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

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

Genocide Toll in Somalia Revised Upward

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

The Americans turned to mass starvation as a weapon of war.”

A new study shows that twice as many people died in 2011, in Somalia, than previously reported. The British government had estimated that between 50,000 and 100,000 Somalis succumbed to hunger during the great drought, but the new study concludes that 260,000 died, half of them under the age of six.

As usual, corporate media coverage of the mass starvation puts the blame on the Shabaab fighters who have been resisting the United States and its allies’ war against the Somali people when, in fact, the death toll represents an American crime against humanity; just one chapter in an ongoing genocide that began in December, 2006. That’s when the U.S. and Ethiopia invaded Somalia to overthrow a broad-based Islamic Courts government that had defeated warlords supported by the United States. The savage assault from air, land and sea created what UN observers described as “the worst humanitarian crisis in Africa.” It was a bloodbath engineered in George Bush’s Washington, and which has continued under President Obama.

The initial cause of the holocaust was not drought, but the savage slaughter of civilians by the invading Ethiopians and the resultant collapse of Somali agriculture. Mogadishu, the capital city, was put under a siege that would last for half a decade, while civilians were chased across the countryside by Ethiopian armor and bombed by U.S. aircraft. The United Nations Children’s Fund representative for Somalia spoke of the “dirtiness” of a conflict in which “children are the real target.”

Nevertheless, in the first years the war did not go well for Washington, whose Ethiopian allies who were forced to withdraw from much of the country after heavy losses. The Americans then turned to mass starvation as a weapon of war – a calculated act of genocide.

The U.S. tried to break the resistance by starving out the people.”

By late 2009, the U.S. began withholding food aid to the humanitarian relief agencies on which half of Somalis in the south and central parts of the country depended for survival, endangering three million people. The main sources of food were warehouses under U.S. control in neighboring Kenya, but the Americans drastically restricted the flow, complaining that too much food was going to Shabaab fighters. In effect, the U.S. tried to break the resistance by starving out the people – a genocide by any legal definition. By early 2011, the worst drought in decades was gripping the region, adding a natural layer of disaster to the manmade catastrophe that had begun in late 2006.

The scale of the horror was tremendous, made worse by the escalation of war and the entrance of Kenya into the carnage as an American client. Yet, the British claimed that only 50,000 to 100,000 died, and the United States declined to produce any official estimate. Finally, six and a half years after the U.S. plunged Somalia into hell, international officials are admitting that at least a quarter of a million people perished during just one period of the U.S.-backed invasion – all of them on President Obama’s watch.

The United States is an infernal killing machine, no matter the color of the criminal in the White House.

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: 20130501_gf_SomaliaDrought.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:31am EDT

Rep. Keith Ellison, the Personification of the Phony, Pro-War “Progressive”
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

“Ellison is part of the pro-war Left, whose primary mission is make self-described liberals and leftists comfortable supporting imperial wars.”
Keith Ellison, the Black U.S. House member from Minneapolis who is co-chair of the Progressive Caucus, says the U.S. should push for a no-fly zone over rebel-held areas in Syria. Ellison, who is also one of only two Muslim members of Congress, appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, as did Republican Arizona Senator John McCain. It is a measure of how far to the right the Democratic Party has come under President Obama, that McCain, the war monger who likes to sing about bombing Iran, and Ellison, who claims to be a progressive, are in basic agreement over Syria. Both McCain and Ellison want no-fly zones, and both claim to prefer that there be no U.S. “boots on the ground” in country. Both are raving American imperialists who believe that the U.S. has not merely the right, but the obligation to intervene in the internal affairs of other countries. As Ellison, the phony progressive, puts it, “I don’t think the world’s greatest superpower, the United States, can stand by and do nothing” – which is, essentially, John McCain’s position.
Ellison has been advocating a no-fly zone for Syria for at least a year. Last May, he told U.S. News and World Report that so-called “safe zones” should be set up by the U.S. and its allies around the borders of Syria. Ellison made it quite clear that he sees such zones as a prelude to regime change. “I think the Libyan action was a good example of that,” he said.
“Both are raving American imperialists.”
On U.S. imperial policy, there’s not a dime’s worth of difference between McCain, the hard-right Republican, and Ellison, who purports to be a progressive Democrat. Neither gives a damn about international law or the rights of smaller people’s to shape their own destinies. Ellison went to Saudi Arabia, the most socially backward rich country on the planet, and described the King as a “visionary leader.” He rejected George Bush’s troop “surge in 2007, by calling it “too little, too late.” Like Obama, he quibbles about whether U.S. wars are smart or dumb, too late or right on time, but never about the inherent right of the United States to wage war against the weaker nations of the world.
Ellison is part of the pro-war Left, which includes Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, whose primary mission is make self-described liberals and leftists comfortable supporting imperial wars. McCain can’t do that, but Ellison can. Amnesty International is shameless enough to use women’s rights as an excuse to support continued occupation of Afghanistan.
Much of the pro-war left has been forced by events to recognize that the U.S. and its allies are backing jihadist Islamic fundamentalist terrorists in Syria – people they wouldn’t like to have brunch with. Therefore, they now demand that the U.S. intervene to make sure that the jihadists don’t get their hands on chemical weapons. Thus, the pro-war left starts off by advocating U.S. intervention to facilitate the coming to power of the rebels, but in the end winds up demanding that the U.S. do whatever it can to stop these guys from taking power. Either way, it ends with U.S. intervention. John McCain and Keith Ellison pretend to be on opposite ideological ends, but they are like Jack and Jill walking up the same hill when it comes to the obligations and privileges of U.S. imperialism.
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: 20130501_gf_EllisonProWar.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:24am EDT