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

The Irrelevance of the African Union at 50

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

The U.S. military grip on Africa ensures that the continent will not achieve any of Nkrumah’s pan-African objectives.”

The African Union marked its 50th anniversary, this week, at an executive council meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – the city where the AU’s predecessor, the Organization of African Unity, was born in 1963. Ghanaian President Kwame Nkrumah was the guiding intellect of pan-Africanism in those days. He envisioned a continent unified by a common market, currency and central bank, common citizenship, a common foreign policy and system of military defense – a kind of United States of Africa. A half century later, the United States effectively lords it over Africa to a degree unmatched by any single European power of the colonial period.

Africa is most unified in its abject military subservience to the U.S. and, secondarily, to France, which struts around Mali, Niger, the Central African Republic and other former colonies as if independence was a joke played on history. But, the big boss is AFRICOM, the U.S. military command established in 2008, whose barbed wire entangles the continent, linking the militaries of all but three African countries directly to the Pentagon.

The U.S. military grip on Africa ensures that the continent will not achieve any of Nkrumah’s pan-African objectives. It is the American trump card, that renders this week’s proclamations out of Ethiopia fatuous and empty. The African Union chairperson presented a draft proclamation of a continental agenda for the next 50 years – Agenda 2063 – that is to be adopted next January. It speaks to African “peace and security” and “self-reliance” – an impossibility so long as the U.S. superpower dictates the terms of war and peace, and while virtually every African head of state serves at the pleasure of the Americans, who are closer to his generals than he is.

The African Union’s opinion is irrelevant.”

The 50-year agenda celebrates social and economic development and continental integration. But Africa’s regional economic groupings have largely been converted into blocs for easy political manipulation by the Americans and their European junior imperial partners. In the Horn of Africa, IGAD, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, has been entirely subordinated to the Americans and their war to subdue Somalia and threaten tiny, independent-minded Eritrea. The African Union’s so-called peace-keeping mission in Somalia, the AU’s biggest military project, is entirely financed, armed, trained and directed by the Europeans and Americans, most notably the CIA. On the other side of the continent, ECOWAS, the Economic Community of West African States, is thoroughly enmeshed in the French-American war machines that have invaded the region. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the United Nations is putting together an offensive brigade sponsored by the United States and France, that will surely serve imperialism’s interests in the region.

The African Union’s opinion is irrelevant, just as it was irrelevant when the U.S. and its NATO allies decided on regime change in Libya, in 2011. Muammar Gaddafi, a former AU president and bankroller was overthrown and murdered, and the AU did nothing. And yet, it speaks of a 50-year plan for an African renaissance, and claims the pan-African vision guides its deliberations.

Nevertheless, I’m sure Kwame Nkrumah would agree that the AU has been quite useful – just not useful to Africans.

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: 20130529_gf_AfricanUnion.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:42am EDT

Saving Detroit’s Art Treasures – While the Rest of the City is Picked Clean

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Rather than make common cause with the victims, whose house is being pillaged, the patrons of the ‘high arts’ want only to remove certain items.”

Elements of Michigan’s upper class are finally showing concern for the plight of Detroit, its largest city, locked in the deadly embrace of a state-appointed Emergency Financial Manager. No, the one percent aren’t upset that the city’s residents have been stripped of their democratic rights, reduced to non-citizens with literally no control over their local institutions and resources. Most of the upper crust consider the disenfranchisement of Detroit and fully half of the state’s Black population to be more of a blessing than a tragedy, much less a crime. Rather, the Emergency Manager has rattled the sophisticated gentry by appearing to covet the precious works housed in the Detroit Institute of Art, which could be valued at a billion dollars.

Wait a minute, say the high-priced art aficionados. Selling off the nuts and bolts assets of a great metropolis full of Black and poor people is one thing, but don’t you dare go after our van Gogh. You can steal the pensions of tens of thousands of retirees, and tear up every union contract in Detroit, but don’t even think about taking away my Monet!

