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    The Obamas’ Race to the Bottom

    by Sikivu Hutchinson

    Michelle Obama’s recent speech on the anniversary of the Brown decision gave every indication that she understands structural racism and injustice in education. However, her husband’s Race to the Top program has “opened the floodgates to privatization, dumbed-down curricula, and a permanent regime of high stakes testing which undermines teacher creativity and guts teachers’ unions.”

    Black Like Me: Black Immigration Conference in Miami

    by Pascal Robert

    Photos by Kevin Banatte[Dream Defenders Communications

    Relentless forces, internal and external, seek to pit Black Americans and immigrants against one another. However, many immigrants are Black and subject to the same mass incarceration policies as African Americans. “Immigration is a racial justice issue that needs a progressive African American voice,” according to a just-concluded conference in Miami.

    From Puppet Soldiers to Puppet Journalists: AFRICOM Grows Its War Machine

    by Mark P. Fancher

    AFRICOM’s primary project is to transform the militaries of the continent into dependencies and pawns of U.S. foreign policy. It’s second most import objective is the hide Washington’s actual intentions behind a “humanitarian” mask – such as participating in the search for Nigerian schoolgirls from Boko Haram. Some African journalists are eager to be part of the ruse.

    Developing a Constituency for Anti-imperialist Pan-Afrikan Solidarity

    by Ajamu Nangwaya

    Afrikan Liberation Day must be more than a celebration of “flag” independence. The event should be a focus of work to complete the unfinished process of liberation from both the neocolonialists and “the kleptocrats and strongmen who masquerade as a national bourgeoisie” who “drain the lifeblood out of the laboring classes across Afrika.”

    The “Moral Equivalence of the Founding Fathers”

    by Dr. T P Wilkinson

    The tall tale that claims to be U.S. history depicts the war of independence from Britain as motivated by a deep yearning for democracy. Dr, Gerald Horne’s new book frames the white settler secession as a revolt to ensure the continuity of slavery, which was growing unpopular in the home country and intolerable to the Black captives. Horne “shows that slave resistance forced the settler elite to declare independence from Britain.”

    Listen to Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network, with Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey – Week of 5/26/14

    Search for Boko Haram Deepens Imperial Penetration in Africa

    France recently oversaw an agreement between Nigeria, Chad, Niger, Cameroon and Benin to mount joint efforts to combat Boko Haram fighters, with the U.S. and Europeans providing financing, training and equipment. “Why should a conference concerned with the security of Nigeria and West Africa be held in Paris?” asked Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan African News Wire. “The question speaks volumes to the degree of neocolonialism that is still prevalent” in Africa. “This is just an effort on the part of France, the United States and other imperialist states to deepen their military intervention on the African continent” in the guise of humanitarian concerns, said Azikiwe.

    Ras Baraka’s “Daunting Challenge” in Newark

    Ras Baraka’s mayoral victory in Newark, New Jersey, represents “a significant break with the past, with the [Cory] Booker administration,” said Larry Hamm, chairman of the Newark-based People’s Organization for Progress. Baraka faces the “daunting challenge” of a $93 million budget deficit when he takes office, July 1. During the campaign, he opposed further school closings and charterization, and called for an end to state management of local schools, now in its 18th year. Some fear a state takeover of municipal finances, as well. “This points out the challenges of Black Power in the 21st century,” said Hamm.

    Beware Banksters Bearing “Gifts” for Detroit

    Wall Street banking giants JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs are offering millions in loans and grants for a structural makeover of Detroit, still mired in bankruptcy proceedings. “They say it’s philanthropy, but they also say they expect to make money” on the deal, said Tom Stephens, a people’s lawyer active in the resistance to the state and corporate takeover of the city. What the banks are actually funding is “a pretty overt racist, neoliberal and neocolonial framework – with strings attached – that is not going to benefit the vast majority of the people of Detroit.” JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs “should be facing charges for predatory, fraudulent financial manipulation” for helping bring Detroit down, said Stephens.

