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

Metro Atlanta is now the second largest concentration of African-descended people in North America. But with civil rights organizations firmly in corporate pockets, it's still a spot where the racist corporations like Southern Companies feel free and unashamed to celebrate their history of theft and plunder and future prospects of the same. What does that say about the state of black leadership, about all of us?

Black On The Old Plantation

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

Southern Companies purchased its very own civil rights organization...”

There was a time when the master class of the American South would gather under the shade of carefully pruned magnolia trees to gamble, sip mint juleps, tell tales and celebrate themselves in the midst of stolen wealth trampled from the hides of mother nature, Native Americans and African-descended slaves. In the 21stcentury South, where as Faulkner said, the past isn't ain't even past, not much has changed.

Southern Companies, is a greedy rapacious corporation that owns power generation and delivery networks throughout the southeast. They own coal, gas and nuclear plants. They endow college and university chairs and scholarships, community organizations and local churches. In whole or in part, they own hundreds of judges and politicians across the region including many black ones, right up to a piece of the White House itself. Their influence is a big reason why Obama called himself the president of “clean coal and safe nuclear power.” One of Barack Obama's first acts as president was to grant $800 million in free loan guarantees to build the nation's first new nuclear power plant in 30 years right next to an existing pair of leaky nukes believed responsible for a cancer epidemic in mostly black Burke County GA, one of the poorest places in the South. Southern Companies-owned politicians have also allowed it to charge millions of ratepayers $15 and $20 monthly to cover advance construction costs of the new nukes so it need not invest any of its vast cash reserves.

To insulate themselves against charges of environmental racism for poisoning poor blacks in Burke County, Southern Companies doesn't just make wild claims about how many Homer Simpson jobs new its nuclear plants will produce. Southern Companies purchased its very own civil rights organization, the Atlanta-based Southern Christian Leadership Council, originally founded by Dr. Martin Luther King himself. A Southern Companies CEO headed up SCLC's building fund and raised over $3 million to pay for its new office buildings on Atlanta's Auburn Avenue.

Our black political class and civil rights organizations have been purchased by our foes....”

So it is that on July 16, 2012, despite its robbery of mostly poor ratepayers, its massive theft of formerly black land, its fouling of air, earth, water across the South, and its ongoing radioactive poisoning of poor black residents in Burke County, the masters of Sou thern Companies feel comfortable enough in downtown Atlanta to celebrate their history of plunder. On July 16, Southern Companies will rent Atlanta's famous downtown Fox Theater for an invitation-only showing of Big Bets, a twisted movie based on a twisted book of the same name portraying the company's bribing, double-dealing, land-stealing founders as titans of civic virtue.

 

Black America used to be where the left lived. But that was before our civil rights organizations enslaved themselves to corporate funding. Ole massa's July 16 party in downtown Atlanta will be a kind of test. Our black political class and civil rights organizations have been purchased by our foes. Are we ready to man up, to woman up? Are we ready to put our people before our personal career prospects? Are we ready to throw up new organizations, new formations, new voices that speak for us and our communities, rather than for our current and prospective funders? Only time will tell.

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

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report and a state committee member of the Georgia Green Party. Contact him at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20120627_bd_black_on_de_plantation.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:40am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

African Americans have lost, by some measures, two generations of gains since the onset of the “Silent Depression” in the early 2000s. So profound is the decline, “nothing but the most wrenching and thorough social transformation – something like a revolution – offers any hope of eventual economic parity with whites.” But the “Obama Effect” convinces many Blacks that, despite the evidence, the African American condition has actually improved under Obama.” It is a fatal delusion.

 

The Real “Obama Effect” – Not the Movie

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

There is absolutely nothing on the horizon that would reverse the steady relative deterioration of the Black economic condition, absent massive, targeted government intervention.”

In the soon to be released movie “The Obama Effect,” the protagonist, played by Charles S. Dutton, has a heart attack. “Facing the end,” intones the trailer voice-over, “it was time for a new beginning.” Dutton’s character becomes obsessed with the idea of a Black president, and throws himself into the Obama campaign, neglecting all else.