It doesn’t matter to the privileged classes that the soulful city that produced the Motown sound – an exquisite form of art – is about to be gutted to satisfy the greed of capitalist creditors. After all, the Motown sound was produced by people from the streets, while the works of Picasso and Matisse are prized by the folks from the suites, and must be saved for future generations of that class. The very idea that masterpieces of Euro-American high culture might be thrown into the mix of expendable items like public water systems, voting rights, a living wage, and security in ones old age – why, its enough to make a connoisseur of the arts launch a revolt against the rule of Capital.

Sell the people, and their rights, but not the paintings!”

Well, not quite. Patrons of the arts have mobilized, not to free Detroit from the bankers’ yoke, but to find ways to separate the city’s artistic assets from the kind of assets that most people depend upon in their daily lives. Rather than demanding that Financial Manager Kevyn Orr and his vultures respect the citizenship rights of 82 percent Black Detroit, they’re seeking legal loopholes to keep the Institute of Art off the auction block. By all means, sell the people, and their rights, but not the paintings!

Of course, this is a false choice. A crime is being perpetuated against the people of Detroit, robbing them of the their rights as workers, pension holders, students, citizens and human beings. Rather than make common cause with the victims, whose house is being pillaged, the patrons of the “high arts” want only to remove certain items, and then run right out the door again, allowing the criminals to continue their thievery.

It probably does not even occur to the self-styled art lovers that, by attempting to separate the Institute of Art from the city of Detroit, they are also thieves. It is like slipping the wristwatch from the arm of a drowning man, rather than rescuing him, and then bragging about having preserved a fine piece of craftsmanship.

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: 20130529_gf_Detroit.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:34am EDT

Chicago Teachers Build a Movement

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

Chicago’s teachers are attempting to build a community fight-back coalition.”

Thousands of Chicago teachers and their community allies marched and rallied for three days in opposition to Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his handpicked school board’s plans to close 54 public schools, almost all of them in Black neighborhoods – the biggest round of closings anywhere in the country, to date. Parents and teachers say the plan puts children at greater risk as they cross the boundaries of different gangs’ turf; destabilizes neighborhoods that will lose their schools; and is part of a larger scheme to further decimate the teaching ranks and convert more schools to charters. Teachers Union president Karen Lewis says “study after study” has shown that shuffling children around from school to school accomplishes nothing unless the new schools are significantly better – yet, most of the cross-city movement in the mayor’s plan is from one poor neighborhood to another.

The mayor claims that the closings are necessary cost-cutting measures. But a report by the Chicago Tribune, which is no friend of the teachers, shows that Emanuel’s minions have fudged the numbers. For example, a school was marked for closing because it lacked adequate air conditioning, but students were then slated to be transferred to another school that also lacks sufficient air conditioning. Another school was put on the shut-down list because it would cost almost $10 million to fix. But the students’ new school requires nearly as much money for repairs. The report concludes that it would cost millions more to renovate the schools where the displaced students would be assigned, than to fix the old schools.

The teachers union is engaged in a political battle royal.”

So, this is not about costs; that’s just a cover story. It’s about further privatizing the public schools, destroying the union, and destabilizing neighborhoods full of people that the mayor and his big business cronies would, ultimately, like to expel from the city, entirely. The teachers know it, and so does a growing portion of the community, who have joined in common cause.

The teachers have filed two class action suits against the closings, and the mayor’s school board appointees were set to take a pro-forma vote on the matter, on Wednesday. However, the teachers union fully understands that they are engaged in a political battle royal with forces that are bigger than the mayor’s office. Philadelphia and cities across the country face near-identical assaults on their public schools, part of a full-fledged austerity offensive by corporate America. The Lords of Capital are privatizing, financializing, monetizing and de-unionizing everything.

American racism makes inner city public schools an easier target, and the privatizers have a great ally in President Barack Obama. Mayor Rahm Emanuel is best known as Obama’s former chief of staff, but he also made millions as an investment banker. Wall Street hedge funders and other speculators are betting heavily on school privatization as the next great investment frontier. Chicago’s teachers are attempting to build a community fight-back coalition that can break the stranglehold of corporate rule, and serve as an example to teachers unions and Black and brown communities across the nation. In the fight against austerity, and for community control of schools, the Chicago Teachers Union is on front line.