    Temple U. Students Vow to Protest Monteiro Dismissal All Summer

    “We’re fighting for students and community people to have a real voice at the university,” including matters such as gentrification of surrounding Black neighborhoods, said student leader Kashara White. The Temple University provost, she said, maintains that the firing of African American Studies scholar Dr. Anthony Monteiro was done in accordance with school policy. The problem “is not that the school isn’t following its policies, but that their policies are unjust,” said White. Adjunct professors need more job security, so they won’t be fired when they support student and community demands, as Dr. Monteiro did. The protests will continue through the summer. “This is going to set a standard for students in Philadelphia and across the nation,” she said. “We want Dr. Monteiro back because we know he sets that same precedent for faculty.”

    A State of Mourning for Elombe Brath

    Legendary New York-based activist Elombe Brath succumbed to a long illness, May 19. The Patrice Lumumba Coalition founder was honored on May 11 of last year at Harlem’s Harriet Tubman School. Raymond Santana, who along with others of the Central Park 5 was imprisoned for 13 years for a rape they did not commit, said he knew Brath “as a protector, a man who embraced me as one of his own sons, a man who stepped up for the Central Park 5 when lots of people wouldn’t, and still champions for us to receive our just due.”

    Rodolfo Reyes, the Cuban Ambassador to the United Nations, also honored Brath in 2013. “Cuba remembers with high esteem his tireless struggle for the freedom of the Cuban 5, unjustly imprisoned in United States jails,” said Reyes. “By following the example of Elombe Brath, we can turn into reality the goal of our leader, Fidel Castro, that a better world is possible, where justice, human dignity and solidarity prevail."

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    Always Low Wages, More Pollution: Why Barack & Michelle Obama Relentlessly Shill For Wal-Mart

    By BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

    Democrats in labor unions and figures like former Labor Secretary Robert Reich and others were justly outraged at Barack Obama's latest wet kiss to Wal-Mart earlier this month. But First Lady Michelle Obama has been in bed with the giant retailer for years. Is this a nasty bug in the Obama presidency, or a corrupt core feature?

    Freedom Rider: Newark Rejects $100 million School Scam

    by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley

    Sometimes, local political races have truly national repercussions. Hopefully, this will be the case in Newark, New Jersey, where Ras Baraka defeated a Cory Booker acolyte for mayor. School privatization was the big issue. Folks have figured out that “the very purpose of school privatization is to close schools and give teachers no more job security than fast food workers or Walmart greeters.”

    Black Agenda TV, Season 1, Episode 5

    Katrina Was a One Time Disaster, Detroit Will Be Replicated Many Times

    Half the black population of New Orleans was exiled in the wake of Katrina, the result of neoliberal politics and a chance hurricane. But the dismemberment of Detroit's black metropolis is a model that the capitalists can replicate over and over across black America.

    Omali Yeshitela, chairman of the Black Is Back Coalition evaluates the Obama presidency

    President Obama “has been worse for the African community than Bush,” said Omali Yeshitela, chairman of the Black Is Back Coalition, which will hold its annual national conference August 16 and 17, in Philadelphia. “First of all, Bush couldn’t have gotten away with what Obama gets away with. He’s neutralized so many forces – taken them out of action.” “He’s played the African community, his most loyal constituency,” said Yeshitela, appearing on BlackAgendaTV.com. “The only thing he’s done is criticize Blacks in the most callous, reactionary kind of way.”

    For a growing number of African Americans, the Obama “spell has been broken.” However, too many Americans of all ethnicities think that politics consists only of elections. “What has been defined as politics locks us into imperialist space,” said Yeshitela. “At the moment when Africans and other people begin to look for alternatives to the Democrats, then some Negro will step forward to lead us back safely into the embrace of the system, through the Democratic Party. Jesse Jackson did that” in the 1980s.

    The Shrinking Political Vision of African American leadership

    BAR managing editor Bruce Dixon on how the political souls of black America's political class have shrunk to fit their hands.

    Molefi Asante Must Go, Say Students and Educators

    A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

    Temple University African American Studies chairman Dr. Molefi Asante figured he could both please his bosses and purge his department of leftist political thought by getting rid of W.E.B. Dubois scholar Dr. Anthony Monteiro. Instead, Asante has made himself a pariah to students and educators, and an embarrassment to Temple administrators.

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    Questioning the #BringBackOurGirls Campaign

    by Danny Haiphong

    The #BringBackOurGirls campaign has become the loudest voice for U.S. imperialism and military domination of Africa. It’s only message is that the U.S. “do something” – as if America is not already responsible for the death of millions of Africans in Congo, Somalia and elsewhere. #BringBackOurGirls masks the reality that Washington’s real mission is to protect corporate theft of Nigeria’s wealth.

