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

What's three years of crusading against public schools and their teachers, three years of anti-democratic corporate school reform compared to a couple paragraphs in a presidential State of the Union address? It's base and blatant hypocrisy. If corporate media still practiced actual journalism, this might be an instructive comparison to lay before their readers. Should the Obama administration should follow its own advice about not demonizing teachers, and not relying on high-stakes testing? Or should we continue with the failed experiment of corporate school reform?

Rented Protesters in Chicago, Presidential Hypocrisy on School Reform

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

During his recent State of the Union address, President Obama made a particularly cynical reference to teachers and public education when he called for an end to the demonization of teachers, and teaching to standardized tests. The reference was cynical because these are the very hallmarks of the Obama administration's policies on public education. But since billionaires owners of corporate media are wholly on board, the contradiction between a few paragraphs in a speech and three years of actual policy went unmentioned in all the analyses of the the speech.

For three years Barack Obama and his Secretary of Education Arne Duncan have been “demonizers in chief” toward the nation's public school teachers. Their so-called “Race To The Top” for public education awards funding to states and school districts on the basis of how many teachers' salaries are directly tied to test scores, how many qualified and experienced teachers are fired, how many public schools and whole districts are “turned around” to be run like businesses by business people rather than by educators, parents, and communities, like the best schools always have been run.

...hundreds of Chicago public school parents staged a two day occupation of City Hall and the mayor's office...”

As CEO of Chicago's Public Schools Arne Duncan, now Secretary of Education fired hundreds of qualified, experienced, mostly black teachers rooted in the communities they served, so they could be replaced by younger, cheaper, less qualified and mostly white recruits who could be expected to teach for a little while and move on. A US federal court found Duncan guilty of racial discrimination and ordered Chicago to come up with a plan to rehire the fired teachers.

When in December news of a new wave of 2012 school closings and attendant mass firings leaked out, hundreds of Chicago public school parents staged a two day occupation of City Hall and the mayor's office, something not seen in 25 years, but virtually whited out by local and national media. Chicago police eventually cleared City Hall, the Chicago Sun-Times reported, by closing down the washrooms and refusing to re-admit anyone who left. But the paper did not disclose why parents were encamped outside the mayor's office.

Also in December stories surfaced confirming longstanding rumors that Mayor Rahm Emanuel habitually used public and/or campaign funds to hire local black preachers and rented protesters by the busload to pack public meetings and exclude the real public, and to picket in favor of whatever City Hall and the Board of Education favored on a particular day.

Since then, and for the entire month of January, Chicago mayor and former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel has dodged reporters and limited his press availability to avoid answering questions about the wave proposed school closings, and the use of rented preachers and protesters to thwart and make less visible the rising tide of opposition to corporate school reform. But despite the mayor's silence, the media's cooperation and the president's duplicity, the tide of opposition to corporate school reform continues to rise.

For more information on the national movement against corporate school reform, visit Substance News on the web at substancenews.net. For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web atwww.blackagendareport.com.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report and based in Marietta GA, where he is a principal in a technology and consulting firm and serves on the state committee of the Georgia Green Party.

Direct download: 20120201_bd_corporate_education_reform.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:45pm EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The United States is waging a terroristic war against at least four nations,” but its president is somehow perceived as “cool.” Obama’s fans, the corporate media and, apparently, the commander-in-chief himself see no contradiction between coolness and international criminality. “Barack Obama has surpassed George Bush in lawlessness.” He’s “cool like Jesse James.”

 

Obama: Not Cool, Just Cold-Blooded

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

When the U.S. president arrogates to himself the right to bomb and kill at will, he makes himself an outlaw.”

President Obama thinks killing people around the globe with drones is as cool as singing Al Green at the Apollo. In a live Web interview, Obama assured his audience that the U.S. unmanned drone force – now thought to number in the thousands and ranging from deadly Predators and Reapers to aircraft the size of small birds – was “kept on a very tight leash.” So, here we have a secret weapons program that violates other countries’ airspace and kills their citizens at will – and even kills American citizens without charge or trial – and Obama thinks that all he is obligated to do is give assurances that the weapons are on a “tight leash.”

The issue is not whether the American commander-in-chief has made sure that the drones are under his control, but that the United States is waging a terroristic war against at least four nations – Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, and possibly more – with not the slightest justification under international law.

The people of Iraq, who know a great deal about the effects of drones, are trying to figure out what their sovereignty and independence actually means when the U.S. State Department can fly drones above their cities as a safeguard to U.S. diplomatic installations. The question raised by Iraqis is not, Does Obama have those drones under tight controls, but Why is a foreign power, whose military was supposed to have left Iraq, flying aircraft in their skies? A New York Times article on Monday reported that the Iraqis’ were angry. But Obama dismissed their complaints as much ado about nothing; the article, he said was “a little bit overwritten.” I suppose Obama thinks he’s being cool, like breaking briefly into song at a Harlem fundraiser. But there is nothing cool about violating the territorial integrity of other countries – including nations like Iraq that Obama constantly describes as a U.S. ally.

