Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.  If you broadcast our audio commentaries please consider a recurring donation to Black Agenda Report.

America: Young Black Men Have No Right to Life

  • Sharebar
    Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

    A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

    Over the past 50 years, Black America has gone from fists in the air to arms raised in surrender; from assertion of the right to self-defense, to pleas for sensitivity from militarized police occupiers. Black America has been turned into a vast Constitution-free zone.

    America: Young Black Men Have No Right to Life

    A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

    They can be arrested for nothing, or shot down in the streets with impunity.”

    There are lots of pictures coming out of Ferguson, Missouri, a two-thirds Black town just outside St. Louis, where a policeman shot down Michael Brown, this past weekend. The 18 year-old’s last words before dying were: “I don’t have a gun, stop shooting.” The cop kept shooting anyway. The pictures show Brown’s body in the middle of the street, where it was left for four hours in the baking sun.

    Other pictures show Brown’s grief-stricken mother, and his stepfather carrying a sign that said, “Ferguson police just executed my unarmed son.” There are plenty of images from the two nights of disturbances in the town, where there isn’t really much to loot. However, I think the most poignant picture shows young Blacks blocking the street in front of the Ferguson police department, their upraised arms signaling surrender, just as young Michael did before the cop administered the coup de grace.

    How different that picture would have been in 1966, when young Black people in California responded to murderous police violence with armed patrols of their own, under the newly formed Black Panther Party for Self Defense. The Party declared that Black people had just as much right to defend themselves as white people, including the right to defend themselves from the police, who act as an occupying army. Which is, of course, a self-evident truth.

    The Mass Incarceration State

    The Black Panther Party’s vigorous assertion of the right to self-defense prompted the U.S. government to double-down on its monopoly on the use of force – first, with a massive campaign of assassination and false imprisonment against Black radical leadership, many of whom still remain behind bars. Then, as the decade of the Seventies began, mass Black incarceration became the universal policy of the United States – north, south, east and west. A new class of Black politicians filled the void that police repression had created. These were men and women who were quite amenable to corporate rule and made comfortable homes in the Democratic Party. Even as the prison population rose to nine times 1970 levels, the Bl


    ack Misleadership Class blissfully celebrated its own upward mobility.

    Meanwhile, the Mass Incarceration State consumed millions of Black lives and consigned most Black communities to Constitution-free zones, where young Blacks could be arrested for nothing, or shot down in the streets with impunity, as was Michael Brown, and as happens to other young Blacks every day of the year.

    The people who rule America no longer need Black labor. What they do need is a class that is forcibly anchored at the bottom of U.S. society, who can be scapegoated for whatever is wrong with America, and whose very presence serves as an excuse for massive urban dislocation and the steady erosion of civil liberties. Michael Brown and countless others have died in order to keep America deeply stratified. That’s the only use the United States has for young Black men.

    For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to to sign up for email notifications of our new issues, each Wednesday.

    BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at

    Your browser doesn't support flash. Click the mic instead to download.

    Share this

    I think it is increasingly

    I think it is increasingly clear that a new BPP or something akin, is needed. Maybe something like the Deacons of Defense? We need to arm ourselves-- men, women & children need to learn the art of self-defense and arms handling and protection. I think We have MORE of a right to be armed and be knowledgeable in self defense as we are the only ones being hunted, murdered and killed on the daily by the police with relative impugnity.

    And the beat goes on, and on...

    Michael Stewart, Eleanor Bumpers, Amadou Diallo, Anthony Baez, Patrick Dorismond, Sean Bell, Eric Garner, and the list goes on and on.

     I don’t blame the cops for concealing identities of the murderers.   Kenneth Chamberlain Sr. of Yonkers, NY was killed by cops when his medical alert device accidentally went off and police came to his house.  His door was kicked in by the cops and Mr. Chamberlain was first “tazed” and then shot.  If he had been my father, I would have gone after the killer myself, consequences be damned.

    In St. Louis, where the latest homicide has just taken place, initially there were shouts of “Kill the police.”  I found myself saying, “It’s about time.”  These bastards never get convicted and there are never any consequences.  

    Mr. Ford and Mr. Truth are correct.  Another form of “demonstration” is needed: a demonstration that there will be a price paid for wanton murder by the cops.  The Young Lords, Black Panthers, and The JDL took matters into their own hands.  You may not agree with their motivation, but their tactics worked  Maybe people need to do this again.  Nothing else is working.