    Ras Baraka's Victory: Indicting Education Crimes

    by Michelle Renee Matisons and Seth Sandronsky

    Former Newark Mayor Cory Booker tried to turn the city’s public schools over to privatizers and billionaires. But, there’s a new mayor in town. Ras Baraka’s “victory is about creating the educational climate – supported by larger goals of racial/ economic justice – that is required for thriving students.”

    Is a New “Cold War” Coming? You Can’t Be Serious

    by Dr. T P Wilkinson

    We are said to be returning to conditions of Cold War – although the term was never sufficiently explained back in the days when it was believed operative. In reality, Cold Wars past and, supposedly, present, are also hot and always deadly to millions of people. They are “the logical extension of Manifest Destiny, the particularly US term for imperialism.”

    Eritrea: The Cuba of Africa

    by Thomas C. Mountain

    The Cuban experience with the next-door imperial power bears similarities to the treatment Eritrea has been subjected to by the U.S. and its proxies in Africa. “Sanctions aimed at crippling their economies and hurting their people have hit both countries hard.”

    What is Boko Haram, and Where DId It Come From?

    By Gary K. Busch

    Uncle Sam and AFRICOM claim that Boko Haram is the Nigerial franchise of Al Qeda, and provide the justification for open armed intervention in the affairs of Nigeria and its neighbors.  The truth is deeper, more complicated, and intimately tied to the military and kleptocratic politics of post-colonial Nigeria.

    Listen to Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network, with Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey – Week of 5/19/14

    Count-Down to a Class-Based Internet

    The public has four months to respond to the Federal Communications Commission’s plans to end Internet neutrality. “The people are very clear about what they want,” said Kevin Zeese, an organizer of Occupy the FCC, which camped out in front of the Commission’s offices, in Washington. “They don’t want a class-based Internet. They don’t want a two-tiered Internet based on fees. They want an open, equal Internet,” as demanded by several million petitioners and callers to the FCC.

    Rev. Pinkney Defiant Under House Arrest

    The leading activist in mostly Black Benton Harbor, Michigan, will still be under house arrest when protestors converge on the PGA tournament, May 24. Rev. Edward Pinkney is facing 20 years in prison on elections law charges stemming from an effort to recall Mayor James Hightower, described as a “stoolie” for the Whirlpool Corporation, which dominates the town. Pinkney said Whirlpool hoped his arrest would defeat the recall effort and undermine the “Occupy the PGA” protests, “but we’re going to win both of them.”

    U.S. War Against Libya Boosted Boko Haram

    “We cannot understand the rise and strengthening of Boko Haram and, indeed, most of the radical Islamic activity in Africa, disconnected from” NATO’s overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi’s government in Libya, said BAR editor and columnist Ajamu Baraka, author of the article “From Benghazi to Boko Haram.” The 2011 triumph of U.S.-backed jihadists in Libya “provided a material source for training and equipment and money that strengthened these elements across the continent,” said Baraka.

    “No War” Rally in Times Square

    Activists will stage a “No War” rally at New York City’s Times Square, May 26, to demand the U.S. halt its aggressive confrontations with Russia – the root of the crisis in Ukraine. The Ukrainian coup-imposed, fascist-backed government in Kiev initially failed to crush resistance in the eastern parts of the country, said Sara Flounders, of the International Action Center, because the military “refused to fight against their own sisters and brothers. And now U.S. imperialism has only the fascists to lean on” in Ukraine. She likened the eastern Ukrainian resistance to “an armed Occupy Wall Street.”

    Greg Butterfield, a contributing editor to Workers World newspaper, said the fascists that shot, beat or burned to death 46 people in the southern Ukrainian city of Odessa were much like the Ku Klux Klan. “You can see why people have taken the initiative to form militias and protect themselves to keep the fascists out of eastern Ukraine, said Butterfield.

    U.S. Goal is to Subdue Russia

    Washington tries relentless to encircle and isolate Russia “to subordinate it, so it can be ripped off and integrated into the world market controlled by the United States and the European Union,” said Jeff Mackler, of Socialist Action, in Oakland, California. However, Mackler doesn’t think the U.S. wants to go to war with Russia, “although the Cold War rhetoric is still there,” because “Russia is no longer a workers’ state with a planned economy.”

