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

The ongoing hunger strikers in Georgia's Jackson State prison have reportedly been joined by others in Augusta and Macon. But the 37 rounded up as alleged leaders of the December 2010 strike are still officially not named by the state are believed to have been on 24 hour lockdown the last 18 months, with many suffering brutal beatings and denied medical attention. Why has the state not revealed their identities? Why are there still thousands of children and illiterates in Georgia's prisons? Why do prisoners still work without wages, and why does Bank of America still extract monthly tolls from their accounts? Why has so little changed?

Hunger Strikers Reportedly Continue in Multiple Georgia Prisons, Prisoners Await A Movement Outside Prison Walls

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

As we've told the story over the months in Black Agenda Report, in the wake of the peaceful December 2010 strike by black, brown and white inmates in several Georgia prisons, corrections officials first cut off heat and hot water to prisoners in the dead of winter. After meeting with citizens on the outside who publicly backed prisoner demands for decent food, medical care, educational opportunities, humane visiting policies, transparency in proceedings against inmates and wages for work, the state briefly allowed citizen access to Macon and Smith Prisons, before adopting a systematic and apparently statewide policy of rounding up and brutally assaulting those prisoners it imagined might have been leaders of the strike.

A small number of low-ranking corrections personnel have been fired, indicted or pled guilty to various offenses in the wave of beatings, but in an apparent endorsement of the beatings as state policy, Department of Corrections, local judges, prosecutors and state officials have refused to investigate most of them.

State authorities claim to have rounded up 37 from around the state and placed them in close confinement at its massive Jackson State Prison, where it murdered Troy Davis last year. Those 37, as far as anyone outside the prison administration knows, have been in solitary confinement ever since, sometimes for weeks without showers and months without being allowed visits. They have received little or no medical care for the vicious beatings they sustained eighteen months ago.

The current wave of hunger strikes in Georgia's prisons must be un”derstood in the light of the failure so far of communities outside the walls to effectively organize in solidarity with those inside. “

When the prisoners went on strike in December 2010 they told us out here they'd done all that they could do. It was now in the hands, they declared, of those outside prison walls to build an effective movement and bring pressure to bear on the minions of Georgia's and the nation's prison state. Eighteen months later, any honest assessment of progress toward that goal must conclude that that is yet to happen.

The current wave of hunger strikes in Georgia's prisons must be understood in the light of the failure so far of communities outside the walls to effectively organize in solidarity with those inside. When you do all you can do, and you are singled out and brutalized, deprived of access to family, communications, medical care and even showers for months on end, you have nothing left to put on the table to trade for your dignity but life itself. For the hunger striking prisoners in Georgia, as for those in California's Pelican Bay a few months ago, who insist on their human rights and human dignity, these are matters of life itself. That's what they mean when they say they are “starving for change.”

They aren't starving till the warden or the governor or the president or Congress or state legislatures do this or that. They are starving till all of us, their extended families, their neighbors, along with the neighbors and families of past and following waves of prisoners, till all those suffering the collateral damage of the prison state find the will and the way to organize, to make their presence known, and to stand with them against the prison state. We can't continue to let them down. It's a matter of human dignity, and life itself. To find out what you can do, visit us on the web at www.endmassincarceration.org. Sign the petition and sign up. Someone will be in touch with you.

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 co-chair of the Georgia Green Party. He can be reached at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com or through this web site's contact page.

Direct download: 20120704_bd_ga_prison_hunger_strikers.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:50pm EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The “progressive” Chinese-American mayor of “liberal” San Francisco is considering instituting stop-and-frisk – which no doubt is already informally practiced by his city’s police. Mayor Ed Lee’s intention to endorse legal apartheid puts him in the historical American mainstream, since “stop-and-frisk never stopped in the United States.” The practice stretches, unbroken, from slavery times. “If the laws are applied unequally, then there is no law, and the police are nothing but an occupying army enforcing martial law” – selectively, against Black and brown people.

 

Stop-and-Frisk Goes to Frisco

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

If skin color is treated as reasonable suspicion, then that is an apartheid state.”

The Mayor of San Francisco, the first Chinese-American to hold that office, is considering instituting stop-and-frisk– but mostly in minority neighborhoods, of course. Mayor Ed Lee is all excited about joining the Church of the New Jim Crow, whose leading deacons are New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Philadelphia’s Michael Nutter. Like them, Lee claims he just wants to get rid of guns, although after ten years and the humiliation of literally millions of Black and brown men on the streets of New York, Mayor Bloomberg can come up with no compelling statistics on stop-and-frisk and gun crimes. Neither can Mayor Nutter, a stop-and-frisk fiend, whose city is under a courtconsent decree to curb the practice.