    Maybe people should start shouting “Never again!”  And showing that they mean it.

    I wasn't there.

    But from what I can gather on Twitter from people who were, the protesters were saying, "Fuck the police," which is a standard chant, rather than "Kill the police."

    The only source I know of to claim that people said, "Kill the police," was the police themselves.

    I don't know if that's good or bad, or even if it is true or not, but it rings true to me.

    Another interesting Tweet that I haven't tried to verify, is that one reason the police in Ferguson are so heavily armed is that Monsanto world headquarters is only 4 miles away.

    As we've been seeing in Gaza, there are heavy penalties, and usually many casualties for resisting oppression. But it is the oppression itself which causes resistance. That doesn't mean that the people can't win, but when you're outnumbered and outgunned, you have to fight smart.

    My history books said that the British troops were called "redcoats" because they wore bright red uniform jackets. They marched in formation, which allowed the colonists to hide behind trees and pick them off one by one. Where people have successfully resisted world powers, it wasn't by playing by the enemy's rules. Imperialist racists don't seem to have any rules, other than, "Kill them all and let God sort them out," but when they employ standard military tactics against people who have served in the military, they aren't expecting anything unconventional, although in US cities these days I'm not sure that drive-bys with machine guns can be called unconventional.

    The tear gas used in Ferguson is the same tear gas that the US supplied to Egypt to squash the protests in Tahrir Square, and indeed some Egyptians have been giving advice on social media as to how to cope with tear gas. The United States is an arms dealer and it sells weapons to oppressive regimes all over the world. Israel has boasted of how the genocide in Gaza has increased their profits from weapons sales to other countries. The US cannot credibly sell crowd control weapons to other countries if it cannot demonstrate that it can control crowds at home. So it isn't just that the cops' paychecks depend upon their violence, their country's economy depends upon that violence.

    But there is another factor that appears whenever the people successfully resist a military superpower. It requires that women participate equally on equal terms. I'm not sure this country has the social consciousness to accomplish that yet. While many women will support their men in traditional patriarchal fashion, some will hesitate to attempt to transfer power from an oppressive system to the individuals who pimp, rape, and beat them from a position of relative power within that system. If you oppress others, your pitiful pleas to be freed from oppression yourself ring hollow.

    Until "the people" includes ALL the people, the power of the people is wasted asserting power over each other instead of uniting against a common enemy. If you want to get the boot off your neck, the first thing to do is to check to make sure that your own boot isn't on another person's neck. Because if it is, you only have one leg free with which to fight or escape, and you won't get very far.

    Just sayin'.

    Mark E. Smith

    I like your comment and agree.

    WSWS Waffles on the Race Issue Again.

    2 of my biggest issues I have w white Marxist-Leninists / Communists-Socialists [leaving aside their pushing atheism]- is their often curious positions when it come to Black Nationalism / Pan-Africanism & also re race vis-a-vis class.

    WSWS did a report on the shooting of unarmed Black youth Michael Brown- yet curiously FAILED to even mention in the entire article that Brown was Black in a mainly Black suburb of St Louis, & the cop was almost certainly white as is most of the town's police-force. The WSWS article then made the bogus claim that Brown's shooting at the hand of that white cop is all about class [technically it could be argued that the cop & his victim are both in the same class]- as it critiqued the usual suspect publicity seekers [some say race-pimps] Revs Al [the snitch] & Jesse- hyped as the new Black leaders by the lame-stream [set-up as 'Straw{black}Men' ] just to be castigated by the likes of both FOX Noise & WSWS.

    Some how WSWS fails to see that when it comes to rank & file Blacks in the USA, the issue of both Race & class is closely & inextricably intertwined. I wonder why? And this is not new- it's been the Marxist-Leninist camp's position since at-least the Garvey era.

    I am a communist and I can

    I am a communist and I can assure you that there are a number of us who support black nationalism and pan-Africanism, particularly in the Maoist and Third Worldist camps. Our ideology is rooted in the analysis set forward by J. Sakai's monumental study "Settlers: The Mythology of the White Proletariat," which shows the treacherous nature of the white working class towards people of color in their struggle for liberation and self-determination. For us, in settler Amerika, due to settler colonialism, class takes the outward form of "race" so that "races" are really classes. You should definitely peep the book on scribd or search for the pdf.