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: 20130522_gf_ChicagoSchools.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:40pm EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Banks have failed to pay more than half of $5.7 billion owed to homeowners from over 30 settlements since 2008.”

Attorney General Eric Holder won’t lay a hand on the cabal of banks that are “too big to fail” and far too politically powerful to jail, but DC police seemed eager to use their tasers on homeowners and anti-foreclosure demonstrators at Holder’s Justice Department, this week. Five hundred protesters from organizations around the country, including Occupy Minnesota, the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, the Home Defenders League, and Occupy Our Homes gathered to demand that banks be held accountable for the massive frauds they’ve committed against homeowners and society at large. Several dozen protesters were arrested, including a number of elderly persons, but Eric Holder and his top lieutenants didn’t even bother to acknowledge their presence.

If the Obama administration has been consistent on any one issue, it is the untouchability of the biggest banks. Attorney General Holder has acted more as the bankers’ bail bondsman than the nation’s top law enforcement official. When confronted with two Scandals of the Century – the massive robo-signing bank fraud and the Libor interest rate fixing scheme – Holder moved to protect the banks. He used the powers of his office to block state criminal prosecutions in favor of financial settlements and fines. Holder, who is relentless in his determination to enforce the letter of the law on marijuana, claims he is helpless to bring criminal charges against banking corporations and their top executives, because it might cause an economic crisis. The real economic catastrophe that Holder and his boss, President Obama, fear is that Wall Street might withdraw its campaign contributions to the Democratic Party.

He used the powers of his office to block state criminal prosecutions.”

Not only does the Attorney General refuse to consider putting bankers in jail, whatever the crime, he allows them to defy the terms of agreed upon financial settlements. According to the Washington Post, banks have failed to pay more than half of $5.7 billion owed to homeowners from over 30 settlements since 2008. These include robo-signing frauds, subprime mortgage entrapments, discrimination in lending to the disabled – a whole universe of criminality for which, in a just world, the offending banks would be dismantled and their top executives imprisoned. Instead, they are allowed to renege on payments to their victims with impunity.

As it has turned out, many of the banksters’ victims have received only a few thousand, or even just a few hundred dollars after years of struggle.

Even as his administration fails to live up to its Constitutional responsibilities to enforce the law, as it applies to Wall Street, Obama preached personal responsibility to the graduating class of Morehouse College, in Atlanta. The President spoke of the importance of “men who refuse to be afraid.” But he and his Attorney General are scared stiff of the power of the banks, to which they are beholden as servants. If there is no law that the banks cannot break with impunity, then this is not a nation of laws.

So, let’s stop pretending.

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: 20130522_gf_DOJDemo.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:29pm EDT

Black Vote Rising, Black Power Diminishing, Black Condition Worsening

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

If Black voting strength actually translates as real power, then why is the Black condition deteriorating, even as Black electoral activity increases?”

A U.S. Census report on voter turnout shows Blacks voted at higher rates than whites in the 2012 election – the first time that’s happened since records have been kept, according to Census Bureau officials. Another study indicates African Americans also turned out in proportionately greater numbers than whites in 2008, to elect Barack Obama the first time.

What is the import of the relatively massive Black voter turnout in the last two presidential elections? First, we should note that African Americans were at least as enthusiastic about voting almost a century and a half ago, during Reconstruction.

The historical record indicates that Blacks flocked to the polls in huge numbers after Emancipation in those regions where they were not held back by white terrorists. In some states, Blacks made up the clear majority of voters, with some classes of ex-Confederates barred from the polls while other whites boycotted the process. Once federal troops were withdrawn from the South, in 1877, Reconstruction was systematically dismantled. However, during this brief period of intense Black electoral activity, Reconstruction governments delivered substantial citizenship goods, including establishing the first public schools in the South.

