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

White privilege, the legacy of 500 years of European military and economic suppression of the rest of the planet, is manifest even in movements that purport to be transformational, like Occupy Wall Street. Beneath the politics of economic reordering lie notions that the “new” and overwhelmingly white movement somehow supersedes the centuries-old aspirations of Europe’s primary victims.

 

Decolonizing Our Occupations

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by editor and columnist Jared Ball

Radical voices from the world’s majority are simply not welcomed even in spaces that each previously occupied.”

In two different settings and for two different reasons both the All Peoples Revolutionary Front and The Cornel West Theory made similar statements in response to this international moment of occupations. The APRF, from their perspective in San Diego and CWT from theirs, this week in Amsterdam, both spoke to still powerful blind spots which often prevent real coalition building. In each instance Black and Brown voices pierced a few White bubbles to at least momentarily address an important reality – the experiences and history of the world’s majority is often suppressed beneath the organized whims of a much smaller and Whiter minority.

As their show this week in Amsterdam was wrapping up Cornel West Theory front man Tim Hicks took a minute to vibe directly with the crowd. He wanted an audience new to his band’s music to know just how hard it is for such an unorthodox hip-hop group to be heard. Their beats are dope concoctions of traditional Black-laced samples and bass lines with White drumming and guitar riffs. Their fiercesome foursome of Black female and male lead vocalists deliver powerfully out-of-the-ordinary political lyrics whose content speaks as often and more easily to Frantz Fanon or Assata Shakur than the band’s actual namesake. And all of this creates a delightfully complicated problem for genre-based thinkers and corporate playlist arrangers. So Hicks took to the mic and thanked the crowd at the Live On The Low weekly hip-hop spotlight at the Winston Hotel and then let them know that despite endorsements from leading intellectuals like Cornel West, rap legends like Chuck D, and world renown soul sisters like Erykah Badu, groups like his still have to struggle to reach an audience.

They speak to longer struggles still incomplete that cannot be forgotten or marginalized by these more recent and mostly White uprisings.”

And from San Diego All Peoples Revolutionary Front representatives had taken to the mic more than a week ago to remind the current and mostly White occupiers that theirs is late and not necessarily conscious of its own complicity in the previous occupation of the world’s majority. "Our minds have been occupied by colonialism," said one speaker. And the group’s previously published open letter to the occupation calls attention to the very “colonizing language” of these occupations, with calls like “taking back our country,” with which many First Nations people simply cannot unify. Other speakers reminded of the imperial process that decimated existing communities, nations, identities and created new ones in permanent and hostile distinction from the West, from the White. Their calls for self-determination and an appropriate concept of "occupation" differ importantly from but remain in basic solidarity with those of the mainstream occupations. But they speak to longer struggles still incomplete that cannot be forgotten or marginalized by these more recent and mostly White uprisings. The differences are important and, as Greg Tate wrote recently, speak to the fact that this country remains more segregated by race than class.

And what each speak to in their own space and way is that radical voices from the world’s majority are simply not welcomed even in spaces that each previously occupied. White corporate dominance over hip-hop has largely wiped out space for group’s like the Cornel West Theory, just as now White liberal dominance over social unrest continues to limit space for other world majority radical voices from being heard. And if you continue to doubt that this latter point is an issue, just look at last week’s aired panel from the Nation magazine in all its Whiteness and ask if those in the occupy movement who are worried about corporate co-optation need to look more carefully at the liberal takeover currently being carried out.

We all have indeed been occupied by colonialism and hip-hop and the occupation movement are no different. I am glad though that in their own ways each occupation suffered these small interventions. May many more soon come.

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, MD. He is also the author of I Mix What I Like! A Mixtape Manifesto (AK Press, 2011) and can be found online at IMIXWHATILIKE.ORG.

Direct download: 20111130_jb_Occupations.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:35am EST

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

White corporate media have invested huge sums of money and decades of propaganda spreading the lie that Black independent, grassroots politics is dead. But, in Newark, New Jersey, the People's Organization for Progress (POP) “gives the lie to those that claim pulling one’s neighbors together for the mundane tasks of community building is passé, a relic of another time.”

 

Black Grassroots Politics is Served Daily in Newark

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

We desperately need fifty, a hundred, a thousand People’s Organizations for Progress if Black America is to survive the ruin of capitalism.”

No matter what you’ve heard from people who have never been in favor of true social transformation, grassroots, independent Black activist politics is not an idea whose time has come and gone. The techniques of years gone by still work, and can be made even more effective with the help of new technologies. But first, it is necessary to understand that there is no “killer app” to jump-start a movement, no genius application that allows would-be activists to leapfrog over the hard labor of organizing. There is nothing more difficult to move than people, and nothing more high maintenance than ordinary human beings struggling against a System that they fear as much as they detest.

Therefore, it is truly a wonderment when everyday, mostly Black people from a mid-sized city manage to create an organization for social justice and sustain it for almost 30 years, scrupulously avoiding the corrupting influence of corporate sponsors, and all the while maintaining a disciplined distance from local politicians – including the ones they like. It is a minor miracle when these local activists, numbering hundreds of dues-paying members, manage to expand their organization to cities across their state.

Those grassroots miracle-workers are People Organized for Progress, POP for short, created in Newark, New Jersey in 1983 and currently led by Larry Hamm. The People’s Organization for Progress is the best example of grassroots Black activism that I have observed in decades – and that is saying a great deal. POP gives the lie to those that claim pulling one’s neighbors together for the mundane tasks of community building is passé, a relic of another time. Especially since the unfolding economic crisis has already set Black people back 30 years. What becomes clear in the face of the current catastrophe is that we desperately need fifty, a hundred, a thousand People’s Organizations for Progress if Black America is to survive the ruin of capitalism.

December 6, POP will mark day 164 of their protests with a march, rally and teach-in to celebrate the 56thanniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott.”

The People's Organization for Progress understands that, too, which is why they embarked on a courageous project, back in June. If the Black people of Montgomery, Alabama, could boycott the segregated busses for 381 days, back in 1955, then POP could surely sustain daily demonstrations for at least that long. The men and women of POP reasoned that, through their example of daily protest at two of the busiest intersections of the city, they could rally not just their own members, but community groups, churches, and unions in Newark, and throughout the state of New Jersey, and in New York and Philadelphia. And they have. As of last week,110 organizations have endorsed POP's Daily People's Campaign for Jobs, Peace, Equality and Justice, and many of these groups are manning the picket lines with them.

Next Tuesday, December 6, POP will mark day 164 of their protests with a march, rally and teach-in to celebrate the 56th anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. If you want to join with grassroots, everyday Black folks on their own mission to liberate Newark and the world, then contact POP, the People's Organization for Progress, at area code 973.801.0001. That's 973.801.0001. They'll be there, every day, until day 381. Because these people are serious about building a movement.

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: 20111130_gf_POP.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:26am EST

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The best thing for the U.S. any movement that truly wants an end to U.S. wars, would be to bring back the draft. “The all-volunteer military has made it far easier for the United States to wage unjust and illegal wars, because the vast majority of the population has no direct stake in keeping the peace.” A new study shows the disconnect between Americans and their military is deeper than ever. “This vast experiential chasm between the general population and the U.S. military has reached an all time high during the same decade that has seen ‘the longest period of sustained conflict in the nation’s history.’”

