Good News, Bad News as Post-Obama Fight For Public Education Goes Local

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

There's a video of a little black girl weeping when told that Barack Obama will soon leave office. If she and her parents knew what the First Black President had done to public education, she wouldn't be crying. The Obama administration closed and privatized thousands of public schools, fired over a hundred thousand qualified teachers, and handed over tens of billions in public property and funds to charter operators and testing companies.

 
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EPA Officials Didn’t “Want to go Out on a Limb” for the People of Flint

by BAR editor and columnist Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo

The federal and state actors that poisoned Flint, Michigan’s water tried to pin the crime on each other at a congressional hearing, last week. Governor Rick Synder, who set the crime in motion, failed in his attempt to concoct an ignorance-of-the-facts alibi. And the federal EPA chief could not escape the fact that she neglected to use her “authority to protect the citizens of Flint from situations of ‘imminent and substantial endangerment.’”

Black Study, Black Struggle

by Robin D.G. Kelly

Robin D.G. Kelley opened a debate published by the Boston Review. “The fully racialized social and epistemological architecture upon which the modern university is built cannot be radically transformed by ‘simply’ adding darker faces, safer spaces, better training, and a curriculum that acknowledges historical and contemporary oppressions.” But campuses can become resources “for anti-racist struggles ‘dedicated to the principle of thinking in order to act.’”

Letter from Brazil: Before There Was Liberation Theology There Was Candomblé

by Julian Cola

“Liberation theology,” a progressive interpretation of Christianity that gained traction in the mid-20th century, was long preceded by African-based religions such as Brazil’s Candomblé. “The emergence of African-based, syncretic religions caused an abrupt split from the religious and social status quo championed by the dominant class.” Candomblé’s sister-beliefs moved oppressed people towards resistance elsewhere in the Americas, including the U.S.

Why a United Front Against Trump is Dangerous Territory for the Left

by Danny Haiphong

The Democrats would love to see the entire political spectrum united with Hillary Clinton to defeat Donald Trump – but that would mean Trump has “scared the left back under the Democratic Party umbrella.” The Donald defames Mexicans, but Barack Obama has actually deported more of them than any president in history. Trump threatens to keep Muslims out of the country, but Obama kills them by the thousands. “Trump is indeed evil, but Obama and the Democratic Party remain the far more effective evil.”

Confessions of a Neo-Caucasian

by Mark P. Fancher

Human rights attorney and frequent BAR contributor Mark Fancher recently had a close encounter of the white supremacist kind. He learned that Donald Trump plans to use his awesome powers to turn a select number of Black people white – which would, of course, be HUGE!

What if Most Trump Supporters Were People of Color or Muslims?

by Solomon Comissiong

European global expansion has been marked by white crimes against humanity for half a millennium. In the U.S. white settler state, non-whites and Muslims are profiled as potential criminals and terrorists. However, “if a white person carries out an act of domestic terrorism there is never a frenzied vilification of all white people within a certain age demographic or social marker.”

It Wasn't Just Republicans: How the EPA's own poisoned politics failed to protect the people of Flint

EPA whistleblower Marsha Coleman-Adebayo explains how the regulatory body allowed internal politics and outright negligence to turn Flint into a sacrifice zone, and ties the current crisis to America's long history (and present) of ignoring environmental threats to communities of color.

Marsha is an EPA whistleblower, and wrote the recent pieces Water crises like Flint's will continue until the EPA is held accountable for the Guardian and McCarthy and Snyder to Testify before House Oversight Committee on the Poisoning of Flint’s Children for Black Agenda Report.

Black Agenda Radio for Week of March 21, 2016

Black Power Matters in 2016

“Fear of fascism being ‘right around the corner’ – this time in the form of Donald Trump – always means a vote for some kind of Democrat, as opposed to building our own independent political power,” said Omali Yeshitela, chairman of the Black Is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations. The Coalition will hold a national conference on the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election and the Struggle for Black Self-Determination, in Harlem, New York City, on April 9. “What we’re seeing with this election is real evidence of the political weakness” of Black revolutionary forces, who have failed to keep Black self-determination at the forefront, said Yeshitela.

