholds further information. “It is mind-boggling to imagine why the French and the Danes would need to commit on-the-ground atrocities of their own, when they have at their disposal thousands of bloodthirsty Arab jihadis who have no problem doing their own massacres.”

Fauntroy's Libya Massacres Story: No Time for Teasing

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Why didn’t Fauntroy invite the national and international media to a press conference, once he was back in Washington?”

Former Washington, DC congressional Delegate Walter Fauntroy’s tale of French and Danish special forces rampaging through Libyan villages, killing and beheading both Gaddafi supporters and rebels, alike, is – well, there is no other word for it but bizarre. It jars the mind, not because there is any limit to the barbarity of which Europeans are capable, certainly not in Africa, but because of the manner in which Fauntroy, himself, has been behaving. The 78-year old minister and former colleague of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who served for nearly 20 years as Washington’s non-voting representative on Capitol Hill, traveled to Libya this summer on what he said was his own mission of peace. He spent lots of time in Libya with progressive journalists associated with former Georgia congresswoman Cynthia McKinney’s fact-finding mission in Tripoli, and was reported by the Washington Post to have left a luxury hotel along with many corporate journalists on August 24, in a convoy arranged by the International Red Cross. When he arrived back home in Washington, Fauntroy claimed that he had gone “underground” for about a month in Libya after having witnessed the French and Danish special forces slaughtering Libyans in the streets of small villages – meaning he witnessed this in more than one village. Fauntroy told this story from his living room to Valencia Mohammed, who wrote for the Baltimore Afro-American newspaper. He said, “The truth about all this will come out later." We have heard nothing more from Fauntroy since the piece appeared on September 7th.

Jihadis have no problem doing their own massacres.”

So, what are we to make of Fauntroy’s story? NATO’s half-year bombing campaign in Libya has slaughtered thousands of civilians and soldiers. But, bloA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Rev. Walter Fauntroy has so far failed to follow up on his abbreviated tale of witnessing European special forces troops on an orgy of massacres and beheadings in Libya. The former DC congressional delegate's story loses credibility with each day that he withholds further information. “It is mind-boggling to imagine why the French and the Danes would need to commit on-the-ground atrocities of their own, when they have at their disposal thousands of bloodthirsty Arab jihadis who have no problem doing their own massacres.”

Fauntroy's Libya Massacres Story: No Time for Teasing

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Why didn’t Fauntroy invite the national and international media to a press conference, once he was back in Washington?”

Former Washington, DC congressional Delegate Walter Fauntroy’s tale of French and Danish special forces rampaging through Libyan villages, killing and beheading both Gaddafi supporters and rebels, alike, is – well, there is no other word for it but bizarre. It jars the mind, not because there is any limit to the barbarity of which Europeans are capable, certainly not in Africa, but because of the manner in which Fauntroy, himself, has been behaving. The 78-year old minister and former colleague of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who served for nearly 20 years as Washington’s non-voting representative on Capitol Hill, traveled to Libya this summer on what he said was his own mission of peace. He spent lots of time in Libya with progressive journalists associated with former Georgia congresswoman Cynthia McKinney’s fact-finding mission in Tripoli, and was reported by the Washington Post to have left a luxury hotel along with many corporate journalists on August 24, in a convoy arranged by the International Red Cross. When he arrived back home in Washington, Fauntroy claimed that he had gone “underground” for about a month in Libya after having witnessed the French and Danish special forces slaughtering Libyans in the streets of small villages – meaning he witnessed this in more than one village. Fauntroy told this story from his living room to Valencia Mohammed, who wrote for the Baltimore Afro-American newspaper. He said, “The truth about all this will come out later." We have heard nothing more from Fauntroy since the piece appeared on September 7th.

Jihadis have no problem doing their own massacres.”

So, what are we to make of Fauntroy’s story? NATO’s half-year bombing campaign in Libya has slaughtered thousands of civilians and soldiers. But, blond-haired NATO killers beheading Libyans on the ground, and then telling the rebels that they will have to take the blame for it – that is a world-shaking story! So, why didn’t Fauntroy invite the national and international media to a press conference, once he was back in Washington? Given Fauntroy’s stature, the corporate media, especially the Washington Post, the nation's second most important newspaper, could not have avoided giving coverage. But Fauntroy’s own failure to forcefully put forward his story, beyond a living room interview with one person, cannot help but diminish its credibility.

