Slavery Haunts America’s Plantation Prisons

by Maya Schenwar

Angola Prison isn't "even really a metaphor for slavery. Slavery is what's going on." The plantation prisons of Louisiana, Texas and Arkansas are the closest approximation to America's peculiar institution -  places where involuntary servitude is legal under the 13th Amendment. And like slaves, most Angola prisoners will die on the plantation, "due to some of the harshest sentencing practices in the country." Angola prisoners are paid anywhere from four to twenty cents per hour...and only get to keep half of that." The rest is put away for after their release - a day that most will never see. 

Freedom Rider: America Attacks Russia


by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley

The aggressive U.S. encirclement of Russia threatens a new era of Cold War, fueled by American media hogwash about "poor defenseless Georgians" who "suffered a dastardly, unjustified, sneak attack from the evil Russian bear." It does not phase the U.S. propaganda media that the facts reflect the opposite: "The recent conflict between Russia and Georgia was instigated by the United States and its partner in crime, Israel." Washington's foreign policy fictions are bipartisan. "At his acceptance speech for the Vice Presidential nomination Senator Joseph Biden parroted Bush administration lies almost word for word."

Welcome to the USA, Where All the Classes are Middle

middle-classA Black Agenda Radio commentary by

Glen Ford

Clear, concise and accurate language must be plowed under to make the American political conversation safe for corporate-speak. In place of various classes pursuing their own interests at each other's expense, the USA has been peopled by an all-encompassing "Middle Class."  This bulging super-class is said to include almost everybody - or at least, all the decent people. As a result, "there can be no class warfare." This is quite pleasing to the Ruling Class, which denies its own existence - just as does most of the Working Class, which prefers to call itself Middle.

The Skinny on McKinney

by Gabriel San Roman, Uprising Radio Cynthia_mckinney_presidential_candidacy
What makes Cynthia McKinney run? Uprising Radio’s Gabriel San Roman inquires why she left the Democratic Party and what kind of home she’s found among the Greens, whose presidential banner she carries, this year. “I declared my independence from the [Democratic] national leadership that had made our country so complicit in crimes against humanity, crimes against the peace, crimes against the global community, and crimes the American people,” says the former Georgia congresswoman. “The Green Party can express the views and the values of people who want peace for a change.”

The Four-Day Campaign Commercial

11_obama_lgby Shannon Joyce Prince

If you want to find the Mother Lode of contradictions, go to a Democratic National Convention. "Obama claims he cares about workers yet he has selected Wal-Mart supporter Jason Furman to direct his economic policy despite Wal-Mart's abysmal record on racism, sexism, fair-pay, worker's benefits, the right to unionize, and outsourcing of product manufacturing," writes Ms. Prince, a student at Dartmouth College. "Americans have to decide if they're going to base their votes on research or on candidates' slick four day commercials."

Obama and So-Called Post-Racial Politics

by Linda BurnhamNYTcoverEndBlackPolitics

News of the death of Black politics may be premature. "We will not reach a post-racialist U.S. by announcement or decree," writes the author. "The only way to get there from here is by way of racial justice." Besides, the death of Black politics presupposes the death of white politics, which is alive and kicking. "Racist expression has taken new, coded and perverse form. And the presidential campaign itself provides more than enough evidence that some white politicians recognize the power of race-based appeals."

Community College Students Need Not Apply: Our Reward for Bailing Out the Banks

BronxCommCollegeby Kesi Foster

Higher education is an American Dream, but may become a "Dream deferred" for community college students. The banks are the villains. "The following lenders have started turning away from community college students: Citibank, JPMorgan Chase, SunTrust, and PNC. In the case of Citibank, it has stopped offering loans to all community college students in the state of California," writes the author, a community college student. When the bankers turn their backs on struggling community college students, "does that not mean we should have no problem turning our backs on the banks when they want the government to bail them out? "

Those Who Demand Nothing, Get Nothing

by BAR executive editor Glen Ford



Having made no demands on Barack Obama's presidential candidacy, Black America should expect to reap - nothing. "For the first time since the rebellions of the Sixties, we hardly hear the call for a Marshall-type plan to rebuild the cities - once the near-unanimous, unifying demand of virtually the entire spectrum of Black ‘leadership.'" Obama, who "blames the ongoing Katrina nightmare on ‘colorblind' incompetence...will never lift a finger to derail the slow-motion displacement of gentrification elsewhere in urban America." Is it any wonder that our enemies "confidently speculate on the ‘death of Black politics.'"

Are You Like Me?

7_foot_poet_upright_250wideby Kemet Mawakana, a.k.a. the Seven Foot Poet

Some of us are more conscientious than others, honoring obligations and paying due respects.  Some of us are honest about it, and some not.  The Seven Foot Poet reveals a little of himself, and invites each of us to look within.


FCC Announces 80 City “We're Not Listening” Digital TV Tour

by BAR Managing Editor Bruce Dixon

Digital TV means four to ten times as many channels for each and every broadcaster with no obligations to the public. The FCC quietly awarded broadcasters this colossal gift of public property worth $70-$80 billion during the Clinton administration back in 1996. In the 12 years since, under Democratic and Republican presidents alike, corporate broadcasters and their stooges at the FCC have diligently peddled the cover stories that digital TV is all about the advent of high definition television, and that the only nagging questions are how and whether enough converter boxes will be available for consumers who can't or won't buy brand new TVs.