 

The Absence of a Draft Makes Americans Feel Immune to War

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The Pentagon will wage as many wars as the American public will bear.”

In January of 2003, during the countdown to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, I used the pages of The Black Commentator to call for reinstitution of the draft. The article was titled “No Draft, No Peace,” and our readers were very unhappy with me. So, I expect that Black Agenda Report readers will also be unhappy, because I am once again calling for a return to the draft.

The reasoning is the same as in 2003: that the all-volunteer military, created in 1973, has made it far easier for the United States to wage unjust and illegal wars, because the vast majority of the population has no direct stake in keeping the peace. Or, as we put it nine years ago: “In the 30 years since the last young American was drafted, the U.S. has constructed a volunteer military machine that is disconnected from the life of the nation, a foreign legion-like force to which whole sectors of the population have only the most tenuous ties or…none at all.”

It’s now almost 40 years since the end of the draft, and a new study shows the distance between those families that send sons and daughters into the military, and those that do not, has never been greater. Asurvey by the Pew Research Center finds that “just one-half of one percent of American adults has served on active duty at any given time.” That means on any day of the week, only one out of every 200 Americans of either sex is in military uniform. Among young adults, only 39 percent have an immediate family member of any age who has served in the military. And, as the survey notes, this vast experiential chasm between the general population and the U.S. military has reached an all time high during the same decade that has seen “the longest period of sustained conflict in the nation’s history.”

In other words, the United States has been engaged in a decade of constant warfare on multiple fronts, while the military has made do with a smaller proportion of the population that at any time since World War Two.

The last thing the U.S. military wants is a return to the draft, because they know that selective service would instantly shrink their options for war.”

Back in 2003, readers argued heatedly that a draft would encourage U.S. militarists to concoct even more expansive war plans, because they would have access to more manpower. But, in this age of drones, smart bombs and million-dollar per man armies it is not manpower concerns, but domestic politics, that dictates how many wars the generals can fight. The Pentagon will wage as many wars as the American public will bear. At present, the U.S. is busy killing people in four large theaters of war and many smaller ones, yet the Pentagon shows no sign of having a full plate. Indeed, the last thing the U.S. military wants is a return to the draft, because they know that selective service would instantly shrink their options for war, because more people would oppose them.

As it stands, there is every reason to believe that the American public will accept an infinity of wars, as long as most families enjoy complete immunity from having loved ones killed or wounded in battle. For all political purposes, the U.S. military is a foreign legion, made up of people whose lives do not directly touch most of their fellow citizens.

And that’s why we don’t have an anti-war movement – because too few people have even theoretical “skin in the game.” The last decade has shown that a United States without a draft is the most militaristic and dangerous of all.

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

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

Direct download: 20111130_gf_NeedDraft.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:20am EST

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Over the past 40 years, income inequality and housing segregation within the Black community has bee far more pronounced than in white America. A new study paints a picture of volatile Black neighborhoods pushed and pulled by income inequalities that have also wreaked vast changes on the larger American landscape, as “affluent people cluster in gentrified areas where lower income people cannot live, and poor people also become more concentrated.”

 

Massive Growth of Segregation by Income Among Blacks

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Housing segregation among Blacks and Hispanics has, in fact, increased much more sharply than among whites since 1970.”

new report on housing segregation shows that many more Americans live in distinctly poor or categorically affluent neighborhoods than forty years ago, while far less reside in middle income neighborhoods. Back in 1970, 65 percent of families lived in neighborhoods of middle-income earners. Today, that figure is down to just 44 percent. About a third of Americans now live in neighborhoods of either affluence or poverty, up from just 15 percent 40 years ago. The authors of the study, by the Russell Sage Foundation and Brown University, attribute much of the increase in housing segregation by income to growing inequalities in society. Affluent people cluster in gentrified areas where lower income people cannot live, and poor people also become more concentrated.

The New York Times did an article on the study, last week, under the byline of reporter Sabrina Tavernise. But the terms “Black” or “African American” did not appear even once in the nearly 1,000-word piece. Clearly, Ms. Tavernise and her editors are so uncomfortable with the subject of race as to be nearly useless to their readers, because it turns out that the study had a great deal to say about race and segregation of neighborhoods by income. Housing segregation among Blacks and Hispanics has, in fact, increased much more sharply than among whites since 1970. The authors say that’s largely because of growing income differences that have opened up between Blacks, with the growth of the African American middle class. But, like all things racial, the economics of the situation does not fully explain the phenomenon.

The biggest jump in Black income inequality occurred between 1970 and 1990.”

Until the 1970s, there was less income inequality among Blacks than among white families, but since then intra-Black inequality has grown four times as much. The biggest jump in Black income inequality occurred between 1970 and 1990. It was during this same period that discrimination against Blacks in housing declined, allowing those families that could afford to leave ghetto neighborhoods, to do so. What the study shows is a very volatile Black community, with neighborhoods undergoing much more economic change than their white counterparts.

In the 1990s, the trend towards greater income inequality among Blacks slowed. That’s probably because the 90s was the most generally prosperous decade for Blacks of all incomes, which tended to moderate the growth of high density poverty in lower-income Black neighborhoods.

Then, something strange happened. When the first decade of the 21st century came along, economic data showed little reason to expect increased income segregation among Blacks. Nevertheless, a rapid increase did occur, despite a bad economy for African Americans. The authors believe the increase was due to more lenient mortgage lending practices, the spread of sub-prime lending targeting Black and Latino neighborhoods. This, of course, was the bubble that is still bursting, which has led to the most catastrophic loss of Black wealth in history.

This story, of heightened African American mobility and volatile Black neighborhoods over the past 40 years, has no interest to the New York Times, even when they are handed a study that is chock-a-block with the facts.

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

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

Direct download: 20111123_gf_IncomeSegregation.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:54am EST

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Remember 2004, when the cash-poor Democratic candidates were evicted from the campaign like vagabonds by ABC News? One measure of the impact of the Occupy Wall Street movement is that candidates will be compelled to explain to voters why they are so popular with Wall Street. This poses a special quandary for President Obama, who got the lion's share of finance industry dollars in 2008 and is determined to raise $1 billion for next year's campaign. “How can Obama claim to be ready to stand up to the 1 percent, when he's weighted down with a billion dollars of their money?”

 

Barack “Money Bags” Obama Can’t Run on the 99 Percent Ticket

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The trick that President Obama must pull off this election year is to raise a cool one billion dollars, while pretending to run as a man of the people – of the 99 percent.”

President Obama has been doing his charming best to play off the huge dilemma that the success of the Occupy Wall Street movement represents for his brand of corporate Democratic politics. Obama, the phony populist who is actually far better suited to corporate boardrooms, tried to mollify demonstrators at a campaign stop in New Hampshire, this week. Obama told a high school crowd: “In the Occupy movement there is a profound sense of frustration. The American dream – seems like that’s slipping away.” But, such presidential vagaries do not begin to describe the major thrust of the Occupation movement, whose overwhelming focus is “to get money out of politics,” as progressive reporter Arun Gupta recently told Black Agenda Radio. If there is anything that unites the supposedly leaderless Occupation movement, says Gupta, it is “a message about extreme concentration of wealth and power, and that wealth is used to dominate the political system.”