I’m sure the movie has a happy ending, but in the real life and history of Black people, “The Obama Effect” has been disastrous. Black economic progress is not just at an end; the African American economic condition has so deteriorated, nothing but the most wrenching and thorough social transformation – something like a revolution – offers any hope of eventual economic parity with whites.

The latest Census Bureau figures show that the median white household is now 22 times more wealthy than Black households. White families are worth more than $110,000, compared to just under $5,000 for Blacks.

The gap has widened, since 2009, when whites registered only 20 times more wealth than Blacks. The State of the Dream Report for that year described Blacks as experiencing a kind of “Silent Depression” – one that is “unnoticed, unacknowledged and unaddressed – and yet the evidence is striking.” Back then, more than three years ago, 30 percent of African American households had no wealth at all, or negative wealth, less than nothing, and the gap between Black and white incomes was proportionately larger than it was back in 1968, the year Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated.

Last week’s numbers confirm once again that the Black condition is only getting worse.”

And now, almost four years after the Wall Street meltdown and President Obama’s election – and going on a decade since the Black Depression began in the early 2000s – African Americans are in even worse shape. There is absolutely nothing on the horizon that would reverse the steady relative deterioration of the Black economic condition, absent massive, targeted government intervention. The Republicans aren’t going to do that – and neither will President Obama, of his own volition. He avoids even the whiff of targeted federal intervention that might tend to favor Blacks. It’s against his philosophy, as he has repeatedly stated since the Spring of 2009, when Obama declared that a “rising tide” will lift all boats and that Blacks should not make special pleadings. Even when the Congress provided him with $6.7 billion targeted at those worst hit by the housing catastrophe – and the certainly means Black folks – Obama’s Treasury Department let most of the money sit there, unspent.

I would call Obama a fraud – except for the fact that Black folks mostly fooled themselves into believing that Obama’s success was their own. As a number of polls and studies have shown, even as Blacks were losing two generations of economic ground, large numbers of African Americans believed that the Black condition had dramatically improved under Obama. Last week’s numbers confirm once again that the Black condition is only getting worse. The Obama Effect might have saved the fictitious Charles Dutton movie character’s life, but it’s made African Americans blind and deaf, seemingly incapable of putting up a fight. The real Obama Effect can destroy a people.

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: 20120627_gf_ObamaEffect.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:28am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Barack Obama’s top African American aide assures Black journalists that the president has “genuine love” for the Black community. It is an insubstantial line of inquiry, the product of “an infantile obsession with the inner world of the Obamas that is wholly disconnected from the real world of economic policy, and of war and peace.” Unfortunately, in the Age of Obama, Steve Harvey, the “professional media ignoramus,” passes for a journalist.

 

The Black Press Ponder Obama-Love

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Many Blacks in the corporate media and what’s left of the Black-owned press generally act as public relations agents for The First Black President.”

President Obama has Big Love for Black America. We know this, because Valerie Jarrett, the senior Black person at the White House and his good friend from Chicago, said so at the New Orleans convention of the National Association of Black Journalists, the NABJ, last weekend. The president “has a genuine love for the Black community,” said Jarrett – and that was quite sufficient for many of the assembled Black journalists. At an interview session, one asked if the White House sometimes felt that there was “no pleasing” Black folks. Jarrett replied that, No, she didn’t feel that way. And why should she, when so many Blacks in the corporate media and what’s left of the Black-owned press generally act as public relations agents for The First Black President.

Another NABJ member could think of nothing more probing to ask than whether Obama occasionally longed for a chance to just kick back and act “unabashedly Black.” “He IS Black,” said Jarrett. “He’s the Black president. He doesn’t hide it.”

This is what often passes for journalism in Black America: an infantile obsession with the inner world of the Obamas that is wholly disconnected from the real world of economic policy, and of war and peace. Such reporters become indistinguishable from the antics of Steve Harvey, the professional media ignoramus, and the schoolyard politics of syndicated disc jockey Tom Joyner.

