is time to stop referring to Condoleezza Rice as an intelligent
person. The White House National Security Advisor is a fool
and a fake intellectual; how else to explain her speech to the
National Association of Black Journalists, earlier this month,
in which she compared Birmingham to Baghdad, inverting the truth
with a furrowed, yet vacant face? There is nothing behind the
woman’s eyes, organs that appear to be dedicated solely to the
purpose of worshipping Power.
of us at ,
Rice’s remarks induced profound feelings of racial embarrassment,
followed by uncontrolled, disgusted sputtering. Could such an
insipid, hollow specimen of Black womanhood actually exist?
By invoking the four child victims of the Birmingham church
bombing in scandalous political service to her idol, George
Bush, Rice has crossed the line from sycophancy to blasphemy.
New York City writer Margaret Kimberley maintained her composure
in the face of Rice’s assault on decency, to provide us with
her August 14 Guest Commentary, “Condoleezza
Rice and the Birmingham Bombing Victims.”
Condi Rice and company are left unable to sing about freedom
or little else because our Iraq policy was based on lies and
is now such an obvious failure. It is difficult for the
Bush administration to build democracy in Iraq because that
was never their true intention. Had they been serious about
bringing freedom to Iraqis instead of profits to Halliburton
we would have involved the United Nations and Arab nations in
bringing about positive change. Instead we have both the sorry
spectacle of continued killings of Iraqi civilians and American
troops and of a National Security Adviser making ridiculous
for the martyred Denise McNair, she and the other children killed
by American evil doers deserve better than to be used as cover
for the worst that America has to offer. As an aside, I have
always found it offensive when victims like Denise McNair are
described as having “sacrificed” or “given their lives.” Miss
McNair’s life was taken from her. People who in all probability
called themselves Christians murdered her in her church.
The only thing crueler is for people in power to evoke her name
when telling us that peace is war and freedom is slavery.
Kimberley’s piece was the most widely read item on last issue’s
menu. David Leander Williams felt compelled to respond.
Kimberley's brilliant piece that illuminated and underscored
Rice's "wolf in sheep's clothing" dilemma brought
back a mountain of painful feelings that I experienced that
dreadful day in 1963 when the Birmingham girls were murdered.
Ms. Kimberley clearly addresses the gigantic contradiction that
Rice spews like venom in her speech while on one hand, appealing
to the emotions of the audience by evoking the memory of Little
Miss Denise McNair while on the other hand, defending the illegal,
immoral destruction of Iraq. Tens of thousands of Iraqi
children, women and men were murdered by “liberating” American
Perhaps, Ms. Rice
is unaware of the little 12-year-old Iraqi boy, Ali Ishmael
Abbas whose parents and siblings were killed during a residential
neighborhood bombing raid. Ali lost his entire family
and both arms! I'm sure he's so grateful to Rice and Company
for liberating his country while destroying his family.
I'm sure if he had hands, he'd gladly shake the paws of Ms.
Rice. But alas, he can't, thanks to the compassionate
conservatism and perverted foreign policy of this fine Christian
content to contort her own Black, southern psyche to satisfy
the demands of Power, Condoleezza Rice attempts to enlist Black
history, itself, in her masters’ imperial project.
Hicks does a brief scan of Rice’s brainwaves, such as they are.
for such an insightful piece. I hope it gets the circulation
it deserves. As a white foot soldier in the civil rights
struggles in the '60s, it's strange to me how far we have drifted
from those ideals. The worst event of the '60s might have
been the King assassination in '68, as he was a man of true
honor and vision and might have lead us all out of this wilderness.
In my opinion, one of the deep motivations of Ms. Rice is perhaps
the shocking effects of the Birmingham bombing. I wonder
if she didn't decide right then, as a little kid, that it was
safer to grab on to power than to fight it.
if King had made such a decision. Why, he'd be an elder
GOP statesman, pontificating about how we're saving the Third
World from the mysterious forces of evil who don't want us to
fix everything by draining all their resources away for a pittance.
Instead he stood up to these forces – and they killed him.