The trick that President Obama must pull off this election year is to raise a cool one billion dollars, while pretending to run as a man of the people – of the 99 percent. That kind of money can only come from the same Wall Street mafias that bankrolled Obama from the very start of his 2008 race for the White House. By any objective standard, the First Black President is really Mr. Moneybags, a corporate politician who has repaid Wall Street’s investment in him with $16 trillion of the people’s money. And, there is no doubt, Wall Street wants him back for a second term. To paraphrase Othello, Obama has done the plutocrats some service, and they know it. That’s why he is far ahead in the electoral race that really counts in America, the quest for campaign contributions, having already raised $155 million for himself and the Democratic Party – far ahead of any combination of Republicans.

The First Black President is really Mr. Moneybags, a corporate politician who has repaid Wall Street’s investment in him with $16 trillion of the people’s money.”

However, after two months of Occupy Wall Street fever, Obama’s intimate relationship with rich men’s wallets may prove prejudicial to his reelection prospects. How can Obama claim to be ready to stand up to the 1 percent, when he's weighted down with a billion dollars of their money?

The very idea that taking bundles of Wall Street checks hand over fist could be a negative for an American presidential campaigner, is testimony to the strength of the movement that has emerged over the past several months. I remember well how, back in the 2004 campaign, ABC's Ted Koppel decided it was his civic and journalistic duty to evict the three poorest candidates from the Democratic primary race. Al Sharpton, Dennis Kucinich and Carolyn Moseley Braun, said Koppel, should get out of the running, to give more breathing space to the richer candidates. Koppel spoke to the non-corporate candidates like raggedy ass interlopers at a rich man's ball. “You don't have any money, at least not much,” Congressman Kucinich, said Kopple. “Rev. Sharpton has almost none.” And Ambassador Moseley Braun, “You don't have very much.” Then Koppel accused them of being “vanity candidates” who ought to drop out. Immediately afterwards, ABC News cut off coverage of their campaigns.

What a difference even a whiff of a social movement makes. Now, the corporate candidates will have to explain why they've got so much money, and what they promised to do to get it. Especially, the richest one of all, Barack Obama.

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: 20111123_gf_MoneyPolitics.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:49am EST

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by editor and columnist Jared Ball

Propaganda agencies operate on the principle that everything can be turned to advantage, even the cultural properties of the oppressed.“ Like jazzman Louis Armstrong’s “good will” tours for the U.S. State Department in the Fifties, rappers today are dispatched on foreign missions to “cleanse an image that simply defies cleanliness.” Hip Hop, the culture that was said to have the potential to unite the global oppressed, instead becomes a weapon of oppressor. “The goal is to turn hip-hop against the very communities who create it and ultimately to turn it against the world.”

 

Hip-Hop Against the World!

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by editor and columnist Jared Ball

People are looking for ‘pro-stability rappers’ who will help make capitulation to the West ‘cool.’”

What do empires do whenever they sense trouble? A bunch of things, for sure. But one of them is to use those they most oppress in one location to ease the process of oppressing others somewhere else. Hip-hop is now the latest in a pattern of Black radical creation to be turned against itself and, if left unchecked, will serve as the cultural equivalent of the Buffalo Soldier: a new face and representative of empire or as some form of imperial novocaine. Two recent examples demonstrate this. In one part of the world rappers are sent to cleanse an image that simply defies cleanliness while here they are sent in order to co-opt what still has to prove it cannot be co-opted. But in each case the goal is to mitigate against the multitudes of emcees whose work is to give voice to radical thought and to turn this voice of the people against itself. The goal is to turn hip-hop against the very communities who create it and ultimately to turn it against the world.

In the Arab world the State Department has been sending rappers since 2005 to, as Hilary Clinton recently made clear, “rebuild the image” of the United States. It is as if to say that we hope the lyrical bombs we drop on you will somehow make up for the very literal ones that, by the way, are still coming. But as many will remember, this is part of a legacy of sending Black emissaries overseas to convince others of "a sense of shared suffering, as well as the conviction that equality could be gained under the American political system" that began in the 1950s with jazz musicians. And today, from the U.S. to Syria people are looking for “pro-stability rappers” who will help make capitulation to the West “cool.” Today’s “hip-hop envoys” are, in the words – again – of Hilary Clinton, engaged in a “complex game of ‘multidimensional chess’” which is, in part, meant to challenge the potential support given by hip-hop to revolutionary movements. So artists we never hear on radio or see on television, and even those who are somewhat progressive, are sent to promote a version of this country that simply does not exist. Shared suffering perhaps, but by no means any “equality under an American political system.”

Artists we never hear on radio or see on television are sent to promote a version of this country that simply does not exist.”

And back here at home, what does an empire do when it clearly has no clothes? It invents them, slaps a cool label on them and tries to sell them as proof of empire being ok. We were impressed a few weeks back when an anonymous super-sister called our former rap mogul, now just regular mogul, Russell Simmons as being part of the problem while he spoke on behalf of the 99% at Occupy Wall Street. As we said then she was right so it was of no surprise to see him hugged up last week to super rapper and businessman Jay-Z sporting his new Occupy All Streets tee-shirt. It was a brief but note-worthy attempt at commercializing an anti-commercial gathering. But within 48 hours Jay-Z’s Rocafella clothing line took down the shirt from its website and apparently got the message that this time the emperor’s clothes would have to stay off, at least for now.

But all of these attempts speak mostly to the extent to which hip-hop and all of us are disorganized. Artists need to eat and live but also need to check and be checked on who is sponsoring them. No one can claim to be representing anything when appointed as a representative by someone else, especially when that someone else is an enemy. Hilary Clinton can only claim that “hip-hop is America” without the more appropriate Malcolm X-like amendment that, “hip-hop is a response to the victimization by America,” because no organized body can stand up and demonstrate her fraudulence. Similarly, it should not take a loose confederacy of Twitter-ites to stop Russell Simmons and Jay-Z from even attempting to embarrass us with such a typical corporatist move. So while we know that hip-hop has long-been used to sell anything from products to myths of Black and Brown "success" we must again acknowledge that there seems to have been a devolution in preparing for worse forms of political abuse.

In the end sponsorship matters. The sponsor is as important as the message itself. And when that sponsor is the State Department or major corporations the message nearly loses all other relevance. And in this case it becomes again a situation where hip-hop is turned against itself and indeed the world.

For Black Agenda Radio I am 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, MD. and is author of I Mix What I Like! A Mixtape Manifesto (AK Press). He can be found and reached online at: IMIXWHATILIKE.ORG.

Direct download: 20111116_jb_HipHopAgainstWorld.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:21am EST

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

It was never in the cards for a plutocrat mayor to long tolerate a movement whose essential logic is the dissolution of his class. “If the Occupy Wall Street movement has been about anything, it is the absolute necessity to rid the nation – and the world – of the collective tyranny of the Bloombergs, the dictatorship of the moneyed classes.” The next phase of the movement must more self-consciously “have, at least, the goal of shutting down the infernal machines of capital.”

