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

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