Founded by Glen Ford and Peter Gamble, The Black Commentator (BC) is a weekly Internet magazine “dedicated to the movement for economic justice, social justice, and peace”—particularly with regard to “issues affecting African Americans and the African world.” BC seeks to advance these ideals by using commentary and analysis to stimulate the type of political dialogue that is “absolutely essential to the creation of movements for social change.” The first issue of BC was published on April 5, 2002.
BC regards the U.S. as an irremediably “racist society” wherein “de facto racism … is rapidly increasing for the vast majority of Black people.” For example, the publication impugns America’s “heavily racialized” criminal-justice system, wherein blacks are “most especially targeted” and incarcerated in disproportionately high numbers. While acknowledging that African Americans commit crimes at higher rates than whites, BC attributes this largely to “blacks’ lower socioeconomic status and related higher stress levels.”
By BC’s reckoning, Republicans and white conservatives tend to be racists and bigots; black conservatives, meanwhile, are derided as “house Negroes” and “lawn jockeys.” One BC article, for instance, characterizes Clarence Thomas, the conservative black Supreme Court Justice, as “the most backward, reactionary, bloodthirsty, Black-people hater on the U.S. Supreme Court.” On another occasion, BC published a cartoon depicting Thomas as a Klansman whose black face was hidden under a white hood. BC has similarly smeared black conservative Condoleezza Rice (former U.S. Secretary of State under President George W. Bush) as “the devil’s handmaiden” and “the purest expression of the race traitor.”
BC’s contempt for President Bush, meanwhile, was reflected in guest commentator John Stanton’s depiction of him as a man of “racism and greed,” a “practitioner [of] ruthlessness” who “pride[d]” himself on “ruining people’s lives.” In s separate BC piece, co-authors Glenn Ford and Peter Gamble portrayed the Bush White House as a band of “pirates” intent on “global plunder.” Yet another article argued that under Bush’s leadership, the U.S. had become a “pariah” nation because of its failure “to live by human norms and scales.”
BC holds a much more favorable opinion of Bush’s successor in the Oval Office, Barack Obama, though the publication views even the latter as being too conservative for its taste. While lauding Obama for having signed the “truly historic” healthcare-reform bill into law in 2010, BC laments that the bill “was a vast compromise.” In a 2012 commentary, BC charged that Republicans would try to defeat Obama’s reelection bid by “playing the race card” and using “voter suppression tactics.”
When the Supreme Court in 2012 struck down several provisions of S.B. 1070, Arizona’s controversial immigration law, BC complained that the Court “did not go far enough.” Specifically, the publication objected to a provision (left intact by the Court) stating that police officers could investigate a suspect’s immigration status if there was “reasonable suspicion” that he or she was in the U.S. illegally. Portraying the law as “a racial shackle around our collective, colored necks,” BC said: “’Reasonable suspicion,’ particularly in a country with the racial history of the USA, will inevitably mean that people of color will be subject to investigation, irrespective of whether their ancestors have been here for 300+ years.”
BC’s low regard for the U.S. extends also to America’s close ally, Israel—“a modern apartheid state” whose establishment in 1948 was a “Nakba” (the Arabic word for “catastrophe”) that subjected Middle Eastern Arabs to “mass deportations,” “murders,” and “dispossession.” To this day, says BC, Palestinians continue to live “under [Israeli] military occupation, without land, without rights, without hope.” In 2012, BC condemned “U.S./Israeli imperialist ventures” allegedly undertaken in pursuit of “profits” and “material gain.” “You cannot appeal to the morality of the capitalist rulers,” said BC.
BC unambiguously calls for “revolutionary” efforts aimed at “dismantling and replacing this entire capitalist system, which is fundamentally based upon enticing and encouraging an insatiable human greed.” In a similar vein, BC co-founder Glen Ford has articulated his own “desire to actually witness the fall of capitalism.”
According to BC, blacks in the U.S. should not seek to assimilate into American culture. As one article puts it: “[T]hose among us who harbor bourgeois dreams of integrating ourselves into the American institutions and structures that maintain dominance of stolen territory for the descendants of European invaders, must come to understand that we are instead morally obligated to stand shoulder to shoulder with those who are indigenous to the Western hemisphere, and to do everything in our power to help them reclaim their land from the U.S. empire.”
BC endorses monetary reparations for black Americans as a means of compensating them for the historical wrongs of the “American Original Sin,” slavery. What is required, says BC, is “nothing less than turning this racist society upside down and shaking out the enabling mechanisms of White Privilege.”
The most prominent current member BC’s editorial board is NAACP chairman Julian Bond. Other noteworthy members in recent years have been Julianne Malveaux, the late Manning Marable, and leaders of such organizations as the American Friends Service Committee, the Black Panther Party, the Black Radical Congress, the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism, and the Institute for Policy Studies.