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[Nettime-bold] Black Radical Congress National Campaign (fwd)
Alan Sondheim on 27 Feb 2001 18:31:39 -0000


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[Nettime-bold] Black Radical Congress National Campaign (fwd)



---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 27 Feb 2001 04:37:34 -0500 (EST)
From: Black Radical Congress <blackradicalcongress {AT} email.com>
To: brc-press {AT} lists.tao.ca
Subject: Black Radical Congress National Campaign

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This is a Press Release/Statement from the Black Radical Congress
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Black Radical Congress

For Immediate Release

February 27, 2001

Contact:
National Co-Chair, Jennifer Hamer, jenhamer {AT} aol.com
National Co-Chair, Bill Fletcher, bfletcher4 {AT} compuserve.com
National Co-Chair, Manning Marable, mm247 {AT} columbia.edu

WE MUST SUCCEED!
THE BLACK RADICAL CONGRESS CAMPAIGN

The drama of the November 7th elections further revealed the
extent of Black exclusion from U.S. society at the turn of
the century. Local officials, poll managers and attendants,
police and the Supreme Court all played an active role in
stripping Black people of the right to vote. This latest
outrage is but part of a broader, on-going attack on
the gains of previous progressive, labor and radical
movements, and an assault on our communities.

The parallels between the end of the 20th Century and the
end of the 19th Century are striking. Following the Civil
War, Black people led a Reconstruction in which they
asserted their rights to full citizenship. White elites
responded by reasserting ("redeeming") white supremacist
rule. If the Civil Rights Movement represented a "Second
Reconstruction," then the Reagan-Bush-Clinton years
definitely have constituted a "Second Redemption." The
Bush Part II years promise no less. If we assess the 2000
elections against issues of healthcare, stable employment
and livable wages, welfare "reform," education, and the
criminal justice system, it is evident that in the post-
Civil Rights era Black people are being forced back into
the shadows of U.S. political, social and economic life.


THE SECOND REDEMPTION:
AN EROSION OF CIVIL AND SOCIAL RIGHTS

In essence, Blacks are struggling, as we have in the past,
to maintain and improve basic civil and social rights - the
right to health care and shelter, the right to vote, the
right to public education, the right to work for decent
pay and job security. The privatization of public space,
amenities and entitlements is segregating Black people from
these rights and quality of life conditions. Predominantly,
white communities are privatizing common space by "gating"
public roads in an attempt to prevent Black and brown people
from entering their cities and neighborhoods. Racial profiling
by police and private security is used to target Black mall
shoppers, drivers, and pedestrians who may venture into public
spaces where they are not wanted. In Chicago, Detroit, New
York, St. Louis and elsewhere, affordable public housing is
being destroyed - disproportionately displacing Black low-
income families to make space for businesses and private
dwellings for middle-income and upper income whites.

Black families experience isolation and the loss of civil
and social rights in other forms. Fifty percent of Black
children in the U.S. live in poverty. Yet, TANF policies are
removing low-income parents and their children from public
assistance - leaving them vulnerable to unemployment and
private sector wages insufficient to meet shelter, clothing,
food and healthcare needs. The public foster care system
too is removing itself from the care of its wards, one-
half of whom are Black. Increasingly, private agencies are
monitoring these children, and their well-being is subject
not only to the profit margins of private enterprise but
also corruption.


INCARCERATION

As more Black people are pushed from welfare rolls and Black
people find it increasingly difficult to find living wage
employment, they are disproportionately finding themselves
incarcerated in a private, for- profit prison industrial
complex. Corporations contract with local, state, and
federal governments to build and operate facilities
and to provide food, clothing, and other services to an
institutionalized population whose increasing numbers only
serve to fuel private profits. What are the statistics?
Approximately 50 percent of prison inmates are Black and
almost 1 in 3 Black men aged 20-29 is under some type of
correctional control - incarceration, probation, or parole.
Moreover, Black men have a 29 percent chance of serving
time in prison at some point in their lives. Black women
fare little better. They are the fastest growing prison
population and over one-half of them are incarcerated
for nonviolent offenses. Overall, juvenile offenders are
increasingly being treated as adults. Thus, they are subject
to harsher punishments. Racial disparities persist here as
well. Sixty-seven percent of juvenile defendants prosecuted
as adults are Black. And, while Black youth are less likely
than their white counterparts to use drugs, 75 percent of
juvenile defendants charged with a drug offense in an adult
court are Black. Relative to men, incarcerated women and
children are more likely to experience violence and sexual
abuse behind prison walls. Once released, many ex-offenders
experience further loss of civil rights and isolation -
they are often disenfranchised and lose the right to fully
participate in the political process. Additionally, they are
often unable to gain suitable employment, housing, or higher
education.


