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

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 Once federal troops were withdrawn from the South, in 1877, Reconstruction was systematically dismantled.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