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