It is also mind-boggling to imagine why the French and the Danes would need to commit on-the-ground atrocities of their own, when they have at their disposal thousands of bloodthirsty Arab jihadis who have no problem doing their own massacres. They don't need European special forces troops as role models for mass political murder. They assassinated their own military commander back in July. They have beheaded, lynched and burned countless Libyans, without the necessity of prodding from NATO. They laid siege to the black city of Tawergha, vowing to “purge black skin” and wipe the town from the face of the earth. Tawergha is now empty, its inhabitants slaughtered and dispersed, ethnically cleansed from the new Libya. And there are many more massacres to come, as NATO aircraft blast a path for the rebels into the dark-skinned south of the country. These so-called rebels are not people that require white men to teach them how to murder. They are quite capable killers, on their own.

So, Rev. Fauntroy, if you have a story, please tell it to the world, in full. This is no time for teasing. 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.

nd-haired NATO killers beheading Libyans on the ground, and then telling the rebels that they will have to take the blame for it – that is a world-shaking story! So, why didn’t Fauntroy invite the national and international media to a press conference, once he was back in Washington? Given Fauntroy’s stature, the corporate media, especially the Washington Post, the nation's second most important newspaper, could not have avoided giving coverage. But Fauntroy’s own failure to forcefully put forward his story, beyond a living room interview with one person, cannot help but diminish its credibility.

It is also mind-boggling to imagine why the French and the Danes would need to commit on-the-ground atrocities of their own, when they have at their disposal thousands of bloodthirsty Arab jihadis who have no problem doing their own massacres. They don't need European special forces troops as role models for mass political murder. They assassinated their own military commander back in July. They have beheaded, lynched and burned countless Libyans, without the necessity of prodding from NATO. They laid siege to the black city of Tawergha, vowing to “purge black skin” and wipe the town from the face of the earth. Tawergha is now empty, its inhabitants slaughtered and dispersed, ethnically cleansed from the new Libya. And there are many more massacres to come, as NATO aircraft blast a path for the rebels into the dark-skinned south of the country. These so-called rebels are not people that require white men to teach them how to murder. They are quite capable killers, on their own.

So, Rev. Fauntroy, if you have a story, please tell it to the world, in full. This is no time for teasing. 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: 20110914_gf_FauntroyLibyaStory.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:51pm EDT

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

The United States is a mythical country, mean most of what it says about itself is a lie. Since most of what the U.S. has historically said about its Black population is also a lie, it would serve African Americans well to invest in their own mythology as a kind of self-defense. William Parker, the free man and the myth, is an excellent candidate for the Black pantheon. “What better way to really commemorate a 9/11 than with reminders of radical organization and resistance to state-sanctioned terrorism?”

William Parker, 9/11 and American Mythology

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

William Parker organized community defense against the state-sanctioned terrorists who had come to re-enslave nominally free Black people in Christiana, PA.”

One thing for sure can be said of what 9/11 has meant; when this country recoils into itself, when it is hit – be that hit real or perceived – and it rallies itself around itself things get worse for damn near everybody else. Flags wave, planes fly and more Black people lose their jobs and go to jail. More Brown people get deported or kept here and also imprisoned or worked at slave-labor wages. Indigenous nations get no more land or jobs and none of the wealth their lands continue to create for a handful of White people. And if you live elsewhere in the Black or Brown world rest assured that US munitions will soon be headed your way. 9/11 has literally become commercial propaganda advertising the great myth of the U.S. as the bringer of freedom and, of course, commercial products. Especially during this week’s pro football opening weekend which corresponded to the 10th anniversary, 9/11 was used to sell everything from cars to clothes and, of course, was used to re-sell the empty state-sanctioned conspiracy theory of that day’s events. Mostly, however, 9/11 has become the ultimate barrier to progressive movement building.