Condoleezza is just a convenient shill, even more convenient
as she is so obviously “smart and talented and wonderful” –
in George Bush’s eyes. She's even beautiful – for an ice
queen. The Bush talent for finding the needle in the haystack,
shown first with Thomas and now again with Ms. Rice, continues.
(One wonders what Mrs. Laura really thinks of the cozy Sunday
football parties?) There's an oil tanker named after Ms
Rice! Nuff said.
Hicks’ psychological theory is intriguing: Rice swears childhood
allegiance to murderous racists to save herself from
otherwise inevitable doom at their hands. That's as good
an explanation as any for Rice's madness.
A. Turner is a director of corporate sales and marketing. As
such, she tends to think positively, if at all possible, and
sees some light through the Swiss cheese in Rice’s skull.
hope is that there is still time for Dr. Rice’s blinders to
be removed. You see, Mr. Powell once had blinders and
was actively used by the current administration. Then
it hit him – the truth about the current political party in
office and what his true role was in all of this. He then
began to speak out and he then was shut down. Which by
the way taught him another lesson. You will always be
seen as Black over all else, which I believe he did not want
to believe. Now they are using Dr. Rice because she is
still in the dark about the truth of all that has happened and
all that will happen with this current administration.
She has not experienced or refuses to label her experiences
as racism. I really hope and pray that she continues to
stay blessed but also gain an understanding of the truths of
this nation we live in. I do not want to see her broken
and bitter but wise beyond her own understanding on the true
plight of the Black African American.
law prevents us from expressing our wishes for Dr. Rice and
the rest of the Pirates.
is not an urban strategy
make sense of the state of American cities absent an understanding
of the African American saga and a cold analysis of the
caprices and imperatives of capital, now engaged in ferocious
assault on human social structures, worldwide. It is a conversation
that will not be over until the men who use wealth as a weapon
are rendered harmless to the rest of us.
our series on the interconnected urban-global dilemma with,
A Plan for the Cities to Save Themselves, Part One,” in
the August 14 issue. Our
subhead focus, “Black labor’s role in transforming the urban
landscape,” was only touched on in Part One, and will be more
thoroughly examined in Part II at future date.
Almost as soon as Blacks began to establish themselves in high
elected offices of the nation’s big cities, the road to larger
political power, previously traveled by waves of white urban
immigrants – ended. The cities themselves had been divested
by capital – leaving minorities numerically dominant – followed
soon thereafter by capital’s forced march of manufacturing jobs
to the sunbelt and, almost without a pause, the Third World.
Black electoral leadership was adrift – and remains so.
is convinced that only when Black leadership is “guided by the
powerful social message and historical experience of Black unionists”
will a Black politics emerge that can defend the people and
their assets against the ravages of capital – the corporate
and financial managers that divested urban America twice
in a single generation.
shortly learn why we were overjoyed to hear from Irv Taylor,
a reader who has corresponded with us before but never told
us what he does for a living.
loved your (lack of) city planning article. It hit right at
home for me since, yes, I am a city planner. Everything you
wrote is dead on the bull’s-eye. I have been a City Planner
since the mid-Seventies once I got
"qualified" with my master's degree. Ever since, I
have not been impressed with the basic white city planner/builder/developer
types (or with the ignoramus Toms and Tomasinas who are in league
with them). It is clear that for all the undergraduate and master's
programs purportedly producing planners, the planners can't
plan a city worth a damn. The evidence of their stewardship
is patently clear. Compared to Europe where they show some sense
of responsibility to and artistry in the making of their cities,
here, the ground is purely a commodity.
public guardians (elected and department officials) overwhelmingly
see themselves not as stewards of the public, but as the puppets
of the corporations and moneyed interests. These interests control
and dictate what happens or is possible to happen way out of
the normal public view, though in plain sight. The public guardians
across the country, exhibit such a startling lack of imagination
that time and again they can only arrive at the same tired and
useless tactic: to give away the public money to some corporate
pirate that sails in and raids the treasury. The tactic of the
pirate is just as singular: they claim a project is not doable
without the public's money. You would think that us Black folk
would have this thing figured out, especially since this trickery
and deceit has been going on for 50-60 years and more.