The NABJ is more concerned with Black jobs in journalism than with how journalism can be made to serve the Black public.”

There were some at the NABJ convention who thought Valerie Jarrett had violated some sort of protocol by making too much of a campaign-style speech – although that, of course, is her job. It is the reporters’ job to tear that speech to shreds, with journalistic vigor, when it veers from the truth. To fail to do so is much worse than a violation of protocol: it is a betrayal of one’s profession and solemn obligation to the public – in this case, most especially, the Black public. But NABJ executive director Maurice Foster was eager to characterize Ms. Jarrett as someone who has been, in his words, “a good supporter of NABJ.” He said: “She’s always lent herself to project the image of NABJ in a positive light and the good things that we do.”

Not a hint of the adversarial relationship that must exist between real journalists and the State. Mr. Foster is proud that the president’s closest advisor and longtime friend is a friend of the NABJ, representing thousands of Black journalists. Of course, there could be no such political friendship if Black journalists were doing their job, aggressively examining the president’s actual policies rather than behaving like boosters and fans.

But, there is a kind of logic to this corruption of Black journalism. As I learned 37 years ago, while helping to organize the Association of Black Journalists in Washington, DC, the NABJ is more concerned with Black jobs in journalism than with how journalism can be made to serve the Black public. For NABJ, it’s all about diversity in the newsroom. Black journalistic faces are role models – even if they’re broadcasting racist trash on FOX News or collaborating in lies about Black people in the local paper. Barack Obama is the biggest Black role model of them all and, therefore, can count on the lesser role models of Black journalism. So, to hell with the profession – and to hell with the people. All Power to the Role Models!

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: 20120627_gf_ObamaLovesBlacks.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:15am EDT

By BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

Professional Latino leaders, tied hand and foot to corporate donors and the Democratic party, are celebrating the president's announcement that a small number of the undocumented will be eligible for deferral of their deportations. But is this really a victory for all immigrants or just those on the way to college and the military.

Obama Memo Deferring Some Deportations Not a Victory For Latinos, Immigrants or Human Rights

By BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

...to qualify for deferral of your deportation, you can't have felonies or even “significant misdemeanors” on your record...”“...the immigration reform movement and Democratic Latino leaders seem to be acting in the interest of one class of immigrants while abandoning the needs of the rest....”

Last week's presidential announcement that “prosecutorial discretion” would be exercised to halt deportation proceedings against young undocumented persons with spotless police records and honorably discharged veterans was neither a sign of growing presidential enlightenment, nor was it any kind of major victory for the human rights, Latino or immigrant rights movements.

First of all, it was not an executive order, a thing that federal agencies are bound by law to carry out. It was a presidential announcement accompanied by a low-level memo. Two similar memos have been issued by this administration before, with similar hype from the White House and identical celebrations by immigrant rights activists. Both were disregarded by ICE, the Bureau of Immigration, Customs and Enforcement, which just kept on deporting everyone it could lay hands on.

Secondly, to get your deportation proceedings deferred under the memo you have to come out of the shadows, register as an out-of-status person and wait to see if “prosecutorial discretion” will be applied to your case. It might or might not. There's no appeal, and once you register they know who and where you are. Good luck with that.

Third, the memo says that to qualify for deferral of your deportation, you can't have felonies or even “significant misdemeanors” on your record. That's not just a high standard, it's a brand new one that lawyers and judges have not yet defined. Many Latino immigrants live in communities where racially selective saturation policing bestows police records upon disproportionate numbers of young males.

Fourth, most of the million-plus already deported by the Obama Administration were never college grads, college students, college-bound or vets. They were ordinary working people and their families. The memo being celebrated by immigrant reform activists does nothing to slow down their deportations. College graduation, in the US has become a kind of class distinction, and the immigration reform movement and Democratic Latino leaders seem to be acting in the interest of one class of immigrants while abandoning the needs of the rest.

...since the Obama administration itself initiated the most massive wave of deportations in US history, it also could have stopped them six months, a year, two years ago....