 

Bloomberg Personifies What the Occupation Opposes

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Bloomberg pays his hypocritical respects to democracy and reason, when in fact his authority is nothing but an extension of the rule of capital.”

New York’s mayor Michael Bloomberg justified clearing the tents and other materials of Occupation from Zuccotti Park, saying the protesters will now “have to occupy the space with the power of their arguments.” This is a strange kind of logic from the 12th richest man in America, who occupies City Hall for one reason only – because he has bought the office three times since 2001. Mr. Bloomberg’s $20 billion fortune maintains him in the Executive Mansion, not the power of his arguments.

Bloomberg was a lifelong Democrat until he found it more convenient to run as a Republican, and then as an independent – thus proving that money, not party, is what counts in New York, as in all American politics. Everything else is a diversion, and a lie. Bloomberg has used the mayor’s office to make the city more hospitable to his fellow economic one-percenters from all around the planet. But, in that sense, he is no different than the mayors of other American cities – including most of the Black ones – who collaborate in every rich man’s scheme to expel the poor in favor of wealthier populations. They’ve all got a lot of Bloomberg in them; they are operatives for whoever has the money.

When Bloomberg moved to end the 24-7 physical occupation of Zuccotti Park, it was not on the strength of his argument – which was full of lies and wholly unconvincing – but with the raw power of his police force and its monopoly on violence.

So Mayor Bloomberg, like all the rich man’s mayors in all the U.S. cities that are determined to end their local Occupations, pays his hypocritical respects to democracy and reason, when in fact his authority is nothing but an extension of the rule of capital.

People's power cannot long coexist with the power of massed capital.”

Bloomberg, the personification of Wall Street, made his vast fortune selling a machine called the Market Master. Having mastered the market, the logic of money was all that was required for Bloomberg to become master of politics in the nation’s most important city. Bloomberg’s career is the story of today's America, a place where people who market machines and schemes so that money can produce more money for themselves and their fellow Lords of Capital, can then purchase governments and write their own laws in order to maintain their power in perpetuity.

If the Occupy Wall Street movement has been about anything, it is the absolute necessity to rid the nation – and the world – of the collective tyranny of the Bloombergs, the dictatorship of the moneyed classes. If there is to be any lesson in this two-month-long Occupation that is actually useful to people, it is that people's power cannot long coexist with the power of massed capital. Capital will ultimately shut the people down. The people must, therefore, have at least the goal of shutting down the infernal machines of capital.

I'm confident the movement will weather these assaults, and find ways to create space to exist and interact with the public. The first phase of the movement was to get the people's attention – and it has been a great success. In the next phase of struggle, every action must be designed to objectively weaken the power of the Bloombergs, and strengthen the power of the people. Ultimately, it must end in a word that begins with an “R” - but that will become obvious, in time. For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. Find us on the web, at BlackAgendaReport.com.

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

Direct download: 20111116_gf_BloombergOccupy.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:16am EST

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Until the entrance of the First Black President, the phenomenon was unknown. But a new poll shows Blacks remain far more upbeat than other groups about the economy. “Since late 2009, Black Americans have been reporting wildly more optimistic beliefs than any other ethnicity about the state of the economy, Black people’s relative position in that economy, and the respondent’s own economic prospects.” And for two years, Black perceptions of reality have been largely the opposite of the truth.

 

Obama-Related Illusions Continue to Distort Black Perceptions

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

It has been like tracking a mass delirium that has been raging for two years.”

A recent poll of African American public opinion adds to the evidence that the very presence of a Black man in the White House has created lasting distortions in Black people’s collective ability to gauge their own relative position in society. To put it bluntly, something has gone very wrong with Black perceptions of reality, since the ascent of President Obama.

The latest manifestation of the madness arrived with this month’s NBC News/Wall Street Journal/the Grio poll, headlined “Black Americans More Optimistic, Enthused About 2012.” The poll showed that almost half of Black respondents thought the country was on the right track, while overwhelming majorities of other Americans believe the opposite. Sixty-two percent of Blacks think the recession is behind us – an intuition not nearly so widely held by other Americans. Most tellingly, 86 percent of Blacks approve of the way President Obama has been handling the economy – an economy in which Blacks are doing worse than every other major group.

The Grio article didn’t tell us that research has shown, since late 2009 – President Obama’s first year in office – that Black Americans have been reporting wildly more optimistic beliefs than any other ethnicity about the state of the economy, Black people’s relative position in that economy, and the respondent’s own economic prospects. It has been like tracking a mass delirium that has been raging for two years. The first poll by the Pew Research Center, titled “Blacks Upbeat about Black Progress, Prospects appeared in January of 2010. It showed that the proportion of Blacks that thought they were “better off” than five years ago had nearly doubled. What had actually doubled in the previous five years was the rate of Black unemployment. Blacks also thought, in late 2009, that the racial gap had grown smaller in the last ten years. In the real world, it had gotten significantly larger.

Eighty-six percent of Blacks approve of the way President Obama has been handling the economy – an economy in which Blacks are doing worse than every other major group.”

Clearly, this was a mass psychological manifestation of the Obama phenomenon. We wrote in the January 20, 2010 edition of Black Agenda Report, that “large majorities of African Americans have been trapped” in a Delusion Zone ”since Barack Obama took up residence in the White House.”

Six months later, the Pew Research outfit released an even scarier survey. Titled, “How the Great Recession Changed Life in America,” the study showed across the board that Blacks are more upbeat about damn near everything than everybody else. Here’s what we wrote on June 6 of 2010:

The Pew poll shows that 35 percent of Blacks report their homes are worth less than their mortgages, compared to just 18 percent for white people. Fifty-four percent of Blacks took a pay cut, worked reduced hours or were forced to take unpaid leave during the Great Recession. Only 37 percent of whites suffered such employment trauma, yet Blacks are consistently – and insanely – more optimistic about the future.”

There is the possibility that Black folks are simply not answering honestly to pollsters, so as not to make Obama look bad. But, if they actually believe what they say, then Black folks would rather imagine an alternative universe in which the First Black President actually did bring good times for Black people, than face the facts as they have actually occurred.

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: 20111116_gf_BlacksInPolls.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:06am EST

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Jared Ball

Wars produce veterans on both sides. Thus, opponents of the wars the U.S. government has waged since its inception against “enemies” within its territory are also veterans. “Nat Turner and his compatriots were once described as “insurgent[s]” as are those fighting today against the U.S. in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.” Nat Turner was a veteran, as was Sitting Bull. So are the dozens of political prisoners still held in the American Gulag. Let us commemorate their sacrifce, too, on November 11.

 

Redefining Veteran’s Day

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Jared Ball

Those we know as political prisoners are indeed veteran prisoners of war.”

I am officially a veteran. Like many I was conscripted by this country’s “poverty draft” and its associated judicial-military pipeline, the one that encourages military time over jail time, and then immediately pressed into service of this nation’s imperial projects. And while I recognize this reality and can still appreciate the position in which people like me have found themselves and the suffering some have endured for it, I prefer we praise another kind of veteran. On November 11th let us commemorate those who have fought, and still fight, those who have been exiled, assassinated or imprisoned as veterans of the many on-going wars against U.S. and Western imperialism. More than any they deserve our reflection and support.