The people who know
that land is a valuable resource exert control over the use
of that resource by every means. They tell us city dwellers
what we can have, when we can have it and how much of it we
can have. As a result, the great cities of the US – New York,
Philly, Cleveland, Boston, D.C., LA and on and on and on – are
all dysfunctional in fundamental ways for ordinary people. Far
too many neighborhoods lack adequate transit service, lack place-to-place
connectivity, lack access to everyday goods and services, have
obsolescent school facilities and suffer from divestment, environmental
racism, and more ills than can be comfortably listed.
I have been
on the planet where there is a concentration of black people,
the urban conditions are The Same: blighted! In the community
I work now, there has not been a supermarket for 7-8 years.
I asked some people what they thought about that, and they could
only say: "We Need a Supermarket. We need a restaurant."
I said, "The food marketeers know you need a food market.
Everyone alive needs to eat, so they know this. But they aren't
interested in your convenience." And they said: "But,
we Need." And I said, "If this community was 20% Caucasian,
you'd have one. If you formed a food co-op, collect dues or
issue stock shares to participating residents, keep good records,
eventually the food marketeers will start to pay attention.
Why? Because your co-op is making money. And the corporate
beast cannot stand it when someone else is making the money
they think is theirs. And they will come." But they did
not believe. I asked some other people what they thought about
their community having so many boarded up buildings, vacant
lots, and public owned land. The most common response was along
the lines "Well its been going on for a long time. Somebody
should do something about it."
The American white
man does not care about his cities, at least he does not care
about the areas of the city where people of color predominate.
His so-called "City Planners" are no planners. They
are gatekeepers to destroy the hopes and ambitions of people,
particularly black people. Their objective is to remove Black
people from the cities under the guise of the public health,
safety and welfare. In the areas where white people are the
numerical majority, magically there aren't any of the constraints
they tell inner city people make investment so risky. So, where
(since most of us never got the 40 acres + the mule or long
since sold it, to some white man, probably) will the black people
be relocated or removed to when we have been urban renewed out
of and gentrified away from the neighborhoods we grew up in
that decayed around us? Where will black folk go in AmeriKKKa
have not seriously bothered to even try to be good stewards
of the cities, building our own economies, our own businesses,
or creating our own jobs, instead we've remained dependent while
even our own institutions blame and fault others for our malaise.
We could have learned city building, community development,
learned how to demand and get the use of resources to
build our homes and neighborhoods. We settled for the handout,
the sellout, and the buyout. But it is still not yet too late
to claim neighborhoods that have been black for decades.
Instead of moving
to the first or second ring older suburbs, black folks could
stay in the city. We could demand that suburban style amenities
– that is, quality of life stuff – be brought inside the city.
Instead of accepting loans to sell out in the city for a place
in the 'burbs, we could see the financial transaction for what
it is, an investment, and our investment is just as important
as anyone else's, individual or corporate. To protect the investment,
we have a right to tell some public guardian, "NO! Not
with my investment you don't."
Our cities do not
have to be the graveyards they are becoming. Our cities
do not have to be devoid of clean air, lacking enough jobs for
ordinary folk, vacant of normal (take-it-for-granted) shopping
opportunities, stripped of the barest quality of life trappings.
They do not have to be cages with people isolated in avoided
neighborhoods, become wells of hate and despair, or be cesspools
of ignorance, criminality and excess. Our cities do not have
to have zones of decay, destruction and apathy. Our cities could
be nice places to live. But we must take the power of capital
to our own hands to have any chance to make our cities the place
we call home.
