Towards a Reconstruction of the Freedom Movement

by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

In the nearly 40 years since Black America has fielded anything resembling a mass movement, African Americans have forgotten how to speak the language of social change. Language is also central to the thought process. Thus, it becomes more difficult to envision and articulate paths to true social change, as the language atrophies. Into the void step charlatans and snake oil salesmen, who employ vague language of "change" designed to divert and confuse a people seeking the real thing. The Reconstruction Party, initially form by Katrina survivors and their allies, has promulgated a Manifesto that speaks plain Truth to Power. Their goal is to create a Movement that defines and confronts our real enemies.

In the Spirit of Malcolm and Robeson, Indict the U.S. at the U.N.

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

We're sorry, but the audio for this commentary is no longer available
Thursday, February 21, marks the 43rd anniversary of the assassination of Malcolm X. It is appropriate that, on this date, 250 American human rights organizations will challenge the U.S. at the United Nations for violations of the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, a treaty the U.S. ratified in 1994. Arrogant American contempt for the UN does not insulate it from treaty obligations, which have the force of law. This year's treaty-mandated U.S. report to the U.N. refuses to acknowledge the racial disparities witnessed by the whole planet in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the fact of racist police brutality, or the majority non-white nature of the American prison gulag. The challenge to the official American report to the U.N. is also a salute to the legacies of Malcolm X and the great Paul Robeson, who urged African Americans to transform the domestic fight for "civil rights" to a global battle for common "human rights."

Congressional Black Caucus Grades Plummet on War, “Terror” and Trade Bills

by Leutisha Stills, CBC


Votes on three bills have plunged the
Congressional Black Caucus to their lowest collective grades yet, according to
the watchdog group CBC Monitor. For the first time since the CBC Monitor began
tracking the voting behavior of Black members of the U.S. House, no member
scored higher than 80 percent. The "tripwire" bills showed great fissures in
the Black Caucus on so-called Free Trade, willingness to cave to the Bush
administration and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on funding the Iraq war, and on a bill that threatens a witch hunt in
search of the sources of domestic "extremist belief systems" and
violence-inciting "propaganda" on the Internet.

Haiti Genocide a la bonne femme

by John Maxwell


France's Marie Antoinette is said to have
proclaimed, "let them eat cake," referring to the bread-starved peasants of her
country. In Haiti, the rural and urban poor subjugated by the United States,
France and United Nations enforcers have been reduced to a diet of mud cakes -
a menu of death. "The Haitians," says the author, "are giving new meaning to
the phrase ‘dirt poor.'" The yellow clay's nutritional value is almost nil,
providing only the temporary illusion of escape from starvation, while "your
flesh melts away." A tiny elite, totally reliant on the Euro-Americans for
their vast wealth and privileges, converts a proud nation into a death camp in
which the inmates are reduced to consuming their own, sovereign soil.

Minimal Differences Between Clinton, Obama

Review the NAACP's Questionnaire and a Legal Scholar's
Study of Candidates' Campaign Stances


The NAACP and noted legal scholar Vernellia R. Randall
have released, respectively, an exhaustive questionnaire on the Democratic
candidates' positions on issues important to African Americans, and a thorough
analysis of how the presidential aspirants' stated policies will impact the
legal standing of Blacks. Obama and Clinton's positions are remarkably similar,
most often nearly identical in content, if not style. This is not surprising,
since both their advisers - the people who actually responded to the NAACP
and framed their candidates positions on legal issues - are drawn from the same corporatist wing of
the party. BAR invites its readers to review for themselves whether there's a
"dime's worth of difference" between the dueling political twins.

Freedom Rider: Conyers Must Decide

FRConyersQuestionMarkby BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley

The best of icons risk losing their luster, no
matter how well-deserved, if they falter at the gates of greatness. Rep. John
Conyers, the Dean of the Congressional Black Caucus and Chairman of the House
Judiciary Committee, resists all pleas that he begin the process that could
lead to impeachment of George W. Bush and/or Dick Cheney. Although the evidence
of their criminality is overwhelming and both are held in widespread contempt
by most of the population, Congressman Conyers appears to fear impeachment more
than the consequences of his inaction to the nation and the world. "Those
Democrats, especially those on the Judiciary committee, who oppose impeachment
must themselves be opposed."

Obama, Fat Tuesday and the Big Hangover

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

We're sorry, but the audio for this commentary is no longer available.

There was more symmetry than coincidence in the intersection of Fat Tuesday and Super Tuesday. For Black folks, both were celebrations without substance. The good times rolled in a devastated New Orleans, while the empty promise of "change" galvanized African Americans to turn out in overwhelming numbers for a candidate identical to his opponent in all things substantive. ObamaL'aid was consumed in even greater quantities than any inebriates New Orleans could supply. Any analysis that concludes Obama's issue-less contest with Clinton amounts to a "movement" is as vacuous as describing the Mardi Gras as evidence of people "on the move."

The Friends of Fat Albert Wynn vs the Vast Left Wing Conspiracy

by BAR managing editor Bruce Dixonwynn_bush_forclosure

lifelong Black progressive and a groveling tool of corporate power face
off on February 12 – a test of the power of the people to evict those
who subvert their fundamental interest in peace and social justice.
“Fat Albert” Wynn, the mis-Representative from Maryland’s 4th
Congressional District and supplicant to Big Business and nuclear power
money, has stooped to describing challenger Donna Edwards and her
supporters as a “left wing conspiracy” arrayed against him. But Fat
Albert’s desperate contortions cannot shake his past, especially his
status as one of only four Black Caucus members to support War Powers
for George Bush and one of ten who voted for the Republican bill on bankruptcy that has now come
home to roost with millions of mortgage holders.

