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During more than three years of publication, BC has gathered around it a truly talented band of writers, who are kind enough to contribute their brilliance to our humble publication. These ladies and gentlemen have allowed us to fulfill our mission: to define and refine progressive thought in the United States. Not all of them are Black. We at BC believe that African Americans – and our non-Black allies – deserve the best insights and knowledge that is available, and that the authors’ race is secondary to their contribution to our understanding of the world.

We have not included all of our esteemed colleagues in the following review, because they have become so numerous. To those who have been left out of this yearly review, we apologize. Blame it on the heat, and the failings of the Publishers, Glen Ford and Peter Gamble.

Patrice D. Johnson, one of our original contributors, warned that the bogus “war on terror” had targeted non-profit organizations that, in the warped minds of the Bush people, might have connections to individuals on an enemies list. The list is arbitrary and capricious, but might embroil innocent givers and charities in the national security network, as Ms. Johnson wrote in her September 2, 2004 article, “Charity and Homeland Security.”

”OMB Watch, a Washington-based non-profit that monitors the activities of the White House Office of Management and Budget, issued a statement calling on the CFC to ‘change its misguided policy.’ The group, a participant in the federal fundraising drive and a member of the dissenting coalition of non-profits, says in its statement that following Patermaster’s directive would ‘force America’s charities to act as police investigators and enforcers... Nonprofits may become reluctant – even if unconsciously – to hire minorities, especially those who appear to be Islamic or of Middle-Eastern descent, or whose names sound like people who might be on the blacklist.’” 

The crime against democracy committed by the United States in Haiti in the winter of 2004 continues to bleed the country, with the complicity of a cowed United Nations. Perhaps the most courageous reporter on the scene in the capital, Port-au-Prince, is Kevin Pina, BC’s Associate Editor. Mr. Pina braves the bullets of U.S.-sponsored goons every day to report on the rape of the New World’s first non-racial republic, now reduced to a colony of the U.S., France, and Canada. On September 16, 2004, six months after the United States kidnapped and exiled the elected President of Haiti, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, head of the Lavalas Party, Kevin Pina set the record straight in our pages. The massed corporate media had distorted history to mask an orgy of criminality, wrote Pina, in an article titled “One Man’s Democracy is Another Man’s Chains: The Untold Story of Aristide’s Departure from Haiti”:

”The Lavalas party’s land reform for the peasants and universal literacy programs are ignored and dismissed as insignificant by the outside world. Financial and political isolation begins to take its toll. This becomes a period in which anything positive about Lavalas appears to be censored while anything that damages the credibility of the Haitian government is magnified. In this political climate, even former ‘leftist’ allies of Lavalas, so-called Haitian human rights organizations and members of Haiti’s press, justify accepting tours to the United States – paid for by the U.S. State Department. During these tours they are encouraged to develop contacts with the alternative media and the United States ‘Left’ as they preach the evils of Aristide and Lavalas to a largely uninformed American audience.”

That audience remains woefully uninformed. The Haitian people will have to teach them a lesson, once again.

Unsettling the mind – is a good thing

“The Color of Justice” in the United States is white, as Ryan Paul Haygood, a lawyer with the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, wrote for BC on September 30, 2004. For the rest of us, there exists a predatory system of mass incarceration:

”In America’s inner cities…where the ‘war on drugs’ is waged against low-income Black and Brown people, mass incarceration rather than treatment and rehabilitation guides police drug enforcement strategies.  In fact, the criminal justice system harbors a deeply held belief that, unlike many white offenders, Black and Brown offenders are beyond rehabilitation.”

