Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from a black left perspective.
Black Agenda Radio for Week of December 28

Black Agenda Radio for Week of December 28, 2015

Ideology and Practice for the New Movement

The Black Radical Tradition is alive and kicking in the 21st century, said Dr. Anthony Monteiro, an organizer and keynote speaker for a conference titled “Reclaiming Our Future: The Black Radical Tradition in Our Time,” set for January 8 through 10 at Temple University, in Philadelphia. “We observed in the framework of the anti-police state Blacks Lives Matter Movement a need for, and a call for, a conference that would address ideological as well as practical issues,” said Monteiro. “The Black Radical Tradition is alive and on the verge of reasserting itself.” Other keynoters include Angela Davis, Cornel West, Charlene Carruthers and Vijay Prashad.

U.S. Imperialism No Longer Seen as Unbeatable

“You’ve got a whole generation who’ve seen North Korea, Iran, [Hugo] Chavez and other people around the world tell the U.S. to stuff it,” said Omali Yeshitela, chairman of the Black Is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations. “The appearance of absolute world dominance has been fractured,” he said. “The proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back” in Black America came in August, 2014, with the rebellion in Ferguson, Missouri.

Teacher’s Death Prompts Call for Community Control of Police in DC

The mother of Alonzo Smith, a 27 year-old Southeast Washington DC teacher who died at the hands of private Special Police, said she’s not interested in wasting time trying to get the U.S. Justice Department to intervene in the case. Netfa Freeman, an organizer for Pan African Community Action (PACA) said Beverly Smith supports their effort to bring her son’s case before the United Nations. “We feel that the only way to stop” police killings of Blacks “is community control of police, in line with the call from the Black Panther Party in the 1960s,” said Freeman.


Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network is hosted by Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey. A new edition of the program airs every Monday at 11:00am ET on PRN. Length: one hour.


Direct download: BlackAgendaRadio_20151228.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:12pm EDT

2016's New Years Revolution…  Time To Lose Some Old Habits, Gain Some New Ones

2016's New Years Revolution… Time To Lose Some Old Habits, Gain Some New Ones

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

The world view, class outlook and methods of nonprofit organizations have dominated the landscape of the US left for so long most of us are hardly aware of them. Movement elder Warren Mar, in this week's Black Agenda Report sheds some useful light on those matters in his indispensable article “Why Nonprofits Can't Lead the 99%” sketching some of the effects and outcomes of the of the nonprofit ground rules and mindset upon unions and community-based organizations.

Wherever the habits and world view of the nonprofit world came from, it wasn't the peoples movement.

Things were hard everywhere eighty years ago during the Great Depression. People were starving. Unions were often illegal, there was no minimum wage or social security, no anti-discrimination laws or unemployment insurance, and Jim Crow was the letter of the law. Still, people managed to organize, to fight the power and to win some important victories, pretty much without the kinds of single-issue organizations people nowadays regard as essential.

So where did that model come from? The single-issue organization seems to be a creature of the 1960s and 1970s, a kind of blocking response to a broad based movement on the part of elite funders. They know nobody's going to an anti-pollution meeting on Monday, a housing meeting on Tuesday, a school meeting on Wednesday, a police and prison meeting on Thursday and so on. And if all of them are in competition for the same funding dollars, so much the better.

Similarly, the nonprofit models of “movement” or advocacy organization led by self-selected, usually college educated executive directors, senior staff and self-perpetuating boards of directors with heavy representation from philanthropic funders are creations of funders, not of members or of a broad mass-based political movement.

If membership is defined in these sorts of organizations at all, it might consist of people who pay dues, or people who show up at meetings or just people on a mailing list. Rarely do members get access to anything like transparency on how funds are handled, or have the power to replace their shot calling directors and board members.

Truth is, the nonprofit model is anti-democratic, top-down and ideally suited to what Adolph Reed calls the broker type of leader, the unaccountable spokesperson purporting to be the mouthpiece of some united mass constituency with no real power over its alleged leader. Energetic and charismatic leaders of nonprofit organizations often sustain impressive mobilizations, at least over a short time, but they inevitably fall short on educating their members out of dependence on self-selected or funder-selected leaders (if they define members at all) and on expanding the base of their leadership. Nonprofit formations can make impressive use of Facebook and social media too, but these are mobilizing tools allowing you to communicate with other activists, those who already agree with you, not organizing tools one can use to identify potential leaders and win over audiences who don't already agree.

Dependence on the nonprofit model is all that Democratic party honchos desire from the left. They just need an election day mobilization. But if the vision of our movement extends to taking power, we have to train a broad base of people to wield power over their own organizations, and to contend for power over their lives, their economies, their communities with those who have that power now.