Veteran’s Day began as “Armistice Day,” commemorating the end of what we now call World War I, what was called then the “war to end all wars.” But rabid empires can only expand. There can never be an armistice. So after a secondso-called World War they simply dropped the “Armistice” and made it about the oh-so-many veterans that would be created and re-created by the permanency of war. This permanence of the nation’s war machine is evident in the permanence of this nation’s thirst for war. Simply interlace lists of American wars against Europe between 1776 and the massacre at Wounded Knee in 1890 which “settled” the matter of control over this land with lists of American invasions into every pocket of Latin America and the Caribbean from then until now. Then add the lists of repression of hundreds of African uprisings against enslavement and the domestic policing of internally-held colonies and suppression of labor organizers and you won’t find a 10 year period in this country’s history when it wasn’t at war. And all of this warfare creates veterans on all sides.

The permanence of the nation’s war machine is evident in the permanence of this nation’s thirst for war.”

In the U.S. alone we currently have dozens of political prisoners still incarcerated for their veteran participation in these wars. We certainly have thousands more here and around the globe who have, in some form of solidarity, been engaged in anti-imperial, counter-terrorism but whose names and stories we don’t know and whose political legacy we have not carried on. Perhaps an aggressive attempt to redefine the state’s propaganda could help. Power over definition is essential. This is why Nat Turner and his compatriots were once described as “insurgent[s]” as are those fighting today against the U.S. in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. And it is also why, more than a century after Nat Turner, this same concept, applied to his political descendants, resulted in the FBI’s Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO)application of “counter-insurgency” tactics against domestic targets. Malcolm X did say that, “the police do locally what the military does internationally.”

This, of course, is not mere semantics. Those we know as political prisoners are indeed veteran prisoners of war. These POWs, as former Black Liberation Army member and current political prisoner Jalil Muntaqim has explained, come from the Black, Indigenous and Latin American “nations” held in “domestic (neo) colonialism.” They, along with those oppressed along class lines, are “all fighting wars of national liberation, seeking independence and sovereignty from capitalist exploitation.” In fact, during the sentencing for Muntaqim, Albert ‘Nuh’ (Noah) Washington and Herman Bell, all members of the Black Liberation Army, the judge said as much, that if these are prisoners of war then they should see themselves as having been “captured by the enemy.” And so our commemoration of a Veteran’s Day should incorporate work to free our prisoners of war and to finally force this country into an armistice. This is the least we can do.

So as symbolism goes it is indeed fitting then that tA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Jared Ball

Wars produce veterans on both sides. Thus, opponents of the wars the U.S. government has waged since its inception against “enemies” within its territory are also veterans. “Nat Turner and his compatriots were once described as “insurgent[s]” as are those fighting today against the U.S. in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.” Nat Turner was a veteran, as was Sitting Bull. So are the dozens of political prisoners still held in the American Gulag. Let us commemorate their sacrifce, too, on November 11.

 

Redefining Veteran’s Day

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Jared Ball

“Those we know as political prisoners are indeed veteran prisoners of war.”

I am officially a veteran. Like many I was conscripted by this country’s “poverty draft” and its associated judicial-military pipeline, the one that encourages military time over jail time, and then immediately pressed into service of this nation’s imperial projects. And while I recognize this reality and can still appreciate the position in which people like me have found themselves and the suffering some have endured for it, I prefer we praise another kind of veteran. On November 11th let us commemorate those who have fought, and still fight, those who have been exiled, assassinated or imprisoned as veterans of the many on-going wars against U.S. and Western imperialism. More than any they deserve our reflection and support.

Veteran’s Day began as “Armistice Day,” commemorating the end of what we now call World War I, what was called then the “war to end all wars.” But rabid empires can only expand. There can never be an armistice. So after a second so-called World War they simply dropped the “Armistice” and made it about the oh-so-many veterans that would be created and re-created by the permanency of war. This permanence of the nation’s war machine is evident in the permanence of this nation’s thirst for war. Simply interlace lists of American wars against Europe between 1776 and the massacre at Wounded Knee in 1890 which “settled” the matter of control over this land with lists of American invasions into every pocket of Latin America and the Caribbean from then until now. Then add the lists of repression of hundreds of African uprisings against enslavement and the domestic policing of internally-held colonies and suppression of labor organizers and you won’t find a 10 year period in this country’s history when it wasn’t at war. And all of this warfare creates veterans on all sides.

“The permanence of the nation’s war machine is evident in the permanence of this nation’s thirst for war.”

In the U.S. alone we currently have dozens of political prisoners still incarcerated for their veteran participation in these wars. We certainly have thousands more here and around the globe who have, in some form of solidarity, been engaged in anti-imperial, counter-terrorism but whose names and stories we don’t know and whose political legacy we have not carried on. Perhaps an aggressive attempt to redefine the state’s propaganda could help. Power over definition is essential. This is why Nat Turner and his compatriots were once described as “insurgent[s]” as are those fighting today against the U.S. in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. And it is also why, more than a century after Nat Turner, this same concept, applied to his political descendants, resulted in the FBI’s Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO) application of “counter-insurgency” tactics against domestic targets. MalcA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Jared Ball

Wars produce veterans on both sides. Thus, opponents of the wars the U.S. government has waged since its inception against “enemies” within its territory are also veterans. “Nat Turner and his compatriots were once described as “insurgent[s]” as are those fighting today against the U.S. in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.” Nat Turner was a veteran, as was Sitting Bull. So are the dozens of political prisoners still held in the American Gulag. Let us commemorate their sacrifce, too, on November 11.

 

Redefining Veteran’s Day

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Jared Ball

“Those we know as political prisoners are indeed veteran prisoners of war.”

I am officially a veteran. Like many I was conscripted by this country’s “poverty draft” and its associated judicial-military pipeline, the one that encourages military time over jail time, and then immediately pressed into service of this nation’s imperial projects. And while I recognize this reality and can still appreciate the position in which people like me have found themselves and the suffering some have endured for it, I prefer we praise another kind of veteran. On November 11th let us commemorate those who have fought, and still fight, those who have been exiled, assassinated or imprisoned as veterans of the many on-going wars against U.S. and Western imperialism. More than any they deserve our reflection and support.

Veteran’s Day began as “Armistice Day,” commemorating the end of what we now call World War I, what was called then the “war to end all wars.” But rabid empires can only expand. There can never be an armistice. So after a second so-called World War they simply dropped the “Armistice” and made it about the oh-so-many veterans that would be created and re-created by the permanency of war. This permanence of the nation’s war machine is evident in the permanence of this nation’s thirst for war. Simply interlace lists of American wars against Europe between 1776 and the massacre at Wounded Knee in 1890 which “settled” the matter of control over this land with lists of American invasions into every pocket of Latin America and the Caribbean from then until now. Then add the lists of repression of hundreds of African uprisings against enslavement and the domestic policing of internally-held colonies and suppression of labor organizers and you won’t find a 10 year period in this country’s history when it wasn’t at war. And all of this warfare creates veterans on all sides.

“The permanence of the nation’s war machine is evident in the permanence of this nation’s thirst for war.”

