Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from a black left perspective.
More Dyson V West: Michael Eric Dyson Ain't No Muhammad Ali

More Dyson V West: Michael Eric Dyson Ain't No Muhammad Ali

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

What do you do when a lunatic or someone deeply unprincipled tries to pick a public fight with you? It can be a vexing problem, first because such people tend not to be honest about what their real beef is, and secondly because onlookers may easily decide that both parties to such a dispute are equally bankrupt and worth ignoring.

Dr. Michael Eric Dyson has done something very much like this to the man he calls one of his former mentors, Cornel West. Dyson's ten thousand word screed in the New Republic focuses at great length on West's alleged academic and personal shortcomings. But the current context of time and place and alliances at this, the official start of the 2016 presidential campaign season, mark Dyson's piece as an unmistakably political attack.

It's a profoundly disappointing and dishonest critique as well, failing as it does to grapple with any of the dozens of specific policy matters upon which Cornel West has harshly criticized the entire lack political class of black mayors, black preachers, black legislators and officials and of course the first black president. Michael Eric Dyson on the other hand, is eagerly scrambling for his place in the pecking order of that black political class. Dyson knows that nobody's career, nobody's bottom line has ever negatively affected because they sucked up to a sitting president, or to the next sitting president.

As in his 2012 debate with Black Agenda Report's Glen Ford, (part one here, part two here) all Dr. Dyson can do is throw up his usual “wall of words.” But Dyson cannot defend drone warfare across Africa and Asia. Dyson can't justify the TTP and TTIP, or Obama's Race To The Top program to privatize public schools in black neighborhoods across the country, all of which West denounces. Dyson can't explain Obama's deportation of two million people after he promised them a road to citizenship, or Obama's preventive detention laws or his refusal to prosecute the banksters who crashed the economy. So he talks about West's inflated ego. Dyson cannot defend Obama's arms deals in Africa, his support for GMOs at home, apartheid in Israel or his broken promises to raise the minimum wage early in his first term, or much of anything else, so he hones in on West's love of the limelight and his questionable status as a prophet.

In subsequent snippets, Dyson has inexplicably likened himself in conflict with West to Muhammad Ali. Dyson however lives in upside-down land. Dyson's inability to make winning political arguments on behalf of his masters renders him, like Muhammad Ali's early opponents, unable to lay a glove on the man. Whoever he is, Michael Eric Dyson ain't no Muhammad Ali.

Dyson is closer to Joe Frazier, but without the great champion's generosity, his humility or his integrity, without Joe's hands or Joe's heart. In fact the only part of Joe Frazier Dyson successfully channels is Joe's sense of aggrieved malice, which led Frazier to boast shortly before his death, that when one sees the visible impairment in Ali's face and manner, as Joe says, “I did that.” But unlike Joe Frazier with Ali, Dyson hasn't laid a glove on his opponent.

For Black Agenda Report, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com.. D

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and a state committee member of the GA Green Party.  He lives and works near Marietta GA and can be reached at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.
Direct download: 20150430_bd_west-v-dyson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:05am EDT

Lawless President Obama Chides Baltimore "Criminals and Thugs", Ignores Savagery of Baltimore Police

Lawless President Obama Chides Baltimore “Criminals And Thugs,” Ignores Savagery Of Baltimore Police

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

According to the Baltimore Police Department's own story, all Freddie Gray ever did was make eye contact with a police lieutenant and take off running. In 21st century America, the relation of young black men to the police is such that when you run like a rabbit, cops will chase you like hounds. When the hounds caught 25 year old Freddy Gray they did what hounds do when they catch a rabbit. Baltimore cops snapped Freddy Gray's spine, and they may have inflicted additional torture upon him during a half hour in leg irons in back of a police van after which they finally got around to calling the paramedics.

This kind of simple, elemental savagery is the ordinary everyday state of policing not just in Baltimore but in a hundred other US cities. Black Baltimore knows, just like black Chicago, black Los Angeles and Philly and Birmingham and Jacksonville and Detroit --- they all know that the courts and ballot box provide no credible remedies to the scourge of police violence or the national policy of mass incarceration inflicted upon Americans of African descent.

Our black political class was quick to point to the absence of black faces in high places in Ferguson Missouri. But most Baltimore mayors have been black for a generation, as have many of its top cops. There are black faces in judges' chambers, a mostly black city council and Maryland has a large and active legislative black caucus. Curbing the cops though, is not part of what any of our black political class actually DO.