Fifth, immigration reform activists and their allies rarely mention that as the DREAM Act as presently written makes joining the military as a road to citizenship a much easier path than college. Page 12 of the Pentagon's FY 2012 Strategic Plan states that to achieve its manpower goals it needs access to immigrant populations. This may be the real point of the DREAM Act.

Sixth, since the Obama administration itself initiated the most massive wave of deportations in US history, it also could have stopped them six months, a year, two years ago. So calling press conferences, as Chicago Congressman Luis Gutierrez did, to thank the Obama Administration for maybe stopping deportations just of vets and college-bound youth with spotless records is like expressing sincere gratitude to a brutal assailant who's beat every square inch of your body the last three years, when he announces he might start going easy on the head and groin shots from now on. If you ask him nicely.

This is not a victory for the human dignity of immigrants. It's a no-cost cynical ploy by the Obama Administration a few months before the election to shore up his sagging support in the Latino community. In 2008 Obama received more than two thirds of an abnormally large Latino vote, which made the difference in several states.

The White House knows what it needs and is going for that. The Latino and immigrants rights communities ought to do the same. For Black Agenda Radio I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report. He lives and works in Marietta GA, and is a state committee member of the Georgia Green Party. Contact him via this site's contact page or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20120620_bd_immigrants_rights_no_victory.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:02am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The corporate media are screaming like banshees in fear that former Black Panther Charles Barron might win a seat in Congress. Their preferred Black politico is Hakeem Jeffries, a charter school supporter flush with corporate funds. “The media demonization machine has kicked into high gear on Charles Barron, with the New York Times calling him a ‘showboat’ and ‘provocateur.’” But of course, that’s what happens when rich white men claim the privilege of choosing Black leadership.


The Black Panther vs The Corporate Candidate

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“The media demonization machine has kicked into high gear on Charles Barron.”

There might yet be a Black Panther in the U.S. Congress. I don't mean a former Panther like Congressman Bobby Rush, from Chicago. Rush crossed definitively over to the other side back in 2005, when he became a key ally of the telecommunications industry, for which he was rewarded with a $1 million grant from AT&T for a community technology center with his name on it.

Charles Barron, on the other hand, is a say-it-loud-and-proud veteran of the New York chapter of the Panther Party, and a city councilman from Brooklyn since 2002. He’s going after the congressional seat being vacated by Edolphus Towns, a rather conservative Black politician who, nevertheless, has endorsed Charles Barron. Barron has also won the backing of the largest union of city workers.

The big corporate money is riding on State Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, who ingratiated himself to the fat cats with his support for charter schools. Wall Streeters are the real power behind school privatization, and they love Jeffries with a passion that has sometimes proven embarrassing. He’s had to reject hundreds of thousands of dollars in support from a charter school advocacy group bankrolled by billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg. But, there’s plenty more money where that comes from.

“Hakeem Jeffries ingratiated himself to the fat cats with his support for charter schools.”

The corporate media are all giddily comparing Jeffries to business-friendly Black politicians like President Obama and Newark Mayor Cory Booker. The Booker comparison is accurate. Cory Booker was an obscure and ineffective first-term Newark city councilman until he hooked up with the far-right moneybags at the Bradley Foundation, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. That’s where Booker, a hardcore advocate of private school vouchers and charters, found the cash and corporate connections to take on a four-term incumbent mayor, in 2002. He spent twice as much as the mayor, but still lost the first time around, winning four years later with the universal support of corporate media.

If Hakeem Jeffries is Cory Booker – and he certainly draws his funding from the same sources – then Charles Barron is Cynthia McKinney, of Atlanta, who was called everything but a child of god by the massed national corporate press when she was unseated by a big money-backed candidate, in 2002. The media demonization machine has kicked into high gear on Charles Barron, with the New York Times calling him a “showboat” and “provocateur.” The New York Post says Barron is a racial demagogue – which means he has a strong disdain for white supremacy.