The newly freed slaves knew full well what they were voting for: a transformation of society; an end to white supremacy; the rule of law, not of one race over another; the right not only to all the services that government provided, but to social goods, such as a public education, that southern governments had not previously provided, even to whites.

In virtually every category of well-being, the Black condition is worsening in comparison to whites.”

One hundred years after the Civil War, the masses of southern Blacks were re-enfranchised, and African Americans became majorities or strong pluralities in many of the nation’s cities. In 2008, they got a chance to vote for a Black man at the top of a major party ticket. Black enthusiasm for voting returned. But, what has been the return in terms of social goods? In virtually every category of well-being, the Black condition is worsening in comparison to whites. The bottom has fallen out of the Black economy, with household wealth shrinking to nonexistence except for a slim sliver of the Black population. African Americans make up one out of every eight of the planet’s prison inmates, their communities enveloped by an ever-tightening police state.

If Black voting strength actually translates as real power, then why is the Black condition deteriorating, even as Black electoral activity increases? Part of the answer is internal to Black America. A portion of the African American population has for the past 40 years hitched its fortunes to corporate boardrooms. Unfortunately, this selfish element also comprises most of Black leadership. This Black Misleadership Class barters Black votes in exchange for its own upward mobility. They have made a pact with the rich, who abhor the very concepts of democracy and human equality. The mission of the Black Misleadership Class is to strip Black politics of all socially transformative content so that, no matter how large the Black voter turnout, real power remains in corporate hands.

Political power is not something you add up on a scoreboard every four years; it is people pulling together to create a just society, by any means necessary. Increased Black voting levels indicate only that Blacks are interested in gaining power – not that they are wielding it.

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: 20120515_gf_BlackVoting.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:28am EDT

Radicalized = Weaponized = Kill at Will

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

The line between political beliefs and illegal action is eradicated, so that the ‘radicalized’ person or group is inherently deserving of liquidation.”

Like all advanced police states, the U.S. national security regime has begun speaking its own, degenerate language. It is a mode of speech that simultaneously defines the “enemy” and justifies his or her destruction. The soulless, bureaucratic roots of National Security Speech belie the ruthless intent, which is to make the utter destruction of the targeted group or individual appear to be the natural order of things.

Self-radicalization” is one of the terms coined by national security speakers. To people like President Obama, a guy who adds targets to his Kill List every Tuesday, “self-radicalization” represents a grave threat to the American state. “One of the dangers that we now face,” said Obama, in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing, “are self-radicalized individuals who are already in the United States,” because it is difficult to prevent them from carrying out “plots.”

In this context, it is clear that to “radicalize” means very much the same as to “weaponize”; the radicalized person has been transformed into a weapon. A radical is no longer simply an individual “who advocates thorough or complete political or social reform,” but someone who by their very thought processes represents a clear and present danger to the United States. The line between political beliefs and illegal action is eradicated, so that the “radicalized” person or group is inherently deserving of liquidation. The operative word is “radical.”

Obama is not talking about “Manchurian Candidates” who have been programmed against their will and without their knowledge to carry out acts dictated by others. He’s talking about people who quite consciously object to U.S. policies, who might do something about it at some time in the future, or influence others’ opinions about the United States. Obama’s problem with the people he calls “self-radicalized” is that they cannot be easily entrapped or shown to be guilty by association with others who think as they do – and if they do act, their actions do not necessarily implicate others. For the fascist-minded, this must be quite frustrating.

Assata remains radical.”

Assata Shakur was radicalized at least 45 years ago. An all-white jury convicted her of killing a New Jersey policeman. She escaped from prison, and has been under the protection of the Cuban government for the last 29 years, a political exile. The cop has been dead since 1973, Shakur’s political party has long been defunct, and she is a grandmother far from home. But the FBI felt compelled to double the one million dollar reward for Shakur, and to elevate her to number one domestic terrorist. Why? Because Shakur continues to “maintain and promote her…ideology" and "provides anti-U.S. government speeches espousing the Black Liberation Army message.” That is, she remains radical, and therefore, a weapon, even at the age of 65, isolated from her 40 million fellow African Americans, few of whom know her name. But the FBI pretends to fear that her “ideology” might go viral at any time.