President Obama is big on poor people remaining peaceful and nonviolent and respecting the law. This is a notion that should either make us laugh out loud, or cry, it's hard to decide which. President Obama you see, also claims the law entitles him to drone-bomb hundreds, perhaps thousands of civilians across Asia and Africa whose names he doesn't even know based upon their “profiles” or their proximity to supposed “terrorists,” also frequently unknown by name. The president, along with his outgoing and incoming attorneys general assure us this is all perfectly legal. We have to take their word for it, because they've made the precise legal language of the rule they says permits this classified – a secret.

Along with the president, Baltimore mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake also drew the line at protesters interfering with the private property of others. This too is a joke. The Baltimore PD is one of hundreds of cop shops that routinely confiscate cash and assets with little or no justification from people for its own use, a runaway policy called asset forfeiture blessed by the incoming attorney general Loretta Lynch. So let's be clear – when presidents and mayors call for “nonviolence” and “obeying the law” and “respect for private property” they're appealing to rules they would not dream of following themselves.

These are the rules the police and prison state makes for its victims, the rules that hounds make for rabbits. If we no longer intend to be hunted by hounds, we have to start by ignoring their rules, as many of our finest young people are seizing the opportunity to do. The most important lesson of Freddy Gray's death may be that it's high time to stop running like rabbits.

 

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

Direct download: 20150429-bd-hounds-n-rabbits.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:40pm EDT

So the One Percent of One Percent Who Own US Politics Include Some Black Faces. Is This A Victory For Us All?

So the One Percent of One Percent Who Own US Politics Include Some Black Faces. Is This A Victory For Us All?

 

By BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

 

One percent of the one percent, about 30,000 individuals account for 42% of all the contributions to political candidates in the US. In most other countries these would be bribes, but in this, the freest country in the world, wealthy have baked their right to bribe into our election law. They've even purchased a Supreme Court ruling – Citizens United – which says their unfettered right to bribe is guaranteed in the Constitution.

 

While America's corporate elite is disproportionately white, nobody I know considers this a victory for white people. So why then, do many African descended Americans insist on celebrating black members of this one percent of one percent as persons worthy of respect and admiration on the part of the rest of us?

 

Former NBA superstar Earvin “Magic” Johnson is a case in point. With business interests all over the country, Magic dropped a quarter million dollar campaign donation on Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and flew to Chicago to get his picture taken with the mayor on the eve of the elction. Magic's payback was an $80 million dollar contract managing privatized custodial services in Chicago's Public Schools, under which he pays those custodial employees, many of them African American far, far less than they once made as direct employees of the public school system.

 

This doesn't make Johnson unique. It makes him one of the gang, a very privileged gang indeed. A recent study by the Sunlight Foundation revealed that corporations get about $760 back from federal, state and local governments for every buck they donate to politicians of the two capitalist parties. The nation's top 200 campaign donors gave $5.8 billion to political campaigns, and got back $4.4 trillion – that's trillion with a T in return between 2007 and 2012. In perspective, during the same period 50 million Americans on social security got only $4.3 trillion. It's all perfectly legal, and in the eyes of some of our black pundit class, admirable, when the recipients are folks like Magic Johnson.

 

Junior Bridgman, another former NBA superstar owns hundreds of Wendys and Applebees franchises, and pays millions every year to lobby state and federal government to keep the wages of his workers nice and low, seven bucks and change for the fast food sector and two dollars and change for the restaurants. Is he an inspiration to young blacks or a scourge on black families?

 

How should we regard the black faces among the one percent of one percent? Are they smart and savvy business people, examples of real black power? Or are they well connected, despicable thieves stealing from the rest of us?

 

It's a question we should ask ourselves more often.

 

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 serves on the state committee of the GA Green Party. Contact him at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.
Direct download: 20150422-bd-one-percent-blacks.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:59pm EDT

We Charge Genocide: 1.5 Million Black Men “Missing”We Charge Genocide: 1.5 Million Black Men “Missing”

We Charge Genocide: 1.5 Million Black Men “Missing”

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

There are more Black men missing from their communities than the combined Black male populations of Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Houston, Washington and Boston.”

A new analysis of population data confirms what has long been obvious to every minimally conscious Black person in the United States: a huge proportion of the Black male population is missing, physically absent from the daily life of the community. Many are prematurely dead, but the largest group has been consigned to the social death of incarceration. According to a study by the Upshot unit of the New York Times, when prison inmates of both sexes are taken out of the equation, there are now 1.5 million more Black women in the country, age 25 to 54, than there are Black men. In some locations – for example, Ferguson, Missouri – there are only six Black men physically present in the community for every ten Black women.