Since Cory Booker’s first race for mayor in 2002 – and then, on a much larger scale, with the rise of Barack Obama – corporations and their media have exercised unprecedented influence on Black politics, down to the local level. They fund the Black misleadership class. But the moneymen haven’t bought Charles Barron, and that’s why they’re in a panic over what might happened in the June 26 primary.

If Black folks understood their own interests, every New York Times endorsement, every Wall Street dollar that goes to candidates like Hakeem Jeffries, should translate to a vote for someone like Charles Barron – who is a Panther, still. 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: 20120620_gf_Barron.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:49am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The Father’s Day “Silent March” against stop-and-frisk drew thousands to New York’s Fifth Avenue – but it’s not a tactic that should be repeated any time soon. The NAACP’s first wordless procession against lynching, in 1917 – cited as inspiration for Sunday’s event – was shaped by fears and anxieties that have no place in a modern Black movement. Ninety-five years ago, and for generations, Black protesters dressed in their Sunday best and often “abstained from shouts and sloganeering, so as not to appear dangerous in the eyes of whites.”

 Stop-and-Frisk March: Silence is Not Golden

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“In 1917, much of Black America was desperate to prove to white people that they were not like the animalistic caricatures portrayed in racist propaganda.”

Last Sunday’s march against New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s infamous Stop-and-Frisk policies, which have humiliated millions of Black and brown New Yorkers over the past decade and spread like a racist virus to cities across the country, was “silent” by design. NAACP executive director Ben Jealous, one of the principle organizers, maintains that the soundless procession was intended to convey the “solemnness” and “seriousness” of the occasion, in the spirit of the 1917 NAACP silent march against white mob violence.

In truth, the deliberately subdued tone of Sunday’s protest provided a politically safe environment for the politicians in attendance to register varying degrees of reservations about stop-and-frisk in a kind of non-threatening quiet zone, where they could avoid permanently burning bridges with Mayor Bloomberg and his billions. This was doubtless an important consideration for march co-organizer Rev. Al Sharpton, who is on Bloomberg’s payroll and acts as President Obama’s Black pit bull.

The 1917 NAACP “Silent March” also needs to be put in historical perspective. There were profound political reasons that Black folks were both silent and dressed in their finest clothes on Fifth Avenue, 95 years ago. Ben Jealous and others say that silence was the order of the day to express mourning for the many victims of racist violence, including the hundreds killed and thousands driven from their homes by white mobs in East St. Louis, Illinois, earlier that year. Certainly, there was much mourning in Black America, but the dress code and silence of the 10,000 Black marchers was meant to convey a more fundamental political message: that Black people were industrious, clean, church-going, patriotic, well mannered, and respectful of white people’s sensitivities. That is, ordinary Americans who did not deserve to be lynched on the street and burned out of their homes, as had occurred in Springfield, Illinois in 1908 and Atlanta, Georgia, in 1906. In 1915, only two years before the silent New York march, President Woodrow Wilson screened the viciously racist film Birth of a Nation at the White House, and declared it “terribly true.” By 1917, much of Black America was desperate to prove to white people that they were not like the animalistic caricatures portrayed in racist propaganda.

So they marched in their Sunday best, to the sound of muffled drums. They abstained from shouts and sloganeering, so as not to appear dangerous in the eyes of whites. They put what they thought were their best, most dignified faces forward, and muzzled and muffled that which might offend the white powers-that-be.

The political imperative to bring “credit to The Race” by one’s dress and demeanor, even in protest, persisted deep into the Sixties. Blacks dressed to the ‘nines’ to line up to register to vote in Baltimore in 1943. They wore suits and ties to integrate lunch-counters in 1960, and got beaten half to death on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in clothes fit to be buried in. Only with the rise of the Black Power movement did Black folks dress for a fight and shout and curse the racist dogs out – like we always wanted to do. And one silent Sunday is not going to roll us back.

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: 20120620_gf_SilentMarch.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:35am EDT

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

The same greedy corporations that have long funded white politicians now finance what used to be traditional civil rights organizations like SCLC and an entire new class of black politicians. The cutting loose of black political leaders from their constituencies has dire consequences for the entire American polity.