They don’t believe that, of course. The political police are simply determined to make radicalism – of the “self” or group inspired variety – synonymous with criminality, much in the way that “Black” is now inextricably linked with crime in the public mind. According to that formula, a Black woman radical makes the perfect poster for a political witch hunt.

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: 20130515_gf_Radicals.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:01am EDT

From Race Men to Debased Men, Obama at Morehouse, Arne Duncan at Morgan State

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

A good friend in Atlanta observed that when President Bush used to visit, his inbox would be flooded with alerts and notices about vigils, picket lines and demonstrations. But when the current president comes to town, there's nothing.

President Obama will punctuate the commencement at Atlanta's Morehouse College next week. The only ripple that's made news is whether some preacher who criticized the president for not making enough black appointments to elite high offices should be allowed to set foot on campus that weekend. Commencement week, Morehouse officials solemnly say, is about the graduates, not politics.

At Morgan State University, another historically black institution of higher learning in Baltimore, Obama's basketball buddy and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is scheduled to deliver the commencement address. There's not much publicly visible dissent behind that either, despite the fact that President Obama's Race To The Top program has closed and privatized more public schools than any other president in US history, and Arne Duncan chucks that spear. Baltimore is reportedly closing 32 schools in the near future while building only 15 new ones. One wonders whether Baltimore and Morgan State would be protesting if the same destructive policies were forced upon them by a white president without the soothing presence of a compliant black political elite as intermediaries.

There's no shortage of of pressing issues at Morgan State, Maryland state delegate Jill P. Carter informed Black Agenda Report. The school is suing the state of Maryland and its Democrat governor, charging that the state's historically black colleges and universities have been chronically underfunded. According to Carter, HBCUs across the country are watching and waiting to file similar suits if this one succeeds.

There's no shortage of bright, successful HBCU alumni who could deliver powerful, inspiring commencement address,” said Carter. “It's too bad Morgan State didn't go there instead.”

Delegate Carter has a point. It is too bad. What it's not is the least bit surprising.

The leaders of Morgan State University, of Morehouse College and many similar institutions are not really leaders at all, not the way the old style “race men” and women supposed themselves to be once upon a time, standing up and lifting up all our people. They are followers, members of a black misleadership class which values conformity, silence and careers over courageous advocacy and struggle, and prizes individual enrichment over investment in a community's collective wealth and power.

The race men have become debased men, unable even to stand up for the interests of their own institutions, let alone for public education, or against gentrification, or the interests of African Americans as a whole. Commencement addresses for them are not about inspiring the graduates about to go forth into the world and accomplish things about which their elders can only dream. They're about genuflecting to power and repeating the stale old narratives that validate and justify our class of elite black misleaders.

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 member of the state committee of the Georgia Green Party. He lives and works near Marietta GA and can be reached via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20130508_bd_racemen_debasedmen.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:04pm EDT

Defend Assata, Defend Ourselves: The Black Is Black Coalition Rallies in Harlem

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Obama is serving notice that those who share Assata’s ideology – as understood by the FBI – are subject to eradication as well.”

In doubling the bounty on former Black Liberation Army member Assata Shakur’s head, the Obama administration is announcing that Black radicals are candidates for his Kill List. The message is as unmistakable and dramatic as the billboards that have been erected in Newark, New Jersey, and elsewhere screaming for the exiled freedom fighter’s blood.

One does not wind up on the FBI’s Most Wanted list based on the number of murders committed or millions of dollars stolen. The Most Wanted list is among the nation’s most political documents, in which individuals are meant to personify the scope and type of offenses that the U.S. government considers most in need of stamping out. The list is a kind of propaganda, a symbolic display of what the state considers dangerous behavior.

