Wed, 25 June 2014
What Black Lobbyists & CBC Members Mean When They Say “We Are Not A Monolith”
A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon
What does it mean when current and former Congressional Black Caucus members like North Carolina's G.K. Butterfield and disgraced former Maryland Rep. Al Wynn, now a lobbyist for one of the firms that represent Wells Fargo and Goldman Sachs, sit down for a TV interview with ex-CBC staffer and current corporate lobbyist Angela Rye, and between them in a seven minute interview they declare four or five times that“We are not a monolith”?
When I hear “monolith” I think of the floating, murmuring slab of rock left behind by ancient aliens in the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey.” But still it's hard to believe people are really confusing black elected officials and lobbyists with artifacts left behind by space aliens. When these folks say “we are not a monolith” it simply means “We're under NO obligation to represent you, and we ain't even tryin' so quit pretendin' like we need to.”
This was pretty much the theme of the June 23 session of Roland Martin's NewsOne Now titled “Has the CBC Sold Out To Big Banks” on TV One. The segment was a response to articles in the Huffington Post, Black Agenda Report, Breaking Brown, and elsewhere charging that CBC members, staff and black lobbyists were leveraging their “civil rights brands” on behalf of telecoms, banksters, gentrifiers, military contractors, Big Ag, Big Oil and so on.
Host Angela Rye led off with a self serving “we're not a monolith” screed bemoaning “the incredibly high and unrealistic standards” that the black caucus are held to, the notion that they should be accountable to the people instead of corporations. Rep. Butterfield, whom Rye says she calls “Dad 3” called the articles a disservice and agreed that “We're not a monolithic caucus.”
Rye pronounced herself especially offended by the charge that CBC members, staffers and especially lobbyists like herself doing the bidding of their corporate masters were “sellouts.” Former congressman Al Wynn, a man so eager to become a lobbyist that he resigned his seat before all the votes were counted in his losing primary election bid, almost sounded hurt as he called the sellout charge pejorative, “...offensive and patronizing.” In a fit of neoliberal logic that could have come straight from the lips of Newt Gingrich or Mitt Romney, Wynn declared big banks and greedy corporations like the ones he represented in Congress and now shills for as a lobbyist had senior citizens and pension funds among their stockholders, that they were job creators and essential to the economy. These interests, all three agreed, deserved to have some black faces among their lobbyists and their supporters in the Congress, just as black communities deserved the opportunity to provide some of those black faces.
The two lobbyists and the congressman who is “Dad 3” to one of the lobbyists solemnly pronounced the reporting on the caucus unbalanced, their corporate benefactors essential to the welfare of the nation, and wondered aloud who these reporters actually talk to. And that was it, that was NewsOne Now for the day.
A lot happened in that seven minutes, none of it good, and none of it resembling journalism. Black corporate stooges in and out of government got a chance to publicly reassure and consoled one another, and to wisely inform ordinary people once again that the notion these black faces in high places might actually represent their interests was unrealistic. You've got a black face in a high place. What else do you need?
For Black Agenda Radio I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com, and subscribe to our free weekly email updates at www.blackagendareport.com/subscribe. That's www.blackagendareport.com/subscribe.
Wed, 25 June 2014
White Supremacy and the Central Park 5
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford
“In America, white supremacy means never having to say you’re sorry, in any meaningful way.”
A settlement will soon be finalized, in New York City, that will award five no longer young Black men $40 million for spending between 7 and 13 years in prison for a crime they did not commit. Twenty-five years ago, the Central Park 5 – Raymond Santana, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam, Kevin Richardson and Kharey Wise – were almost universally described in the media in animalistic terms. They were a “wolf pack” that had gone “wilding” on a mad rampage of lust and brutality, raping a 28-year-old white jogger and beating her almost to death. The cops – experts at psychological operations against Black teenagers – coerced confessions from the 14, 15 and 16 year olds, and they were convicted in 1990.
Miraculously, in 2002, the real perpetrator, a total stranger to the young men, confessed to having committed the crime all by himself. Forensic science confirmed his guilt, and the convictions were vacated. Having lost that which could never be reclaimed – their youth – the Central Park 5 sued the police and prosecutors for false arrest, malicious prosecution and a racially motivated conspiracy to deprive them of their civil rights. But, official New York was unrepentant. The billionaire mayor, Michael Bloomberg, insisted that the city had violated no one’s rights. The five Black and Hispanic men should just go on with their lives, and be grateful that they were no longer officially branded as brutal rapists. The police had acted in “good faith.”
“The war against Blacks is a permanent feature of social control in the United States.”
Only a morally depraved, irredeemable racist would use the term “good faith” to describe the treatment accorded the Central Park 5. In a sane, non-racist society, the fact that five innocent children had been made to confess to a horrible crime that they did not commit would be viewed as a prima facie case of police misconduct. The onus would be on law enforcement to explain how such multiple miscarriages of justice could have happened in the absence of unlawful behavior by the police. But, in America, white supremacy means never having to say you’re sorry, in any meaningful way – and never relinquishing the authority to behave in exactly the same manner the next time it suits your purposes.
Thus, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s decision to accept a $40 million settlement for the unspeakable crimes committed against the Central Park 5 is more controversial, in white society, than Mayor Bloomberg’s abject refusal to atone at all. It’s not that $40 million will break the city’s budget. New York paid out more than $700 million in settlements or awards from lawsuits for negligence, police abuse and property damage in 2012, and expects to pay more than $800 million a year by 2016. But, what they refuse to relinquish is the right to whip up racial hysteria at will, to treat Black children like wolves and other species of wild animals, to scream that Black bucks are running amuk.
The war against Blacks is a permanent feature of social control in the United States. Although the Central Park 5 were exonerated, and will now be monetarily compensated, their ordeal bore ample fruit for the white supremacist state. In the wake of the fictitious “wilding,” Mayors Rudolph Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg were enabled to impose an even harsher, racially selective police state on Black and brown neighborhoods all across the city, ruining countless young lives.
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.