Bankrupt Black Leadership, Nukes and Environmental Racism

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

For more than a generation, in the last third of the twentieth century, black America was the immovable rock that anchored the left side American political life. Places like Detroit, New Orleans and St. Louis were literally and figuratively where the left lived.

It was a time when civil rights organizations and African American politicians could reasonably be expected to object, to protest, to publicly resist blatant crimes against their constituents on the part of governments and corporations. But by the turn of the 21st century, corporations had begun to finance the rise of a new class of elite black political leaders, politicians like Atlanta's Kasim Reed and Shirley Franklin, Philadelphia's Michael Nutter, and Newark's Corey Booker, and of course President Barack Obama. At the same time, those corporations became the major funders of what used to be called civil rights organizations like the Urban League, the NAACP and the Southern Christian Leadership Council.

Except for ceremonial bows and obeisances like Black History Month and pleas to vote for them on election day, Black America's political leaders are now free from most obligations to black people, and what used to be vigilant, vocal civil rights organizations are silent in the face of corporate crimes like environmental racism against black communities, let alone the wider implications of these crimes for all Americans.

One of the best examples of this is in Georgia, where the Obama administration in 2009 granted Southern Companies $800 million to underwrite the construction of two nuclear reactors next to a pair of leaky existing nukes in a poor, mostly black Georgia town where almost every family has a cancer case or two. But who would raise the cry? The Southern Christian Leadership Council, perhaps, based in nearby Atlanta? No way. The CEO of Southern Companies headed up SCLC's building fund, raising millions to pay for its Auburn St. headquarters. So SCLC is silent.

Although poor rural black people are the first to pay the price of this atrocity, they won't be the only ones. Georgia's Public Service Commission, which is supposed to look out for consumers has allowed the power company to add $10 to $20 per month to hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of utility bills to underwrite construction costs of this deadly monstrosity. Even officials of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission have noted that the reactor design is similar to those of the ill-fated Fukushima reactors in Japan, and ought to be re-evaluated in the light of that disaster.

This is a textbook example of how the cutting loose of the black political class from black people has affected the entire American polity. The radioactive poisoning of poor black communities alone should have roused SCLC and the black political class to action defending its supposed constituency. If the Bush-Cheney gang had done such a thing, cries of “environmental racism” would ring across the country. But corporate-funded black leaders, who should be the canaries in the coal mine, don't allow themselves to criticize the corporate-funded black president. So the silence of the black political class enables the theft of hundreds of millions, perhaps billions from ratepayers statewide and permit the construction of the first of a new and hazardous generation nuclear plants that threaten the safety of millions.

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

Direct download: 20120613_bd_black_political_class_silent.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:04am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

After ten years of escalating police aggression on the streets of New York, a broad range of political actors have combined for a Silent March Against Racial Profiling, this Sunday. Under Mayor Bloomberg’s stop-and-frisk regime, “every young Black and brown man in New York is treated as if he is walking contraband, and that he is ‘too hot’ to allow to walk about freely.” In practice, the policy is little different from racist South Africa’s apartheid pass system.

 

A “Silent March” Against the Police Stop-and-Frisk State

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

There is little to distinguish the daily racial regime in New York City from the apartheid pass system of white ruled South Africa.”

Before 9/11, it seemed that racial profiling was on the rocks. After years of successful litigation and agitation, it was no longer acceptable in polite white society to defend police departments that accosted Black drivers and pedestrians for no legally justifiable reason. Prominent Republican politicians denounced racial profiling in no uncertain terms. Then, the Twin Towers came down, the Constitution flew out the window, and racial profiling became the de facto law of the land, once again. Arab-looking people – whatever that means – caught hell like they had never before experienced on the streets of the United States. But, in hindsight, we now know that the return of aggressive and unapologetic racial profiling had its heaviest impact on…the usual suspects: Black people.