In white America, there is almost no imbalance in gender among the 25 to 54 age group. For every 100 white women, there are 99 white men.

There are more Black men missing from their communities than the combined Black male populations of Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Houston, Washington and Boston. Six hundred thousand of them are in prison, and that’s not counting Black male prison inmates that are younger than 25 and older than 54. The analysts estimate that roughly half, and maybe as many as three-quarters, of the other 900,000 missing Black men have died before their time from diseases and accidents, and that 200,000 are no longer here due to homicide.

The war of attrition is a race war.”

Black life in America does not start out with these bizarre imbalances between the sexes. There is no gender gap among Blacks in childhood. Roughly the same number of boys and girls are born, and the ratio stays stable until the teenage years, when the war of attrition begins mercilessly grinding down the numbers of Black males. How else is this phenomenon to be described except as a war, in which 600,000 are held captive during their most productive years, 200,000 are killed by violence, and most of the rest go to early graves from accidents and diseases that cause far lower casualties among whites.

The data show that U.S. society has become much more toxic for Black men during the very period in which Blacks were supposedly making such fantastic “progress.” The numbers show that the missing-Black-men phenomenon “began growing in the middle decades of the 20th century.” The increasing ratio of Black women to men is primarily a product of the age of mass Black incarceration. The war of attrition is a race war deliberately and methodically initiated by the U.S. government, the effects of which have been devastating to Black society on the most fundamental level: stunting the formation of Black families and the Black American group as a whole by physically removing and eliminating the men.

The data support a totally plausible, factually grounded charge of genocide, based on international law. The U.S. government, through its mass Black incarceration policies of the last half century, has been guilty of a) “deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part,” as well as b) “causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group.”

The facts bear witness to the indictment. So do 1.5 million missing Black men.

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: 20150422_gf_MissingBlackMen.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:14am EDT

The Ascent of Hillary, the $.2.5 Billion “People’s” Candidate

The Ascent of Hillary, the $.2.5 Billion “People’s” Candidate

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

It is the triumph of filthy rich campaign contributors.”

Hillary Clinton just announced that she’s running for president. However, this commentary is not really about her. It’s about a nation of more than 300 million people in which politics has become the sole property and domain of the rich. The rich decided some time ago that Hillary Clinton would be the virtually unchallenged presidential candidate of the Democratic Party. The 48 percent of Americans that express an affinity with the Democratic Party have not yet chosen Clinton. There has been no primary election in any state. But, that does not matter because the selection process that counts occurs in the boardrooms and mansions and private clubs and getaways of the rich. Hillary Clinton and her husband, Bill, have spent virtually their entire adult lives on the millionaires’ campaign circuit, the rich man’s primary. In the process of pleasing the rich, they have become rich, themselves.

Hillary hopes to spend two and a half billion dollars of – mostly – rich people’s money in the 2016 campaign. Wealthy people will be just as generous with the Republican candidate. The outcome on Election Day is absolutely certain: the rich man’s candidate will definitely win, and the people will lose – because they have no candidate in the major parties.

The people are not even in the game; the contest is over before the Democratic Party’s formal selection process even begins. And, when primary season does arrive, it will only be a formality. The menu has already been printed, and Hillary will be the main course for Democrats next year.

Democratic voters can say “Yes” to Hillary, but they can’t say “No,” because the party machinery and the rich men who pay for that machinery will crucify and expel any Democrat who seriously challenges her from the Left.

The Party has always been a scam.”

The Democratic Party’s apologists like to call it a big tent with room for Blacks and browns and gays and labor and peace-loving people. But it’s actually a huge trap designed to contain and politically neutralize the folks who might otherwise turn against the rich. The Party has always been a scam, but at least in the old days it put on a populist show to fool the rank and file into believing that they could actually influence the party’s direction. However, Wall Street is determined that there will be no serious Democratic deviation from the corporate agenda set by Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Hillary Clinton would represent the third Clinton presidency – which, for Wall Street, is just as good as the two George Bush presidencies. Maybe better, because labor and Blacks and that fuzzy cohort called liberals will all think they won the election, when nothing could be farther from the truth. Rank and file Democrats will see the fait accompli of Hillary’s nomination as a sign of unity among Democrats, when in fact it is the triumph of filthy rich campaign contributors. The rich have shown great solidarity in uniting behind a Democratic presidential candidate. Later on, they will unite around a Republican candidate, too. After that, it won’t matter who wins.