    Mumia: Systemic Racism Trumps Personal Prejudice

    Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s private racist remarks are fodder for the media, but the press ignores “systemic racism, which has an impact on the lives and life hopes of millions of people,” said Mumia Abu Jamal, the nation’s best known political prisoner. Mass incarceration, for example, is a racist policy of the state. “It is this vase, impersonal, systemic racism that deserves our attention and condemnation,” not the private utterances “of an old goat lusting for a 30-something,” said Abu Jamal, in a commentary for Prison Radio.

    Cornel West: Hands Off the Black Radical Tradition

    “When you attack Tony Monteiro, you’re attacking a Black man called Cornel West, too,” said the nation’s best known Black public intellectual. Dr. West was speaking at a North Philadelphia rally demanding Temple University reinstate Dr. Anthony Monteiro at its African American Studies department. Dr. Molefi Asante, the department chairman, has launched a red-baiting campaign against Dr. Monteiro and his supporters. Dr. West sees this as an assault on the Black radical tradition. “You’re attacking Angela Davis; you’re attacking DuBois; you’re attacking the memory of Paul Robeson; you’re attacking the memory of Sinclair Drake,” said West.

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    Kidnapped Girls Become Tools of U.S. Imperial Policy in Africa

    by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

    The “humanitarian” U.S. military occupation of Africa has been very successful, thus far. “The Chibok abductions have served the same U.S. foreign policy purposes as Joseph Kony sightings in central Africa.” Imagine: the superpower that financed the genocide of six million in Congo, claims to be a defender of teenage girls and human rights on the continent. If you believe that, then you are probably a member of the Congressional Black Caucus.

    Freedom Rider: America Brings Hell to Ukraine

    by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley

    Washington’s pell-mell rush to the brink of war against the giants of Eurasia is awesome in its recklessness. “The feverish pace of the Asia pivot meant to encircle China is matched only by the plan to dispatch Russia economically – and ultimately, militarily.”

    Call the FCC – If Obama's FCC Doesn't Restore Network Neutrality, Black Agenda Report Will Die

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

    Although Obama promised to protect internet access for everyone, rule changes proposed by his FCC chief will make the internet a toll road. Failure to restore the internet's common carrier status will let greedy corporations pretending be something they'll call “the market” to restrict access to any content that isn't theirs or doesn't pay to be seen. But it's not a done deal yet. There's still time to make your voice heard...

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    Molefi Asante: Portrait of a Redbaiting Bootlicking Rat

    A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

    As often as not, the guy in the most elaborate dashiki is the one working for The Man. At Temple University, Dr. Molefi Asante is “the narrow cultural nationalist who poses as the ultimate Race-man, but ultimately winds up as chief bootlicker, servant and agent of white corporate power.”

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    From Benghazi to Boko Haram: Why I support the Benghazi Inquiry

    by BAR editor and columnist Ajamu Baraka

    You can’t understand the threat posed to Nigeria by Boko Haram, or the ghastly destruction of Syria over the past three years, outside the context of “the vicious NATO obliteration of the state of Libya.” One huge crime begets many consequences, including the death of the U.S. ambassador in Benghazi. The Left should be outraged at Obama policies – in North Africa, in Syria, and in backing neo-fascists in Ukraine.

    Lessons from James Boggs: Capitalist Automation in the 21st Century

    by Danny Haiphong

    Automation has conveyed great advantages to capital over labor, worldwide. Black American revolutionary worker James Boggs “asserted that the only effective counter offensive to automation’s assault on labor would be for workers to make ‘politics’ instead of ‘things’” – that is, to create a more humane social system.

    The United States: Land of Blissful Ignorance and Blatant Hypocrisy

    by Solomon Comissiong

    American popular geopolitical ignorance sometimes seems infinite. Most of the world is fully aware that the U.S. government financed the Ukrainian coup “that helped bring to power a wave of neo-Nazis.” Yet, most Americans think that Russia is playing the Hitler role, and Washington is the good guys.

    My Wise Country Cousin on Judas comin’ to Cali…

    by BAR Poet-in-Residence Raymond Nat Turner

    Molefi Asante’s brand of “Afrocentricity” means McCarthyism and race and class betrayal.