The fabulously wealthy Michael Bloomberg won election as mayor of New York just two months after September 11th, and immediately declared that Black and brown pedestrians had no rights that his police were bound to respect. In 2002, Bloomberg’s cops scooped up a little less than 100,000 people. Last year, the total was almost 700,000. In practice, there is little to distinguish the daily racial regime in New York City from the apartheid pass system of white ruled South Africa, where non-whites were made to produce identification papers to justify their presence in those areas of the country designated for whites. Apparently, under Mayor Bloomberg, all of New York City is white people’s territory, because Black and brown folks are stopped for no good reason in every section of town.

Bloomberg declared that Black and brown pedestrians had no rights that his police were bound to respect.”

Mayor Bloomberg last Sunday delivered his first speech in ten years dedicated solely to explaining his stop-and-frisk policies. Bloomberg chose a Black Baptist Church in Brownsville, Brooklyn. Back in the early years of the 20th century, Brownsville was nearly 100 percent Jewish, and registered the highest murder rate in the city. Today, Bloomberg and his flunkies like to claim that there’s a kind of “silent majority” of Black folks, especially in high crime areas, that support routine police violations of African American civil and human rights. But there’s little evidence of that. Instead, the broad-based makeup of this coming Sunday’s Silent March Against Racial Profiling, starting in Harlem, demonstrates that even the more passive and malleable elements of the Black misleadership class – such as the NAACP and the easily bought Rev. Al Sharpton – feel compelled to raise the banner against stop-and-frisk.

Mayor Bloomberg defended his perpetual, race-based police dragnets as a form of preventive policing, similar to preventive war. Although relatively few guns have been confiscated over the years, Bloomberg insists that’s because guns have become “too hot to carry.” What that really means, of course, is that every young Black and brown man in New York is treated as if he is walking contraband, and that he is “too hot” to allow to walk about freely. He is the crime, about to happen.

And, isn’t that always the story, in the U.S.A. White people always claim that their crimes against Black people are defensive in nature. Who knows what chaos might break out if Black people were really free.

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: 20120613_gf_StopFrisk.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:15am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The Chicago Teachers Union has gotten permission from its membership to strike. If it comes to that, the local union’s progressive leadership will also “confront the national leadership of their own union, the American Federation of Teachers, who are in President Obama’s and Mayor Emanuel’s pockets.” Chicago’s teachers understand that they can only win if the community views the teachers' cause as their own.

 Chicago Teachers Gear Up for a Fight

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Lewis and her team believe the only way to save teachers' jobs and public education is to make common cause with the surrounding community.”

Chicago teachers have voted overwhelming to empower their union to go on strike. Almost 9 out of 10 of the local membership supported the strike authorization – far more than the 75 percent required under a new Illinois state law. This means the Chicago Teachers Union leadership has the legal and moral authority to confront Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s and the Obama administration’s relentless campaign to privatize education, de-professionalize teachers, and destroy any vestiges of community control of public schools.

The Chicago teachers must also confront the national leadership of their own union, the American Federation of Teachers, who are in President Obama’s and Mayor Emanuel’s pockets. The same goes for the other big teachers union, the National Education Association. Both the NEA and the AFT rushed to endorse Obama’s reelection, even though his administration has done more damage to teachers, as employees and as professionals, than any of his recent predecessors.

It is as if the national teacher’s unions are in a love affair with their executioners. ABC News certainly got that impression, when American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten heaped praise on Mayor Emanuel, her local members' nemesis. “Mayor Emanuel is in a love fest with the American Federation of Teachers,” said ABC.

Weingarten sounded like any corporate politician when she said that good things happen “when labor and business start working together.” In Chicago and throughout the nation, so-called “public-private partnerships” in education have had disastrous results for teachers, students, parents and entire communities. Barack Obama’s basketball buddy Arne Duncan fired 1,300 teachers, most of them Black, during the eight years when he was Chicago schools chief.

Community control is anathema to school privatizers, especially when those communities are Black and brown.”

Duncan’s anti-Black, anti-union policies impressed Barack Obama so much, he made Duncan his Secretary of Education. When Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, won the mayor’s office, he promptly fired 1,000 more teachers, a disproportionate share of them African Americans.

