Moving Left, Back to the Radical Root

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

The Black Radical Tradition must still be alive and kicking, having drawn hundreds of activists and scholars to a conference, this weekend, in Philadelphia. The gathering was adamantly anti-capitalist and “infused with the spirit of accountability.” Dream Defender Umi Saleh described social media as “an asylum for neoliberalism” and veteran organizer Jamala Rogers noted: “You can’t have a principled debate in 140 characters.”


Using Lebron James and the Oregon Occupation to Understand White Supremacy

by Danny Haiphong

Super-rich Black athlete Lebron James “chose to protect both his privileges and those of his bosses by refraining to comment on the blatant injustice of the Tamir Rice case.” The “class character of white supremacy in the U.S.” is even more dramatically evident in rural Oregon, where a “gun-toting white mob has seen their actions protected by the very government it claims to protest.”

100,000 NYC School Children Face Airport-Style Security Screening Every Day

by Cecelia Reyes, ProPublica, and Jenny Ye, WNYC

Every day, more New York City public school kids pass through metal detectors and undergo head-to-toe pat-downs than the traffic through Miami International Airport. “The daily ritual is borne disproportionately by students of color; black and Hispanic students in high school are nearly three times more likely to walk through a metal detector than their white counterparts.”

Clinton Email Shows that Oil and Gold Were Behind Regime Change In Libya

by Washington's Blog

Hillary Clinton’s “private” email correspondence with Middle East wheeler-dealer Sidney Blumenthal discusses France’s motives in pushing for a NATO attack on Libya, in 2011 – including Muammar Qaddafi’s intention to use Libyan gold to “provide the Francophone African Countries with an alternative to the French franc (CFA).” Meanwhile, the Sunni Arab monarchies were eager for war because most of the region’s oil lies in Shia-populated territory.

Usurious: Bank Overdrafts are Like Payday Loans

by Devon Douglas-Bower

The nation’s biggest banks make huge profits from checking overdraft fees that effectively force “the poor to subsidize the rich.” The policy actually amounts to a kind of payday loan scheme that avoids laws against usurious interest rates. “Those without enough money to make ends meet until the next payday are effectively given a cash advance by being able to overdraw their account.”

Black Agenda Radio for Week of January 11, 2016

Philadelphia Conference Reasserts Black Radical Tradition

Hundreds of activists, academics and organizers from around the country descended on Temple University, in Philadelphia, January 8-10, for a conference titled “Reclaiming Our Future: The Black Radical Tradition.” The multi-generational crowd heard presentations from Angela Davis, Cornel West, Anthony Monteiro and Charlene Carruthers, of Chicago’s Black Youth Project 100, and took part in panel discussions on the widest range of issues, from war and peace, to police and prisons, to gentrification, queer resistance, and emancipatory culture.

A Devastating Critique of Campaign Zero’s DeRay McKesson

At a panel on “Challenging White Supremacy,” Umi Saleh, the Dream Defenders activist formerly known as Phillip Agnew, said social media provides “an asylum for neoliberal the expense of building real community power.” Saleh blasted Campaign Zero leader DeRay McKesson for “counter-revolutionary and anti-movement” agitation against building grassroots organizations. Too often in social media, “We aren’t fighting white supremacy,” he said, “we are vying for virtual validation.” Twitter-based social media activists like McKesson are “crowned” leaders, but have no notion social responsibility. “Social media cannot replace the work that organizers must do,” said Saleh.

Accountability, New Leadership and Socialism

Veteran organizer Jamala Rogers, author of the new book Ferguson is America: Roots of Rebellion, agreed that “you can’t have a principled debate in 140 characters” on Twitter. “We hold white supremacy accountable, but we don’t hold ourselves accountable,” she said. Activists must address critical questions, such as “Where are the working class leaders that we are developing as a movement?” and “Why aren’t we projecting our aversion to capitalism?” Bernie Sanders, a “gray haired, old white man,” openly espouses socialism, “but we’re scared,” said Rogers.

Fight White Supremacy, Defeat Capitalism

Longtime activist, UCLA history professor and author Robin D.G. Kelly pointed to the “democratic revolutionary vision” of the 1960s National Welfare Rights Organization, the Black Panther and Young Lords parties, and even the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, which in 1964 called for a national minimum income, an end to the draft, withdrawal from Vietnam and a boycott of South Africa. Later, however, Black elected officials “helped manage the transfer of wealth to the rich” and promoted schemes for “multiculturalism and diversity” which, ultimately, “do not disrupt white supremacy.” Said Kelly: “You cannot wage an assault on white supremacy without fighting against capitalism.”



Why the Feds Punk Out When Confronting White Rightwing Insurgents

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

When a criminal justice system born in Native American genocide and Black slave patrolling finds itself in conflict with conservative white Christian landowners, it short-circuits. “The Mass Black Incarceration State was designed to pre-empt any insurgency by Black people” – but is wholly unprepared to handle armed revolt from the white Right, from which it also draws much of its police manpower.


A Minimal Demand: Roll Back Incarceration to 1970 Levels

by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

Prison populations have increased more than seven-fold since 1970, when the mass Black incarceration regime was set in motion. If incarceration was rolled back to 1970 levels, 86 percent of current prisoners would be released. Let’s demand it be done – NOW! “Demands are not formulated to woo or seduce Power, or to convince the authorities of the reasonableness of your cause, but to prevent those in power from successfully changing the subject.”

