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Why not celebrate Nadra Foster and the Black community on KPFA?

December 18, 2010

by Minister of Information JR

On Aug. 20, 2008, Hard Knock Radio’s Anita Johnson scolds KPFA and Pacifica managers who refuse to intervene as Nadra Foster is being beaten in the studio behind the policewoman. (See the full video below and another featuring interviews with Nadra and supporters at the Alameda Courthouse on Aug. 25, 2008.) Berkeley police severely beat and permanently disabled Nadra and carried her to jail in a straightjacket. Nadra is a graduate of the KPFA apprenticeship program, had volunteered at the station for a dozen years and was “banned” for using a KPFA copier to copy some math worksheets for her well-behaved children and making a brief call from a KPFA phone for a ride home. – Video frame: Labor Video Project using footage shot by Weyland Southon
We applaud all of the broadcasters who came together to save KPFA last week, the station that many former paid staff members tried desperately for years to destroy. We applaud artists and fans of KPFA who have come together to make sure that there is a station called KPFA in 2011. We will not picket the fundraising event at La Peña tomorrow, but we demand that KPFA supporters, staff and concerned people of color deal with the following issues while they can still be dealt with on this level.

I want to be up front with why we have discussed protesting tomorrow night’s event. I felt it was important to write this because some people are reportedly saying that this protest is a personal attack against one staff member or another, when in reality it is a principled stand against police terrorism in the Black community, cronyism to the Bush regime and the lack of Black public affairs programming on KPFA.

To start off with police terrorism, the “staff appreciation night” organizers of the event at La Peña have done nothing to address the police beating, false imprisonment and false charges that former KPFA broadcaster Nadra Foster has had to endure over the last two years. No one has addressed the fact that her arm is paralyzed from this ordeal either.

Aileen Alfandary and Mitch Jeserich said that KPFA and Pacifica management calling police to the station and their beating of Nadra inside a KPFA studio was internal KPFA business and not news. Esther Manilla, one of the main organizers of Sunday’s La Peña event and a producer for the KPFA Morning Show, did not report it on the Morning Show or denounce the way the show ignored the incident.

With the exception of Nina Serrano, none of the broadcasters organizing this event used their power at the station to give this issue, which still has far reaching implications, any airtime. Why isn’t Nadra Foster’s contribution celebrated by these “staff”? Is it because she is Black?

It is interesting how many of these “unpaid staffers and sympathetic paid staffers” will work with Morning Show and Concerned Listener personnel who were on a binge to sink KPFA and break it off from Pacifica, just to give their boyfriends, grandsons and friends an opportunity to perform. It is interesting how these artists are agreeing to be ignorant pawns in this chess game called “KPFA and real community relations.” This is liberalism at best – and selling out if you want to be blunt.

Let us not forget that Brian Edwards Tiekert, a former host of the Morning Show, former treasurer for the Local Station Board and formerly a major influence on the Pacifica Finance Committee, is suing KPFA and Pacifica, represented by Harmeet Dhillon, co-chair of Lawyers for Bush-Cheney 2004. Is this fundraiser being used as a propaganda tool to get people to forget about the damage that the last KPFA Morning Show did and is doing to the image of KPFA? Where is Concerned Listener supporter and Morning Show producer Esther Manilla on these things that she was part and parcel to?

We ask everyone who attends this fundraiser, including the artists and the organizers who may have been ignorant of this history, to ask Esther, Pacifica Executive Director Arlene Englehardt, Nina Serrano, Aimee Allison, Kris Welsh, Kirsten Thomas, how can KPFA heal if we never talk about the case of Nadra Foster? Also ask them what has their role been in healing that situation, where a single mother and former broadcaster was hog-tied and carried out of the station on a bogus charge of trespassing. When I offered to help them to invite Nadra Foster to speak, they refused the request.

Now to address the lack of Black public affairs programming: The Nadra Foster incident would not have been broadcast at all if it was not for the graciousness of Hard Knock Radio to talk about being eye witnesses to this crime of police terrorism and for Flashpoints to run the interviews, which we appreciate.

The question still remains why doesn’t the Black community have its own at least weekly public affairs show like white-oriented public affairs shows Democracy Now, Against the Grain and Living Room, to name a few, or other public affairs shows like La Raza Chronicles, Full Circle, Voices of the Middle East and North Africa, APEX Express and Pushing Limits?