With only a week left in 2015, and a world still to win it's time for a new years revolution. It's time to drop the habits of the nonprofit world, time to raise up organizations accountable to well-defined memberships. It's time to focus on expanding our base not talking to other activists on Facebook, not on keeping the same few leaders out front of the same few hundred demonstrators. That's the difference between mobilizing and organizing.

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

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report and co-chair of the GA Green party. Reach him via email at brtuce.dixon(

Direct download: 20151223_bd_new-years-revolution.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:13pm EDT

Single Payer Health Care Still More Popular Than Obamacare

Single Payer Health Care Still More Popular Than Obamacare

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

“With every year, more and more companies and jobs are tied directly to the cash flow of the privatized system Obama created.”

Boosters for the Obama administration claim that his Affordable Care Act is a legacy that qualifies Obama for permanent residence in the pantheon of progressive domestic policy presidents, like Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson. Black Agenda Report takes the opposite position: that, in 2009, newly-elected President Obama set the cause of universal health care back many years with his surprise endorsement of a Republican health insurance plan, hatched in the bowels of the Heritage Foundation in the 1980s and championed by GOP presidential candidate Bob Dole in 1996 and Massachusetts Republican Governor Mitt Romney shortly thereafter. Obama’s bill was written by the health insurance and pharmaceutical corporations, and brutally imposed on the Left wing of the Democratic Party, whose members were threatened with loss of party campaign support if they resisted.

Cleveland Congressman Dennis Kucinich was the last holdout for the so-called Public Option, a scaled down alternative to Obama’s corporate-based scheme that finally disappeared altogether – as did Rep. Kucinich’s seat in Congress, which was redistricted out from under him.

The White House justified its abandonment of Single Payer health care, claiming compromise was necessary in order to get Republican votes. But the Democrats controlled both Houses of Congress, and Obamacare passed without a single Republican vote.

As a consolation for the loss of the Public Option, Obama offered to create non-profit health insurance co-ops in the various states. However, more than half of these co-ops have gone out of business in an environment dominated by cut-throat health care capitalists.

“Majorities of Americans still support Single Payer health care.”

Our biggest concern seven years ago was that Obama was setting in concrete the corporate role in health care, planting the insurance and drug companies right smack in the middle of a multi-trillion dollar river of federal money – and that it would take decades to pry their profiteering hands loose. We still feel that way. With every year, more and more companies and jobs are tied directly to the cash flow of the privatized system Obama created. As Bruce Dixon has warned, conservative judges are increasingly likely to rule that rolling back corporate pillaging of health care would constitute an illegal “taking” and seizure of reasonably expected profits. Under Obama’s Trans Pacific Partnership trade rules treaty, the corporations would win.

Therefore, it is encouraging that majorities of Americans still support Single Payer health care, in the form of Medicare for All. A new Kaiser Poll shows 58 percent of the public are in favor of Medicare for All, including 81 percent of Democrats. That’s only slightly below the high mark of Single Payer support in the months before new President Barack Obama announced that he wasn’t really talking about Single Payer when he used the term “universal coverage” – he meant universal payment to private corporations, under penalty of law. His plan, Obamacare, remains less popular than Medicare for All. Obama’s legacy is that he has made it far more difficult to dislodge the corporations from their parasitic role in U.S. health care.

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

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at
Direct download: 20151223_gf_SinglePayerStillPopular.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:41am EDT

Nigerian Military: “The Real Boko Haram”

Nigerian Military: “The Real Boko Haram”

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

The Nigerian military has long been suspected of manipulating Boko Haram to its own ends.”

Hammad Ibrahim, a soft-spoken, intelligent young man, accompanied his father, Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky, the leader of Nigeria’s Shia Muslims, to a conference on Solidarity with Palestine, in Beirut, last week. I was there, along with other reporters and activists. Young Hammad told our group that Boko Haram, the Nigerian jihadists, are terrorist thugs who get their weapons and money from both Nigerian and foreign donors, just like the Islamic State, with which Boko Haram is aligned. Hammad’s father, Sheikh Zakzaky, is recognized as a force for reconciliation among the various religious and ethnic groups in Nigeria. But Zakzaky’s Shia followers have been targeted by both Boko Haram and the Nigerian military, which has long been suspected of manipulating Boko Haram to its own ends. The Nigerian army killed three of the Sheikh’s sons in 2009 during a march against the Israeli occupation of Jerusalem.

By this weekend, Hammad was also dead, killed by the Nigerian military shortly after he arrived back in the country in a massacre of unarmed Shia Muslims that left his father with bullet wounds in both hands. The military claims the Sheikh’s followers were plotting to kill the army chief of staff when his motorcade was blocked by demonstrators. But, it was pure murder on a massive scale, with as many as 1,000 dead and two hundred bodies piled up at a morgue on the outskirts of town. The military then bulldozed a Shia shrine and Sheikh Zakzaky’s home. One of the Sheikh’s followers, Bukhari Muhammed Bello Jega, wrote on his Facebook page that “the REAL BOKO HARAM is now on the loose” in form of the Nigerian army, “bombing buildings and killing innocent civilians.” Soon after posting that message, Mr. Bello Jega was also killed by soldiers, along with his wife and infant child.