President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder, the two Black men who are most responsible for making Assata Shakur the face of domestic terror in the United States, are fully conversant in the language of symbolism. They are publicly defining the Black liberation movement – or what’s left of it, or those who might attempt to revive it – as a priority domestic target for repression. Shakur, a 65-year old grandmother who has not left Cuba for the past 29 years, poses no physical danger to the American state. She represents a political threat, through her “ideology,” as brazenly stated by the FBI. The Bureau has marked Shakur for priority assassination on the basis of, in the FBI’s words, her “anti-U.S. government speeches espousing the Black Liberation Army message.” “Terrorism” is somehow inherent in the message of Black liberation. Advocacy of Black liberation, is the threat. The reward of $2 million is meant to silence Assata Shakur’s political speech, and remove her as a symbol of resistance to the U.S government.

The Bureau has marked Shakur for priority assassination.”

For the National Security State, “terror” is a powerful word, with vast legal ramifications. The Obama administration is informing Americans and Cubans that Assata is as much fair game for assassination by drone as the late Anwar al-Awlaki. Barack Obama and Eric Holder are serving notice that those who share Assata’s ideology – as understood by the FBI – are subject to eradication as well, because it is an ideology of terror. And they are telling those who give “substantial support” to Assata that they are subject to detention by the U.S. military without trial or charge, for the duration of the war against “terror.”

The Black Is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations will hold a demonstration on Thursday, May 9, from 5 to 7pm, in front of the Harlem State Office Building in New York City, to give substantial and unwavering support to the safety and freedom of Assata Shakur; Freedom for Sundiata Acoli and Sekou Odinga, Black Liberation Army members held in U.S. prisons; and Freedom for All Political Prisoners.

They tried to kill Assata in 1973, and they're still trying. They tried to kill the Black liberation movement, but its not dead yet. Join the Black is Back Coalition and a host of other concerned organizations at the Harlem State Office Building, on 125th Street, at 5pm, on Thursday. Tell the real terrorists what you think about them, their austerity, their mass incarceration, and their wars. For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at GlenFord@BlackAgendaReport.com.

For more information, go to Black Is Back Coalition event Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/events/425416530887768/

HANDS OFF ASSATA! UNCLE SAM IS THE REAL TERRORIST!

On Thursday, May 9, 2013 at 5pm Eastern Standard Time, the New York City Chapter of the Black is Back Coalition for Social Justice Peace and Reparations (BIBC) will hold a demonstration in front of the Harlem State Office Building to protest the U.S. government’s recent announcement of the increased bounty placed on the life of Assata Shakur from $1 million to $2 million and her addition to the FBI’s most wanted terrorist list.

The State claims that Assata Shakur is a U.S. domestic terrorist and is offering money to anyone who can take Assata from Cuba and bring her back, dead or alive, to the U.S. so that she can be forced to serve the rest of her “life sentence” for the alleged murder of a New Jersey state trooper in the early 1970s.

The BIBC is absolutely opposed to the U.S. governments labeling of Assata Shakur as a terrorist. Assata Shakur, like the masses of African and other oppressed peoples around the world, is a victim of terrorism inflicted by the U.S. government.

It is the U.S. government that has the longest track record of terrorism on the face of the planet. Currently there are over 700 U.S. military installations in the world today. In each of those colonized territories suffering such occupation, the people face outright terror. The Afghani people suffer civilian casualties on a regular basis due to trigger happy U.S. Marine maneuvers. The same can be said all over the planet.

In fact, Cuba, the country from which the U.S. aims to snatch Assata, has been a decade’s long victim of that same U.S. terrorism that African people in this country have come to know all too well. The economic embargos and military restrictions that the U.S. has imposed on the Cuban government and people are not unlike the public policy of policy containment of the Black community here in the U.S., a policy which serves at best as a poor substitute for economic development.

The U.S. occupation of Cuba (Guantanamo Bay) is not unlike the police occupation of the African community. The numerous assassination attempts by the U.S. on the life of Fidel Castro and other Cuban leaders is not unlike the U.S. COINTELPRO initiated assassinations of Malcolm X, Fred Hampton and Martin Luther King.