So on the political right 9/11 has been used to enrich a handful of the banking, military and political elite and used as a bludgeon against the political Left who themselves have used 9/11 and its mythical effect to enrich a handful of pundits, liberal authors and activists and as a bludgeon against the genuinely politically progressive or radical. In fact, 9/11 has become the big dog form of picking the lesser of evils; liberals telling us we must vote for the Democrat to save us from the Republicans has, since 9/11, worsened to we being further encouraged to follow liberal defenses of the country because even a bad America is better than anything else that does or could exist. So when Dr. Mark Bolden suggested recently that we adopt a truly anti-terrorist 9/11 story of William Parker as our own, it just sounded right on. We, too, need our own myths. And what better way to really commemorate a 9/11 than with reminders of radical organization and resistance to state-sanctioned terrorism?

We, too, need our own myths.”

On September 11, 1851 William Parker organized community defense against the state-sanctioned terrorists who had come to re-enslave nominally free Black people in Christiana, PA. The terrorists, so-called “slave catchers,” were merely acting on what the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 had, if not made perfectly legal, certainly encouraged the capturing of Black women and men, anywhere in the country, for sale or re-sale into southern bondage. This is part of that foundation of Malcolm X’s famous statement of the real Mason-Dixon line being the Canadian border. But Parker, a formerly enslaved African who had escaped Maryland for what he once thought was safety in Pennsylvania, had along with his wife and neighbors organized an armed self-defense unit to protect against the now legal theft and deportation of his people. But on that 9/11 it was only the terrorists who lay wounded and dead upon trying to reclaim what could never be theirs. Parker and his family would, a century before him, take Malcolm X’s line seriously and fled to Ontario. And no one was ever convicted of the killings.

And we would be justified in re-imaging 9/11 for our own political purposes as others have done for theirs. For example, according to Richard Prince, Time magazine – I think speaking for the entire country – included no Black people in its 64 page commemorative. Like the Washington Post said this week of Obama, to the nation, to the White political world (Left or Right), Black people are “irrelevant.” Or perhaps this omission is a response to the still widely understood notion that Black people, who know White people better than anyone are, as Prince also reported, twice as likely as Whites to reject military action and at least that likely to suggest that this country might have to suffer the consequences of its actions in the world.

Either way, William Parker stands as a reminder of the power of organization and also the power of myth. Rather that our mythology be driven by Parker’s reality than by American political fantasy. And besides, who can question Frederick Douglass who said after housing the Parker family during their flight farther north, “to me they were the heroic defenders of the just rights of man against manstealers and murders.”

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: 20110914_jb_WilliamParker.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:48pm EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Corporate school privatizers feign disgust with teachers that cheat the standardized tests. But big business theft of public education is by far the greater sin. “The real cheats are those that pushed high stakes testing under the false pretexts of reform, when the actual goal was union busting and privatization.”

High Stakes Testing in Schools: Who’s Cheating Who?

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

High stakes testing was designed as a Trojan Horse for a corporate educational takeover, but packaged as a public good.”

The school privatizers now headquartered in the Obama administration are all pitching a morality fit over teachers that cheat by altering answers on standardized tests. Corporate privatizers, of course, have no real sense of morality beyond profit and loss: their own profit, and to hell with those that lose. But, when attacking institutions so historically revered as public education and the teaching profession, one must play dirty. You’ve got to get them on a morals charge.

The assault on public schools began with the blanket assertion that teachers – or, more precisely, teachers unions – are out for themselves; that they are sinfully selfish. Strange words, from the lips of corporate executives and free marketeers who preach that the highest virtues arA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Corporate school privatizers feign disgust with teachers that cheat the standardized tests. But big business theft of public education is by far the greater sin. “The real cheats are those that pushed high stakes testing under the false pretexts of reform, when the actual goal was union busting and privatization.”

High Stakes Testing in Schools: Who’s Cheating Who?

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

High stakes testing was designed as a Trojan Horse for a corporate educational takeover, but packaged as a public good.”

The school privatizers now headquartered in the Obama administration are all pitching a morality fit over teachers that cheat by altering answers on standardized tests. Corporate privatizers, of course, have no real sense of morality beyond profit and loss: their own profit, and to hell with those that lose. But, when attacking institutions so historically revered as public education and the teaching profession, one must play dirty. You’ve got to get them on a morals charge.

The assault on public schools began with the blanket assertion that teachers – or, more precisely, teachers unions – are out for themselves; that they are sinfully selfish. Strange words, from the lips of corporate executives and free marketeers who preach that the highest virtues are revealed in the cutthroat corridors of commerce. Then again, pots and kettles are always calling everybody else black.

