FIGHT RACISM AT WBAI RADIO AND THE PACIFICA NETWORK

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Steve Brown

Over the past year, locally:

o A WBAI local board member, Steve Brown, has engaged in a vicious campaign of widely distributed emails attacking Black progressive WBAI staff and managers in the most racist, vitriolic terms (for examples, see bottom of this email). He has singled out for abuse and false charges, and repeatedly demanded the firing of, Program Director Bernard White -- who has broadened the progressive programming serving all communities over the past 4 years. Brown's conduct has been so egregious that the local board voted to disassociate from those statements and called on him to cease making them (see motion HERE ). But Brown has allies on the local board who support his agenda (if not his exact words), which includes eliminating what he calls "anti-white" programming (i.e., strong Black community voices demanding/practicing self-determination).

Patty Heffley o Another WBAI local board member who also sits on the National Board, Patty Heffley, subjected an African American colleague from WBAI, Lisa Davis, to racist ridicule, claiming she was only interested in serving on the national board to obtain "free food, free flights, and free hotels."
Paul DiRienzo o Yet another WBAI local board member, Paul DeRienzo, was suspended by the board after a succession of racist, sexist, anti-semitic and personal attacks on other board members, including calling respected community activist Father Lawrence Lucas a "lame ass" and a "loser" (see details HERE).

o WBAI's Interim General Manager, Indra Hardat, has publicly criticized those who have fought against racism at WBAI, saying about them: "We often like to hide behind the frame of racism….we always tend to hide our anger, sometimes our hatred, sometimes our prejudices, under the race card." Ms. Hardat has also failed to publicly criticize Steve Brown's abusive, racist statements about Mr. White and others, or to publicly disavow a staff member's racially incendiary public statements that he claimed were based on information provided by her.

Nationally:

o The National Board has rejected a proposal to continue having a national body to coordinate efforts around the network to monitor and increase representation of disenfranchised communities in station programming, staffing and board membership.

o The National Board has passed, but is now considering a motion (from Ms. Heffley--see above) to rescind, a motion establishing a committee to investigate allegations of racism and sexism by local and national board members.

o The implementation of a broad policy of affirmative action in hiring and programming for/by people of color and immigrants throughout Pacifica, while adopted in theory in 2002, has been stalled.

Come out to show your outrage at the lack of strong action to confront racism and inequalities at WBAI and Pacifica, and support those working -- both on the board and staff levels -- to reverse this situation. (For example, one victory has been the National Board's passage of a motion -- sponsored by a WBAI Justice & Unity board member -- to establish a Pacifica-wide, daily Spanish-language news program on Latino/a and Latin American issues.) We also need your continued vigilance to help advance these issues in the months ahead.

Please come to the PNB meeting on any or all of the days of Fri., June 2, Sat., June 3, and Sun., June 4. The key times to participate and/or show support are the PUBLIC COMMENT periods (2 min. per person):

Fri., 8-8:30 PM;

Sat. 2:15-2:55 PM;

Sun. 12-12:30 PM. (If you wish to speak, arrive EARLY to sign up. Also we would like to hear from you beforehand at info@justiceunity.org.) Note: These times may be subject to change.

(The overall meeting is open to the public on Fri., 6:30-8:30 pm, Sat., 9am-9pm; & Sun., 10 am-3 pm. WBAI will be discussed on Sat. around 8 pm and Sun. around 12:30 pm.) The agenda is posted at http://www.wbai.org/lsb. You can listen on the webstream at http://www.kpftx.org .

For more information, go to www.justiceunity.org or email info@justiceunity.org.

 

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P.S. Don't forget that WBAI urgently needs your financial support. Please make a pledge during the current membership drive. There are some great premiums available, and those donating $25 or more become a member with the right to vote in this October's election for the Local Station Board. Call 212-209-2950 or pledge via credit card online at https://www.wbai.org/cart/. Also phone volunteers are needed, and those who volunteer for 3 hours of more will also obtain voting rights.

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Just a Few Excerpts from Steve Brown's Abusive Emails

(Widely Distributed on Public Lists):

[Note: These emails are filled with unsubstantiated, exaggerated, and in many cases simply false allegations.]

March 13, 2006:

In an email titled "Bernard White froths at the mouth in WBAI's hallway," Brown writes, "Bernard's behavior … was aped by Erroll Maitland, also running through the hallway pumping his fist in the air in anger, appearing to threaten all in his path," and adds:

"One witness describes coming to the station these days as like living in the South Bronx, where rival gangs are shooting at each other and all you can do is keep your head down to keep from getting beaten up, knifed, or shot. He and others fear coming to the station."

March 14, 2006:

Writing publicly to a staff member who denounced Brown's earlier email for making unsubstantiated charges against Bernard White, he scolds: "… you should have been at her [Indra Hardat's] side whacking Bernard with a baseball bat and then calling the police."

He closes by denouncing "the bully named Bernard White who has done more to destroy the finances, morale, and credibility of WBAI than Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George Bush combined have ever managed to do."

Aug. 13, 2005:

Brown denounces Bernard White as "a WBAI program director whose own listeners (as one of them said to me) 'wouldn't cross the street to spit on Bernard if he was on fire.'" He adds: "The reason that top management -- local and national -- won't step in and separate this incompetent, spiteful, and malicious employee from WBAI is that they are afraid. They are afraid of what one Pacifica official came right out and characterized as 'the civil war [that] might break out if Bernard were fired... [and] stirred up a phony race war claiming that White racists were responsible for his firing.'"