Black Agenda Radio Commentaries (Other)
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from a black left perspective.
What Black Lobbyists & CBC Members Mean When They Say “We Are Not A Monolith”

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, and subscribe to our free weekly email updates at That's

Direct download: 20140625_bd_not_a_monolith.mp3
Category:Other -- posted at: 10:23am EDT

White Supremacy and the Central Park 5

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


BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at

Direct download: 20140625_gf_CentralPark5.mp3
Category:Other -- posted at: 10:16am EDT

Are We Passing the “Tipping Point” for Black Habitation in the Cities?

Are We Passing the “Tipping Point” for Black Habitation in the Cities?

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

In Harlem and elsewhere in New York City, the tipping point has clearly been passed.”

Back in the early Sixties, sociologists began to use the term “tipping point” to describe white response to the entrance of Blacks into formerly white neighborhoods. The raw statistics showed clearly that such “tipping points” existed, although sociologists argued about the dynamics of precisely when white exits turned into sudden, wholesale flight. Certainly, real estate agents and developers understood the phenomenon, having set it in motion in city after city in the Forties and Fifties in order to make a killing in the market. So-called “block-busters” played on racist hysteria, buying up white properties at rock bottom and selling them at inflated prices to Blacks desperate to escape densely-packed ghettos. The churning of neighborhoods generated billions in profits and changed the face of America in a remarkably short period of time. Ultimately, whites’ refusal to share urban space with Blacks created an American racial and economic geography unique in the world, in which the Black and brown poor resided in hollowed out, shrunken, capital-deprived central cities surrounded by a belt of suburban white wealth – the exact opposite of the historical world model of urban development.

America, which invented modern white racism through the establishment of Black chattel slavery, had once again been reshaped through the socio-economic dynamics of white racism.

For more than half a century, racial tipping points referred primarily to the behavior of white people, a predictor of white flight, creating new spaces for Black habitation in the cities. But, racism is irrational, as were the socio-economic landscape created by white racism, with whites traveling ridiculous distances to find racially exclusive environments at affordable prices. The corporate class longed for the centralized amenities that only big cities can provide, and finance capitalists looked forward to trillions in added values if only the Blacks and browns could be evicted from urban real estate.

It is more like a purge, an ethnic cleansing.”

Finance capital, corporate muscle, and the political parties that serve them have set in motion the new phenomenon of Black flight from the cities, and white return. Unlike white flight of the previous era, the current Black exodus is mainly involuntary and economic. In reality, it is more like a purge, an ethnic cleansing based on the reality that, in a racist society, the very presence of substantial numbers of Black people brings down the value of land and other assets.

Today, the question in city after city is, What is the tipping point for maintaining Black populations? How many upscale, mostly white people does it take to make a neighborhood, and ultimately whole cities – like San Francisco – unaffordable and downright hostile to Black habitation? In Harlem and elsewhere in New York City, the tipping point has clearly been passed, as it has in Washington DC, and will soon occur in Atlanta. Blacks are under siege – up against the tipping point – in Chicago. Even in cities such as Baltimore, where Black majorities make wholesale purges impractical – for the moment – targeted Black neighborhoods are rapidly tipping. Outrageously, the governor of Michigan proposes to bring in a steady stream of upscale immigrants to dilute the 82 percent Black population of Detroit.

And yet, there is nothing approaching a national Black consensus on a response – which means the political tipping point may have already passed, and the purge of the cities will continue, without effective Black resistance.

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


BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at

Direct download: 20140604_gf_TippingPoint.mp3
Category:Other -- posted at: 1:00pm EDT