San Francisco’s mayor describes himself as a “progressive,” but we all know that word doesn’t mean much of anything anymore, certainly not in the Age Of Obama. The cops in his city are already practicing stop-and-frisk on the same people and neighborhoods the mayor wants to target, and have doubtless stepped up their racial profiling since hearing about the mayor’s remarks. The fact is, stop-and-frisk never stopped in the United States. Stop-and-frisk was invented in the slaveholding states as a matter of daily practice, when Black people carried around permission from their masters to move outside his property, and free Blacks had to show papers proving their status. Stop-and-frisk was part of the Black Codes following Emancipation. The Old Jim Crow was designed to control Black people’s physical and social movements, and African Americans who could not prove that they were employed, through documentation or some white person’s word, were sent to prison work camps – the genesis of the penal system in the South. There’s nothing new about stop-and-frisk, although it is central to the New Jim Crow, a racial caste system whose primary institution is mass Black incarceration. Stop-and-frisk was the hallmark of apartheid in racist South Africa. A variant is enforced in Israeli-occupied Palestine.

If there is equal protection under the law, then stop-and-frisk is illegal.”

Stop-and-frisk is necessary wherever racial supremacists want to separate those whose human rights are to be respected from those who are outside of legal protection.

If there is equal protection under the law, then stop-and-frisk is illegal. Period. The law applies in those sections of New York and Philadelphia and San Francisco that have high crime rates, just as it does in Bloomberg's and Nutter's and Lee’s neighborhoods. At least, that’s what the U.S. Constitution says. If the laws are applied unequally, then there is no law, and the police are nothing but an occupying army enforcing martial law. As one of the signs in New York’s recent “Silent March” against stop-and-frisk read: “Skin Color Is Not Reasonable Suspicion.” If skin color is treated as reasonable suspicion, then that is an apartheid state.

Mayor Lee will surely caution his police to be courteous as they enforce apartheid on Black and brown San Franciscans, just as Mayor Bloomberg is now urging his cops to do. But there is no fundamental distinction between polite applications of apartheid and the rougher kind. How do you politely tell someone that they are lesser human beings, existing outside of constitutional protections, exceptions to the rule of equal treatment under the law?

Either stop-and-frisk is a crime against humanity, or Black people have no rights that police are bound to respect. There is no gray area, just as there is no white 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: 20120704_gf_StopFriskFrisco.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:37am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

No Child Left Behind has only been a failure if you believed the hype about its purposes. In fact, NCBL has been a roaring success in using “federal spending as a hammer to impose corporate governance over privatized public schools.” Wall Street has converted publicly-financed education into a no-risk market, teachers unions have been “demonized, demoralized and rendered largely politically inert,” and Black community control of schools is more remote than ever.

 

Ten Years of No Child Left Behind: Disaster Capitalism in the Schools

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

In the space of a decade, No Child Left Behind has struck a mortal blow to American public education – just as intended.”

The Obama administration recently gave five more states waivers to escape some of the conditions imposed by No Child Left Behind, the corporate blueprint to remake America’s schools. That means almost half the states have already won waivers, and more will probably follow in this election year. Many critics of No Child Left Behind call the 10-year-old legislation, signed into law by President Bush, a failure. And, if you believe the real purpose was to foster extraordinary improvements in learning, then it was always doomed to failure. You cannot test your way to success, in education or any other endeavor; you can only decide who must fail. Politically speaking, No Child Left Behind was always destined to be selectively dismantled – as Obama is doing – because its arbitrary and impossible to achieve testing benchmarks would inevitably cause too many white schools to fail – as are probably four out of five districts, already. But No Child Left Behind was never intended to meet its stated goals. What the scheme was designed to do, was to use federal spending as a hammer to impose corporate governance over privatized public schools.

It has been largely successful, thanks to the diabolical genius of American racism, which always assumed that the project was aimed at Black and brown communities. The general attitude in 2002 was: break up that blackboard jungle in the inner cities. By all means, experiment on them! African American communities became the wedge through which could be inserted a corporate network of charter schools. Once the charter model reached critical mass in enough localities, President Obama unleashed an unrelenting wave of extortion and bribery that he called Race to the Top, forcing states to vastly expand the new market for charters. Thus reassured that taxpayer-financed education – a potential trillion dollar “market” – would become a Wild West for no-risk investment, Wall Street’s denizens jumped in the game with all four hooved feet.

African American communities became the wedge through which could be inserted a corporate network of charter schools.”

In the space of a decade, No Child Left Behind has struck a mortal blow to American public education – just as intended. The teachers unions have been demonized, demoralized and rendered largely politically inert – which has always been at the top of the corporate wish-list. This goal was achieved under a Democratic president, whom the teachers unions nevertheless endorsed with unseemly haste, even though Obama has been more effective in their evisceration than his Republican predecessor. The teaching profession, itself, has been degraded, possibly beyond repair.

Black America, which was so callously transformed into the core market for privatized schooling, has been systematically deprived of any avenues for community control of schools, which can never coexist with the corporate structures of charterization. Black teachers have been decimated in city after city, further weakening the social fiber of their communities.

So, it is a mistake to conclude that No Child Left Behind has failed in its actual purposes. Although it may appear that President Obama’s waiver policies are disarming the program, piece by piece, the bomb has already exploded. Disaster capitalism is now deeply entrenched in U.S. public education.

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: 20120704_gf_NCLB.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:30am EDT