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: 20150415_gf_HillaryRuns.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:58am EDT

The Vocabulary of Struggle

The Vocabulary of Struggle

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Can the organizers reboot the momentum of protest.”

The Black Lives Matter mobilization against the brutal guardians of the State proved its militancy in a winter campaign of protests. Hundreds of thousands marched and staged righteous disruptions of the status quo in defiance of the collaborationist Black Misleadership Class and the Black president of the United States. Deep into the cold season, aroused and angry young people dared to confront their persecutors, incarcerators and executioners: the police. It was an organized, disciplined campaign that reached into every region of the United States. And, for the first time in two generations, it seemed possible that a real grassroots Black-led movement might have sprung forth from the pain and fury at Michael Brown’s murder, August 9, in Ferguson, Missouri.

The winter is over, the season has turned, and soon the mass mobilization that desperately needs to become a movement will face the test of sustainability. Can the organizers reboot the momentum of protest, and ultimately bring it to such a fever pitch of intensity – a state of crisis – that the powers-that-be are forced to make concessions they would reject as unthinkable under normal circumstances. Concessions that allow Black people to determine how, and by whom, their communities will be policed.

Relearning Movement Politics

Managing a deliberately escalating social crisis is a gargantuan undertaking. There are no experts; it has been too long since the last mass movement. Conditions of life, including the ways that people communicate with each other, have changed drastically in 40 years. But, if the movement is to succeed, there must be tens of thousands of students of mass mobilization who are eager to major in the study and practice of political confrontation and social transformation – students of all ages, but mainly the youth. They will have to take up the task of dismantling the Mass Black Incarceration State – the New Jim Crow – that was imposed after the last mass movement was shut down, four decades ago.

When there is no resistance, one loses the vocabulary of struggle. The incipient movement that currently calls itself Black Lives Matter has emerged from a political desert, where even many protesters don’t know the difference between “community policing” and “community control of police.” The vocabulary of struggle has been so under-used, that some young folks who put their lives on the line in confrontation with the police, would deny that they’re engaged in politics; they think politics is about voting once every couple of years. And, it has been so long since there was an actual movement to betray, we have not yet invented a word to replace the no longer useful term “Uncle Tom.”

But we will come up with something appropriately insulting, if this nascent movement continues. Some of the phrases that were in common usage in the Sixties might even come back. I’ve always had a soft spot for “the Long Hot Summer.”

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: 20150408_gf_VocabularyOfStruggle.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:09am EDT

Call GA Governor, Prison Officials, Demand End to Deliberate Malnourishment & the "Tier Step Down" Program

Several years after peaceful prison hunger strikes asking for decent medical care, educational programs, an end to the incarceration of juveniles with adults and other reasonable demands, Georgia prison authorities continue to viciously retaliate against past and future dissenting prisoners with what they call Tier Step Down, a program that apparenlty includes deliberate malnourishment of prisoners and other brutal and inhuman treatment.

Call GA Governor, Prison Officials, Demand End to Deliberate Malnourishment & the "Tier Step Down" Program

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by Bruce A. Dixon

Several years after inmate hunger strikes in multiple Georgia prisons in 2010 and 2012, officials at Georgia's Department of Corrections are still imposing vicious and illegal collective punishments. Both inmates who took part in past actions along with those the state thinks might be future threats are all being subjected to something Georgia calls “Tier Step Down.”

Under Tier Step Down, prisoners are doubled up in single cells designed for one person at half rations. They are unable to flush toilets have no access to medical care, educational programs or materials and other elementary human rights. Prisoners are prevented from bringing their grievances before responsible authorities in any meaningful way, and are frequently assaulted by staff when they try.

Kelvin Stevenson is a Georgia prisoner who was made an example after the 2010 hunger strike by Smith State Prison officials who beat him almost to death with a hammer. Stevenson is now confined at the Special Management Unit of Jackson State Prison, not far from where state officials murdered Troy Davis in 2011. He's one of those upon whom Tier Step Down is being inflicted.

In a series of letters published at Atlanta Indymedia, Mr. Stevenson describes the arbitrary and brutal treatment prisoners are being put through. He calls for intervention on the part of those outside the walls to rein in the savagery of prison authorities, for any combination of citizens, their organizations, their elected and appointed officials to take action compelling the Georgia Department of Corrections to treat prisoners with humanity and decency.

