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

Why Charleston Shooter Dylan Roof Isn't a “Terrorist” But Maybe Some of Us Are

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

The terms “terrorist” and “terrorism” have never been our words, they've always been deployed by the oppressor against us... ”

There's a lot of noise asking why government officials from the Charleston police chief to the head of the FBI to President Obama refuse to call Charleston shooter Dylan Roof a “terrorist.” Listening closely to their official should make us wonder if that's really a good idea.

As the FBI director explained, the term “terrorist” has a very specific legal meaning in the US. Legally, a terrorist is somebody aiming to influence or change government or corporate (it's hard to tell them apart) policies by breaking the law. By that definition, Dylan Roof, who simply wanted to kill as many black people as he could is NOT a terrorist because the willingness to kill a lot of black people is NOT a change in corporate or governmental policy. Killing lots of black folks has been business as usual ever since Europeans landed in the New World half a thousand years ago.

The Charleston shooter is a deranged kook though, because unlike the Koch Brothers, or R.J. Reynolds, or Aetna Insurance or Bank of America, United Fruit, US Steel or the Massachusetts Bay Company, all of whom filled cemeteries and raked in billions, Dylan Roof did his handful of bodies for free.

On the other hand, if you take a picture of or write a description for publication about what goes on in a food, agricultural or animal processing facility, or you've been protesting the leaky oil pipelines and bomb trains that wind through thousands of communities, the FBI and federally funded fusion centers have no trouble designating you an actual or potential “terrorist,” or what they call an “eco-terrorist.” The #BlackLivesMatter folks who break the law blocking traffic fit the FBI director's definition of terrorism quite neatly, and right now Chelsea Manning is doing 35 years in federal prison for espionage, “aiding and abetting terrorism” by releasing video of US soldiers murdering Iraqi civilians, and handing over cable traffic showing everything from US State Department intervention to keep Haitian wages low to secret US bombing campaigns to US torture and mercenary companies trafficking in children and more to Wikleaks which distributed them to news outlets around the world.

The terms “terrorist” and “terrorism” have never been our words, they've always been deployed by the oppressor against us. The first time I recall hearing about “terrorists” and “terrorism” were was back in the 1970s, when the white colonial regimes of Angola, Mozambique and Rhodesia called the black Africans who took up arms against them and fought for their people's freedom terrorists, and declared they were on the front lines of a global war on terror. Charleston shooter Dylan Roof wore their flag, a Rhodesian flag on his jacket.

The poor and oppressed have never had the privilege of deciding who was and was not a terrorist, because the terrorist has always been a handy construction of the rich and powerful, a construction that justifies Homeland Security Departments, militarized policing and a country with 5% of the world's population spending half the world's military budget on its so-called “global war on terror.” Our government needs terrorism and terrorists to justify itself so badly that FBI and other police agencies constantly manufacture “terrorist plots” in which they ensnare the ignorant and unwary.

So let's get real about this. If breaking the law to change government or corporate policy makes you a terrorist, Martin Luther King, Chelsea Manning, Wikileaks' Julian Asange, anti-pipeline activists and “#BlackLivesMatter protestors blocking roads and streets, and even Boondocks cartoon character and self-confessed domestic terrorist Huey Freeman all pass the test.

Dylan Roof, who wants things pretty much the way they already are only more so, does not.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Bruce Dixon.  Find us on the web at, and subscribe to our free weekly email.
Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report.  He's a member of the state committee of the GA Green party and lives and works near Marietta GA.  Contact him at bruce.dixon(at)
Direct download: 20150617_bd_whos-a-terrorist.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:34pm EDT

Obama Rams Through TPP With Little Democratic Support, Even from Black Caucus

Obama Rams Through TPP With Little Democratic Support, Even from Black Caucus


A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford


Obama delivered a crushing defeat to his own party, and to the health and welfare of all humanity.”


In the weeks before Barack Obama began his first term in office, we at Black Agenda Report described him as a center-right politician, based on the cast of characters he chose for his cabinet and his announcement that Social Security and all entitlement programs would be put on the chopping block under his presidency. Six and a half years later, Obama stands at the far right wing of his own Democratic Party, and – on issues of corporate domination – to the right of many Republicans. Obama’s Trans Pacific Partnership treaty, the 21st century blueprint for global corporate rule, garnered only 28 Democratic votes in a showdown on Capitol Hill, last week. But, backed by 190 Republicans, and all the assets that Wall Street can muster, Obama delivered a crushing defeat to his own party, and to the health and welfare of all humanity. So rotten is the stench of TPP – a treaty so toxic it is a state secret – that only three members of the Congressional Black Caucus were willing to side with the First Black President.