Assata is being labeled a terrorist by the U.S. only because of her relationship to the Black Liberation Army, which, during the 1960’s and 70’s engaged in armed struggle against the U.S. government as a means of liberating Black people from its oppressive domination.

The U.S. is intensifying its attack on all remnants and symbols of resistance from the last genuine period of revolutionary struggle in this country. This attack on Assata is an attack on the African Liberation Movement and African people in general that cannot go unchecked!

This attack on the part of the U.S. is not a sign of strength. It is a sign of weakness and desperation that was necessary on the part of U.S. imperialism as a means of overturning the tides of history that are on course to wipe imperialism completely out of existence.

BIB also understands that the intensifying attack being made against Assata and the African Liberation Movement in general could only be made possible, with minimal political consequence, through a neo-colonial Black president Obama and U.S. attorney general Eric Holder.

While these government officials are Black, it is clear that they do not represent the interests of Black people. It is Obama who has intensified a campaign of imperialist war against African and African people around the world. It is Obama who has ordered the dropping of drone bombs in various parts of the African continent. It is Obama who has given a green light to the police throughout the U.S. to shoot and kill African people at will, an initiative that has resulted in the most recent finding that an African is murdered by the police in the U.S. every 28 hours.

The fact is that while George Bush’s regime set the stage for the bounty on Assata, it is Obama who has played the leading role in the play of U.S. imperialist repression waged around the world, a play whose final act consists of such attempts to completely wipe out any remnant of African resistance within U.S. borders.

Assata Shakur on the other hand, has represented the genuine interests of African people since she joined the movement for Black Power, as she continues to do today—even as she lives in Cuba in exile because of her acts of righteous resistance during the 1960s.

The Black is Back Coalition is calling on all lovers of genuine freedom and social justice to unite with us and attend this very important demonstration being held in defense of Assatta Shakur.

Free Assatta! Free Sundiata! Free Sekou Odinga! Free All BLA Prisoners of War! Free All Political Prisoners!


Current list of demonstration endorsers and attendees include:
Peoples Organization for Progress (New Jersey)
Glen Ford (Black Agenda Report)
International Peoples Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM) – NYC
Diop Olugbala – InPDUM President
African Peoples Socialist Party – Newark, NJ
Nellie Bailey – Harlem Tenants Council
Ralph Poynter – Lynn Stewart Defense Committee
Students United for a Free CUNY
Occupy Wall Street (Occu-Evolve) - Sumumba Sobukwe
Lisa Davis - Chair of Black is Back Healthcare Committee
Stop Stop and Frisk Freedom Fighters
The Peoples Survival Program (PSP)

Direct download: 20130508_gf_Assata.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:46am EDT

End Solitary Confinement in U.S. Prisons, Prepare to Back Hunger Strikers

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Solitary confinement as a form of routine, mass punishment is beyond barbarity.”

Another prison hunger strike is looming in California, where more than 200 inmates at the Pelican Bay supermax have been in solitary confinement for between five and ten years and nearly 100 have been shut off from most human contact for 20 years or more. Across the nation, on any given day, more than 100,000 inmates suffer in solitary – about 25,000 in the federal system and another 80,000 or so in state facilities. That’s the equivalent of locking up every man, woman and child in Charleston, South Carolina, in their own little 8 by 12 foot box – for an eternity. Nothing like this American form of mass human torment has ever existed on the face of the earth: systematic, industrial strength torture, multiplied 100,000 times per day. Solitary confinement as a form of routine, mass punishment is beyond barbarity. Nowhere in human history do we find barbarians who tortured hundreds of thousands of people every day for decades at a time. Only in America.

Solitary confinement, by its very nature, is designed to ensure that no one but the torturers hears the cries of the tormented. However, knowledge of such monstrous evil compels decent men and women to action, in solidarity with those who have been wronged. The prisoners of Pelican Bay, who went on hunger strike in 2011, have sent word that they will do so again, on July 8, if the state of California does not meet their core demands. One demand is fundamental: that inmates not be confined to solitary unless they have been charged, “and found guilty of, committing a serious offense… a felony!” Instead, inmates are consigned to a life of oblivion based on anonymous allegations that they are affiliated with a gang, or for exhibiting the slightest hint of political thought – or for no discernable reason, at all. Not only is lengthy solitary confinement unconstitutionally cruel and unusual punishment, and a form of torture under international law, it is totally arbitrary and capricious.