    Workers World has some good

    Workers World has some good articles about the shooting of Michael Brown and other Blacks.

    Ferguson White Cops Setting-Up the Black Mo St Trooper Capt-

    For the Fall?: On Sat I saw a CNN report on the on-going Ferguson protests vs those storm-trooper KILLER cop(s). On Fri night about mid-night a few ‘looters’ [IE: NOT legit protesters] broke into a store owned by Arabs, as Ferguson’s ‘finest’ stood across the street looking on. When the CNN reporters asked those cops why they failed to stop the looters, their response was- ‘w the new guy’s [IE: the Black MO St. trooper Capt] shift in policy & tactics [IE: reigning in those gestapo / storm-troopers] they were ‘confused’ if they should stop looting or not’ [that's just BS!!!].
    IMO these cracker cops are just trying to make the Brother look bad, plus they really don’t care if ‘Mahmoud’s’ store is looted [IMO these crackers have almost as much disdain for Arabs as they do for Blacks & think they're all Al Qaeda 'sympathizers' &/or 'terrorists' anyway]. These jokers know damn well they’re not supposed to stand-by & let a store get looted [Hey- wouldn't surprise me if those cops actually put the word out that - that Arab store would be an easy mark]! They know damn well they’re supposed to disperse looters or if necessary arrest them- without KILLING them or beating them half to death! IMO Bro is gonna have to check these joker cops, even if it means putting Ferguson’s whole Dept on indefinite leave of absence.

    PS: DN!'s Mon Aug 18 show, showed a brief shot of the so-called 'incriminating' video of what may be Mike Brown & his friend & key witness to his execution by KILLER Cop Darren Wilson- Dorian Johnson. It seems to show both Mike & Dorian at the store counter BUYING something, while another Black youth [NOT IDed] who's down the isle AWAY from the counter, 'MAY Have' pocketed something from the rack & walked out. Indeed it seems Mike may have actually dropped the items [cigars?] that he BOUGHT at the Counter, in front of the counter in FULL VIEW of the Shop Owner, yet there was still NO confrontation between them!!! The 3rd youth [who may have shop-lifted something] is obviously neither Mike nor Dorian, cause Mike was 6ft-4in & weighed nearly 300lbs, while Dorian is average size but has either long dread-locks or twists / braids, while the 3rd youth is about Dorian's size [IE: NOT 6ft-4in & 250 - 300lbs] but does NOT have long locks or braids!!! In other words Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson is trying to {ab}Use the old racist adage 'All NIGGERS Look Alike' to slander the Black victim's [Mike Brown] rep, who was gunned-down by his KILLER Cop, Darren Wilson, like a mad-dog in the street!!!

    Police and Other killings without consequence

    In my view, people are tired of this killing.  I have lived in Seattle (I am from Chicago) since 1977.  I have been aware over these years of how many people the police have killed here and gotten away with it.  In the majority of these cases, the murdered were black or some other designated "minority".  It is the rulers who are the true minority!!  I can only speak for myself and I am white.  I find it criminal that our society continues to allow man-made "ghettos" to claim the lives of poor people - all people which includes black folks.  I find it immensely tragic that so many children have so little guidance that they become the fodder for this inhumane system.  At the same time, we are tired of paying for wars that destroy other nations' peoples while our own country, our own children are neglected in every way.  So many conditions we see are the result of people feeling unloved which has been deliberately created by our oppressors.

    This system is inherently flawed due to the competition that defines it.  In the vision I see, every child is cared for and nurtured.  Every child is educated.  Everyone has a home.  Capitalism's problem is that this very competition is exclusive. We do not value the gifts of each one or take the time to give them the support to achieve high attainment.  This system does NOT include everyone nor does it utilize the immense skills that each one (of all cultures and colors) can bring to a decent and ethical society.  All colors are beautiful and the sooner folks figure this out we can quit this insanity. 

    I am very sad that another life has been sacrificed to this system of discrimination and exclusion.  So many never receive justice here or anywhere due to these false values which seem to have captured so many.  Trayvon's murderer walks free while people still worship consumerism and money.  