The “Black TPP Three” are: Gregory Meeks, the corporate servant from Queens, New York; Terri Sewell, the sell-out who misrepresents Alabama’s Black Belt; and Eddie Bernice Johnson, the congresswoman from Texas who occupies a special place of shame, since she also voted in favor of the disastrous NAFTA treaty, 22 years ago.


Eddie Bernice Johnson, Recidivist


Back in 1993, Obama’s political mentor, Bill Clinton, crossed over the aisle to lead Republicans to victory over his fellow Democrats in the fight to pass NAFTA, the treaty with Canada and Mexico. Clinton got a much larger share of Democrats to go along with his jobs-killing bill, but most of the party still opposed the deal; 102 Democrats voted Yes, versus 156 that said No to NAFTA. Six members of the Congressional Black Caucus sided with Bill Clinton: Carrie Meek, of Florida; Mel Reynolds, from Chicago, who two years later was forced to resign after a conviction for statutory rape; William “Dollar Bill” Jefferson, the money-man from New Orleans who hid cash in his refrigerator; Floyd Flake, whose New York seat is now held by the thoroughly corrupted Gregory Meeks; Harold Ford, who went on to become George Bush’s favorite Black congressman; and Eddie Bernice Johnson, the only one of the six still in a position to betray more 700,000 of her constituents, in Dallas, Texas.


In the generation since passage of NAFTA, the Black economy has collapsed, largely due to the flight of manufacturing jobs to low wage foreign shores. On Barack Obama’s watch, Black wealth fell to one-twentieth of median white household wealth, making it statistically impossible for African Americans to ever hope to reach parity with whites, short of a revolution. TPP will hasten the pace of social and economic decline in the United States – the real legacy of Barack Hussein Obama.


For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to


BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at




Direct download: 20150624_gf_CBC-TPP.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:16pm EDT

From Roosevelt Island to Rikers Island – Hillary Clinton Can't See Black Mass Incarceration

New York City's Roosevelt Island and Rikers Island are on the same planet, but different worlds. For Hillary Clinton, the suicide of Kalief Browder, a New York city teen imprisoned for 3 years, two in solitary at Rikers who hanged himself on the eve of her inaugural New York City rally, was not important enough to mention before a friendly white audience. Apparently those are discussions reserved for black audiences only, or surrogates.

From Roosevelt Island to Rikers Island – Hillary Clinton Can't See Black Mass Incarceration

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

In the first week of June 2015, young Kalief Browder committed suicide. Browder was arrested at the age of sixteen for the alleged theft of a backpack. Without being tried or even formally charged, Browder spent 3 years down at New York City's notorious Rikers Island complex, two of them in solitary confinement.

Lacking competent legal representation and isolated in part because he was not a member of any street organization, Browder was relentlessly beaten and abused by both staff and inmates during his incarceration. On the outside, in the hopeful estimation of his family and friends, Browder's condition seemed to be improving. Browder had made several prior suicide attempts during and after his time at Rikers, but at the time of his death was attending city college classes, his grades were going up and his panic attacks and other PTSD symptoms seemed to be retreating, until his mother found him hanging from an open window one morning.

Less than a week later, on the same planet, the same city, but in another world just six miles downstream from Rikers, Hillary Clinton kicked off her campaign with a Roosevelt Island campaign rally, eagerly covered by Melissa Harris-Perry and MSNBC. Being an island, Roosevelt Island is not a gated community, it's a moated community, inhabited in large part by UN employees and such, many quite well to do.

Hillary Rodham Clinton is no dummy, and she employs some of the cleverest marketers around to craft her every photo opportunity, appearance and most of the words that come from her mouth. Not much escapes their notice, except of course those matters they deem just not worth noticing. You can bet people on Hillary's team knew who Kalief Browder was. They knew Rikers was just 6 miles upstream, and they knew it wouldn't embarrass the mayor because deBlasio had already acknowledged it. They knew the crowd was Hillary's no matter what she did or did not say.

For Team Hillary, the life and death of Kalief Browder, and hundreds or thousands like him just didn't make the cut. Other points, other matters were too pressing, too urgent.

Since becoming a presidential candidate again in the last few weeks, Hillary has learned to make her lips say the words “mass incarceration.” She's said it more often in the last couple months than Bernie Sanders has in twenty years, but it seems to be one of those things she'll only come out with in front of black and other receptive audiences, as though black mass incarceration and the prison state were the exclusive creations or problems of black and brown Americans instead of something she and her husband expanded dramatically during their last terms in the White House.

