21 December 2011 — Black Agenda Report – News, commentary and analysis from the black left
Georgia Prison Strike, One Year Later: Activists Outside the Walls Have Failed Those Inside the Walls
by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon
In December 2010 inmates in up to a dozen Georgia prisons either refused to leave their cells for work assignments, or were pre-emptively locked down by prison officials. They demanded wages for work, access to educational programs, fairness in release decisions, along with decent food and medical care. An ad hoc coalition sprung up to negotiate with state officials, and gained privileged access to Smith and Macon State Prisons. But the coalition has long since withered and died, without even issuing reports from its December 2010 fact finding visits. What happened? And what happens next?
Freedom Rider: Christopher Hitchens, White Man
by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley
There was nothing witty, cute, or endearing about the late Christopher Hitchens, a racist to the core whose association with the Left served only to discredit it. “Beneath his mutterings against ‘Islamofascism’ he was nothing more than an angry white guy who wanted brown people to be conquered or dead.” A man of many prejudices but no real loyalties or principles, he flowed with the money. “Why toil away as a left winger known only within that smaller group, when more money and media attention awaited a cheer leader for pax Americana and white supremacy?”
Is There a Limit to Black Tolerance of Obama’s Police State, Assassinations and Wars?
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
What if the First Black President eviscerated the rule of law, legalizing assassination and detention of U.S. citizens without trial? Would he still be considered a “credit to his race?” His supporters may convince themselves they are safe in Obama’s hands, but he has also “given President Gingrich or President Romney or President Palin those powers – the same powers Egyptian generals have used to imprison thousands of protesters in military jails.”
NATO’s Depraved Disregard for Libyan Civilian Casualties
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
NATO’s outrageous claim that no civilians were killed in the 7-month air war against Libya has been challenged by Russia and, in a very modest way, the New York Times. “NATO’s policy of refusing to investigate civilian deaths is evidence on its face of a depraved disregard for civilian lives and the intention to avoid prosecution for crimes against civilians.” The Times recent concern over Libyan victims of NATO bombing lacks credibility, given its wildly biased reporting of the war. “Thousands of black Libyan citizens and African migrant workers are dead at least partially as a result of western media lies.”
Those Ever-Shrinking 401Ks and the Theft of Retirement Security
For most of the 20th century, until the 1980s, each generation of retirees had a somewhat higher standard of living than the last. With the Reagan era advent of federal policies encouraging private employers to raid and discontinue defined benefit pensions, that trend stopped. The current generation of retirees are discovering that their 401Ks are almost never sufficient to allow a dignified retirement. They’ve been robbed. 401Ks are subject to the stock market, which favors insiders, and financial managers and the retirement-industrial complex extract as much as a quarter of all 401K savings in parasitic fees. In this Against the Grain interview James Russell explains why Wall Street loves privatized and individual retirement accounts, and hates defined beneift pensions and social security,
Migrants’ Rights Are Human Rights! Take Local Police Out of Immigration Enforcement
by Bill Quigley and Sunita Patel
The predatory anti-immigrant federal program Secure Communities needs to be gotten rid off, abolished. “The Obama administration was not transparent with Congress about Secure Communities’ true purpose when it asked for over $2 billion for the program; it tricked state and local officials into believing they could limit or opt out of the program; and worst of all the government sold untruths to the public to get this program launched at any cost.” The administration foisted this destructive program is foisted on cities and states that want no part of it.
Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network, with Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey – Week of December 19, 2008
Black Ministers Form “Occupy The Dream” in “Lock-Stop” with OWS
“The Black church cannot afford to sit on the sidelines, but must be on the front lines of this fight for justice,” said Rev. Jamal Bryant, of the newly-formed Occupy the Dream movement. Bryant, who was joined at a Washington press conference by former NAACP executive director Dr. Benjamin Chavis and Occupy Wall Street activist David DeGraw, said African American clergy will demand an immediate moratorium on housing foreclosures, strengthening of rights to Pell Grants for college education, and $100 billion from Wall Street for economic development. “These companies owe a debt to the citizens that made them the wealthy entities that they are,” said Rev. Bryant, calling the sum a “drop in the bucket.” Occupy the Dream will target Federal Reserve sites in various cities on January 16, Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday, depositing crutches, walkers and wheelchairs at the scene to symbolize how the economy has been crippled by the quasi-public agency’s policies.