So, they slimed the teachers as the root of all that ails public education, teachers whose moral deficits could be corrected by rigorous competition regulated by standardized testing of students. If the students failed the tests, then the teachers would fail and be discharged, and the schools they worked in would also fail, and be replaced by privatized charters. High stakes testing was designed as a Trojan Horse for a corporate educational takeover, but packaged as a public good. Bad teachers and bad schools would come to a well-deserved bad end.

This morality play was always based on a lie. The standardized tests were bombs, designed to explode the public schools and the teaching profession. Everyone involved knew that inner city kids would fail the tests in huge numbers, setting the infernal machine in motion for the closing of schools and the wholesale firing of teachers. In their place would be recruited a new workforce that would either view teaching as a temporary job or cut every other teacher's throat in order to stay – neither of which redounds to the benefit of students or anyone else but the bosses. This is the substance of education “reform” in the Age of Obama.

Everyone involved knew that inner city kids would fail the tests in huge numbers, setting the infernal machine in motion for the closing of schools and the wholesale firing of teachers.”

Faced with extinction of their jobs and their very profession, and with a teacher’s learned certainty that many of their students would be pushed into marginality by the testing juggernaut, teachers turned to cheating the test. They have been caught and shamed and may face prosecution in Atlanta and Philadelphia and elsewhere, but cheating the test surely occurs in virtually every inner city. I don’t think it’s cheating, in a moral sense, at all. The cheats are those that pushed high stakes testing under the false pretexts of reform, when the actual goal was union busting and privatization. Teachers are fighting for their lives, and all of us would cheat death, if we could.

The school privatizers are determined, not just to bust the teachers unions, but to remake teachers as corporate citizens. A schools superintendent in New Jersey said part of the difficulty for teachers under the new order is that they “are more concerned about relationships than about achieving more than one another.” When he gives teachers awards, he says, they won't display them because “they don't want to outshine one another.” His teachers would rather collaborate and cooperate to achieve a common goal. And that's why they've got to change, or go.

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.e revealed in the cutthroat corridors of commerce. Then again, pots and kettles are always calling everybody else black.

So, they slimed the teachers as the root of all that ails public education, teachers whose moral deficits could be corrected by rigorous competition regulated by standardized testing of students. If the students failed the tests, then the teachers would fail and be discharged, and the schools they worked in would also fail, and be replaced by privatized charters. High stakes testing was designed as a Trojan Horse for a corporate educational takeover, but packaged as a public good. Bad teachers and bad schools would come to a well-deserved bad end.

This morality play was always based on a lie. The standardized tests were bombs, designed to explode the public schools and the teaching profession. Everyone involved knew that inner city kids would fail the tests in huge numbers, setting the infernal machine in motion for the closing of schools and the wholesale firing of teachers. In their place would be recruited a new workforce that would either view teaching as a temporary job or cut every other teacher's throat in order to stay – neither of which redounds to the benefit of students or anyone else but the bosses. This is the substance of education “reform” in the Age of Obama.

Everyone involved knew that inner city kids would fail the tests in huge numbers, setting the infernal machine in motion for the closing of schools and the wholesale firing of teachers.”

Faced with extinction of their jobs and their very profession, and with a teacher’s learned certainty that many of their students would be pushed into marginality by the testing juggernaut, teachers turned to cheating the test. They have been caught and shamed and may face prosecution in Atlanta and Philadelphia and elsewhere, but cheating the test surely occurs in virtually every inner city. I don’t think it’s cheating, in a moral sense, at all. The cheats are those that pushed high stakes testing under the false pretexts of reform, when the actual goal was union busting and privatization. Teachers are fighting for their lives, and all of us would cheat death, if we could.

The school privatizers are determined, not just to bust the teachers unions, but to remake teachers as corporate citizens. A schools superintendent in New Jersey said part of the difficulty for teachers under the new order is that they “are more concerned about relationships than about achieving more than one another.” When he gives teachers awards, he says, they won't display them because “they don't want to outshine one another.” His teachers would rather collaborate and cooperate to achieve a common goal. And that's why they've got to change, or go.

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: 20110914_gf_SchoolCheating.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:33pm EDT