21 January 2015 — Black Agenda Report
by BAR executive editor Glen Ford
President Obama says things are looking up for America – which is exactly how Wall Street sees it. For the seventh time, Obama assessed the state of the nation from the perspective of a “center-right presidency whose real accomplishment has been to re-inflate the Wall Street casino, flush the last vestiges of secure employment out of the economy, and put the imperial war machine back on the offensive.”
by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley
Former New York Times reporter James Risen got most of the coverage in the Obama administration’s latest espionage trial, but the defendant is a Black man. Jeffrey Sterling is not guilty of espionage – none of the defendants in Obama’s cases are – but he is an accessory to the crimes of his former employer, the CIA. “ Sterling lay down with dogs and got up with fleas.
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford
Most Black folks are just grateful that there is finally a big box office movie about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. But, of course, Selma is historical fiction, carefully crafted to make some people and ideas look good and wise, and others to appear petty, narrow or stupid. Who decides? The money-people, the producers, like Oprah Winfrey.
A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by Bruce A. Dixon
Depicting pregnant Muslims as “Boko Haram sex slaves” howling for welfare checks, and the prophet Muhammad doing things you wouldn’t want your own kids to see while drones and cops target innocent Muslims isn’t simple satire. Asking, in this context, why “those backward Muslims” are so easily insulted, or can’t or won’t separate their religion from civic and political life is the worst kind of historical ignorance, bullying and chauvinism.
by BAR editor and columnist Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo
As prime mover at Washington DC’s independent We ACT Radio station, Kymone Freeman wrestles with the burning issues of Black life, daily. “How do we enforce demands? How do we escalate the calls for justice? How do we protect ourselves? Who are our allies? How do we force the police to share power with the community? How do we fund an organization truly committed to these values?” Being a poet helps, too.
by Netfa Freeman
A recent, but deeply flawed, article on George Soro’s foundation’s support of some organizations involved in anti-police violence campaigns nevertheless raises important questions about movement dependency on “philanthropic” funding. “No one – particularly those of us working in the non-profit industry – can deny the influence funders have on what not-for-profit formations do or won’t do, what political positions they take or don’t take.”
A radio interview by Chuck Mertz on This is Hell Radio.
Flint Taylor, co-founder of the Peoples Law Office in Chicago, who has represented the victims of police and political violence for 45 years explains the role of police unions, public defenders, the problems of supposedly progressive candidates who claim more cops will solve problems, and what restorative justice might look like.
by Michelle Renee Matisons
People talk about building mass movements, but which “masses” do they actually intend to mobilize? It’s a difficult, but central, question for serious organizers. “How do we balance the particular (group identity) and the universal (broader agenda) tensions inherent in mass movement organizing?
by Pascal Robert
There’s nothing “enlightened” about President Obama shift in policy on Cuba. Growing U.S. isolation from Latin America has opened opportunities for Washington’s global rivals. Russia has proposed a raft of agreements with Cuba and other Latin countries, and “China has now strongly entered the Latin nations with its plan to build a canal through Nicaragua to rival the Panama Canal.”
by Sara Flounders
If France is a citadel of freedom of the press, then why does it ban demonstrations against Israel and in support of Palestinians? “Charlie Hebdo is protected because it hardens the population against Muslim people in order to divide the population.” For its service to French imperialism, the government awarded Charlie Hebdo a million euros. But, non-white lives count for nothing in France.
by Christopher Black
There is no shortage of imperial operatives eager to defend Paul Kagame’s dictatorial Tutsi regime in Rwanda. Kagame’s role in the Rwandan slaughter and the Congo genocide that followed is thoroughly documented in the book, Enduring Lies: The Rwandan Genocide in the Propaganda System, 20 Years Later. But facts mean nothing to Kagame apologist Alex Obote-Odora, whose arguments are shredded by the author.
by Solomon Comissiong
After January, 2017, “the delusional fantasy will be over for most African/black people in this country.” What will Black folks have to show for their near-absolute loyalty to Barack Obama? Nothing more than, maybe, a historically revisionist t-shirt “with Obama’s face wedged in between Malcolm X and MLK.”
MLK Would be “Shutting It Down”
If Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. were alive, he would have joined in the 96-hour direct action and civil disobedience campaign coordinated by the ONYX Organizing Committee, in Oakland, California, this past weekend, according to activist Cat Brooks. “He’d be shutting it down” at federal buildings and taking over freeways,” said Brooks. “As in the later part of his life, he’d be connecting, loudly, the bloody dots of capitalism and gentrification with the systematic oppression and violence against Black and brown people in the cities.”
Man Who Recorded Eric Garner’s Death Has Court Date
Ramsey Orta, the Staten Island, New York, man who videotaped Eric Garner’s death by chokehold at the hands of a cop, appears in court January 25 on weapons charges. Orta maintains police set him up in retaliation. His lawyer, Alton Maddox, said “It’s time for a reawakening of the people in New York City as to how grand juries should be employed.” As it stands, prosecutors use grand juries as an excuse NOT to indict cops, said Maddox, whose license to practice law was revoked in 1990, in the wake of the Tawana Brawley case.
French Celebrate White Supremacy and Racist Values
“’Je Suis Charlie’ has become an arrogant rallying cry for white supremacy,” wrote Ajamu Baraka, editor and columnist for Black Agenda Report and co-founder of the U.S. Human Rights Network. The French “values” that are supposedly under attack are, in reality, “grounded in a colonial division between people who are recognized as humans, and those who have been consigned to the category of sub-humans and are eligible to be murdered, to have their lands taken, to be enslaved,” said Baraka. “Those are the values that many of those people who embraced ‘Je Suis Charle’ were, in fact, upholding.”
Right On! to Franz Fanon on His 90th Birthday
Dr. Lewis Gordon, professor of philosophy and African American Studies at the University of Connecticut, spoke at the Pan-African Bazara, in Nairobi, Kenya, on the 90th birthday of Franz Fanon, the psychiatrist from Martinique who fought alongside the Algerians against French colonialism and wrote The Wretched of the Earth and Black Skin, White Masks. Fanon taught that “every group has to understand that it has the responsibility to set the conditions for its own freedom and emancipation,” said Dr. Gordon. “He argues that it is not enough to fight for material change; you need also to set the conditions for very new concepts” of human existence. Fanon died of leukemia in 1961.
Black Colombian Women Defend Ancestral Land Rights
Illegal gold mining operations are poisoning the environment and infringing on the land rights of African-descended people in Colombia, South America. Charo Mina-Rojas, an organizer of women’s resistance to the incursions, said local authorities are collaborating with the mechanized mining operators. “They are armed, but we have to expose ourselves to make sure that these people understand that these are our territories, we have rights there, and we are ready to protect them by all means necessary,” said Mina-Rojas.