“We are proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with the African American community in this campaign for economic fairness and justice, said David DeGraw, reading a statement written by “about 30″ Occupy Wall Street organizers.” Rev. Chavis, now a co-chair, along with media mogul Russell Simmons, of the Hip Hop Summit Action Network, said, “It is in our interest to build coalitions beyond ourselves.” Black people must “participate in our own resurrection, our own empowerment.”
Black Church Not the “Lynchpin” of Rights Fight
“Black American thinkers running the gamut from liberal, progressive to radical espoused secular humanist views on white supremacy, economic capitalist exploitation, women’s rights, on imperialism, all of the issues that affect contemporary African Americans,” said activist and scholar Sikivu Hutchinson, author of Moral Combat: Black Atheists, Gender Politics, and the Values Wars. Even Dr. Martin Luther King and his Southern Christian Leadership Conference “were actively disavowed and demonized by the mainstream Black church organizations for their radicalism, particularly Dr. King during the latter part of his life,” said Hutchinson. “This idea that Black theological traditions are the lynchpin of Black human rights thought and civil rights resistance and political organizing, is extremely egregious.”
People’s Organization for Progress to Rally for Voting Rights, Economic Justice
“The issues that P.O.P. is fighting about are issues of working people,” said Adrienne Taylor, an activist with the Communications Workers of America, Local 1040, in Newark, New Jersey. P.O.P marks day 176 of its planned 381-day marathon of daily demonstrations for jobs, education, housing, justice and peace, with a major rally for economic justice and voting rights set for January 15. Protesters will be on the streets of Newark on Christmas and New Years, said P.O.P. president Larry Hamm.
Congress Doesn’t Care if DC Residents “Live or Die”
Government-funded abortions and free needle programs have once again been made illegal in Washington, DC. The U.S. Congress, which under the Constitution has exclusive control over the nation’s capital, “is riding our backs into the grave,” said Anise Jenkins, of the Stand Up for Democracy in DC Coalition. “They don’t care if we live or die.” President Obama “was willing, as he was in April, to sell us out,” despite having gotten “over 90 percent of our vote” in the 2008 election, said Jenkins. “Does he expect us to continue to vote for him, because he thinks we have no alternative?” She urged support for legislation that would make Washington, DC, a state. “We’re the only jurisdiction in the country that has to suffer this oppression” of rule by Congress.
Most Blacks, and Nearly Half of Americans, Are Economically Insecure
A study shows 62 percent of African American households and 45 percent of all American families live with economic insecurity. Donna Addkison, president of Wider Opportunities for Women, which commissioned the study, found that 80 percent of single Black mothers “working the equivalent of full time still are not earning enough to get” beyond economic insecurity. “We’re talking about a baseline, we’re not talking about even cable television or cell phones,” but the costs of housing, food, transportation, health care and child care, “basic needs,” said Addkison. “Economic issues are women’s issues.”
Political Prisoners Central to Black Movement
Movement-building “must deeply involve the plight of political prisoners,” said Dr. Jared Ball, editor and columnist for Black Agenda Report and professor of communications at Morgan State University, in Baltimore. Political prisoners should be valued for their experience, their analysis, “and the standard they set for the rest of us,” said Ball. The movement “wouldn’t do half bad by replacing some of the Dysons, Simmons and Sharptons with folks like Ashanti Alston, Mutulu Shakur and Russell ‘Maroon’ Shoats.”
Buju Banton Appeals 10-Year Sentence
Lawyers for Jamaican Reggae and Dance Hall artist Buju Banton have appealed his ten-year conviction on cocaine charges in a trap set by the Drug Enforcement Agency. “Buju Banton has a voice that many in conservative positions and in power would rather see silenced,” said Aula Sumbry, of the Buju Banton Defense Support Committee. The singer is currently incarcerated in a prison near Miami.
Congolese Election A Fraud
“The results of the elections are clearly showing that there was fraud, a staged kind of fraud,” said Bahati Jacques, of the African Faith and Justice Network. Jacques, a native of the Democratic Republic of Congo, suggests a negotiated solution that would impose a runoff election between President Joseph Kabila and the official second-place candidate, Etienne Tshisekedi. Or, Tshisekedi could be proclaimed president, on the basis that the party that engaged “in fraud deserves no trust at all.”