Chicago once boasted a system of community control of schools that was the envy of the nation, with thousands of neighborhood activists elected to Local School Councils that exercised real power at the schoolhouse level. Today, these councils still exist, but the mayor calls most of the shots – just like in corporate America. Community control is anathema to school privatizers, especially when those communities are Black and brown. Black unionized teachers who actually live in the community are the most despised of all – which is why Obama’s friends Arne Duncan and Rahm Emanuel are so anxious to get rid of them.

Karen Lewis is one of those Black teachers. She’s also head of the Chicago Teachers Union, the leader of the Caucus of Rank and File Educators that threw out the old, collaborationist leadership, two years ago. Lewis and her team believe the only way to save teachers' jobs and public education is to make common cause with the surrounding community. When and if the Chicago teachers go on strike, it will be in close collaboration with the communities that are served by the public schools.

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

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

Direct download: 20120613_gf_ChicagoTeachers.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:07am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Human rights” has become a tortured term. The most prominent names in the western human rights business behave, essentially, as “weapons in the imperial arsenal. Their value to the empire increased exponentially when Barack Obama adopted humanitarian intervention as a pillar of American war doctrine.” Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch spend much of their energies “advocating that the U.S. and its friends trample on the national sovereignty of weaker states – as if human rights can exist outside the framework of international law.”

 

Mercenaries for Empire: Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Who better than self-styled human rights activists to justify humanitarian wars?”

Under President Obama, U.S. imperialism masquerades as the protector of the planet’s peoples. Each American aggression, every violation of centuries of international law, is couched in the rhetoric of humanitarian intervention – a gift from the strong to the weak. Wars of pure pillage and conquest are heralded as acts of nobility and service to humankind. The former colonizers from Europe and their cousins from the United States, the nation that grew rich from indigenous genocide and African slavery, have assumed a Responsibility to Protect the very same Asians, Africans and Latin Americans they were slaughtering…it seems like only yesterday.

But, if yesterday, these Europeans and Americans had no regard for the lives and liberties of any of the colored or non-Christian peoples of the world, in today’s geopolitical configuration human rights has become the imperial watchword. And, therefore, the western so-called human rights organizations take on strategic importance.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are, essentially, weapons in the imperial arsenal. Their value to the empire increased exponentially when Barack Obama adopted humanitarian intervention as a pillar of American war doctrine. Who better than self-styled human rights activists to justify humanitarian wars?

They provided much of the propaganda ammunition for the U.S. and European war against Libya.”

In mid-May, as thousands of anti-war activists protested the NATO summit meeting in Chicago, Amnesty International hosted a so-called “Shadow Summit” of apologists for the U.S. war in Afghanistan. They were joined by the ghoulish Madeline Albright, the former Clinton Secretary of State who said “the price [was] worth it”, when questioned about the death of thousands of children as a result of U.S. sanctions against Iraq. Albright, the warmonger, and Amnesty International agree that the U.S. should remain in Afghanistan as long as it takes, for the sake of Afghan women. Of course, it was the United States that spent billions of dollars in a joint venture with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan to empower Islamists to overthrow the left-wing, Soviet-backed government that had pursued full equality for Afghanistan’s women. Yet, only a few decades later, Amnesty International trumpets the Americans as great defenders of Afghan women’s rights.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch denounce Russia and China as enemies of human rights in Syria, because they have resisted a catastrophic western military assault on that country. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch actively campaign for wars – and they always turn out to be the same wars that Washington is planning to wage. They provided much of the propaganda ammunition for the U.S. and European war against Libya, giving credibility to lies about an imminent massacre in Benghazi. Both organizations are imposters on the world scene, pretending to care for human rights while advocating that the U.S. and its friends trample on the national sovereignty of weaker states – as if human rights can exist outside the framework of international law. As far as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are concerned, human rights are whatever the empire says they are.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are simply mercenaries for empire, and sworn enemies of international law.

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: 20120606_gf_HumanRightsMercenaries.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:37pm EDT