In the U.S. alone we currently have dozens of political prisoners still incarcerated for their veteran participation in these wars. We certainly have thousands more here and around the globe who have, in some form of solidarity, been engaged in anti-imperial, counter-terrorism but whose names and stories we don’t know and whose political legacy we have not carried on. Perhaps an aggressive attempt to redefine the state’s propaganda could help. Power over definition is essential. This is why Nat Turner and his compatriots were once described as “insurgent[s]” as are those fighting today against the U.S. in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. And it is also why, more than a century after Nat Turner, this same concept, applied to his political descendants, resulted in the FBI’s Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO) application of “counter-insurgency” tactics against domestic targets. Malcolm X did say that, “the police do locally what the military does internationally.”

This, of course, is not mere semantics. Those we know as political prisoners are indeed veteran prisoners of war. These POWs, as former Black Liberation Army member and current political prisoner Jalil Muntaqim has explained, come from the Black, Indigenous and Latin American “nations” held in “domestic (neo) colonialism.” They, along with those oppressed along class lines, are “all fighting wars of national liberation, seeking independence and sovereignty from capitalist exploitation.” In fact, during the sentencing for Muntaqim, Albert ‘Nuh’ (Noah) Washington and Herman Bell, all members of the Black Liberation Army, the judge said as much, that if these are prisoners of war then they should see themselves as having been “captured by the enemy.” And so our commemoration of a Veteran’s Day should incorporate work to free our prisoners of war and to finally force this country into an armistice. This is the least we can do.

So as symbolism goes it is indeed fitting then that this year Veteran’s Day coincides with the release of Clint Eastwood’s J. Edgar, a film that is already said to be little more than praise to a “brilliant patriot” who was merely an “impediment to the civil rights movement” and who may have been gay. Yes, Veteran’s Day and J. Edgar, one praises those who do internationally what the other did domestically.

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

Dr. Jared A. Ball is an associate professor of communication studies at Morgan State University in Baltimore, MD. and is author of I Mix What I Like! A Mixtape Manifesto (AK Press). He can be found and reached online at: IMIXWHATILIKE.COM.olm X did say that, “the police do locally what the military does internationally.”

This, of course, is not mere semantics. Those we know as political prisoners are indeed veteran prisoners of war. These POWs, as former Black Liberation Army member and current political prisoner Jalil Muntaqim has explained, come from the Black, Indigenous and Latin American “nations” held in “domestic (neo) colonialism.” They, along with those oppressed along class lines, are “all fighting wars of national liberation, seeking independence and sovereignty from capitalist exploitation.” In fact, during the sentencing for Muntaqim, Albert ‘Nuh’ (Noah) Washington and Herman Bell, all members of the Black Liberation Army, the judge said as much, that if these are prisoners of war then they should see themselves as having been “captured by the enemy.” And so our commemoration of a Veteran’s Day should incorporate work to free our prisoners of war and to finally force this country into an armistice. This is the least we can do.

So as symbolism goes it is indeed fitting then that this year Veteran’s Day coincides with the release of Clint Eastwood’s J. Edgar, a film that is already said to be little more than praise to a “brilliant patriot” who was merely an “impediment to the civil rights movement” and who may have been gay. Yes, Veteran’s Day and J. Edgar, one praises those who do internationally what the other did domestically.

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

Dr. Jared A. Ball is an associate professor of communication studies at Morgan State University in Baltimore, MD. and is author of I Mix What I Like! A Mixtape Manifesto (AK Press). He can be found and reached online at: IMIXWHATILIKE.COM.his year Veteran’s Day coincides with the release of Clint Eastwood’s J. Edgar, a film that is already said to be little more than praise to a “brilliant patriot” who was merely an “impediment to the civil rights movement” and who may have been gay. Yes, Veteran’s Day and J. Edgar, one praises those who do internationally what the other did domestically.

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

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

Direct download: 20111109_jb_VeteransDay.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:27am EST

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Racial myths are slow to die, because they serve the purposes of those who rule through mechanisms of racial oppression. Black mass incarceration, which has been public policy of the United States for four decades, is underpinned by assumptions of Black criminality – especially drug abuse. “A new study, however, shows that Black and Asian kids are, in fact, much less likely than their white counterparts to abuse or become dependent on drugs and alcohol.”

 

White Kids Abuse Drugs and Alcohol at Twice Rate of Blacks

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Nine percent of white kids develop drug dependencies and disorders – twice the rate of Blacks, and three times that of Asians.”

For some time, social scientists have known that the stereotypes were a lie: that Blacks were no more prone to drug and alcohol abuse than whites, and probably somewhat less so. Study after study has indicated that a rough racial equality exists in terms of young people’s desire to get high. A new study, however, shows that Black and Asian kids are, in fact, much less likely than their white counterparts to abuse or become dependent on drugs and alcohol – a finding that, in a more just nation, would have vast ramifications for public policy.

A team from Duke University conducted the study of young people aged 12 to 17. It was based on confidential federal surveys of more than 72,000 adolescents in all 50 states, from 2005 to 2008. This is a much larger and geographically representative group than previous studies, and presumably more definitive. It shows that 9 percent of white kids develop drug dependencies and disorders – twice the rate of Blacks, and three times that of Asians. Native Americans suffer by far the highest rates of disorders from drug and alcohol abuse, at 15 percent.

Not surprisingly, marijuana is the drug of choice for teenagers, and of the kids that smoke marijuana, 26 percent fall into the abuse or dependence category.

Overall, 8 percent of U.S. kids have a substance disorder, while 37 percent reported using drugs or alcohol at some time in the past year. But the news was in the racial breakdown.

Native American youth were found to use the most drugs or alcohol, with 48 percent having done so in the past year. Whites were second, at 39 percent; Hispanics, 37 percent; mixed race kids, 36 percent, followed by Blacks at 32 percent. Asians were far less likely to indulge drugs or alcohol, at only 24 percent.

Native Americans suffer by far the highest rates of disorders from drug and alcohol abuse.”

The racial pattern was somewhat different for drug use, alone. In the past year, 31 percent of Native American teenagers got high off drugs; 23 percent of mixed race kids; 20 percent of whites; 19 percent, Blacks; 18 percent for Hispanics, and just 12, Asians.

That’s about the same rate of drug use for whites and Blacks: 20 and 19 percent, respectively. But white youth are substantially more likely to have imbibed alcohol in the past year: 35 percent for whites, 25 percent for Blacks.

So, what does this new knowledge mean in terms of public policy? The author of the study, Prof. Dan Blazer, of Duke University Medical Center, says the data should help programs “focus on the subgroups of adolescents who are at greater risk.” At risk of what? The numbers show whites are more at risk than Blacks for actual drug and alcohol disorder and abuse. But Black kids are far more at risk for incarceration for drugs. Public policy, through police surveillance and stop-and-frisk, is justified by assumptions about human behavior, such as that Blacks are more involved in drug use and abuse than whites. But once again, this has been proven to be factually false. The Duke University data show that the United States criminal justice system – not Black behavior – is responsible for the vast racial disparities in incarceration for drug offenses. The system is rigged, and science proves it. The fundamental problem is that America is drunk on racism and constantly indulging in Black-people-abuse.