It is racist for “broadcasters of color,” artists and KPFA listeners not to support the Black community and the Block Report in particular in getting this demand met. It is racist for broadcasters on these shows and others to state what the Black community does or does not need, especially when Black communities in the U.S. have no voice on the weekly KPFA programming grid.

I challenge all the artists involved to think about how they would feel if we, the Black community, took a position against the life and the voice of their community, then make the decision on whether they should perform. Thank you for reading this open letter to KPFA supporters.

Email POCC Minister of Information JR, Bay View associate editor and host of the Block Report, at blockreportradio@gmail.com and visit www.blockreportradio.com.

10 thoughts on “Why not celebrate Nadra Foster and the Black community on KPFA?

  1. Thornton Kimes

    There's been a lot of talk at poor magazine about KPFA. There were rumours that they were contemplating a poormag morning show. poormag or JR, KPFA needs to do something that isn't lame. I mean, when Tiny does classes on doing radio PNN Radio style, she talks about not being boring. Every time I have ever tried to listen to KPFA…boring. JR, or poormag, NOT BORING…

    Reply
  2. a listener

    If I consider donating to KPFA as an overseas listener via internet, I cannot stop thinking my money will serve to pay for the lawsuits KPFA has…. And as a listener I do not want to pay for lawsuits.

    Reply
    1. Ann_Garrison

      Would you mind telling us where you're listening from, from overseas, even if you don't want to, for whatever reason, identify yourself? (I can imagine many, though I always urge people who are not in danger to please use their real names, and thus double the credibility of their comments.)

      The cost of these lawsuits is indeed an outrage, but some of us are working hard to stop this. Clay Leander and others filed an amicus brief to try to get the judge to order another staff election, the cost of which would be minimal. The lawsuit is about the way the KPFA Elections Supervisor handled staff use of air time to promote their slates in the Local Station Board election; she discarded the ballots of the staff who had abused the air time, in violation of election law, according to the by-laws.

      But please don't stop supporting the station now. Yesterday, as unpaid staff, I produced this two minutes worth of news about Uganda that you wouldn't hear on NPR or the networks, or read in the NY Times: http://goo.gl/7txjf. We might get an elaboration into the SF Bay View here, and the Bay View has earned a high Google page rank, but it doesn't have the FM signal reach of KPFA.

      Reply
  3. Malaika H Kambon

    My name is Malaika H. Kambon. I am an AFRIKAN Woman photojournalist and newscaster.

    I very rarely listen to KPFA any more. In fact, I do not, unless I'm listening to Walter Turner's show, or Hard Knock Radio, or Flashpoints, or a Block Report, or if some artist I know of, (such as Avotcja) is doing a special, etc.

    I used to work at KPFA, so I KNOW about the entrenched racism that exists, and what Thornton Kimes says about KPFA is true – the station is boring…and mostly white only.

    At the time I worked at KPFA, only 15 people were paid – 13 of these were white – and the then Third World Bureau had many difficulties with management. I was not ever allowed to take part in classes to become a board operator, and I always fight to get even outside funding recognized so that I could even just a little pay for working there full time, with basically no pay, and a child to support.

    I interviewed and met absolutely ALL of the AFRIKAN Freedom fighter-students who were in the area, mostly to go to school to get valuable knowledge, information, and degrees to take back to their respective countries to utilize to rebuild – if they lived.

    I met most of the AFRIKAN musicians that were in town, when they came to the bay area as well.

    What is also endlessly fascinating to me is that the taped copies of every single one of the shows and interviews that I produced [AFRIKA NEWS, BEFORE the NEWS and BEHIND the News, plus news reports (local, national, and international news stories)] that I produced [Alan Snitow was news director at that time] produced during the AFRIKAN LIBERATION struggles for over a decade – every single one of these taped reports has VANISHED from the station archives.

    I should add that I'd had NO formal training in radio – and I got none at KPFA – but I still produced shows, complete with music, live interviews, and nothing to do with AP, UPI, or other corporate news sources.

    And the person who hired me 'off the street,' as they said at the time, at the end of 1973, one Daniel del Solar, will absolutely NOT even respond to emails or entreaties of other persons as to where these taped, archival shows and other information / data has gone, what has happened to it, or anything.

    It is like I wasn't even there.