It was pure murder on a massive scale, with as many as 1,000 dead.”

It is not strange at all that the Nigerian military, which for years did little to halt the rise of Boko Haram terror, has unleashed a hell on earth for peaceful Shia Muslims. Saudi Arabia, the fountainhead of funding for jihadists all over the world, has just formed its own bizarre coalition against terror, made up of 34 nations from Pakistan to sub-Saharan Africa, including Nigeria and its West African neighbors Chad, Togo, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Gabon, Guinea, and the Ivory Coast. For the Saudis to be leading a war against terror is like the Pope leading a war against Catholicism. Everything the Saudis touch turns into terror and chaos. The Saudi brand of Wahhabist Islam calls for the eradication of Shia Muslims and secular governments, worldwide – a crusade that the United States finds convenient to its own imperial purposes. When both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton say that Arabs and Muslims must fight their own war against terror, they are actually endorsing Saudi Arabia’s leadership of the Muslim world and the spread of proxy jihadist armies throughout Africa and Asia.

West Africa is the next front in these jihadist wars, which have already claimed so many of Sheikh Zakzaky’s sons. The resulting chaos will be used to justify further U.S military penetration of the African continent, under the pretext of putting out the fires that they themselves have set.

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

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at



Direct download: 20151216_gf_NigerianMilitaryJihad.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:44pm EDT

Dyson's "Yes She Can" Is A Lazy Shameless Official Spokesnegro Audition Tape

Dyson's “Yes She Can” Is A Lazy, Shameless Official Spokesnegro Audition Tape

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by Bruce A. Dixon

Michael Eric Dyson's shamelessly lazy and hazy 6600 word pro-Hillary Clinton screed titled “Yes She Can” passed without much notice in black America last week. That's chiefly because everybody knows Michael isn't even talking to us. He has to talk about us at some length of course, but he's mainly talking to his prospective employers, the folks he wants to be his new bosses.

If Dyson were actually speaking to black America, a “Yes She Can” piece would bear the insupportable burden of explaining to black folks just what good Hillary can or is likely to do, and why she deserves black support. Dyson knows better than to tackle that kind of heavy lifting this early in the game, before his own status is secured, and before the choice is narrowed down to Hillary and some Republican.

“Yes She Can” is the latest in the long running series of Michael Eric Dyson audition tapes for one of the Official Spokesnegro spots that open up on MSNBC and similar places with every Democratic administration. Michael didn't make the final cut for the Obama era, but is making a strong bid in what he hopes will be the administration of Hillary Clinton.

In the tradition of lazy employees with lazy bosses, Dyson demonstrates his loyalty by not contradicting or criticizing his prospective boss in any way, and telling the new bosses exactly what Dyson imagines they want to hear.

Thus he begins by pronouncing the Obama presidency one of the most consequential of all time, but again, without the bother of explaini

ng how or why. Next Dyson absolves Hillary from any racial sin, deeming her problems all in the eyes of beholders, mere perception. After that he affirms the new boss's outdated wisdom that preachers are after all, the real leaders of black America, and plays his own preacher card to affirm insider status in that charmed circle. According to Dyson, black preachers up to and including Rev. Jesse L. Jackson himself have forgiven Hillary's offenses, real and imagined, and with her ghetto pass thus properly stamped, she's good to go.

Finally he has a few noncommittal words to say about #BlackLivesMatter, nothing hostile or dismissive, and praises Hillary's own rapproachment with its leaders and spokespeople.

All in all “Yes She Can” is a classic performance. It insults nobody, it tells no new truths, it pretends to be reportage and bigs up the narrator and most importantly of all, it butters up the prospective bosses by telling them what they think they know already as if it's newly discovered truth.

Bill Clinton, Dyson says, gave black America “bad policy” and Barack Obama “no policy”. So it stands to reason, or whatever rules Dyson's world that Hillary will give black people “good policy”.

No wonder “Yes She Can” was barely noticed by black people. He wouldn't dare tell us nonsense like that. Everybody knows Michael is talking to his next set of bosses. We wish him good luck on his job interview.

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

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and a Chicagoan now living in exile near Marietta GA. He's a member of the state committee of the GA Green Party and can be reached via email at bruce.dixon(at)

Direct download: 151209_0243.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:56pm EDT

Youth Leads the Struggle in Chicago

Youth Leads the Struggle in Chicago

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

If left to their own devices, the Black Misleaders will smother the movement in proceduralisms and other diversions.