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: 20111109_gf_DrugAbuse.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:13am EST

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

A handful of Black lawmakers have joined with Blue Dog Democrats to call for $4 trillion in federal spending cuts over 10 years – far more than the congressional “Super-Committee” is required to make this month. $4 trillion happens to be the figure both President Obama and his deficit reduction commission proposed to cut. The six Black congressmen are attempting to help the First Black President seal his “Grand Bargain” with the GOP by defunding what’s left of the New Deal and Great Society.

 

Call Out Their Names! The Black Caucus Roster of Shame

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The five Black congressmen reveal themselves as wholly unrepresentative of any Black constituency in the United States.”

Last week, a new low was set in African American contemporary politics. Six members of the Congressional Black Caucus joined 54 other Democrats and 40 Republicans in a letter calling for $4 trillion in cuts in federal spending over the next ten years. In doing so, the six Black congressmen – and they are all men – reveal themselves as wholly unrepresentative of any Black constituency in the United States. We will call out their names, in a minute.

But first, let’s get to the substance of the letter. It was addressed to the so-called “Super-Committee” that is charged with cutting $1.5 trillion – not $4 trillion, but $1.5 – from the federal budget, the result of the disastrous dance over the debt ceiling between President Obama and congressional Republicans, last summer. The deadline for the Super-Committee of six Democrats and six Republicans from both Houses of Congress, is November 23. If the committee does not come up with the cuts, or the Congress does not pass them by December 23, then $1.2 trillion in cuts would automatically be triggered. The damage to the social safety net would be serious, but a $4 trillion cut, as advocated by the letter writers, would be far worse.

So, why would six Black Democrats join 54 mostly Blue Dog members of the Party in calling for a catastrophic $4 trillion in cuts? Because the First Black President is as eager to gut Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare as the Republicans are. It was Barack Obama who appointed the Deficit Reduction Commission that last year called for $4 trillion in spending cuts, including Social Security. And, it was Obama who offered the Republicans the same level of spending cuts in his bid to make a “Grand Bargain” with the GOP – a bargain that, for their own evil reasons, the Republicans did not accept.

The First Black President is as eager to gut Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare as the Republicans are.”

It was at that point, last summer, that the real Obama was stripped naked to the world as a corporate enemy of the New Deal and the Great Society who deploys progressive rhetoric in order to disarm his own Democratic base, in the service of Wall Street.

Without that revelatory moment, there may have been no Occupation movement.

The six Black Caucus members are among the congressional Democrats that want to help Obama to finally seal that Grand Bargain with the Republicans. The letter to which they affixed their signatures mimics Obama language in maintaining that “all options for mandatory and discretionary spending and revenues must be on the table.” That’s Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, on a silver platter – in exchange for some token tax increases.

Who are these six Black congresspersons who would sell out their constituents to please the president and his corporate friends?

They are Danny Davis, of Chicago; Chaka Fattah, of Philadelphia; Gregory Meeks, of New York; Terri Sewell, of Alabama; Mel Watt, of North Carolina; and Emanuel Cleaver, of Kansas City. Cleaver is the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, and made headlines last summer when he called the debt deal a Satan sandwich.” And here he is, with five other Black Caucus members, making common cause with the worst elements of the Democratic and Republican Parties. Emanuel Cleaver, Danny Davis, Chaka Fattah, Gregory Meeks, Mel Watt and Terri Sewell, feasting with the Devil on the bones of the social safety net. 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: 20111109_gf_CBCAusterityLetter.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:08am EST

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by editor and columnist Jared Ball

Young white demonstrators should be advised not to complain of being “enslaved” to student loans and such, any more than they would speak of a “Holocaust” of unemployment. Such metaphors of slavery are more than merely inaccurate – they may reveal dark facts about the speaker. But privilege does not brook criticism from the “quarters.” “Former Black Liberation Army soldier Asanti Alston recalled his friend’s experience at an occupation of being shouted down as ‘divisive’ for trying to focus attention on Black poverty and mass incarceration.” Privilege wants the conversation all to itself, like Empire.

 

Occupy These…! Slavery and Abuse by Metaphor

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by editor and columnist Jared Ball

The use of Black suffering as a mechanism of White transcendence is as old as race itself.”

Of these recent occupations Bryan Bullock asked recently, “if Wall Street didn’t get a bailout, would there have been a bailout for the hood?” And Kenyon Farrow described the “race problem” of these occupations and responded quite critically to the repeated use by White occupationists of the metaphor of slavery. Both have added themselves to a growing number of those whose views of these occupations are justifiably cynical. When Farrow described this abuse by metaphor he was also responding to a long history of literal Black suffering becoming metaphorical propaganda for White self-interest. So yes, violence, as H. Rap Brown once said, may indeed be “as American as cherry pie,” but the use of Black suffering as a mechanism of White transcendence is as old as race itself and even predates the America for whom violence would become so essential.

Hearing of and seeing the White-held signs calling for an end of “our” enslavement by Wall Street is, in part, why more and more are looking to challenge the language and the focus of these White Occupy Wall Streeters. The metaphor of an often misused metaphor demands it. As Patricia Bradley has documented, this metaphor of slavery became the leading tool of propaganda used by the White middle and upper classes to shape the public opinion of White colonists against England. In one fell swoop their propaganda worked to aid in solidifying the status of enslavement to only Black people while only publicly discussing slavery as something forced upon themselves by the British. Chief among these propagandists was the slave-owning Samuel Adams whose image, now cleansed with the help of a beer brand, brings new levels of appreciation for the Dave Chapelle Samuel Jackson beer parody. “Yes they deserve to die! And I hope they burn in hell!”

White middle-class settlers today decry their own semi-step downward toward those darker people they themselves enslave and with whom they want nothing to do.”

So the growing number of darker critical voices of the occupations have centuries of metaphorical abuse to add to the physical and are correctly noting the similarities. During his recent talk at Hampshire College former Black Liberation Army soldier Asanti Alston recalled his friend’s experience at an occupation of being shouted down as “divisive” for trying to focus attention on Black poverty and mass incarceration. “Empire gets defensive,” he said, it has no time for critiques of racism. It is this kind of increasing tension being reported in smaller darker circles that reminds of this history of abuse by metaphor. White colonists not wanting to be reduced to the conditions of those they themselves enslaved adopted the denunciations of slavery by the British in precisely the same way White middle-class settlers today decry their own semi-step downward toward those darker people they themselves enslave and with whom they want nothing to do. They don’t want to end slavery either, they just don’t want to be forced any closer to those truly defined, permanently, as the real enslaved.

So, in response, there are those now calling for an Occupy the Hood movement while others define their efforts as Hip-Hop Occupies in a Rise to Decolonize. In fact, this group’s goal is to “embrace the term ‘occupation’ as it has been reclaimed by militant workers of color from Latin America (Oaxaca, Buenos Aires, South Korea, China, among other places) to describe their occupation of factories, schools and neighborhoods, to strike back against oppressive forces.” Further, the Hip-Hop Occupies collective says that, “we fully endorse the ‘Decolonize’ framework as a necessary expansion…” That, “In the face of brutality in the legacy of capitalism, a system that relied upon the enslavement of African and Caribbean peoples, the genocide and displacement of Indigenous Peoples, and the violent seizure of lands for colonial profit, we embody a vision of intersectional social justice and self-determination.”