Our comrade and co-upsetter Dr. Edward Rhymes, a gifted educator, tackled the quandary of integration vs. segregation in an illuminating October 7, 2004 piece. The problem is, as Dr. Rhymes points out, the Jim Crow system was never really dismantled. In the phony process that passed for desegregation, about half of Black teachers lost their jobs, but in most districts no meaningful integration took place:

”With the loss of black teachers and principals who served as mirrors in which black students, by and large, saw the ‘angels of their better nature’ reflected, a deficit was created in terms of black academic achievement. Although this deficit was by no means total in impact, it was significant. As mentioned previously in this writing, the public school system in the United States has an explicit racist, sexist and classist history. With that in mind, is it not somewhat naïve for us to believe that a system that has shown that sort of bias towards people of color, would effectively teach our children without a radical educational revolution?”

Dr. Marcellus Andrews, a senior fellow at the New America Foundation, dared to emit the unspeakable: Would middle class Blacks break with their poorer brethren? And what would be the consequences?

”What would become of poor black people who were abandoned by their former middle class partners?  They would slip further into the shadows of American life, suffering ever greater poverty, sickness and early death like their white, brown and yellow counterparts.  If they struck out at middle class blacks in the usual way that poor people strike at society – through crime – they would find themselves assailed by a rainbow coalition of middle class folks insisting on ‘law and order.’ Indeed, one can imagine a situation where the New Washington solution would lead to ever more punitive approaches to crime and punishment once the black middle class stopped tying the fate of the black poor to the nation’s history of slavery and apartheid.  Sympathy would shrivel still more for the poor and social outcasts, with no segment of the middle class coming to the defense of those in society’s basement.  The United States would become an even meaner place than it is now.”

Dr. Andrews’ November 4, 2004 article, “No Exit in Black: Trapped by the Economy and Politics,” opened a new portal on Black political discussion.

BC has many friends, from diverse disciplines. Dr. Alvin Walker, a psychologist from Louisiana now based in Manhattan, is an expert in the psychoses of the rich and powerful. In the wake of the Republican victory last fall, Dr. Walker graced our pages on November 18, 2004 with his compelling piece, “The 2004 Presidential Election: Another Pyrrhic Victory for White Supremacy.”

”Do you really think that the God of Christianity as revealed in the Bible is unconcerned about the environment, or war and peace, and injustice and poverty?  Does God want 45 million Americans to be without healthcare and does God support the racist exclusion of people of color and other out groups?

”So we see that the deeply ubiquitous ideology of Euro-American supremacy trumps class interests and, in this instance, leads to a tragic, dangerous, and irrational choice, the election of an overtly racist, war criminal hell bent on destroying the last tattered remnants of the social safety net and seems intent on attempting to remake the world in accord with his own destructive, anti-democratic, white supremacist vision:  George Walker Bush.”

BC believes that history is the fountainhead of the present. One of our mentors is Dr. Martin Kilson, the first Black tenured professor at Harvard University, and an inspiration to hundreds – maybe thousands – of Blacks seeking knowledge. On December 16, 2004, Dr. Kilson explained the corrupt and convoluted logic of the peculiar brand of American white racism in his grand piece, “Notes on the Democratic Defeat: Conservative Christian Atavism Ethos or ‘Christians from Hell’”:

”…the rightwing use of the atavism ethos by Christian fundamentalists through Republican party modalities in the 2004 presidential election was a depressing development. It was no doubt a valid revitalization in the eyes of  rank-and-file White Protestant and Catholic Christian fundamentalists, as measured by the fact that White Protestants gave Bush some 70% and White Catholics around 53% of their votes.  But the American society-wide consequences will be something very different indeed. The consequences will be mainly anti-feminist, homophobic, anti-egalitarian in wealth and social mobility patterns, and anti-Black.”

Black culture and politics are inseparable

Although a thoroughly political magazine, BC understands that culture is also nurtured in politics, and that Black icons must be remembered and revered by ourselves – since nobody else will. Our favorite expatriate African American in Toronto, Canada, Norman (Otis) Richmond, paid homage to the late, great Sam Cooke, on December 23, 2004.

