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

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by editor and columnist Jared Ball

Dr. Martin Luther King was made to suffer the indignity of being drafted into a corporate president’s campaign and corporate sponsors’ image-making. At the memorial ceremony in Washington, “it was clear Obama’s re-election bid was to be a primary function of the spectacle.” The edifice itself is stripped of any quotes that the race-neutral might find discomforting. “The words ‘Black’ and ‘racism’ make zero appearances at a memorial dedicated to a man who spoke of the essentialness of Black pride and an end to White supremacist notions of race.”

 

Memorials and Spectacles: The Anti-Dr. King Monument

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by editor and columnist Jared Ball

All we are left with is a memorial that will permanently impose itself, as spectacle, preventing actual discussion of the man or his ideas.”

This week’s dedication of the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial in Washington, D.C. was a quintessential display of what Guy Debord called “spectacle.” In his words, what we prefer to refer to as “media” is really the communication of “orders” whereby “those who give them are also those who tell us what [to] think of them.” These orders, Debord says, “permeate all reality,” and form a “crushing presence” so as to assure that “no place [is] left where people can discuss the realities which concern them…” And by so doing we are left with only the “unanswerable lies [which] have succeeded in eliminating public opinion.” In fact, Debord says, the “spectacle” is “the end of history [which] gives power a welcome break.” Such displays as we witnessed this weekend operate under the orders of ending critical thought and radical reflection and gave us a parade of characters who, as Debord also says, are the “experts [who] serve the state and the media and only in that way do they achieve their status.”

And just who were delivered by General Motors, Bank of America, Wal-Mart, Boeing, Phizer, Tommy Hilfiger and AT&T? Well, of course, the big prize delivery was the president himself and with at least 4 of his previous top campaign contributors also sponsoring the monument (GE, JP Morgan, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs) it was clear his re-election bid was to be a primary function of the spectacle. And why not? Banksters and war profiteers don’t sponsor events meant to commemorate anti-war and wealth redistribution. So no, Dr. King could not be present at his own memorial, spectacle erases memory to preserve an ignoble present. And Obama played his role beautifully. He implicitly accepted, as he has always done, the simultaneous honor of being the culmination of King’s movement and its refutation. How else can a movement reach its conclusion and still require so much work, as the president reminded us, to achieve its goals? How else can a movement achieve the highest office and still be told by its leader that those who put him there have not worked hard enough? Only in America can so much work, for so many centuries, with so much blood, loss and suffering produce so little for so many. But this, for a president seeking re-election as opposed to a genuine product of a revolutionary movement, has to be the message even when all involved know that none of this has anything to do with King or his ideas. And while some delivered impressive comments all of the speakers let Obama get away with it.

Andrew Young again reduced persistent poverty to a lack of ‘financial literacy’ among Black people.”

The usually conservative, anti-progressive, anti-gay friend of Eddie Long, Bernice King was strong in calling out the fact that the distribution of wealth in this country is sickeningly disparate, while her brother Martin Luther King, III warned against an erasure of his father by a selection of “idol over ideas” and “brand over belief.” But the cavalcade of usurpers of King’s throne and their sponsors washed away any good those comments could have done. Jesse Jackson, still fraudulently adorning himself in King’s blood, told us yet again to “keep hope alive.” Andrew Young again reduced persistent poverty to a lack of “financial literacy” among Black people and said explicitly that a refusal to vote for Obama in 2012 was a turning over of gains won by King’s movement to the Republican party. And Al Sharpton, again, made White middle-class liberals look like revolutionaries by reducing their “occupations,” and worse King’s plans for permanent protests in 1968, to a slogan of “we will occupy voting booths” next year for Obama.

So by the time the corporate sponsors spoke themselves and after all the choirs sang all we are left with is a memorial that will permanently impose itself, as spectacle, preventing actual discussion of the man or his ideas. In fact, the words “Black” and “racism” make zero appearances at a memorial dedicated to a man who spoke of the essentialness of Black pride and an end to White supremacist notions of race. So having served the state and its media apparatus the “experts” this week assured that all that was and is Dr. King will be “crushed” beneath the orders they’ve communicated; orders that discourage the radical interventions that come, as King said, with a “divine dissatisfaction” with the world as it is.

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: 20111019_jb_MLK.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:56am EST

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Africa, under President Obama, is an expanding theater of war for the United States. There are few points on the African map where the U.S. military does not operate, independently, through proxies, or by agreement with local governments and militaries. AFRICOM has penetrated the armed forces of the continent to a degree no single European power could have ever aspired. Indeed, “the U.S. has so thoroughly infiltrated African armies, many, if not most, would be of no use for national defense against the Americans.”

 

Somalis Under Relentless Drone Attack as U.S. Tightens Military Grip on Continent

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The overlapping entanglements have allowed the U.S. military to achieve deep penetration of the armed forces of most African nations.”

Scores of Somali civilians have been killed in U.S. drone attacks in the southern region of the country, as Washington tightens its military grip on much of the continent. The current offensive involves thousands of Kenyan troops that are threatening the major Somali city of Kismayo. The American drones are supporting the Kenyan invasion. The drones’ origins are officially secret, but it is known that the U.S. operates drone bases in Ethiopia and Djibouti, which is home to a huge American base.

For all practical purposes, the U.S. has made proxies of Ethiopia and the five member states of the East African Community: Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda. The Ugandans and Burundians safeguard the airport that is the lifeline for Somalia’s puppet regime in Mogadishu, where the CIA operates a major facility. In September, the militaries of the East African Community held joint exercises with AFRICOM, the U.S. Africa Command.