Chicago Sun-Times columnist Lynn Sweet said she hadn’t seen Mayor Rahm Emanuel so shaken in 20 years, as when he was forced to fire his police superintendent, Garry McCarthy, this week. It seemed as if the protective shield of Black Misleadership Class collaboration that has for the last 30 years insulated white mayors from the wrath of Chicago’s outraged Black rank and file, had suddenly been stripped away. Black ministers joined militant youth in marching down the city’s “Magic Mile” Michigan Avenue shopping district, demanding that heads roll for hiding video evidence in the death of 17 year-old Laquan McDonald, shot 16 times by Officer Jason Van Dyke. For 400 days, Cook County States Attorney Anita Alvarez refused to indict the cop, or release the police dashboard video of the shooting, or to explain why another critical video had apparently been destroyed. Alvarez finally bowed to pressure – and a court orderindicting the cop for first degree murder and releasing the death video.

But the community’s rage could not be contained. The Black Caucus of Chicago’s Board of Aldermen demanded that Police Superintendent McCarthy resign. So did Rev. Jesse Jackson and even Bobby Rush, the sell-out Black Congressman who has been a dependable servant of the Emanuel administration. The strength of the movement in Chicago can be measured by the fact that so many elements of the Black collaborationist political class have been forced to take a stance in opposition to Mayor Emanuel and the white corporate forces that he represents, and ultimately to compel the mayor to fire his favorite cop. However, if left to their own devices – if allowed to seize control of what is essentially a Black youth political rebellion – the Black Misleaders will smother the movement in proceduralisms and long, drawn out studies and compliant advisory boards and all manner of other diversions, as they have always done. That’s their job, as the Black junior partners in the permanent white corporate state.

Righteous, Transformative Demands

The young people that the are soldiers of this struggle understand that movements are defined by their demands. In a joint statement by the Black Youth Project 100, We Charge Genocide, Assata’s Daughters, the #LetUsBreathe collective, and a Black Lives Matter chapter, they declared that “Indicting cops does not change the policies that promote the violence and trauma inherent in the Chicago Police Department.” They want Rahm Emanuel’s resignation, too. The Black Youth Project also demands defunding of the Chicago police, and investment of those dollars in the Black community. They call for reparations for slavery, Jim Crow and mass Black incarceration; an end to all profit in the criminal justice system; a guaranteed income for all; a federal jobs program, and freedom from discrimination for all workers; and an end to displacement of Black people through gentrification.

These are demands for social transformation – demands that will put the young activists on a collision course with the Black Misleadership Class who are the first line of defense for the white ruling class, and who will soon close ranks in Chicago and elsewhere to try to stop this movement.

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

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at
Direct download: 151202_gf_ChicagoYouth.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:31am EDT

Black Agenda Radio for Week of December 1, 2015

Black Agenda Radio for Week of December 1, 2015

Two Rights Groups Refuse to Sign Off on Sentencing “Reform” Bill

Legislation is moving through the U.S. House and Senate that would retroactively shorten sentences for crack cocaine possession and, its backers claim, substantially roll back mandatory minimum sentences for other crimes. However, the National Urban League and Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) are refusing to give their blessing to the Sentencing Act, which actually expands the list of crimes subject to mandatory prison terms. The bill “will have a disproportionate effect on minority communities,” according to FAMM president Julie Stewart. “They have created a new class of crime that can now trigger” a sentence of 25 years, she said. Gun possession and crimes of domestic violence would also carry mandatory penalties.

New Film in the Works on Black Panther Party

Former Black Panther Party chief of staff David Hilliard and Emmy Award-winning director Dante James hope to have a documentary on the party completed in time for the 50th anniversary of the BPP’s founding, next September. “Our film is not going to be a response or reaction” to The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, directed by Stanley Nelson, Jr. and distributed by PBS. “For many, many years,” said James, “the corporate media has defined the Black Panther Party from the outside-in.” This time, the party will by defined, not by “fringe or part-time party members, but by people who were there from the very beginning, who knew and worked with Huey P. Newton.”

First Cop Goes on Trial in Freddie Gray Killing

The manslaughter trial of Baltimore police officer William Porter began on Monday, the first of six cops charged in the death of Freddie Gray, last April. Porter drove the police van in which Gray was fatally injured. Jill Carter, a Maryland state legislator and lawyer, told The Real News Network that some of the cops should have been charged with murder. “We all saw in the video that an assault happened prior to Freddie Gray ever being placed in the van,” said Carter. “If there was an illegal arrest that was contemporaneous with an assault, I would argue that would be first degree assault and attempted murder, with cumulative charges for everything that happened after that.” Baltimore erupted in street rebellion in the wake of Gray’s death.


Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network is hosted by Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey. A new edition of the program airs every Monday at 11:00am ET on PRN. Length: one hour.

Direct download: BlackAgendaRadio_20151130.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:55pm EDT