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

It's Party Time for the Black Misleadership Class

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

A class that is concerned mainly with celebrating its own existence.”

Michelle Obama was the main attraction at the Congressional Black Caucus’s annual Legislative Weekend gala affair. She told the party-goers that voting, “going to the polls every single election…is the movement of our era.” That is part of the great tragedy that has befallen Black America. The same class that abandoned mass movement politics 40 years ago, in favor of pursuing their own corporate and electoral ambitions, now claims that going to the polls every couple of years is the same thing as having a movement. And that’s got a lot to do with why, by many key measurements, Black people are as bad off, or worse, than in 1965.

Some of us remember the days, after Martin Luther King’s death, when the aspiring Black political class lectured movement activists to get out of the streets and into the suites. They said Black folks needed to position themselves on the inside of power where they could, supposedly, do the most good for the Black masses. But these selfish actors were only looking out for their own upward mobility.

It would be unfair the say that these misleaders shut down the Black Freedom Movement in the late Sixties – the U.S. government’s hit squads made their own murderous contribution to the death of the movement, and a national policy of mass Black incarceration put lower class African Americans on permanent lockdown.

Our history did not prepare us to fight Power when it wears a Black face.”

But some segments of Black America have done pretty well for themselves, as is on display every September at the Black Caucus weekend. With Barack Obama in the White House, the Black common folk experience a vicarious sensation of power – which, as it turns out, is not a very healthy thing, since African Americans as a group have never gotten anywhere without fighting the Powers-That-Be. However, our history did not prepare us to fight Power when it wears a Black face, a problem few of us ever expected to confront. It appears likely that we will experience another four years in which the Black political class makes no demands of Power, so as not to discomfort or embarrass the First Black President in his second term, a man who serves the financial oligarchs on Wall Street, not the folks on Martin Luther King Boulevard.

The Black Caucus also honored Eric Holder, the first Black U.S. attorney general. Holder has failed to prosecute any of the Wall Street plutocrats whose criminal financial enterprises threw millions out of work and set Black America back two generations. It was Holder's job to explain why his boss’s preventive detention bill was not a death blow to due process of law in the United States – an impossible task. Even in the Age of Obama, most of the Black Caucus opposes indefinite detention without charge or trial – but not enough to let a little thing like the Bill of Rights get in the way of honoring a “first Black”…anything.

This is the logical end-result of what people like professor and preacher Michael Eric Dyson cynically call “getting in the game”: the empowerment of a slim sliver of a Black Misleaderhip Class that is concerned mainly with celebrating its own existence. That's what happens when the money-soaked rituals of American electoral politics are mistaken for a people's movement.

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

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at

Direct download: 20120926_gf_CBC.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:49pm EDT

Brought To You By “Clean Coal:” All You Need To Know About the 2012 Obama- Romney Debates

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

A few weeks ago, we wrote about the top 15 things that Mitt Romney and Barack Obama agree on. It was a list that easily could have been longer.

Both agree on more money for the military, more wars in more countries, more drone killings, more privatizations of schools, roads and everything else in sight, and more bailouts for banksters, and continuing the 40 year war on drugs. Both say no, though in different language to minimum wage increases and the right to organize unions and strike. Both say no to climate change treaties, or even negotiations that might lead to such treaties, and both say no to foreclosure moratoriums, WPA style job creation programs and Medicare For All. Neither one will prosecute banksters or torturers, or talk much at all about poverty, although the last time there were this many poor a Democrat called for a War on Poverty.

Given their areas of agreement alone, the presidential debates won't be real debates. The so-called Presidential Debate Commission is a private corporation founded by leaders of the two corporate parties, who choose the format, the location, the moderators and the questions, and explicitly draw up the rules to exclude candidates and parties other than Democrats and Republicans.

Although the broadcast airwaves have existed longer than the sun, and cable networks everywhere run beneath public roads and streets, US law lets private corporations determine on their own what political messages reach the population by controlling news and demanding large sums of money for a few seconds of commercials. These large amounts of money can only be gotten from the same plutocratic shot calling individuals and corporations who make the careers of Republicans like Mitt Romney and Democrats like Barack Obama possible.

How irresponsible, how locked down, how deceitfully scripted and divorced from the real world in which most of us live are these presidential debates? Besides everything the candidates agree on, and who runs the so-called debate “commission”, all you need to know is that one of the marquee sponsors of the 2012 presidential debates, and the 2008 ones as well, is an industry front group called the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity. Both Republican and Democratic presidential candidates are deep in the pocket of “clean coal,” as they are in the pockets of Big Ag, Big Insurance, military contractors, Wall Street and other centers of real power.

One answer to the lack of real discussions presented us by the rigged “commission” on presidential debates will be Occupy The Debates, a project undertaken by Occupy activists in multiple cities, in which a live meeting will entertain live questions from a live audience. Occupy the Debates' first scheduled public meeting will be in Denver CO, the same evening as the first so-called “debate” between the two corporate candidates. Occupy the Debates will be streamed live on the internet that evening, and will include the participation of Black Agenda Report co-counder Glen Ford. Several occupy movements around the country are expected to follow suit and organize their own local events over the next few weeks. For more information on real debates on real issues, visit Occupy the Debates, either on FaceBook or at That'

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

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and a member of the state committee of the Georgia Green Party. He lives and works in Marietta GA, and can be reached at bruce.dixon(at)

Direct download: 20120925_bd_debates.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:39pm EDT