Freedom Rider: Black Community Control of the Police and the Politicians

by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley

Like macabre clockwork, prosecutors and their grand juries refuse to indict killer cops – most recently in the case of Tamir Rice. The Black response has been woefully inadequate. “Every announcement of a killer cop going free sets off a sad parade of ultimately useless activity.” These atrocities will not cease until “the police know they will answer for their crimes” and passive Black politicians are “consigned to political oblivion.”

The Hidden Colors of Frances Cress Welsing’s Historical Legacy

by R.L. Stephens II

Many are mourning the passing of Dr. Frances Welsing, whose melanin-based genetic pseudo-science found an eager audience among several generations of Black Americans. Her theory of genetic warfare is, in fact, a profoundly counter-revolutionary “impediment to Black liberation” that will “continue to plague Black political efforts years after her passing.”

New Year, Same Crisis: Prepare for Imperialism's Terror and Carnage in 2016

by Danny Haiphong

“Happy New Year” means something totally different to the Lords of Capital and their military goons. “The ruling class's resolution for the New Year is to increase the misery of the people and enrich itself, even as the system moves more and more toward collapse every day.” Wall Street’s power is also sustained by the Mass Black Incarceration State, whose mission is to contain and terrorize “those whose labor is no longer necessary for production.”

And We are Not Saved: Blacks and Climate Change

by Bryan K. Bullock

Climate change will multiply the scourges that afflict Black people. “Black lives have always been vulnerable, expendable and exploitable under a capitalist, white supremacist, imperialist system, and climate change will exacerbate our vulnerability, expendability and exploitation.” Yet, “the fate of the planet is not even a topic of sermons in black churches.”

Nigeria Massacre: The Islamic Movement and Its Discontents

by Navid Nasr

On December 12, as many as 1,000 people were gunned down in the streets and in their homes in the northern Nigerian city of Zaria. They were Shia Muslims, defenders of the rights of Palestinians and critics of corruption in Nigerian society and the brutality of the country’s military. Three governments “exercise a great deal of power over the Nigerian economy, society and body politic: Israel, the US, and Saudi Arabia.”

Black Agenda Radio for Week of January 4, 2016

Building a Black “Movement” from the Current “Momentum”

Dr. Cornel West, the nation’s best known Black public intellectual and a keynote speaker at this weekend’s conference on the Black Radical Tradition, at Philadelphia’s Temple University, said Black America is not yet experiencing a mass social movement. “I would say it’s significant motion and momentum that can become a movement if we can sustain it. We’ve got a significant number of brothers and sisters who have broken the back of fear,” said West, a co-founder of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network. The path to a full-blown movement starts “with the criminal justice system, and we connect it to mass unemployment, mass underemployment, then connect it to a critique of capitalism and a critique of empire.”

Chicago’s Mayor Failing the “Pacify the Blacks” Test

Rahm Emanuel “is not doing his job,” said activist, scholar and author Paul Street. “One of the main jobs for a mayor of Chicago, frankly, is to keep the Black community in line and non-rebellious, so that downtown finance and real estate interests can continue their endless gentrification and expansion, free of disturbance.” Calls have intensified for Emanuel’s resignation or recall from office for covering up police crimes against Blacks.

Obama to Press for TPP in State of the Union Address

President Obama will “make a very big push” for congressional passage of his Trans Pacific Partnership corporate trade treaty in his January 12 State of the Union Address, said Kevin Zeese, of Popular Resistance. However, Zeese believes TPP can be defeated. “We’re going to have our people out in force on-line, in the Twittersphere and social media, getting out the facts, because we expect a lot of dishonesty from the president,” said Zeese, who notes that the top Democratic and Republican candidates to succeed Obama oppose TPP.

The Semantics of Terror

On January 25, the U.S. and its allies will meet with the government of Syria and its Russian ally to discuss which of the West’s jihadist proxy armies might be considered legitimate players in any future peace process. Washington considers all of the armed groups except ISIS and al-Qaida to be “moderate rebels.” Sara Flounders, of the United National Anti-War Coalition (UNAC), said: “They asked Saudi Arabia to head up the countries that will be vetting these terrorist groups. Now, who is most directly responsible for the arming and funding – from ISIS on through – of terrorist groups operating in Syria and Iraq and throughout the entire region?” The whole exercise, said Flounders, “is an outrageous fraud.”



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 Black 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.



Palestinians Resist Zionist Terror, Plus U.S., European, Arab Royal, Turkish and Nigerian Terror

by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

The West has forced millions to become wandering, destitute refugees, as it destroys nations and peoples that get in the way of Empire. Palestinians have lived this reality for 67 years. Beirut sits at the lip of the volcano.

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

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

The nonprofit world has trained much of the US left in its image. We depend on “advocacy organizations” with college educated, self-perpetuating boards of directors, responsible only to themselves and funders to carry “the movement” forward. It's not a good look, and there's no time like the dawn of a new year to lose some old bad habits.


Single Payer Health Care Still More Popular Than Obamacare

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Obama’s legacy is having set back the cause of universal health care many years through his duplicitous switch to a corporate-based scheme, in 2009. Since then, half of the non-profit health insurance co-ops created as a consolation to the Left have gone out of business. However, “a new Kaiser Poll shows 58 percent of the public are in favor of Medicare for All, including 81 percent of Democrats” – more popular than Obamacare.


Freedom Rider: San Bernardino and Government Terror

by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley

The official version of events lacks credibility in most cases of domestic “terrorism,” and the San Bernardino shooting is no exception. “Several eye witnesses described shooters or suspicious persons fleeing the scene as three white men wearing black military type clothing.” Plus, the FBI opened the Farook’s apartment to reporters just two days after the killings – unprecedented speed, showing more concern for publicity than a search for truth.


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