In a final act of brazen misdirection to conceal this grand theft digital, FCC Commissioners are scheduled to tour dozens of cities between now and February 18, 2009, doing a lot of talking, but not much listening.

Barack Obama and Black American Ethnicity

by Marian Douglas-UngaroAAheritage

The hoopla surrounding Barack Obama's "historic" run for the White House leaves Marian Douglas-Ungaro cold. Barack Obama does not represent her ethnicity. "I am a Black American - a descendant of Africa and the slave trade, a descendant, too, of Europe and of Native people of North America; bred, born and raised in the Americas, specifically the USA." Such is not Obama's ethnic background. "Ethnicity is not solely race, nor vice versa." If Obama is elected president, that will make history of a kind - but he cannot become the first ethnically Black American to hold the office, says the author.

Obama’s Choice of Biden: ‘The Devil Made Me Do It.”

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen FordFlip Wilson - The Devil Made Me Buy This Dress-1

Flip Wilson's comedic character "Geraldine" knew who to blame for her own indiscretions: "The Devil made me do it." The same goes for Barack Obama who, his supporters are quick to explain, is blameless for his political sins and betrayals. The "white folks" made him do it, or "the polls" made him do it - but never the candidate, himself. However, it will be hard to find a devil to blame for Obama's choice of Sen. Joe Biden - "as much a war monger as George Bush" - as his running mate. The fact is, Obama "was never a progressive - he just briefly played one to win points in an Illinois Democratic primary election six years ago." Let the Devil be.

Click the flash player below to hear this Black Agenda Radio commentary.


Cynthia McKinney: Power to the People! Stop the War!

McKinney08The Democratic Party "takes impeachment off the
table," finances "an illegal and immoral war," fails to "even mention
Hurricanes Katrina and Rita survivors in their Congressional agenda for the
first 100 days," and aids and abets "illegal spying on us" - yet has the gall to
call itself the party of "change" and "hope." 
As Democrats prepared their corporate-financed nominating convention,
Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney told protestors: "We declare
our willingness to be radical in pursuit of peace and in our hunger for
justice.  We can see clearly now who the real stickup artists are and
that's why we're in Denver!"

Denver 2008: Hope Is For The Weak

hope_bongby BAR Managing Editor Bruce Dixon
As the Democratic wing of America's permanent ruling party convenes in
Denver, Democrats have dominated the Congress for almost two years.
There are more US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan than in 2006 but no
Democratic deadline to end these useless, predatory wars. 1.1 million
African Americans languish behind bars while the dispossession and
exile of hundreds of thousands of blacks from the Gulf Coast begins its
fourth year. The convention will be a media circus and will culminate with the co-branding of Barack Obama with Dr. King's 1963 "I Have A Dream" speech is intended to establish deep symbolic references between the two in the minds of voters, despite their diametrically opposed politics.
Hope is a
powerful drug indeed.

Obama and the Legacy of the 1963 March on Washington

by Touré F. Reed

The coincidence of the 45th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington and the Democratic national convention is a political PR person's dream. "The Obama campaign is doing its best to co-opt the rally's legacy in its effort to reinforce the notion that the charismatic centrist black politician is operating in the tradition of civil rights leaders past." Electoral campaigns are not social movements, yet the Democratic machinery attempts to conflate the two. The "belief that a single individual can...transform society...has clouded the vision of contemporary pundits, voters, and even activists in this election year."

For America's Scholars Of Race, An Obama Dilemma

Equalityhandsby Jonathan Tilove

Will Barack Obama's presidential candidacy amount to a net positive for race relations in general and African American fortunes in particular? There is no consensus among scholars, interviewed by the Newhouse News Service. "Barack Obama, if elected, could be the salvation of a country in free flight failure," said Derrick Bell, a professor of law at New York University.  University of Michigan professor Angela Dillard calls Obama's avoidance of racial issues "an odd paradox that this will shrink even further any kind of public space to talk about race," while Brown University's Glenn Loury warns that Blacks are "voting for the end of affirmative action and they don't even know it."

Some Prisoners Declared Innocent, But Not Freed

by Maya Schenwar

HandsOnBarsSometimes being innocent doesn't mean a damn
thing. Former Black Panther Albert Woodfox's 35-year-old conviction in a prison
guard killing was overturned last month, but the Louisiana Attorney General is
keeping Woodfox locked up until a new trial can be arranged - no matter how
long that takes. This, despite the fact that Woodfox's allies include Rep. John
Conyers (D-MI), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and a number of
sympathetic judges. In America, a judgment of innocent isn't a Get Out of Jail
Free card.

What Racism Does to White People

by David WeinerWhiteRacism

"Authoritarianism, the soil of racism, makes dominant
white culture in the United States an easy pawn of fascism." So said
social-psychiatrist Erich Fromm and others who argued that racism "renders its
proletarian benefactors passive and weak, ready to coalesce into angry or
obedient mobs but unable to pursue the goals of a self-actualized citizenry."
The U.S. has been a nurturing culture for white racism, an environment that
taught young whites to believe that, "If black people, or brown for that
matter, did poorly it was because of bad attitude, poor parenting, and cultural


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