These are part, like the work of the Black Is Back Coalition, of still-not-dead embers of a global majority’s non-alignment with even liberal elements of the West. These are the signs of what may yet prove to be the most (only?) redeeming value of these occupations; a radical, global and organized response led by the colonized to what can only be the incompleteness of “movements” led by Whites and liberals. For as Alston also said, this “monster” called the “American way” and “democracy” must fall. And its metaphors too.

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: 20111102_jb_OWS.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:49am EST

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Western mercenaries are flocking to Libya, to protect the hordes of western businessmen that have descended on the country. An historic crime becomes a “gold rush” for those that destroyed the society’s infrastructure and covet her resources. “Libya’s nominal new rulers in the Transitional National Council are in a rush to sell off the nation's birthright before they've even got it in their hands.”

 

Western Mercenaries and Corporations Pouring Into Libya

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The French made sure they were first in line to get a piece of the spoils.”

Western security firms – a polite term for mercenary outfits – are cramming planes into Libya to make the country safe for an invasion of western capitalists, the real beneficiaries of NATO’s war. So frenzied is the crush of war capitalists and their hired gunmen seeking to cash in on the Libyan catastrophe, the New York Times tell us a $5 cab ride from Tripoli’s airport to downtown hotels now costs $800. The head of the U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce calls it a “gold rush,” as officials of the government established by force of NATO airpower lay out the red carpet for the foreign hordes. Libya’s nominal new rulers in the Transitional National Council are in a rush to sell off the nation's birthright before they've even got it in their hands.

The huge influx of big, burley western mercenaries is most ironic, since the so-called rebels’ principal call to arms was that Moammar Gaddafi was maintained in power by paid gunmen from sub-Saharan Africa. They used the false specter of a black mercenary presence to turn the rebellion into a race war that claimed the lives of untold thousands of black Libyans and immigrant workers – an ethnic cleansing that no doubt still unfolds and will forever mark the new regime as racist to its core. That same regime now embraces a real world invasion of Euro-American mercenaries. White and money, indeed, makes right, in the new Libya.

The bodies of the dead had not yet been buried in Sirte, the seaside city virtually leveled by months of NATO bombing – and where all of the citizens’ vehicles were stolen by riotous rebel gunmen – before trade delegations from France and Britain began descending on Tripoli. The French, who were so eager to be first in aggressive, unprovoked war, made sure they were also first in line to get a piece of the spoils. A delegation of businessmen from 80 French companies arrived a whole week before their Libyan hosts’ gunmen butchered Col. Gaddafi and scores of other prisoners. We’re sure the French raised glasses of champagne to mark the occasion.

White and money, indeed, makes right, in the new Libya.”

Of course, foreigners and their money were all over Tripoli before the Europeans and Americans decided that a Shock and Awe assault on Libya would put them in a better position to deal with the uncertainties of the Arab Spring. Foreign investment in Libya increased 25-fold between 2002 and 2010. Gaddafi, by all accounts, had come to an accommodation with foreign capital. European and Asian corporations were transforming the face of Tripoli. Corporate logos on countless construction sites testified to Gaddafi’s determination to “normalize” relations with the imperial powers and the world in general. In recent years, he released from prison hundreds of Islamic fighters, as part of that “normalization.” It would be his undoing.

So, before NATO’s war, there was no question of western access to Libya – and certainly no threat of withholding oil. It is not access, but the terms of access, that makes the difference between war and peace with imperialism. For the Americans, the French and the British, the price of peace is one’s national sovereignty. Oh – and keeping out the Chinese, 30,000 of whom were forced to leave Libya when the bombs started falling. It is doubtful that they will be back in such numbers, until after the current regime is, itself, overthrown.

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: 20111102_gf_LibyaBusiness.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:22am EST

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Around 12,000 inmates will get out of prison immediately or early due to retroactive application of a law to adjust sentences for crack cocaine possession – but no thanks to Obama's top lawyer. “Attorney General Eric Holder argued that less than half the inmates – only about 5,500 – should be allowed early release.” Crack is still 18 times more punishable than powdered cocaine, which is why 85 percent of federal crack convicts are Black. “The crack cocaine disparity is a legalistic expression of a racial slander, that Blacks are inherently more prone to violence.”

Thousands to Leave Prison Early on Crack Charges – But That's Still Not Justice

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Around 12,000 men and women should get some of their lives back – starting right now for nearly 1,900 of them.”

November 1 was a very good day for thousands of Americans, 85 percent of them Black. That’s the date when a 2010 law that reduced the disparity between sentences for crack and powder cocaine possession was made retroactive, making some inmates eligible for immediate release and knocking years off the prison time for many others. The Federal Bureau of Prisons has been processing requests for early release from prosecutors, judges and public defenders across the country. Around 12,000 men and women should get some of their lives back – starting right now for nearly 1,900 of them.

The bad news is, the sentence reductions only apply to federal prisoners. Most drug offenders, including for crack, are held in state prisons – but we’ll get to that, a little later.

When Congress passed the Fair Sentencing Act, last year, it reduced the sentencing disparity for crack and powder cocaine from the previous 100 to 1 ratio, to 18 to 1. That ain’t justice, but it was all that the legislature of a profoundly racist country would allow. The change applied immediately to all newly arrested persons, but did not retroactively reduce the prison terms of those already convicted. Then, this summer, the U.S. Sentencing Commission decided to apply the law to those already serving time – unless Congress decided otherwise before November 1. Congress wasn’t deciding much of anything this session, but Attorney General Eric Holder argued that less than half the inmates – only about 5,500 – should be allowed early release. Holder wanted to keep behind bars those he described as having significant criminal histories, or who possessed weapons while committing their crimes of drug possession. The Sentencing Commission disagreed, believing that Holder was employing the same presumptive reasoning as lawmakers did when they passed the 1986 Anti-Drug Abuse Act that mandated the same sentence for 5 grams of crack as for 500 grams of powdered cocaine. The assumption was that crack was an inherently more violence-producing drug than its chemically identical powdered form. Holder seemed to be saying the same thing in 2011, and so the Sentencing Commission rejected his argument. About 6,500 inmates are glad they did.

Holder wanted to keep behind bars those he described as having significant criminal histories, or who possessed weapons while committing their crimes of drug possession.”

But that’s just a drop in the bucket, for the vast American prison gulag. Most crack prisoners are held in state facilities. Thirteen states still discriminate between crack and powdered cocaine. According to a report of the Sentencing Project called “Cracked Justice,” Missouri hands down mandatory 10-year sentences for six grams of crack, the same as for 450 grams of powder – a 75 to 1 disparity. Oklahoma enforces a 6 to 1 ratio for a minimum ten years for 5 grams of crack. Arizona’s disparity is 12 to 1, and less than one gram of crack will get you five years in prison.

The same logic prevails now as back in 1986: that crack is a more violent substance than powder. We all know, of course, that the crime is actually judged by who is holding the dope, not the dope itself. The crack cocaine disparity is a legalistic expression of a racial slander, that Blacks are inherently more prone to violence. It is a logic that much of the Congressional Black Caucus bought into, in 1986, and that the Black U.S. Attorney General behaves as if he believes, today. The national policy of mass Black incarceration could not long continue if it did not have lots of Black collaborators, in high places and low.

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: 20111102_gf_CrackCocaine.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:01am EST