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

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