    Until we change the core values to select and elect ethical people, I do not see how we can make much progress.  We need real leaders with ETHICS who really care like Dr. King.  We ALL together need to reclaim this vision.  While these fake leaders prop up this rotten system it is We the People who must come together to change this.  WE must reach out to one another.  "The Four Agreements" by Don Miguel Ruiz is a great resource to share with people and adolescents for understanding of what he calls "...the dream of the planet...".    

    The condition of our society and this entire world makes me sick.  I care about the plight of black people - All People.  If we had a decent society, we'd be offering so much more to lift one another UP.  I'm sorry that another one of our family has been murdered in the service of false values.  RIP

    Obama Finally Speaks Out RE Ferguson Cops_But NOT Until-

    The Ferguson 'GESTAPO' [unhm that's cops] jack-up / rough-up 2 white reporters from HuffPost & WaPost! 

    Yet apparently "ya'll's" 'Black' Pres ain't said a mumbling word directly about Ferguson's storm troopers gunning-down unarmed / non-criminal young Mike Brown w his hands in the air [he was going to visit his grandmother] & then left his body in the street in the hot sun for 4 hrs. Nor has he said anything about LAPD cops shooting unarmed Ezell Ford in the back lying face-down on the ground ala Oscar Grant. Nor about the NYPD choking unarmed Eric Garner to death. So this open season on Black people mentality is the same for cops across 'post racial' USA in the age of Obama- whether its NYC, St Louis, all the way to LA.

    Yet Obama can only say something when Ferguson's storm-troopers go all Gestapo on 2 white reporters from 2 of the US' most famous main-stream media outlets! 

    The pot can't say much about

    The pot can't say much about the kettle since while Nazi Kettle cops are killing black people (and even a few white and brown ones) for spite and fun, President Pot is putting folks on kill lists weekly and dropping drones whenever the mood strikes.

    Demand Change

    Protesting is not a solution to a problem but a reaction to it. It is time for a solution. Why does a majority white police precinct 'serve' a majority Black community? Why should Blacks in that community pay (via taxes) for a service that they do not receive? Isn't the job of the police to protect and serve, not harass and kill? 

    The Black community of Ferguson (and elsewhere) should demand that the racial makeup of the local police precinct reflect the racial makeup of the community it is supposed to serve and protect; otherwise, the Black community is just a plantation with the white cops being the overseers. 

    Many Black communities are also mired in high unemployment. It is strange for the staff of any local police precinct that serves a majority Black community to be predominantly white. Shouldn't all police precincts recruit from the communities they serve?

    Isn't this (local police precinct not reflecting the racial makeup of the community it serves) a case of taxation without representation, especially when that precinct views the people in the community as animals and treat them accordingly? 

    Black communities in this country should demand that local police precincts reflect the racial makeup of the community it is supposed to serve and protect. This solution would be in the best interest of everyone.


    Sent from my iPad

    Begin forwarded message:

    Date: August 19, 2014 9:38:03 AM CDT

    On Saturday, August 16, a female reporter on the CNN Newsroom With Don Lemon reported:

    The officer who shot Michael Brown did not know that Michael Brown was also a suspect in that CONVENIENCE STORE SHOOTING.  

    The Black female sharing the split screen nodded her head in agreement.  I could not believe the reporter was tying Michael Brown to a shooting at a convenience store that never occurred.   I took my remote and went back and recorded what she had said..just in case I had misunderstood.  I had not misunderstood.  I watched another half hour of the program to see if she would apologize for her mistake.  She never did. 


    God bless Michael Brown

    I heard the news about Michael Brown when I have come to my company in Minneapolis, MN. That was really bad news. Michael Brown didn’t die in the dark. He was eighteen years old, walking down a street in Ferguson, Missouri, from his apartment to his grandmother’s, at 2:15 on a bright Saturday afternoon. He was, for a young man, exactly where he should be—among other things, days away from his first college classes. A policeman stopped him; it’s not clear why.

    This is not right

    What about young white men ? it not like they are making it more than the black kids. I am black but i dont see black and white no more because that is not right, when i look i see young people needing help
    movaz whindi car lease central
    Uk Car Lease Deals


    Very niche and thank you for

    Very niche and thank you for your work.
    whatsapp for pc|clash of clans for pc

    Clicky Web Analytics