All Power to the Disrupters

Bernie Sanders apparently believes socialism can be achieved without much disruption of the prevailing order. The Democratic presidential candidate recently denounced all “disruptions” of political gatherings, including Donald Trump events. Veteran activist and historian Paul Street, author of They Rule: The 1% vs. Democracy, called “disruption” a “legitimate part of American life.” Said Street: “I guess Bernie needs to go back and re-read Howard Zinn’s best selling, classic People’s History of the United States.” Or anything by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Flint Isn’t EPA’s Only Victim

A Virginia Tech professor of Environment and Water Resources accused the federal Environmental Protection Agency of being “willfully blind to the pain and suffering of Flint residents, unremorseful of their role in causing this man-made disaster, and unable to learn from their mistakes.” Prof. Marc Edwards testified before a congressional hearing on the poisoning of Flint, Michigan’s water. “Malfeasance at the EPA from 2001 to the present has harmed cities all over the United States,” said Edwards.

Death of a Political Poet and Prisoner

Mondo Welanga, born David Rice 68 years ago, died in a Nebraska penitentiary cell after spending the past 46 years serving a life sentence, along with Ed Poindexter, in the death of an Omaha cop. Amnesty International recognized Welanga and Poindexter as Prisoners of Conscience. Mumia Abu Jamal, the nation’s best known political prisoner, called them “soldiers for the people, dedicated to their defense and security.”

Walanga was a poet, some of whose works appeared on Prison Radio. His 2015 poem When It Gets To This Point condemns those who “replace facts with spin” as

“the beatings and the chokings and shootings
of our boys and men
by these wrong arms of the law
proceed in orderly fashion
before the sometimes sad
sometimes angry faces of
our uncertain
our hesitant
disbelief.”

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Hillary Wants a Crusade to Defeat Trump’s “Bigotry” – and Leave Her Bankers Alone

by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

If Hillary Clinton can make the general election into a crusade against “bigotry” and “intolerance” as embodied by Donald Trump, she can win with an otherwise issue-less campaign, thus shielding the 1% from harm. Black folks will be happy, imagining the election is all about them. “The great task of independent Black politics is to pry Black folks loose from the Democratic Party’s lethal embrace.” For that, we need a movement in the streets.

Freedom Rider: Protesting Trump and Hillary Too

by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley

The Democrats want to make Donald Trump’s racism the only campaign issue, to divert attention from their imperial wars and the global race to the bottom. Trump is a GOP outsider, but the Democrats “eagerly conspire with Republicans on governmental austerity and none of them are anti-war.” The left shouldn’t be suckered into making Trump the paramount issue. “The low hanging fruit of open bigotry should not be the only galvanizing force for progressives.”

Black Is Back Coalition Holds National Conference on Self-Determination and 2016 Elections

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Election seasons are consumed by talk of which candidates and parties are “winning.” But, Black people never win, even if one of them is at the top of the ticket, unless they are organized to seek power. The Black Is Back Coalition’s upcoming conference on electoral politics and self-determination “will explore the possibilities and the dangers that the current electoral scene presents for the future of Black people and the world.”

 
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McCarthy and Snyder to Testify before House Oversight Committee on the Poisoning of Flint’s Children

by BAR editor and columnist Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo

Crimes against humanity have been committed in Flint, Michigan. Punishment must fit the crime. “It is time to remove all political actors both in the federal and state governments from public service and refer them to DOJ for criminal prosecution.” That includes the EPA, “an agency governed by fear, recrimination, retaliation and discrimination.”

The Empire’s Weapon of Identity Politics and the “Ghetto” Comment Controversy

by Danny Haiphong

President Obama’s political pit bulls have become attack dogs for Hillary Clinton. MSNBC pundit Joy Reid “has placed her career prospects” in Clinton’s camp, employing identity politics to snipe at Bernie Sanders. Neither wing of the corporate-bought Democratic Party can “change the course of U.S. imperialism. But Sanders hasn't been chosen by Wall Street and the capitalist class to run the Empire, Hillary has.”

Bernie, Black, and Blue: Reflections on Race in the Democratic Primaries

by Paul Street

If Black people are the most left-leaning constituency in the United States, why have they been voting for right-wing Democrat Hillary Clinton in the primaries? It is true that Bernie Sanders’ economic program is far better than Clinton’s. However, rising New Deal-type tides do not equally lift all boats, and Black folks have little historical reason to believe that white leftists are automatically on their side. Sanders has yet to convince them.