EDUCATION

While more and more tax dollars are spent on the
incarceration of Black people, predominantly Black public
schools are often unable to meet the academic needs of
student bodies. They are disproportionately located in
poor and low-income communities. They struggle annually
to provide up-to-date books, computers and science
laboratories. Relative to middle-income white school
districts, those of color are more likely to hire low-paid
uncertified teachers for the classroom. They are less able
to offer college preparatory courses and other services that
would enhance children's access to higher education. The
right to quality public education is further threatened by
charter schools and voucher system efforts that will only
serve to further strip tax dollars from public schools
already in economic dire straits. The majority of children
of color will not benefit from either charter or private
school voucher systems. Nor will they benefit from continued
use of curriculums and teaching methods that do not address
their unique experiences.


POLICE STATE

The erosion of civil and social rights are reinforced by
state repression and police violence in the form of racial
profiling, police brutality and murder, and the public
assault on workers rights' to maintain and improve job pay,
benefits, and security. Likewise, the killing of Amadou
Diallo illustrates not only racial profiling but also the
lengths the state is willing to go to maintain control over
Black people. Further, workers have been struggling against
massive layoffs, a decline in real wages, corporate
downsizing, and attacks on unions.


THE TASKS AHEAD

The Black Radical Congress' newly launched national campaign
("Education Not Incarceration! Fight the Police State!")
is well timed and clearly challenges this trend towards
privatization, state violence and repression, and the loss
of civil and social rights. The campaign has five related
Parts. Part I is a petition to make police brutality and
misconduct a federal crime. We are aiming to gather 100,000
signatures for this petition. Part II of the campaign involves
supporting defense work on behalf of the "Charleston Five,"
five South Carolina longshore workers facing imprisonment
for their role in a planned picket against a union-busting
shipping line. The criminal charges they face stem from a
police-instigated confrontation with workers. Part III of
the BRC's national campaign centers around a boycott of the
multinational Sodexho Marriott Services, a major investor
in private, for-profit prisons in the United States. Part
IV of the campaign is our opposition to the privatization
of public education, in the form of vouchers and similar
methods of corporate control. Finally, Part V of this
campaign aims to generate attention (and remedies) to the
ways in which Black women fall prey to state violence -
for instance, the lack of alternative sentencing for women
convicted of drug offenses; the anti-family policies of
prison facilities; and sexual abuse by guards.


A PLAN OF ACTION

Common to all of these components is a recognition that
police violence and repression, and mounting incarceration
rates, are the lynchpin of racial exclusion, gender
oppression, and the declining economic conditions of working
people. Although the various aspects of the campaign fit
together, our campaign is potentially unwieldy for a young
coalition with limited resources. Though each element of
the campaign is equally important we cannot feasibly work
on Parts I through V at the same time. Our Plan of Action
then, is to begin with Parts I and II, "The Petition" and
the "Charleston Five," both of which emphasize our direct
challenge to state repression and the steady erosion of
our civil and social rights. One of the indicators of our
success will be the extent to which we fortify our existing
Local Organizing Committees and build new ones, and cement
relationships with other coalitions. We ask other organizations
to join us in this struggle. As the landscape grows bleaker, it
is at least clear that "Education Not Incarceration! Fight the
Police State!" is a campaign we do not have the luxury of
forfeiting.



-30-

Black Radical Congress
National Office
Columbia University Station
P.O. Box 250791
New York, NY 10025-1509
Phone: (212) 969-0348
Email: blackradicalcongress {AT} email.com
Web: http://www.blackradicalcongress.org

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