Mr. Taylor’s commentary quite useful, as we hope will become
apparent in our series on the cities.
the racial facts of life
Ward Connerly doesn’t
like Black people, beginning with himself. All of his rich white
friends share the same sentiments, and pay him well to wrestle
with his inner demons on the public stage. This year’s Ward
Connerly show features the Racial Privacy Initiative (RPI),
Proposition 54, which we characterized on August 14 as “Ward
Connerly’s Crusade to Erase Black People.”
intended effect of RPI is to make it nearly impossible to compile
evidence of the existence of racism, or to create public policy
that would counter the effects of racism, or to identify the
victims of racism. A “color blind” society would be achieved
by blinding citizens and government to the facts of bias. It
is the equivalent of vanquishing crime by making it impossible
to introduce evidence of lawbreaking, or conquering disease
by eliminating the practice of medicine. Racial peace will reign
in the land, the theory goes, since there will be no official
racial facts available to argue about.
Stills is one of the living facts that Connerly wants to erase
from the records of Oakland, California. She’s seen Connerly’s
act, up close.
for your insightful article on a piece of human slime known
as Ward Connerly and that misnomer "Racial Privacy Initiative."
I work in the field of EEO/Cultural Competency in Health Care
and know the potential devastation that will happen if we can't
get access to statistics to prove that minorities don't get
good health care because no one is in practice is sensitive
to their cultural differences that may prohibit access to good
health care. Your story reminds me of a scenario that actually
happened in 1996 when I was working for the Feds and actually
encountered good ol' slave boy Ward.
In 1996, I was a Civil
Rights Specialist in the U. S. Department of Transportation,
Federal Highway Administration. I attended a Civil Rights Conference
in Oakland, where Mr. Connerly was the keynote speaker trying
to sell us on the need for the misnamed "California Civil
Rights Initiative" (Prop. 209).
My supervisor and
I had researched and reviewed the Initiative, and since our
office was responsible for the oversight and enforcement of
the Civil Rights Programs of State Transportation agencies giving
minority and women-owned businesses a slice of the Federal pie
of dollars in four states and two American Territories, we sent
an in-depth analysis of the initiative to our National Director
of Civil Rights in Federal Highway Administration in Washington
with a letter urging the Secretary to threaten to cut off California's
money if they didn't take Prop. 209 off the table. To us, Prop.
209 was the nail in the coffin to wipe out any progress or opportunities
for minority and women owned businesses contracting to the Feds.
day arrived for Mr. Connerly to speak at our conference. After
20 minutes of futilely trying to convince a room of 300 EEO
and Civil Rights/Diversity Practitioners of the inherent "goodness"
of the California Civil Rights Initiative, (cause we proceeded
to drown him out with boos, catcalls and hissing) we were allowed
to submit written questions on a 3 x 5 card to Mr. Connerly.
question: "If this proposition passes, what are you suggesting
to replace implemented, systematically proven programs
that prevent institutional discrimination? In other words,
what is going to keep agencies from discriminating if there
is no mandate and no legal remedy to forestall it?”
"They're just not going to discriminate...."
The Crowd: "W-T-F? Is he kidding, or just plain delusional????"
Rather than answer a legitimate question, he then asked who
sent that question up there. I stood alone in that room,
then a couple of more people, until half the room was on their
feet. He screamed at us "I don't see why you invited
me here if you are going to disrespect me like this" –
and ran out of the ballroom like the sniveling wimp he is.
Needless to say, I didn't get an answer to my question.
The point is, Connerly called and challenged the organizers
of the conference to invite him, saying that if we were truly
pro-civil rights, then he deserved the opportunity to present
his views. So they acquiesced to his bullying tactics
and he screamed like a little kid ("I'm gonna take my toys
and go home cause I don't wanna play with you anymore!")
because he didn't get the reception he thought he deserved from
a crowd that included many who stood to be unemployed because
Prop.209 was going to eliminate their jobs. Do you see
his grandeurs of delusions here?
Now this state is probably going to have Conan the Barbarian
as governor, with Orrin Hatch in the wings trying to get a Constitutional
Amendment passed to allow the foreign-born to become President. (If
that's the case, someone had better answer why an American-born
African-American, Latino, Asian, Native American or female doesn't
get the chance at the Oval Office before Ah-nold does.)
And Connerly is hoping to slip one past us because we're going
to have our attention diverted with the Terminator.