”Cooke was one of the first R&B artists to take a stand for civil rights and Black power. He cancelled performances rather than play to segregated audiences. He was also one of the first artists to cut off his "process". He did it years before Hank Ballard came out with the 1968 song, "How You Gonna Get Respect (If You Haven't Cut Your Process Yet?)." He knew both Martin Luther King Jr. and El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Malcolm X). Cooke sang at King's Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama in the 1950s when he was a member of the Soul Stirrers. His relationships with Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali were documented in the film Ali.”

Richmond’s article was titled, “Sam Cooke Still Resonates.”

James Forman’s voice continues to resonate, as well. The civil rights leader and visionary died early this year, and was saluted by our colleague David Swanson, on January 20, 2005, in an homage called, “Jim Forman and the Liberal Labor Syndrome.”

”Jim Forman did not wait for the Democratic Party to set an agenda.  He gave us a model of aggressive and militant action based on principles of equality, social justice, and non-violence.  Toward the late sixties he grew more accepting of the idea of violent struggle, and in doing so I believe he was horribly wrong.  But what he showed us through the early and mid sixties was aggressive non-violent organizing.  He organized, meaning he reached out to people, figured out what they would fight for, inspired them to fight for it, coordinated their work, found the resources to pay them for it, communicated their work to the world, and bailed them out of jail.  One of the reasons Forman is not better known is that he actively sought to avoid stardom, and one of the reasons he did so was that he wanted to develop many leaders in a grassroots movement.  Many of those he mentored are still leaders today.”

BC is dedicated to the proposition that Black people must not be required to reinvent the wheels of progress every generation, for lack of memory. David Swanson is one of those who keep our memories intact.

A major mind from the Greater Antilles

John Maxwell, the venerable and distinguished professor at the University of the West Indies, in Kingston, and columnist for the Jamaica Observer, is a special friend of BC. He allows us to borrow his articles, and refresh our minds. We were especially impressed with the wit and incisive analysis of his February 10, 2005 piece, “The Silence of the Blonds.”

”When Hitler was busy turning Jews into handbags, lampshades and black smoke, his reason was that the world needed to be rid of them (and of blacks, homosexuals, Gypsies and others) because they threatened the purity of the Aryan master archetype. This archetype was a blue eyed, blond superman with no resemblance to Hitler himself or to most of his main assassins. They, I now realize, were a new species, Geopolitically Modified Humans – GMH – Officially  Blond.  Looking at them you wouldn’t know it. Some people even said that Hitler himself “looked Jewish” –  whatever that meant, obviously missing his essential blondness which gave him the right to talk nonsense and murder as many people as he wished.

”What I realized this week is that the Congo’s Muzungo was not crazy, simply blond. And when this thought occurred to me it cleared up a host of misconceptions in my mind.

"I had been asking myself how could Africans like Kofi Annan and Afro-Americans like Colin Powell , Canadians like Prime Minister Paul Martin, and Haitians like Gerard LaTortue not understand the appalling wickedness which their policies have created in Haiti? Or how did Tony Blair, George Bush and Malcolm Fraser of Australia not understand the primeval wickedness they had let loose in Iraq? The answer was simple.

"Like Adolph Hitler, they are GMH-Blonds and are therefore exempted from normal human feelings, duties and responsibilities. They are expected  to giggle helplessly when confronted with murdered children and dismembered teenagers, with tortured Arabs and raped Haitian women. Like the good Germans in Tom Paxton’s 1960s song – ‘We didn’t know a thing.’”

What exquisite sarcasm! Our hats off to Prof. Maxwell, a jewel of the Caribbean.

Our guy in Chicago is Paul Street, the vice president for research at the Chicago Urban League, and a prodigious writer and thinker. Street points out the dangerous irony of high profile Black success stories that are taken as proof, by many whites, that racial equality is a reality in the United States. He calls this wishful phenomenon “The Full-Blown Oprah Effect: Reflections on Color, Class, and New Age Racism.” Street’s February 24, 2005 article states:

“For a considerable portion of whites in ‘post-Civil Rights’ America, black-white integration and racial equality are more than just accepted ideals.  They are also, many believe, accomplished realities, showing that we have overcome racial disparity. According to a survey conducted by the Washington Post, the Henry J. Kaiser Foundation, and Harvard University in the spring of 2001, more than 4 in 10 white Americans believe that blacks are ‘as well off as whites in terms of their jobs, incomes, schools, and health care.’