Such exercises with American forces have become commonplace. The U.S. Defense Department is busily training the militaries of Mali, Chad, Niger, Benin, Botswana, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Gabon, Zambia, Uganda, Senegal, Mozambique, Ghana, Malawi, and Mauretania. ECOWAS, the Economic Community of West African States, is considering asking the U.S. navy to help it out with its pirate problem. Most of the militaries of the African Union already communicate with American command-and-control equipment, requiring U.S. advisors. The overlapping entanglements have allowed the U.S. military to achieve deep penetration of the armed forces of most African nations.

Most of the militaries of the African Union already communicate with American command-and-control equipment.”

In such a web of dependency, few standing African armies are capable of defending themselves – if the aggressor is the United States. But in most cases, the U.S. would likely get its way without a fight, since the officer class of so many African militaries have direct ties with their American counterparts. The U.S. has so thoroughly infiltrated African armies, many, if not most, would be of no use for national defense against the Americans.

The Americans are almost everywhere, but the French never left Africa. Although France and the U.S. were longtime rivals in Africa, waging proxy wars against each other through their African flunkies, their joint actions against Haiti and Libya, and in bringing down the government in the Ivory Coast, signal that the French and Americans are full partners in neocolonialism.

Now President Obama has officially sent 100 U.S. Special Forces troops to Uganda and neighboring countries, ostensibly to track down a rebel force. They will also operate in the new nation of South Sudan.

Meanwhile, the NATO attack on Libya threatens to set the whole northern tier of Africa ablaze, a pretext for further U.S. and French operations. American penetration of Africa has reached the point that any nation – such as Eritrea – that does not have a military relationship with the United States is marked for regime change. Instead of the pan-Africanist dream of a United States of Africa, we are seeing an Africa under the military thumb of the United States. For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com.

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

Direct download: 20111019_gf_USinAfrica.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:22am EST

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

After two years of existence, the Black Is Back Coalition is witnessing – and has been part of – what is beginning to look like a watershed moment in the U.S. and the world. “For the first time in four decades the word ‘revolution’ is heard outside the context of the newest consumer product.” Yet, many Blacks wonder about the actual inclusiveness of the revolt of the 99 percent. “In the United States, especially, homogenization always tends, in practice, to result in a whitening of the process.” A progressive movement requires the exertion of strong Black leadership. That’s the challenge for the Black Is Black Coalition at its November 5 national conference – and for the entire Black polity.

 

Black Is Back Coalition: Defining Our Own Place in the 99%

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Achieving the meaning of the phrase “Power to the people” requires new strategies and tactics to suit new conditions on the ground.”

It’s been two years since the formation of the Black Is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations. The original coalition of fifteen organizations was formed in the close quarters of a Washington, DC, apartment in late September 2009, and in just seven weeks pulled together the first national Black march and rally against President Obama, at the White House. Back then, the Black Is Back Coalition occupied a very lonely place, not just in Black America, but in the larger spectrum of the U.S. Left. Sisters and brothers who had long opposed U.S. imperial wars and the rule of the rich, who had for decades proudly proclaimed themselves fighters in the Black liberation struggle, turned their backs on their own lives, their own words, their own experiences and on the historical wisdom of our greatest leaders, to become apologists and cheerleaders for a Black corporate Democratic warmonger. It was, possibly, the lowest point in Black political history, a comprehensive collapse of the last remnants of what had once been a mighty movement.

Twenty-four months later, the Black Is Back Coalition prepares to hold its national conference, on November 5, in a vastly different political environment. The Obama delirium has broken, like a fever that has spent itself. The First Black President has proven with sickening consistency to be a tool of Wall Street and the Pentagon, and as contemptuous of Black people in word and deed as any president in modern times. His verbal attacks on Black culture and Black character have been vicious in the extreme, a series of egregious, hurtful harangues cynically designed to signal to whites that he, too, rejects the legitimacy of Black grievances – both historically, and in the here and now.

Those of us in the Black Is Back Coalition have a right to say “I told you so” – and we do. But it takes more than just being right, to win the battle. One must constantly take advantage of changes on the battlefield.

The Obama delirium has broken, like a fever that has spent itself.”

The political terrain has changed, decisively. People's “occupations” are the watchword all across the nation and the world, there is a general disgust and rejection of the rule of finance capital, and for the first time in four decades the word “revolution” is heard outside the context of the newest consumer product. There is a ferment, a great stirring, that has Black Americans speaking in a language that was once so familiar we thought we owned it: “All power to the people!” Variations of the old war cry are on everyone's lips. But achieving the meaning of the phrase “Power to the people” requires new strategies and tactics to suit new conditions on the ground.

The sudden appearance of a still very amorphous movement under the loose heading “Occupy” presents a huge challenge. That is especially true for those of us at the Black Is Back Coalition, whose analysis was essentially correct in 2009. We should be a lot smarter now, and share our insights and experiences with the new forces that have suddenly emerged. The slogan “the 99% versus the 1%” is fine and catchy and quite effective, for now, but real revolutions are made up of their constituent parts. In the United States, especially, homogenization always tends, in practice, to result in a whitening of the process. And that would be a tragedy for the emerging movement.

The Black Is Back Coalition's responsibility, on November 5 in Philadelphia, is to put forward a strong, unabashedly Black analysis and program for the world revolution, and share it with everybody.

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

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

Direct download: 20111019_gf_BlackIsBack.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:14am EST