A good start would be calling prison officials and respectfully asking that Georgia prison officials unconditionally end the use of deliberate malnourishment, that they begin to treat prisoners in the Special Management Unit decently, allow them medical care, fair evaluations and access to educational materials, relieve their overcrowding and end the inhumane Tier Step Down Program. Prison officials in Georgia, like those across the rest of the vast US prison state are able to do what they do in part because so many of us turn the other way. It's time for all of us to turn toward the prisoners, our prisoners.

Black Agenda Report is asking that you call

  • Georgia Governor Nathan Deal at 404-656-1776;
  • Georgia Dept of Corrections Commissioner Homer Bryson at 404-656-4661
  • and Rick Jacobs, the GA DOC Director of Facilities at 478-992-5101

During business hours on weekdays Eastern Standard Time. When you do, please leave an appropriately respectful message expressing your concern for the condition of Mr. Stevenson and the other prisoners in the Special Management Unit.  Politely express your revulsion at the notion of deliberately malnourishing and withholding medical care from inmates, and ask for the re-evaluation of the Tier Step Down program.

This is a time when your call and a hundred like it truly DOES make a difference.

Do it now.  Please call the governor, call the head of the Department of Corrections, and call the Facilities Director. The three numbers of the governor, of Commissioner Homer Bryson and Rick Jacobs the Facilities Director are 404-656-1776 for Governor Nathan Deal. That's 404-656-1776.

For Department of Corrections Commissioner Homer Bryson the number is 404-656-4661. That's 404-656-4661.

And for Rick Jacobs, the Facilities Director who oversees the Tier Step Down Program the number is 478-992-5101. That's 478-992-5101.

This is Bruce Dixon at Black Agenda Radio. Find us at www.blackagendareport.com.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report and a state committee member of the Georgia Green Party. He can be reached atbruce.dixon@blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20150401_bd_GA_prisoners.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:10pm EDT

Black Is Back Coalition to Hold National Conference on Black Community Control of Police

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

The Mass Black Incarceration regime gains legitimacy through diversity in hiring and the collaboration of the servile Black political class.”

If the Black Lives Matter mobilization is to sustain itself – if it is to go beyond protests against the latest police atrocity and become a full-fledged movement – it must embrace the principle of Black community control of the police. The entire history of the United States screams out that Black people must define and control the processes by which justice is meted out in their own communities. If there is one historical truth that is indisputable in America, it is that Black people have never gotten justice from the U.S. criminal justice system – which is why one out of every eight prison inmates on planet Earth is a Black American.

In the nearly half century since the Black Panther Party described the police as an army of occupation in Black America, we have learned the very painful lesson that inclusion of large numbers of Blacks among the ranks of the police does not change the nature of the occupation. Nor does the naming of Black police chiefs, or the election of Black mayors and city councils – and certainly not the election of a Black corporate president. In fact, the Mass Black Incarceration regime – what Michelle Alexander calls the “New Jim Crow” – gains legitimacy through diversity in hiring and the collaboration of the servile Black political class. Black cops get jobs, but people get no justice, because the mission of the police remains the same: to contain, control and terrorize the Black community. That’s their job. And that will remain the mission of policing in the Black community until the community seizes control of the police.

Civilian review boards are not the equivalent of community control, by any measurement. Most are worthless. At best, such boards respond to police crimes after-the-fact and serve at the pleasure of politicians who are ultimately answerable to wealthy white people.

Black people have never gotten justice from the U.S. criminal justice system.”

So, what would Black community control of police look like? The Black Is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations will hold a national conference in St. Louis, Missouri, on Saturday, April 18 and Sunday, April 19, to examine this crucial issue. If Black people fail to define for themselves the functions and obligations of policing in Black communities, then others will continue to do it for us. The choice is simple: either Black people discipline, direct, and hire and fire the police in their community, or the police continue to beat, kill and terrorize Black people in their own neighborhoods.

The National Conference on Black Community Control of Police will be held at the Janan Academy, at 3625 North Garrison Avenue, in St. Louis. Community organizers and activists from greater St. Louis and across the country will get down to the serious business of changing relationships of power on the streets of Black America, and advancing the cause of Black self-determination.

For more information and to register for the conference, go to the Black Is Back Coalition website. That’s BlackIsBackCoalition.org, for the National Conference on Community Control of Police, April 18 and 19, in St. Louis, Missouri.

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.

What: Black Community Control of Police Conference
When: April 18-19, 2015
Where: Janan Academy, 3625 N. Garrison Ave., St. Louis, MO
Contact: Black is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations, 224-572-9887 www.blackisbackcoalition.org

Direct download: 20150401_gf_ControlPolice.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:43am EDT