    I managed to get away from the station before a similar wall (like the one that dropped on Nadra Foster) dropped on me, for saying that the station should develop a high degree of political consciousness like that of Radio Rebelde in Cuba – instead of pretending to be 'radical,' because its 15 administrators were getting paid, while the 'staff' of over 300 odd people was not…

    Big 'I's' and little 'you's' was the order of the day…right there next to the invisible 'white only' sign…

    Reply
  4. sfbayview

    To "a listener":

    Nobody can prevent lawsuits being filed against KPFA, but what attracted so many of them over the past decade or so that I've been involved is KPFA's eagerness to pay huge settlements to get rid of them. That is no longer possible, and I doubt that the very expensive lawyers KPFA has used in the past are still in charge.

    The suit Brian Edwards Tiekert filed is ridiculous – he even charged KPFA with reverse discrimination against him as a white male! But Nadra Foster, who has a real, justified complaint, never even filed a suit. She can't afford a lawyer in the first place and anyway, she's an exceptionally peaceful, non-combative person.

    With all its faults, KPFA is well worth all the financial support we can give it – not so much because of what it's doing but because of its potential to rival the mainstream media, which brainwashes its "consumers," with a station and network that educates, agitates, organizes and mobilizes the people.

    The real solution to making KPFA financially sustainable – with influence as powerful as its huge 59,000-watt signal – is to vastly expand the audience, especially to younger, much more diverse listeners. Suppose youngsters in the hoods and barrios could hear news and views they can identify with often enough on KPFA to say "I am KPFA!" the way they say "I am Oscar Grant" – imagine how revolutionary that would be!

    Mary Ratcliff, editor
    SF Bay View

    Reply
  5. Ann_Garrison

    Given that I knock myself out, often spending the bulk of 24 hours or more to research and produce just a few minutes of KPFA Weekend News on Africa and, most of all, U.S. aggression in Africa, I can't say I much appreciate people responding to this by saying that everything but JR and Poor Mag are boring on KPFA, instead of strategizing to save KPFA and make it better.

    I know Rwandan, Congolese, and Ugandan people who consider the couple of minutes of news I can produce on most weekend days and holidays, which I then get onto the Web and around the world, a lifeline—one of the only outlets giving them any voice at all, from way out here on the far western edge of the North American continent.

    And other constituencies feel the same way, including other ethnicities, disabled people, women, but first and foremost, the anti-war community, which is not limited by ethnicity. That's what Pacifica was about, first of all, opposition to war, the project of oligarchy, undertaken to preserve property relations that it otherwise could not maintain. Its opponents have included plenty of white women and white men, including Lew Hill and the late Professor Howard Zinn, who in hindsight, regretted not resisting induction to fight in World War II as Lew Hill had.

    In conversation with Alice Walker, years later, he admitted he'd been an eager bombardier, a fighter pilot. After the needless, merciless bombing of Dresden, once the war in Europe had already been won, he regretted having signed up.

    Where'd I hear that conversation between Howard Zinn and Alice Walker, before he passed on? Pacifica Radio. Where else? Let's save it.

    Messy and angry as it is, Pacifica, including KPFA, continue to be more opposed to war, by its mission statement and focus, than any other media with its reach.

    Where else would you hear this half hour Block Report that I just edited, http://goo.gl/vYxm4, re Black contractors and laborers being locked out of the construction industry in San Francisco and beyond?

    Reply
  6. princeray

    I have been a KPFA subscriber for over twenty (20) years. I also can only endure mostly listening to Democracy Now, Flashpoints, Hard Knock Radio, Block Report, and particularly GUNS AND BUTTER. We forget that a concerted and open campaign to remove Black Voices from the public airways began in the 1990s. The U.S. Senate (Bob Dole) began to attack brothers and sisters at KPFA’s sister station KPFK on the floor of the Senate for deliberately using the public airways to spread hate speech (Malcolm X Speeches) and falsehoods about Kaiser’s secret experimental measles program in the Black and Brown communities. Reactionary so-called progressives and liberals at Pacifica underhandedly clamped down on brothers and sisters excess to the public airways in Los Angeles and the Bay Area. It turned out it was true that Kaiser was indeed secretly injecting Black and Brown children with deadly high doses of Edmonston Zagreb (EZ) measle vaccine on an experimental basis.

    Reply
  7. princeray

    Yet, when the truth came to light Pacifica didn’t seek to re-establish its commitment of trust to communities of color, but instead sought to deliberately divide the community by illusions. The gave our youth of color the illusion of power of unparalleled public airway access so long as they could be directed, influenced and misguided in their youth. The youth of color have come of age now and see the whole picture from the inside the belly of the BEAST. If KPFA is a public station committed to the People, TAKE CONTROL!

    Reply

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