Friday, December 11, 2009

Kevin Alexander Gray on Black America, and America, in the Age of Obama

Kevin Alexander Gray

On 07.12.2009, my friend Kevin Alexander Gray, author of "Waiting for Lightning to Strike, the Fundamentals of Black Politics," and the upcoming "Decline of Black Politics, from Malcolm X to Barack Obama," spoke to KPFA Radio Morning Show host Aimee Allison about Black unemployment, Black America, and, America, ultimately, under the Obama Administration.

Aimee Allison
I thought Kevin's remarks so worth considering that I edited the 23 minutes of audio out of this two hour-long public affairs show, created a video overlay, and posted it to the Web.

This meant I listened, again, probably five times, and finished the edits with my friend's points fixed firmly in mind:

1)  Unemployment has increased and Black American employment has doubled under Obama and he has responded with escalating war, troop surges, bigger military budgets, and bank and corporate bailouts, while preaching trickle down economics, like Ronald Reagan, and lecturing Black Americans about their own behavior.

2)  None of the federal bank bailouts or loan modification programs could even conceivably have helped struggling homeowners, and, stemmed the tide of foreclosures, and nobody knows where all the money went.    (Nobody knows, except that we'll pay the bill for the bailouts with our federal taxes for many generations to come.)

3)  A serious effort to stem the foreclosure tide would have included a foreclosure moratorium, major reform of home lending laws, and a broad review and reform of housing policy in America.

4)  Barack Obama can indeed be worse than George Bush because progressives expected all this from George Bush, but not from Barack Obama, so progressives have been confused, divided and disoriented.

5)  The politics of racial solidarity make much of Black America feel obliged to stand behind Barack Obama, no matter what he does, but some Black Americans are beginning to realize that trillions for war and bank bailouts are not serving them.

4)  The military gave a lot of Black Americans, including Kevin Gray and his own family, a chance, but a federal jobs program doesn't have to mean killing people.  It should mean hiring people to do things that need to be done, including building a sustainable infrastructure, a goal that Barack Obama has at least espoused. 

5)  Rather than blame it on Barack Obama, progressives need to build a movement, including a peace movement, with a clear vision of the the world they'd like to live in, and, of what needs to be done---like building sustainable infrastructure.

Near the end of the show, in keeping with that conclusion, a KPFA listener called in, with a list of very specific proposals as to what should have and still might be done:

1)  Government should have bought GM, instead of bailing it out, and re-tooled it to build electric and hybrid cars.

2)  Government should have purchased housing burdened by distressed mortgages at "burst bubble rates" and reduced loan payments, or, perhaps in some other way, arranged for people to keep living in it.

3) Government should purchase the Hayward, California auto plant now facing closure and convert it to produce solar panels and wind turbines.

Kevin, and Aimee Allison, both liked all three specific proposals, as did I, though I'd rather see GM converted to produce mass transit rather than electric and hybrid cars

Here are Kevin Alexander Gray, Aimee Allison, and KPFA Radio callers, in their own words, as heard on 94.1FM,, 12.07.2009:

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