Obama apparently thought it was cool to stick a knife up Col. Gaddafi’s butt.”

Obama was too cool to let the U.S. Congress sweat him over the six-month aerial war waged by the United States and its NATO allies against the sovereign nation of Libya, at the conclusion of which Libya’s leader was murdered by U.S.-supported thugs. Obama apparently thought it was cool to stick a knife up Col. Gaddafi’s butt. The First Black President’s drones are busy over Somalia, whose government the U.S. and its African puppet allies overthrew in 2006, precipitating a humanitarian catastrophe that has only worsened as the U.S. war continues. All of Yemen is a killing zone for U.S. drones.

When the U.S. president arrogates to himself the right to bomb and kill at will, with no respect for national boundaries and sovereign rights, he makes himself an outlaw. So, I guess Obama is cool like Jesse James.

With his huge expansion of the drone terror wars and passage of preventive detention, Barack Obama has surpassed George Bush in lawlessness. But most Americans, especially African Americans, cannot imagine that Obama represents a danger to them. If George Bush had had thousands of drones that could fly up the hallway of an apartment building, ring the bell and assassinate whoever answered the door, Black folks would have been terrified. But, they're not scared of Obama, because he...is oh so cool.

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: 20120201_gf_ObamaDrones.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:53am EDT

Housing Segregation Report May Be Misleading

 

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

A right-wing think tank has issued a report proclaiming “The End of the Segregated Century.” The study, however, “may well have merely taken a snap-shot of a society in flux,” rather than one headed towards widespread integration in housing patterns. Whites, who “have always been the architects of segregation in the U.S., either by public and private design or the through the hysteria of white flight,” do appear much more willing to mix with Hispanics and Asians, than with Blacks.

 

Housing Segregation Report May Be Misleading

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

A change in the racial makeup of a neighborhood through involuntary gentrification can hardly be described as ‘integration.’”

A new study purports to show that housing in the nation’s cities is more racially integrated than at any time since 1910. The first problem with the report is its authorship. The study was conducted by two senior fellows at the Manhattan Institute, a bastion of right-wing disinformation and propaganda. In addition to the Institute’s longstanding bias against government measures to oppose institutional racism, the study may well have merely taken a snap-shot of a society in flux, that may not actually be moving towards an integrated future.

First of all, the racial makeup of America has changed a great deal in the last forty years, with the influx of many millions of Latin Americans and Asians. What was once a mostly Black-white divide now includes many cultures, and Hispanics now outnumber African Americans. Whites have always been the architects of segregation in the U.S., either by public and private design or the through the hysteria of white flight – which, historically, has been flight from Black people. The Manhattan Institute researchers found that whites are, nowadays, more likely to live in proximity to Hispanics and Asians. Other data show, however, that this is largely because whites are less likely to instantly flee a neighborhood when Hispanics and Asians start moving in. To put it simply, whites – who are the engines of segregation – are less likely to go into full-flight mode when Asians and Hispanics start knocking – at least, not right away. The Manhattan Institute study found that all-white neighborhoods are disappearing, but that is mostly due to the entry of Asians and Hispanics. Black-white integration is much less pronounced. White racism in the U.S. is, foundationally, anti-Black – a fact that is reflected in the new numbers, just as in the old data.

No one knows what housing patterns will look like, if the housing bubble has permanently burst.”

The study shows that mostly Black urban neighborhoods are getting smaller, and correctly attributes that to raging gentrification in many cities. But, for the Black people who are being displaced, gentrification is a coercive process, a force against their will. A change in the racial makeup of a neighborhood through involuntary gentrification can hardly be described as “integration.” Rather, it is ethnic cleansing, and only looks like integration when a snap-shot is taken at a certain stage in the process, before most of the old population has been removed.

The report concludes that rapid growth in the Sun Belt states and movement of non-whites to the suburbs has had an integrating effect. But this, too, is a process in motion. Blacks pushed out of northern urban neighborhoods have been heading increasingly to the South, where new neighborhoods built on sub-prime mortgages are already in a state of decline. No one knows what housing patterns will look like, if the housing bubble has permanently burst. A good guess would be that most homeowners of modest means will retrench, resigned to their new lack of physical mobility, and will struggle to stay put where they are. If the past is any guide to the future, we can then expect a hardening of white attitudes towards residential integration, especially regarding Blacks.

The Manhattan Institute titled their wishful report, “The End of the Segregated Century” – another example of white folks seeking to unilaterally declare a problem created by white racism to be “over.” But snap-shots of people in chaotic motion are not dependable predictors of future outcomes. Segregation will not be dead until white supremacy is dead.

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: 20120201_gf_HousingSegregation.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:36am EDT