Blacks Have Always Had to Fight to Make Their Lives Matter in America

by Bryan K. Bullock

The simple, straight-forward assertion “Black Lives Matter” seems to jangle the sensibilities of millions of white Americans, who counter that “ALL lives matter” or “BLUE lives matter.” They feel assaulted by affirmations of the worthiness of Black life, yet claim to be non-racist. In the final analysis, they want Black people to “play nice with oppression and make no demands on society.”

Why We Should Teach About the FBI’s War on the Civil Rights Movement

by Ursula Wolfe-Rocca

Nobody’s history – Black, white or brown – is taught in U.S. classrooms if COINTELPRO is not part of the lesson plan. Civics and social studies are defective and deceptive if they fail to inform students of the FBI’s campaign to “neutralize” dissidents by any means necessary, including murder. Young people must learn that the Civil Rights Movement “had to contend with a declaration of war made against it by its own government.”

Austerity Gathers Pace in Schizophrenic South Africa

by Patrick Bond

The unprecedented contagion of what President Zuma has called “gossip and rumor” around his inner circle threatens the internal stability of the Pretoria regime. The loyalty of many key individuals is being tested. Indeed the ANC’s schizophrenia was amplified recently Zuma himself finally agreed to repay some of the $16 million spent on upgrading his rural palace, Nkandla.

Hillary Clinton: The Wicked Witch of the West

by Solomon Comissiong

Some evil is banal, some unspeakable. Hillary Clinton is wickedly evil. “Thanks to vile fork-tongued warmongers like her, Libya is a country that is now submerged in a quagmire of civil war, death and destruction.” Hillary brings death here at home, as well. “She has been a champion for the building of more prisons and the hyper-policing of urban enclaves where mostly African/blacks reside.”

Black Agenda Radio for Week of March 14, 2016

“Billionaires” Fund Defamation of Public Schools, Teachers

A poll commissioned by In The Public Interest shows Americans still hold public schools and teachers in high regard, want charter schools to conform to the same standards as conventional public schools, and oppose an over emphasis on standardized testing. “Billionaires and folks who run hedge funds have decided that the best way to make their political opponents weaker is to grow as many charters as possible,” said Donald Cohen, the group’s executive director. These forces have funded “an ongoing campaign to convince the American public that schools are bad” – but most people aren’t buying it.

Save the Schools: Opt Out of Standardized Testing

Parents and students should not ask permission to opt out of the high stakes standardized testing regimen. “We don’t need legislation to approve it,” said Dr. Denisha Jones, a board member of United Opt Out and an assistant professor of early childhood development at Howard University. “We need to say that we are opting out as an act of civil disobedience to protect education from the corporatization and the testing,” said Jones, who helped organize a recent national Opt Out conference, in Philadelphia.

New York Mayor de Blasio is No Progressive

Despite official denials, the New York City Police Department continues to operate under a “broken windows” philosophy, targeting mainly Black and brown men for minor violations under a quota summons system, according to Robert Gangi, director of the Police Reform Organizing Project. Mayor Bill de Blasio’s “support for those kinds of practices completely undermines his claim to be a progressive political leader, and that the main purpose of his administration is to successfully address social, racial and economic inequities,” said Gangi. “’Broken windows,’ driven by the quota system, is a central factor in creating those inequities.”

Clinton and Obama Have Honduran Activist’s Blood on Their Hands

The Obama administration and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton bear responsibility for the March 3 assassination of Honduran indigenous people’s leader Berta Caceres, said Beverly Bell, a founder of Other Worlds and long time friend and comrade of Caceres. The U.S. backed a military takeover of Honduras in 2009, and Clinton “even bragged of her role in the coup in the last book she wrote,” said Bell. “There is not any doubt who killed Berta Caceres. She has received more death threats from the government of Honduras than anyone could possibly count.”

Obama Woos Cuba, Targets Venezuela

President Obama, who will visit Cuba later this month to further “normalize” relations with that country, has intensified his military and economic subversion of Cuba’s ally, Venezuela. “At the very same moment that the U.S. is unfreezing relations with Cuba, it is continuing to destabilize, to undermine, to destroy the independent socialist nation of Venezuela,” said political analyst Eric Draitser, founder of StopImperialism.org.

 
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