July 31 Cover Story, “The
Debate on Zimbabwe Will Not Be Throttled,” we called for
the widest possible discussion among Blacks in the Diaspora
on issues related to Africa – including and especially the situation
in Zimbabwe. Our critique was largely directed against “individuals
and organizations [that] appropriate to themselves the colors
Red, Black and Green, and label as treasonous all Black criticism
of their current Strong Man of choice, Zimbabwean President
Robert Mugabe.” The commentary specifically cited “circles associated
with the December 12th Movement [that] seek to monopolize and
smother that discussion through intimidation and slander.”
began with a June 3 Open
Letter to President Mugabe from African American trade unionists,
educators, clergy and activists who “view the political repression underway in
Zimbabwe as intolerable and in complete contradiction of the
values and principles that were both the foundation of your
liberation struggle and of our solidarity with that struggle.”
This incurred the wrath of the December 12th Movement and others,
who charge that criticism of Mugabe encourages U.S. and British
intervention against Zimbabwe.
position is that Mugabe does suppress civil society,
and we believe that the most prominent member of the opposition,
Morgan Tsvangirai, does act and talk like a collaborator
with imperialism. We oppose U.S. intervention under any circumstances,
and also oppose those who would strangle the African American
debate over how to best support the people of Zimbabwe.
Weaver is a leader of the Zimbabwe
Support Committee, in Chicago.
am surprised at the amount of discussion over the fact that
there is disagreement over Zimbabwe's political parties among
Black Americans. The intellectual community is not only comprised
of scholars but also activists. There are still many political
activists who don't use their professions as venues of expression.
No we don't agree!!! The scholars can write as many books on
the subject as they choose. That does not make them experts
on any political contingent.
do agree with some of your writers’ points particularly the
issue of being branded as capitalist sympathizers etc. For that
reason I will be direct. There is a tremendous amount of racism
in United States foreign policy. Because some writers and scholars
agree with U.S. foreign policy regarding Zimbabwe doesn't mean
they are racist.
and your readers are aware that the land question in Africa
is not only being challenged in Zimbabwe. You and your readers
are aware that the people of Zimbabwe are impoverished and enfranchised.
They choose their governments, and their leaders. The people
in urban cities voted for Tsvangirai. The people in rural countryside
voted for Mugabe. The election was monitored and found to be
a fair election. The MDC lost. ZANU-PF won a decisive victory.
MDC has challenged the results of the election – a subsequent
by-product of their discontent being the planned assassination
of Robert Mugabe.
must recognize all governments have a right to defend themselves
and all elected officials. In this case, the President. Zimbabwe
has its own legal system whether the U.S. agrees to that point
or not. Presidents appoint justices to the high court routinely.
They often appoint justices who favor a specific political viewpoint.
This doesn't make Robert Mugabe a dictator. Just the same way
that Black Americans who agree with a racist U.S. foreign policy
doesn't mean they are racist.
things are very difficult now. Believe me, before it is all
over it will be even more difficult. When it is all over the
people of Zimbabwe will control the land and resources. The
mines and the farms. The industry and the commerce. Not Britain
or the U.S.A.
marched in the streets against apartheid and boycotted Nestle,
Kodak in an effort to end colonial exploitation in southern
Africa. Yet at the end of colonial exploitation the Black Americans
have said very little about debt relief, very little about affordable
HIV-AIDS drug regimens. We have done very little to support
the people who fought so hard to gain freedom from colonial
In short the rhetoric was not enough to sustain consistent support
for the people.
is the people I am concerned about not the rhetoric. And if
you believe U.S. State Department rhetoric that Robert Mugabe
is a dictator then, rhetorically speaking, Salih Booker is a
Booker is Executive Director of Africa
Action and one of the signatories to the letter critical
of President Mugabe.
Africa policy: permanent instability
least since the summer day in 1960 when President Eisenhower
ordered the assassination of Congolese democratic leader Patrice
Lumumba, U.S. policy in post-colonial Africa has been to thwart
the development of civil society by creating conditions of Hell
on Earth. As we wrote in the July 17 issue, “American
policy is designed to place Africans at the extremes of insecurity,
in order to foreclose the possibility of civil societies taking
root. This policy has always resulted in mass death.”