2008's Ten Worst Places to be Black

by BAR Managing Editor Bruce A. Dixon 

Corporate media, which conceal much about the state of things beyond our borders, work hard to obscure the facts of life for Americans too, including the state of Black America.  In this year of symbolic firsts and "never befores" Black Agenda Report offers a useful index of how life is lived for hundreds of thousands of families in our communities. 

From Slavery to Mass Incarceration, the Role of Prisons in American Society

by Loïc Wacquant

Is America's emerging prison state a revival or an extension of slavery?  Is it "a New Jim Crow"?  Or is it something arising out of those experiences, but significantly different, a brand new phase in the history of African America?  Historian Loic Wacquant here argues that America's reliance upon prison as the principal way of dealing with the black poor marks a qualitatively new stage in the Black experience. First, he says, there was slavery, then Southern rural segregation, followed by the enclosure of the northern ghetto, which has now been succeeded by the world's first carceral state.  Like slavery, Jim Crow and the ghetto, prison has come to define for many of us what it is to be Black in America.

Tiger is More Brand, Than Man

by Mel ReevesTigerInWhite

Tiger Woods, the "Cablinasian" that almosteveryone in America but himself considers Black, refuses to make reference torace "except when he's getting paid tons of cash by the second" and the scriptcalls for it. Pretending to neutrality, he actually "sides with those who say,‘Race is no big deal so let's just get past it.'" The young golfing greatcompares unfavorably with Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown and othersuper-athletes who put their fame at the service of the oppressed. "We want himto stand up and stop acting like he was put together by Buick, with Buickparts, and stop acting like being black and a minority in this country hasnothing to do with him."

Subprime Obama

by Max FraserObamaPrimeeaseOffSheriff

Of the three surviving "viable" Democraticpresidential aspirants, Barack Obama has put forward the weakest response tothe subprime lending crisis. John Edwards proposed "a mandatory moratorium onforeclosures, a freeze on rising interest rates for at least seven years,federal subsidies to help homeowners keep up with payments and restructureloans, and explicit measures to rein in predatory lenders and regulate thefinancial sector." Clinton's plan is voluntary, but includes $30 in federalaide to homeowners and communities. "Only Obama has not called for a moratoriumand interest-rate freeze," reflecting "the centrist politics of his three chiefeconomic advisers and his campaign's ties to Wall Street institutions opposedto increased financial regulation."

Networks Ignore Gulf Coast in Debates

by Jeffrey BuchananGulf9wardStreet

In his State of the Union Address, George Bushoffered one crumb for the people of New Orleans: to bring a one-shot summit onNorth American trade to the city, in April. The moderators and questioners attelevised Democratic and Republican presidential debates have given thesuffering people of the Gulf states even less. "Through fourteen RepublicanDebates, no moderator has asked any Republican Presidential candidates a singlequestion about rebuilding New Orleans and the Gulf Coast." Democratic debatehandlers "have not done much better." ColorOfChange and other activists have organized to ensure that the ongoingdisaster in the Gulf takes its proper place in the debates. This is grassrootscitizen activism at its most basic, and a project that is easily joined.

Bush Bullies the Cringing Democrats, As Usual


A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

On his last presidential legs, singularlyunpopular, and just as stupid as ever, George Bush still manages to make theDemocrats cower. No matter how mountainous the evidence against Bush and hisminions, the faux "opposition" party shudders at the very thought ofBARMarinesIraqimpeachment. They will inherit wars and occupations they were too timid tohalt, and an historical crusade for U.S. global hegemony with which mostDemocratic politicians are in fundamental agreement. Bush could not evensputter for more than a few minutes on the looming economic catastrophe facingthe nation and the world during his State of the Union Address, but theDemocrats are just as clueless. The State of the Nation is: a crude bully is onhis way out; another gaggle of corporate servants prepares to enter.

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Freedom Rider: Progressive Agenda

FRblackVoicesForPeaceby BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley

For progressives, the Democratic presidentialprimary is over; they have no horse in that race. "No one knows if Clinton orObama will be the nominee, but it doesn't really matter." With Rep. DennisKucinich out of the running, and now facing a difficult primary challenge ofhis own, in Cleveland, "movement politics is the order of the day" and "theKucinich impeachment resolutions against Cheney and now Bush must moveforward." Lame duck presidents still retain the power to destroy the planet,and to set in motion policies that corporate Democratic successors will fail todismantle. "Both Obama and Clinton need to be put on notice, before Novemberand after, that business as usual will not be tolerated."

Progressive Shutout: Kucinich Banned, No Real Debate


by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

The corporate-controlled U.S. electoral system is a fine-tuned machine, designed to filter out all voices that challenge the rule of the rich. Dissent is systematically shunted to the margins of American political discourse - even when the dissenters are popularly elected politicians whose views are consistent with huge sectors of the population. Such is the case with six-term Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich, whose campaign stance on withdrawal from Iraq and truly universal health care resonates with large majorities of Democrats, but who has been made to disappear by corporate operatives posing as journalists. The Congressional Black Caucus is complicit in the latest shutout of progressive political thought, through their acquiescence to CNN's ouster of Kucinich from the primary debate.

Super Bowl Slavery

Dave Zirin

Some consider the super-expensive commercials
debuted each year on the Super Bowl as entertaining as the game, itself.
Gaining "official sponsor" status for the game is the corporate equivalent of
winning the Super Bowl ring. However, fans should know that Bridgestone/Firestone, this year's "Official
Tire Sponsor," makes huge profits from the near-slave wages of Liberian
rubber sap tappers and their families. Quotas for rubber tree sap are set so
high, African workers must draft their spouses and children into labor, to
ensure the head of household brings home $3.19 a day. When the workers threw
out the company union, Bridgestone/Firestone refused to recognize the new
union. Beneath Super Bowl cheers, there is a world of tears.


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