As the entire black political class maneuvers to deliver the black vote to Hillary (sometimes through Bernie Sanders in the primary season) it's instructive to note that when their candidate has a free hand and a friendly white audience before which to speak, the prison state and mass incarceration which virtually define the black experience of government are simply not worth mentioning.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at, where you can also subscribe to our free weekly email alerts.


Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report. He lives and works near Marietta GA, where he is a partner in an IT firm and serves on the state committee of the Georgia Green Party. Contact him at bruce.dixon(at)

Direct download: 20150617_bd_roosevelt-island-2-rikers-island.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:36pm EDT

Data Show Cops Growing More Aggressive Against Blacks In Missouri

Data Show Cops Growing More Aggressive Against Blacks In Missouri

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

The cops’ mission is to project police power against Black people as a group.”

New statistics from Missouri show that the racial disparity in police stops, searches and arrests of drivers was higher, last year, than at any time since the year 2000, when Missouri started keeping records. Black drivers in 2014 were 75 percent more likely than whites to be stopped by police, and 73 percent more likely to be searched. In 2013, the year before a Ferguson, Missouri, cop killed Michael Brown, setting off the Black Lives Matter movement, Missouri was stopping Blacks 66 percent more often than they stopped whites. So, in Missouri, at least, the statistics tend to confirm the general impression among Black people that the police are becoming measurably more aggressive in their dealings with African Americans.

Missouri is not widely viewed as one of the more enlightened states, but it is one of only about a half dozen states that keep track of how citizens who are Driving While Black are treated on the states’ streets and highways. Missouri provides the kind of information that civil liberties lawyers in New York City had to spend years in court to force police to provide. The Missouri data show an increase in the already familiar pattern, in which Black people who are stopped are also more likely to be searched than whites who get pulled over, but that whites are almost 50 percent more likely to turn out to be carrying some kind of contraband, usually drugs. Nevertheless, at the end of the stop, Blacks were about twice as likely to be arrested as whites.

Race is the guiding principle of the U.S. criminal justice system.”

The New York Times article on the new Missouri statistics included comments from a professor of criminology at the University of Missouri at Kansas City. Prof. Kenneth Novak was reluctant to draw firm racial conclusions about what the data means, because police tend to concentrate their attention in areas where there are higher proportions of Blacks. Therefore, he finds the numbers “perplexing.” But, Prof. Novak has already answered his own question. Yes, the cops do concentrate their energies in Black areas, and they also place Blacks traveling in white areas under greater surveillance. Their mission is to project police power against Black people as a group, wherever they are. The cops do not work under a similar mission in the white community – and that’s why the whites that do wind up getting stopped are more likely than Blacks to be carrying unlawful goods and substances. Generally speaking, you have to be a relatively wild-looking or badly behaving white person to get stopped in the first place. But Black folks are all fair game, because race is the guiding principle of the U.S. criminal justice system.

White supremacy is the reason that one out of every eight prison inmates in the world is an African American; it’s why there are more people of color in U.S. prisons than in the entire prison system of China, a country with a population four and a half times that of the United States. The Black American Gulag has been built stop-by-stop, frisk-by-frisk, sweep-by-sweep, and through constant racialized surveillance of Black people wherever they go in this country.

There’s nothing “perplexing” about it. Mass Black Incarceration is foundational government policy everywhere in the United States.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to


BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at

Direct download: 20150603_gf_MODrivingWhileBlack.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:15am EDT

The U.S. and Al Qaida in Love and War

The U.S. and Al Qaida in Love and War

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Al Qaida and the U.S. are on the same side in Yemen, just as they are in Syria.”

In Yemen, in Syria, in Iraq and in Libya, the United States is playing out the last bloody chapters of its attempt to dominate the energy basin of the world, through terror. Washington’s policy in the Arab and Muslim world has always been terror: the terror of shock and awe invasion of Iraq, in 2003; the constant terrors inflicted by the “51st State,” Israel, which has waged endless war against its neighbors with impunity for almost 70 years under the U.S. military and diplomatic umbrella; the totally unprovoked terror that rained NATO bombs over Libya for seven months, in 2011, allowing the dark night of jihadism and ethnic cleansing to descend on what had been Africa’s most prosperous country, and then sending these jihadists to commit a similar bloodbath in Syria. The international jihadist network owes its very existence to the United States, which, in a joint venture with Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, spent billions creating the global infrastructure of terror with its headquarters in Afghanistan, starting in the late 1970s.