Sick Hungry & Afraid: The real U.S. policy in Africa.”)
Boston, Dr. Alvin Foster draws parallels between U.S. African
and domestic policy.
reading your excellent articles and others, I have come to believe
that this same policy of destabilization – keeping Africa
incapable of withstanding the thievery practiced by multinational
corporations, now fully applies to Blacks in America. Like Africa,
they (the people who own America) too often select our Black
misleaders and murder our chosen leaders (Malcolm X). The multiple
street demonstrations and riots of the 1960 & 70s (Civil
Rights, Women Rights, Poverty & Job Marches for union scale
wages, Vietnam, etc.) instilled hope for change among the oppressed
classes: the poor, Blacks and Latinos; however, it threatened
the profits and domination of the owners.
scared them so much so that they created with President Johnson’s
help the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration [LEAA]. It
supplied the funds and weapons that fueled the lock up of a
significant number of Blacks. The lockup policy is designed
to assure riot free streets, destabilized Black families, and
to contain the threat of Democracy or the people taking control
of their lives and country. Under President Bush even more unemployed
Blacks, most with families, are finding the prison doors wide
open. Incarceration rates of the unemployed in the USA last
year beat all previous lockup records.
get large corporations fully on-board with the Black destabilization
policy the USA owners offered them tax incentives for investing
in the ghetto. To get the police fully cooperating with their
undermining policy they used money again – President Reagan
passed legislation that legalized police departments keeping
assets acquired with suspected drug money. Not to be outdone,
President Clinton raised the terror on the poor in 1996 when
he championed the passage of the ‘The Anti-Terrorism and
Effective Death Penalty Act’. It almost eviscerated Habeas
Corpus, making it easier for states to execute the poor.
to popular belief the prison-industrial-complex is not hugely
profitable, but it is critical if maintaining high unemployment,
civil order and low wages are desired. The prison-industrial-complex
will continue to expand as long as the need to terrorize immigrants
and maintain worker passivity remain state policy.
proletariat (the poor) according to Marx and Engels’ Collected
Works, “…will surprise the property-holding class
one day with things not dreamed of in its philosophy.”
Foster is correct: in the Sixties the LEAA "federalized"
suppression of Black populations, previously the responsibility
of Dodge-sheriff types and their redneck irregulars in the South,
and ethnic gangs of whites in blue in the North. In what seemed
like no time, many county and city police departments doubled
and tripled in size and armaments, and SWAT made its dramatic
Foster also points out that the prison-industrial complex's
primary role is massive social coercion, not as a profit center,
although the system has become an economic mainstay of many
white communities. Mass incarceration also serves the deep longings
of many whites to make Blacks disappear. There is an exterminationist
impulse at work, here, something much more sinister than fear
Sometimes a brother just wants to say something
nice. We got this letter, signed “A Brother in Florida.”
The voice of the
Black Commentator is more than a breath of fresh air in a suffocating
gas chamber. Your research is probably the best I have ever
seen and it impresses me as being thorough and complete. Thanks,
Brothers and Sisters.
and David Pellow went on record as fans of
illustrator Khalil Bendib.
like your cartoons – they are right on target, as they reflect
truth and make fun of it at the same time.
welcomes news that our friend and collaborator Matthew Fogg has been named to the Board of
Directors of Amnesty
International USA. A U.S. Marshall since 1978, Fogg won
a landmark racial discrimination judgment against the Marshall’s
Service in 1998. He appears to spend every waking hour organizing
everyone in sight.
path crossed with Fogg’s when, as Executive Director of the
Area Minority Employees Association, he alerted us to flagrant
use of the racist slur “Tar Baby” by white managers at the highly
sensitive Hunstville, Alabama weapons installation. The story
appeared in our June 7, 2002 issue: “Tar
Baby Outrage! Racism and Corruption at Redstone Arsenal.”
thousand of Marshall Fogg’s friends, admirers, and contacts
soon became readers of our fledgling publication – which makes
Matthew Fogg a VIP at .
gratefully acknowledges the following organizations for sending
visitors our way during the past two weeks: