The Black Is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations has had a good year since its first rally and march on the White House, November, 2009. “We proved that a critical mass of Black left activists and organizations was prepared to rebuild independent, anti-imperialist Black politics.” Now, as “the economic depression gripping our people deepens, and a cascade of crises loom for the nation and the world,” Black Is Back prepares for another year of struggle to reverse the “mass suffering and defeat” brought on by Wall Street and its servants in both major political parties.” Renew the struggle. Rally and march with BiB.
“Obama’s hold on Black America is visibly cracking, as the stark facts of his administration’s servility to Wall Street and the Pentagon – and his transparent contempt for African Americans – slowly overcome stubborn walls of denial.”
When the Black Is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations marched on the White House last November 7, we were less than two months old. The event was an act of birth, a collective gasping for air in the suffocating environment of mindless Obama-ism that had enveloped our communities. One year after the election that brought so many of our people to joyous tears, the political path of the First Black President (FBP) was set – unmistakably and irrevocably – on the same course as his white Republican predecessor: ever expanding theaters of war and constantly shrinking human horizons. Wall Street drove his economic policy, and a Bush holdover and former CIA chief was at the helm of war policy. Obama was in charge of making the people disbelieve their eyes and ears, so that the great Finance Capitalist Continuity might…continue.
For conscious Black Americans – that is, the distinct minority of Blacks that were not still drunk on ObamaL’aid – there could no longer be any illusion that a President Obama might be more publicly friendly, if not something resembling brotherly, to the 40 million African-descended people that were his most fervent supporters. “A rising tide lifts all boats,” Obama brusquely informed a BET reporter on April 29, 2009, signaling that Blacks could expect nothing from the White House in terms of redress of historical grievances, or for the disproportionate harm they had endured in two 21st century recessions. It was a command to shut up. Be content to live vicariously through me, the FBP, here at the pinnacle of power.
A few of us were fairly bursting with I-told-you-sos. Obama’s rightward trajectory had been easily calculable back in 2003 when, as a candidate for the Democratic U.S. senatorial nomination, the Illinois state senator was vetted by the Democratic Leadership Council, the party’s corporate bagman. Thus certified as an asset of the rich, he went forth to amass the biggest pile of corporate campaign cash in U.S. history ($500 million-plus) – which he would later repay to Wall Street at a rate of around $25,000 to $1 ($12-14 trillion) in the greatest transfer of wealth in the history of mankind.
“The political path of the First Black President (FBP) was set – unmistakably and irrevocably – on the same course as his white Republican predecessor: ever expanding theaters of war and constantly shrinking human horizons.”
But even those of us who years before had discerned Obama’s general trajectory were knocked breathless by his rush to confirm our worst fears. After rescuing Bush’s bank bailout in October 2008, then pausing to win the November election, the president-elect filled his cabinet with thieves and warmongers and announced that Social Security and other “entitlements” would be “on the table” for cutting in his first term, while maintaining a strict silence as Israel slaughtered 1,500 Palestinians. Immediately upon inauguration, he began huddling with insurance and drug company executives, Republicans – everybody except the politicians, activists and professionals that represented the 60-plus percent of the public (and huge majorities of Democrats) that favored some form of single-payer health care. Many months later, the result was an insurance plan that locks the corporations into the system, thereby preventing America’s entrance into the civilized world of health care for the foreseeable future.
After signing the biggest war budget in history, the one formulated under his predecessor, Obama struck out on his aggressive own to ensure the next war budget would be even larger. Af-Pak became a single theater of conflict. Yemen and Somalia anchored Obama’s wars on both the African and Asian sides of the Gulf Aden. The U.S. Africa Command, AFRICOM, spread its militarizing tentacles across continent, while the president preached that corruption, not neocolonialism and wars for foreign dominance of resources – six million dead in Congo, alone! – was Africa’s biggest problem.
The coup de grace – the point at which every Black progressive with a shred of integrity should have broken with the FBP – came in April 2009, when Obama sabotaged the second World Conference Against Racism, in Geneva, Switzerland, just as George Bush had sabotaged the first World Conference Against Racism, in Durban, South Africa, in 2001. Nothing better demonstrated the continuity of racist rule in the imperial United States, and the absolute inanity of Black allegiance to Obama, the war-escalating corporate operative and great friend of Israel.
“The president-elect filled his cabinet with thieves and warmongers and announced that Social Security and other ‘entitlements’ would be ‘on the table’ for cutting in his first term.”
Seven months later, 250 Black Is Backers rallied at Washington’s Malcolm X Park and then marched down Washington’s 14th St. NW to the White House. We had proven, at the very least, that a critical mass of Black left activists and organizations was prepared to rebuild independent, anti-imperialist Black politics, and that we could function as a healthy coalition encompassing various ideologies. In the next year the Black Is Back Coalition saw significant growth in numbers, reach and capability. We have also built relations of solidarity and mutual respect with non-Black strugglers for social justice and peace.
In that same period, the economic depression gripping our people has deepened, and a cascade of crises loom for the nation and the world – crises that flow inevitably and at quickening pace from the steady unraveling of finance capitalist rule. Honest and sincere friends of humanity have no choice but to resist as the Lords of Capital attempt to appropriate and devour everything of value on the planet. It becomes ever more clear that none of the world’s most critical problems can be solved until the stranglehold of U.S. imperialism and the finance capitalist class it serves, is removed. The potential for solidarity in the world is based on this common threat and clear villain. (Although it must also be said that the demise of U.S. imperialism and finance capitalist hegemony does not guarantee solutions.)
Internally, Obama’s hold on Black America is visibly cracking, as the stark facts of his administration’s servility to Wall Street and the Pentagon – and his transparent contempt for African Americans – slowly overcome stubborn walls of denial. The previously unthinkable – that the Black man in the White House is actively hostile to Black interests – invades the resistant consciousness of more and more Black people, every day. The Black Is Back Coalition is primarily an organization of fighters, but our very existence also has therapeutic value to the millions of recovering Black Obamites that are waking up, albeit unevenly, to his treacheries and failures. This is yet another reason for our obligation to grow: as the Obama illusion crumbles, our people must be afforded access to independent, progressive modes of struggle and resistance, or risk a disastrous collapse of Black morale.
“As the Obama illusion crumbles, our people must be afforded access to independent, progressive modes of struggle and resistance.”
The Obama phenomenon was not wholly created on Wall Street. Black America – whose peoplehood Obama denied in his 2004 National Democratic Conventional debut – was massively receptive to his corporate marketing, a receptivity based on an ancient African American stream of political thought that sought mobility and security through the positioning of Black faces in as many high places as possible. This stream of thought, to which most of the Black misleadership class subscribe, is inherently accommodationist, avoiding calls for fundamental social transformation outside the realm of race. It measures Black progress by the visible number of Black notables, regardless of who has made these Blacks worthy of note.
In Obama, proponents of this brand of accommodationism found an elevator to their version of Nirvana – a fast, and unexpected, ride to the very top of the world, one that would somehow elevate all Blacks through some vicarious voodoo.
They got what they wished for, and the wishful edifice is now collapsing all around us. Having achieved their wildest dream – the ascent of the FBP – there is nowhere else for them to go, nothing else to say. The ancient stream of accommodation and Black face-counting has nothing more to offer, but the disastrous Obama experience of mass Black suffering and defeat. Add to this the ignominious failure of, not just the traditional Black misleadership class, but most of the Black Left, to demand anything of substance from Obama or his party.
The Black misleaders are politically bankrupt, at an historical dead end. The only alternative is the other, ancient Black stream of political thought and action, rooted in self-determinationism, respect for all the people’s of mankind, a love of peace and a willingness to fight for it. The Black Is Back Coalition is a conscious effort to gather these forces, and move forward. Join us in DC, on November 13th.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
For more information on the November 13 march and rally, call the Black Is Back Coalition at 202.320.5542 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 202.320.5542 end_of_the_skype_highlighting, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.