”The 2000 US Census numbers that were being crunched as this poll was taken did not support this belief.  More than three and a half decades after the historic victories of the black Civil Rights Movement, the census showed, equality remained a highly elusive goal for African-Americans. In a society that possesses the highest poverty rate and the largest gaps between rich and poor in the industrialized world, blacks are considerably poorer than whites and other racial and ethnic groups.”

In a society that tends less and less to document facts, but to obscure them with electronic rhetoric based on racist assumptions, we need folks like Paul Street.

Going into labor

BC dived into the Great American Labor Debate with all four feet. We got strategic assistance and trenchant analysis from Dwight Kirk, a Washington, DC-based activist, writer, consultant, and intellect. On February 24, 2005, Kirk posed the question, “Can Labor Go Beyond Diversity Lite?”

”55 percent (or 168,000) of the union jobs lost in 2004 were held by black workers, even though they represented only 13 percent of total union membership.

”More stunningly, African American women accounted for 70 percent of the union jobs lost by women in 2004. Yes, 100,000 black union women – many the sole or primary breadwinner in their households – lost their paychecks, their job security, medical insurance for their families and their retirement nest eggs in just one year. Gone!

”Compounding the disproportionate loss of union jobs in black households – especially those headed by women – are the shrinking paychecks of black union members. In 2004, federal income data ranked African American union workers last among all the major worker groups in median weekly earnings….

”The AFL-CIO’s cosmetic embrace of diversity may have sensitized to some extent, but it hardly uprooted, the white male power structure that has shaped the federation’s internal culture and dictated its policies since the merger of the AF of L and the CIO 50 years ago. In fact, many black labor leaders and union staff workers quietly chafe in the yoke of ‘official’ diversity, which merely colorizes labor solidarity within a non-inclusive framework of power relations. Or to give it a brand name, call it ‘Diversity Lite: more color, less flava.’”

That’s tellin’ it, brother.

Troy Peters, also based in DC, as a Senior Fellow at the Campaign for America’s Future, warns that the GOP’s attempt to bribe and subvert Black preachers and their congregations is abetted by white Democrats’ arrogance and ignorance. Peters’ March 24, 2005 article was titled, “Beware Republicans Bearing Gifts.”

”So far the Democrats have dismissed the ham-handed appeals to black churches and references to Fredrick Douglass, the Republican, as sloppy and ultimately futile.  This assessment may be correct, but the Democrats have excelled at taking the black vote for granted in recent decades.  Conversely, the Republican machine has demonstrated a remarkable effectiveness at doggedly refining their message until it strikes a chord.  They can read the demographic writing on the wall and they know to continue as the ‘white sanctuary’ may soon leave them out of power.  And there are real weaknesses within the black community for them to exploit.”

Our contributors are deep thinkers, and active movers and shakers. Prominent among them is Rev. Reynard Blake, Jr., of Michigan. On April 7, 2005, in the farcical wake of the congressional crusade to preserve the life-support of a white woman in a persistent vegetative state, Rev. Blake put forward “The Riddle for Black Conservatives: What Would Happen If Terri Was Toya?”

”If Terri Schiavo was a black woman named Toya Brown would she receive the same concern from white conservatives or members of the 'pro-life' movement?  For black conservatives and government grant-hungry black religious leaders concerned with gay marriage and school vouchers the answer would be “yes.”  Fortunately, those of us that live reality-based lives know that this is far from the case….

”Bush and his fellow 'Compassionate Conservatives' would do to well to realize that if they were truly 'pro-life' they would be concerned about the totality of life for all people, from birth to death. This means that they would be about the business of creating more jobs. Tax breaks for the wealthy are not a solution.”

Such irony is lost on the racist Right. But not on readers of The Black Commentator.

No excuses for racist behavior

Tim Wise is…well, he’s a wise man, and one of the nation’s most effective white anti-racism activists. We’re proud to be co-collaborators with him. Mr. Wise submitted a multi-part examination of “How the Right Rationalizes Racial Inequality in America,” Part One of which appeared in our May 5, 2005 issue.

”While some of the conservatives who regale me with their rationalizations for racial inequality manage to quote a gaggle of right wing ‘experts’ to help make their case, the claims they forward are hardly the stronger for it.

”For example, the argument that racial wage gaps merely reflect different levels of experience and qualifications between whites and blacks is simply untenable, when one examines the data.

”Fact is, earnings gaps persist at all levels of education. According to Census data, whites with high school diplomas, college degrees or Master's Degrees all earn approximately twenty percent more than their black counterparts. Even more striking, whites with professional degrees (such as medicine or law) earn, on average, thirty-one percent more than similar blacks and fifty-two percent more than similar Latinos.

”Even when levels of work experience are the same between blacks and whites, the racial wage gap remains between 10-20 percent."

Tim Wise has a brilliance for shredding racist presumptions and effrontery. We’re glad he’s part of our team, and we, part of his.

Tamara K. Nopper, of Philadelphia, is an extraordinary intellect. Although BC does not usually feature book reviews, we made an exception in Ms. Nopper’s case. Tamara brought to our attention a new book by Prof. George Yancey, whose studies show that Blacks may become even more politically isolated in this century. Nopper’s May 12, 2005 review was called, “The Browning and Yellowing of Whiteness.”

”[The] author suggests that European phenotype or ancestry will no longer be prerequisites for becoming white.  While the US Census Bureau treats Latino/as as an ‘ethnic group’ of sorts by emphasizing Latin American origin, many are socially read as “brown.”  Most Asian Americans are markedly non-European in phenotype and ancestry. Nevertheless, Yancey argues that while they may experience patterns of discrimination and racism from whites, both Latino/as and Asian Americans are following the same pattern of assimilation as Europeans did before them.

”Grounding his study within the framework of noted sociologist Milton Gordon, whose work on assimilation emphasized social acceptance by the majority and identification with it from the minority, Yancey provides compelling evidence indicating that Latino/as and Asian Americans are well on their way to becoming white.  In the chapter ‘They are Okay – Just Keep Them Away from Me,’ the author analyzes survey data on racial groups’ social attitudes regarding who they approve as potential neighbors as well as marriage partners for their children. 

”Contrary to the popular image of blacks as racially restrictive, Yancey discovers that black respondents are the most open to all other races.  Yet despite being the most receptive to other groups, blacks in general are rejected by all non-black groups – whites, Latino/as and Asian Americans.  While some assume that whites will be closed off to anyone not white, Yancey’s research show that white respondents are more accepting of Latino/as and Asian Americans than they are of blacks.  In turn, Latino/a and Asian American respondents are fairly receptive to one another as well as whites.  Overall, Yancey’s findings reveal that whites, Latino/as and Asian Americans do not tend to reject one another as possible neighbors or their kids’ spouses, but all three groups show a general resistance to blacks in these social roles.”

Prof. Yancey concludes that “black respondents were the only group to demonstrate a ‘distinct’ worldview.”

That’s why we need The Black Commentator. If we must be alone, at least we should make sense.

History and memory

From New York City, Prof. Jonathan Scott has been tilling old ground and building up new earthworks to serve the BC readership. His May 19, 2005 article was titled with a hip hop flavor – “Punks Jump Up to Get Beat Down” – but the thrust was intellectually earnest. White supremacy, says Scott, insulates white Americans from competition with other peoples, at home and abroad. The result is mediocrity: the stagnation of a nation.

”By fighting against desegregation and the civil rights agenda, white workers have been working hard for their own pungent mediocrity and bland homogeneity. People talk about “the politics of fear,” but the real fear is not Muslim terrorists. The real fear is an old fear, the mother of all U.S. fears: that whites will one day have to compete against equal or in many cases superior opponents, namely black folks, who have been competing intensely and without protection for the past 300 years against everyone in the entire world. Just take Tiger Woods: what nationality hasn’t he defeated already? Who will be next?

“…we need to remind white American radicals that they wouldn’t exist today had it not been for African American writers. Do they imagine they can avoid falling into the pit of U.S. mediocrity without studying systematically the work of black intellectuals? We’ll find out soon enough, for the race to the bottom is reaching the finish line."

Our publication believes that mass Black incarceration is the greatest crisis facing African Americans – a systematically induced cancer on our people. BC has documented the horrific growth in the American prison gulag, that now holds one of every four prisoners on the planet – half of them Black. Randall G. Shelden, a Professor of Criminal Justice at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, buttressed our argument with a multi-part series, “Slavery in the Third Millennium.” Here’s a slice from Part One, June 9, 2005.

”As our standard history books have told us, constantly reinforced during our public school education, the slaves were ‘freed’ after the Civil War ended.  Well, not exactly. After the war the South was faced with some rather serious economic, political, and social problems. Political and economic recovery was among the first priorities because the economy of the South, based as it was on a slave mode of production, was being replaced by a capitalist mode of production. Another crucial problem was what to do with the newly ‘freed’ slaves. What the white ruling class commenced to do was to begin the systematic oppression of blacks and maintain a system of caste rule that would replace a system of slavery. What happened was that the sharecropping system replaced slavery as a ‘legal’ method of controlling the labor of African-Americans.  A system of agricultural (and eventually industrial) ‘peonage’ emerged and was supported by such informal methods as vigilantism, intimidation, Jim Crow laws and the like. What became known as convict leasing was a prime example.”

The Harold Ford minstrel show

Harold Ford, Jr. is the prime example of the non-representative Black U.S. Representative on Capitol Hill. He was elected by one of the poorest districts in the nation – in Memphis – but fraternizes with and seeks to speak for rich corporations. We have pilloried Ford many times, but our colleage Charles Cinque Fullwood, of Washington, via South Carolina, raked the rogue over the coals in a scorching piece called, “Harold Ford, Social Security, and Telling Lies.” If you didn’t read it on June 23, 2005 take time to do so now.

”Evidently, the insanity of racism and its crippling affects have no respect for the passage of time or the birth of successor generations. You simply have to have your mind right. Be you Choochie-Boy Robinson, Coota Bug McKnight, or Congressman Harold Ford. Whether you are dressed in overalls or Brooks Brothers, you simply have to have your mind right to deal with both white people and Negroes talking backwards. And it is clear that Harold Ford's mind ain't right. He might as well be a smooth talking pimp selling his sister to the highest bidder in a urine-stained alley.

”Make no mistake, African Americans need debate, new ideas, deep think, vigorous discourse, a discussion of the merits, brainstorming (even a slow drizzle would help) and a clean break from old tired-ass, sclerotic ideas and strategies that simply won't work in a fundamentally new world.”

BC believes in the power of ridicule. Mr. Fullwood’s got the power.

Manifest mediocrity

White American Manifest Destiny and the concept of American “exceptionalism” are tightly entwined. Both are profoundly racist concepts, but there is something “exceptional” about the United States: it is an exceptionally violent society, that now spreads its sick culture of violence, rooted in genocide and slavery, throughout the world. We were honored that Dr. Ira M. Leonard, of Connecticut State University, saw fit to outline and analyze the gruesome tale in his series, “Violence is the Engine of U.S. History,” Part One of which appeared on June 30, 2005.

”The reality, not taught in American schools and textbooks, is that war – whether on a large or small scale – and domestic violence have been ever-present features of American life and culture from this country's earliest days almost 400 years ago. Violence, in varying forms, according to the leading historian of the subject, Richard Maxwell Brown, ‘has accompanied virtually every stage and aspect of our national experience,’ and is ‘part of our unacknowledged (underground) value structure.’ Indeed, ‘repeated episodes of violence going far back into our colonial past, have imprinted upon our citizens a propensity to violence.’

”Thus, America demonstrated a national predilection for war and domestic violence long before the 9/11 attacks, but its leaders and intellectuals through most of the last century cultivated the national self-image, a myth, of America as a moral, ‘peace-loving’ nation which the American population seems unquestioningly to have embraced.”

Mexico, too, was born in a cauldron of genocide and slavery – and it shows. President Vincente Fox bared his “white” ass to the world, twice, first with denigration of African American workers, then with the issuing of a pickaninny stamp. We were fortunate to be the recipients of an article from Dr. Abdul Karim Bangura, of the School of International Service at American University, Washington, DC, that put the Mexican racial situation in perspective. Dr. Bangura’s cogent piece for July 7, 2005 was titled, “White Mexican Racism Rears Its Ugly Head Again.”

”The Afrikan Mexican presence has been relegated to an obscured slave past, cast aside in the interest of a national identity based on a mixture of indigenous and European cultural mestizaje – i.e. the idea of the goodness of being classed as racially mixed. However, in practice…this ideology of ‘racial democracy’ favors the European presence; too often, the nation’s glorious indigenous past is reduced to folklore and ceremonial showcasing. But the handling of the Afrikan ‘third root,’ which is represented by more than 200,000 Afrikan Mexicans, is even more dismissive. Since they live as their neighbors do, carry out the same work, eat the same foods, and make the same music, it is assumed that Afrikan Mexicans have assimilated into ‘Mexican’ society. But…Afrikan Mexicans are Mexican society, as the historical record offers compelling evidence that Afrikans and their descendants contributed enormously to the very formation of Mexican culture.”

Vincente Fox doesn’t want to hear that. But we’ll keep shouting it.

Finally, we include an author who is dear to our hearts, because she is a broadcaster, like the publishers of BC – who can write! Lizz Brown, of St. Louis radio station WGNU, schools the people every day. She has been kind to us, as well. On July 14, 2005 Ms. Brown informed our readers of the death of Dr. Yasser Salihee, an Iraqi human rights worker and journalist who was apparently murdered by death squads organized by the U.S. occupation forces – a man who knew too much. We titled it, “Strange Fruit in Iraq.”

”When battered and methodically beaten dead bodies started showing up in Iraq, Dr Salihee started reporting. Dr Salihee wrote about bodies in the morgue with their hands tied or handcuffed behind their backs. Bodies with their eyes blindfolded appearing to have been tortured, whipped with cords and subjected to electric shocks. Bodies beaten with blunt objects and shot to death, often with a single bullet. Bodies found in mass graves and bodies floating in rivers.

”Dr Salihee also reported that many of the members of the Wolf Brigade came from Saddam Hussein’s Special Forces and Republican Guards. Indeed, these men were decorated veterans of homicide, genocide and torture.”


We know that we have left some very deserving contributors out of the mix, and we are sorry. But we promise to be around next year in the same hot season, and to include all those who were neglected in this roundup of articles.

The Black Commentator is grateful for the attention of our many tens of thousands of readers. There can be no organized movement, without an informed conversation. We wish there were more journals of this kind, so that we would have somebody to argue with; arguments are necessary in these critical times. Such discourse should, of course, lead to action – otherwise, what’s the point?

We have faith in our people, who have always acted – although not necessarily on time. That’s why we’re still here, collectively. Have a good and productive August.

You may also visit the Guest Commentators, Think Pieces, Cartoons and Art Forms pages to review all items in these categories.

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July 28 2005
Issue 148
Summer Reading Issue

will publish again on September 8 2005

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