Support networks need to be in place, beforehand.”

In California, alone, more than 14,000 prisoners are held in isolation. The Pelican Bay inmates anticipate many of them will join the hunger strike, as thousands did in 2011, when 13 prisons were involved in the protest, and three inmates committed suicide. This time around, prison organizers have invited the participation of “all male and female prisoners across the U.S. prison systems,” both state and federal. Inmates in Georgia went on hunger strike, pressing a range of demands, in 2011 and again last year.

If the California prisoners are forced to put their lives on the line again, on July 8, support networks need to be in place, beforehand. The Stop Mass Incarceration Network is putting out the call, so that the inmates at Pelican Bay and throughout the vast U.S. prison gulag will know that folks on the outside have their back. June 21, 22 and 23 have been designated as Days of Solidarity With the Struggle to End Prison Torture, and to immediately disband the torture chambers. You can sign up by going to StopMassIncarceration.org.

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.

For more information, contact the Stop Mass Incarceration Network at: stopmassincarceration@gmail.com, or by calling (347) 979-SMIN (7646)

Direct download: 20130508_gf_Solitary.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:34am EDT

The New Urban Regime: Gentrification in Atlanta Wears A Black Face

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Bruce A. Dixon

Edgewood Courts, a modest 200 plus unit Atlanta apartment complex is widely believed to be up for imminent sale. The surrounding neighborhood, like many in Atlanta, is being reclaimed by whiter and more affluent transplants, with the open blessing of mostly black city hall. Those who show up at local meetings of the area's Neighborhood Planning Unit, the quasi-governmental contraption through which some public monies and functions are funneled without the bother of involving less wealthy, less connected residents, are mostly in agreement ---- Edgewood's residents, including its children, present a clear and present nuisance, perhaps even a danger to the property values and lifestyles of their new neighbors, as proven by the stats which measure not crime, but police activity. Police simply don't bang on the doors of the affluent, or confront and abuse the children of yuppies.

Edgewood's adults and its children, then, are deemed deserving of aggressive and sustained attention by the only domestic part of government that grows in these times of austerity --- the police. Atlanta cops, for their part make it a point to attend all Neighborhood Planning Unit meetings, presumably to be available for just such instances. And sure enough, the complaints of well-off neighbors have resulted in a number of arrests and tense confrontations between dozens of police and residents over the last few weeks.

The apartment complex is owned by H.J. Russell, a black construction and real estate firm. Like everybody else in that business, they don't make money off stable neighborhoods. They only get paid when there's people moving out, and new people moving in. So mostly white yuppies sic black city hall and black cops on their black working class neighbors so they'll feel safer, and black realtors and tycoons can get richer.

The awfulness of what's happening in Atlanta's Edgewood Courts is that it's not unique or original at all. Anywhere black politicians are in power nowadays, their chief function seems to be that of what sociologist Jay Arena in his book Driven From New Orleans calls “the new urban regime...” Black politicians are able to serve white elites, and themselves better and more effectively than white politicians ever could alone. Black politicians, under the new urban regime are successful when they divert attention away from their actual policies and onto issues of status and symbolism.

When Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed runs for re-election later this year the call will be to protect the voice of black Atlanta from its first white mayor in forty years. It won't be about the mayor's gutting of employee pension funds, or his agenda of school and transit privatization. It won't be about Atlanta's racial poverty gap, at about 4 blacks to every one 1 white, the highest in the nation's forty largest cities..

Black Mecca is over. Welcome to the new urban regime.

For Black Agenda Report, 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 member of the state committee of the Georgia Green Party. He lives and works near Marietta GA and can be reached via this site's contact page, or email at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20130501_bd_gentrification_blackface.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:45am EDT