More than three decades later, the U.S. and its filthy rich royal Arab allies in the Persian Gulf have become totally dependent on the jihadists they have unleashed on humanity. Washington’s virtual sponsorship of the Israeli state, and America’s own epic crimes in the Middle East means the United States has no natural allies among the people. Plus, America’s deep-rooted racism renders it unfit to competently negotiate the services of Islamic jihadists to fight imperialism’s battles. For this – and to pick up a portion of the tab – the U.S. needs the Saudis and other wealthy Arabs.

Fatal Dependence

The Arab kings and emirs are also dependent on the jihadists, since their own armed forces are comprised mainly of mercenaries. The Muslim politician who runs Turkey also relies on the jihadists to fight his war against Syria, since he would risk bringing chaos to his own country – and being ousted from office – if he directly attacked Syria.

The Americans and the Saudis believed they could buy the jihadists’ services, and then discard them when no longer needed. Instead, they have created a Frankenstein, whose Islamic State component has already declared its intention to sweep away the Arab monarchies – along with the Great Satan, the U.S. The other al Qaida branches will also turn against their creators, when the time is right. Who, then, will be left to defend the U.S. empire’s interests in the region?

The CIA recently sent a drone to kill al-Qaida’s top guy in Yemen, in the town of Mukalla. Mukalla’s airport is the only one in Yemen that Saudi Arabia hasn’t bombed, because the Saudis are allied with al-Qaida in their war against the Houthis. In fact, they depend on al Qaida, because the Saudi army is incapable of occupying Yemen. The U.S. is also a critical ally of Saudi Arabia in the Yemen war. Al Qaida and the U.S. are on the same side in Yemen, just as they are in Syria. But, of course, in the long run, their interests are irreconcilable. In the end, the jihadists, who have grown exponentially stronger, will remain a force in the region, the U.S. will be expelled, and royal Saudi heads will roll.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to


BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at

Direct download: 20150617_gf_LoveHateJihadists.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:55am EDT

Arne Duncan’s Patently False Promise to Forgive Student Debts at For-Profit Schools

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

“Enforcers for loan sharks don’t give debt holidays to the masses of victims.”

Arne Duncan, President Obama’s Secretary of Education, claims his department is prepared to forgive the debts of thousands of students who attended the Corinthian Colleges, the for-profit rip-off conglomerate that filed for bankruptcy last month. Duncan chose his words carefully, claiming that the federal government is putting together a process that would forgive the loans of any student who can show that she had been defrauded by any college – Coriinthian or some other school.

Duncan is, of course, lying. His own department estimates it would cost as much as $3.5 billion to provide debt relief to the 350,000 students that have had the misfortune to attend Corinthian schools over the past five years. And Corinthian wasn’t the top dog in the for-profit education scam. Phoenix University, owned by the huge Apollo chain of con artists, had an enrollment of 600,000 five years ago, and still processes the checks of a quarter million victims a year. Forgiving the debts of all the students that have been victimized by the for-profit college industry would cost many tens of billions of dollars – far more than what’s left of the nation’s welfare program. We know that Arne Duncan was making no such commitment on behalf of an administration that loves austerity just as much as the Republicans do.

Arne Duncan is lying when he says the administration will hold for-profit colleges “accountable.” These criminal enterprises are creatures of the federal government. The for-profit school industry has no reason to exist except to suck up federal education moneys while destroying the hopes and credit of desperate, largely Black and brown people. The Education Department acts as the bill collector for the industry, enforcing the terms of student debt. Enforcers for loan sharks don’t give debt holidays to the masses of victims.

“The for-profit education industry will be protected.”

Arne Duncan’s boss, President Obama, knows that the $1.2 trillion national student debt looms as a huge campaign issue, and that his political soul-mate, Hillary Clinton, will need every Black and brown vote to win in 2016. They know that a new movement is emerging, energized by young people who are especially outraged at the astronomical cost of education, including the inferior education provided by for-profit schools, which charge two to four times the tuition of public colleges. The collapse and bankruptcy of Corinthian Colleges brought the issue to a head. Arne Duncan is attempting to deflect the damage by setting up a mechanism to allow former students to petition for debt relief. It’s like a safety valve, but not too much money will be allowed to escape, and the for-profit education industry will be protected from the worst consequences of its crimes.

But, what will replace Corinthian colleges, and the other scam schools that are teetering on bankruptcy? The answer is: more for-profit schools, repackaged and rebranded – because neither the Democrats nor the Republicans have any intention of reinvigorating public education in the United States. For-profit colleges, like charter public schools, are a capitalist’s dream: the public pays the cost, and private corporations make the profits. And the people’s dreams go up in smoke.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at
Direct download: 20150610_gf_CorinthianScams.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:07am EDT