    Listen to Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network, with Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey – Week of 5/12/14

    Special Edition: The Jackson Rising Conference

    This week, Black Agenda Radio focuses entirely on the recent “Jackson Rising” conference on cooperative economies, organized by the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM). Organizers had hoped the event would be hosted by Chokwe Lumumba, the revolutionary Black nationalist and MXGM co-founder who was elected mayor of mostly Black Jackson, Mississippi, last June. However, Lumumba died suddenly this past February, and his son Chokwe Antar Lumumba was defeated in a special election to fill his father’s seat, in April. Despite the loss, the Jackson Rising conference proceeded as scheduled, attracting hundreds of activists from the region and around the country. BAR Managing Editor Bruce Dixon was on hand for all three days of the conference.

    Allies and Enemies

    Ed Whitfield, of the Fund for Democratic Communities, said the people need a vision. “It’s a vision of where we’re able to use our labor to provide enough for our loved ones and ourselves, as well as the very young, the old, the infirm, and those people who are caretakers of the community, producing love and caring for other people.”

    Mississippi law “does not allow for the incorporation of cooperatives in any other sector within the state except agriculture, Melba Smith informed a popular workshop. The restrictions pose a hardship on low-income people, who must go out of state to form cooperatives and then apply for a license to operate in Mississippi, said Smith, of the Coalition for a Prosperous Mississippi.

    State Sen. Jim Evans, a veteran of the Civil Rights Movement, told delegates “You have allies all over the world” – but plenty of adversaries in Mississippi. “These folks ain’t gonna change nothing unless we organize and build a majority, said Evans, who works closely with organized labor. “They don’t know what’s right, and neither do they care.”

    A Question of Self-Determination

    Iya Falola, a local Jackson MXGM activist, said people need to put the concept of solidarity at the center of economic thought. “The real model of economic uplift is taking the ‘I’ out of the concept,” she said. “Until we come together collectively, and are all able to benefit from our efforts, there is no solidarity in economy. It’s still capitalistic.”

    The Federation of Southern Cooperatives has been working with small farmers for almost 50 years, and was one of the main participants in the Jackson Rising conference. “For African Americans, from a cultural and historical standpoint, cooperatives offer a way for people to embrace values of working together with others to enhance the total community,” said the Federation’s John Zippert.

    Salima Muhammad represented Praxis, which also provide support for the conference. She believes people want to be self-determining in their economic activities. “If we can own it, then we can determine how it’s used. I think that’s where people are directing their energy.”

    Michael Peck spoke for the Spain-based Mondragon Corporation, the world’s best-known cooperative, with 80,000 worker-owners and plants in 39 countries. A Mondragon venture in Argentina went bust, causing suffering among the local workers. “We went into that region as a financial investor, but we didn’t take our values with us,” said Peck. After a long, democratic review of the episode, “we decided that we would never again make an international investment without taking our values with us.”

    Solidarity Economy: Essential to Transformation

    There is nothing capitalistic about MXGM’s cooperative vision, said Adofo Minka. “Cooperation Jackson” emphasizes “placing the means of production in the hands of the people, and focusing more on creating livable wages and benefits for the people who work in these businesses, as opposed to one owner who is only interested in developing his own pockets.”

    Bruce Dixon engaged MXGM’s Mikea Kambui, Akil Bakari and Von Anderson in a wide-ranging discussion of cooperative possibilities. One idea is to form an entertainment cooperative that Jacksonians could buy into for, say, $5 a month. “Over three months, we could come to the city with a public-private partnership to start a movie theater, here, or two theaters,” said the activists. Currently, not a single movie is located in Jackson, which had 11 theaters in the 1980s.

    Gus Newport, the former mayor of Berkeley, California and close friend of Malcolm X, has long experience in cooperative ventures. “The cooperative model teaches us how to create what Martin Luther King called ‘The Beloved Community’ – how to work together, to learn to have concern for your fellow human being.”

    The conference was “a foundational moment,” said Rose Brewer, a Minneapolis activist with the U.S. Social Forum and the Black Left Unity Network. “To reignite that communal, as well as cooperative, spirit is absolutely essential to any social transformation,” she said.

    Sage Crump, of Artists 4 Change, said: “What moved me most was this idea of the solidarity economy, and how do we shift the way we think about our exchange of goods and services, from an individual model of give-and-get to What is the benefit for all people?” Crump is from New Orleans.

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