by William P. Muhammad
From the last days of the Civil Rights movement through the waning days of various Black Nationalist and cultural movements, the decline of awareness, intellectual wherewithal and consciousness, among the masses, has proven that the image and meaning of Blackness remains under consistent attack.
Like fighting a delaying action in a battle between corporate propagandists, that distorts the images of young Black men and women, and those who would define themselves through a comprehensive understanding of “the knowledge of self,” politically, economically and socially, Black America’s relevance as an equal player is manifesting itself as an ever diminishing fantasy.
What is at stake in this battle, over who will control the image and destiny of Black people, appears to be more in line with a policy strategy than by accident or coincidence. In fact, if one listens to the rhetoric among both liberals and conservatives, assimilation into the so-called “mainstream” appears to be more about adopting a Eurocentric world view than it does with the “self-evident” truths, among Black people, associated with self-actualization and the pursuit of happiness.
Promoted across America, in both the public schools and in private Christian schools, white superiority is both subtly and routinely taught through a mythology that celebrates white accomplishments, at the expense of the non-White and non-Christian worlds. Denying and minimizing the significance and impact of historical wrongs, the deifying of historical figures and the evangelizing of an “exceptionalism” to which others should bow, creates in its wake a corrupting arrogance of power.
While none can honestly deny the contributions white Christians have made over the centuries, equally, none should deny the contributions of others, particularly when non-white and non-Christian students are taught of the Earth’s various peoples and their histories. However, with the desire to privatize the American educational system and the co-opting of Black leaders through philanthropic and corporate contributions, it is unlikely the current paradigm will change without a critical mass of people dedicated to creating their own institutions and systems.
Without this paradigm shift, as represented by very few Black leaders in the United States, change will be slow to come, if at all, and Black communities across America will continue to be marginalized politically, economically and socially. Regardless of deals cut and promises made, coming austerity measures, budget cuts, and other threats to the social safety net all but guarantee priorities will be focused upon containing future unrest than with giving benefits to a people who will not unite for their own sake.
For example, in the early 1990s, when the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan re-established the Three Year Economic Program, the idea of Black people going into agribusiness, through monthly $10 contributions, was initially met with enthusiasm, but as interest waned, the Nation of Islam continued the work alone resulting in a 1,500 acre farm in Georgia.
What would happen if only 5 percent of Black America’s 40 million people contributed only $1.00 per week to this cause? Aside from being a contributor and supporter of a significant Black enterprise, this endeavor would yield $8 million per month, $96 million per year and after three years, more than a quarter billion dollars plus interest.
If part of the Lord’s Prayer states: “Give us this day our daily bread,” then the question we must ask ourselves is: From where does our bread come? If we know that God’s earth produces the wheat and we know that human hands must harvest, process and sift the wheat into the flour, then bread will only come from our labor. Feeding our people only one slice of bread per day for one week would require 280 million slices, and since it is unlikely bread will fall from the sky, the Black man and woman must work with God’s help to supply our own needs in the time of want.
As Black people, we must take another look at the meaning of freedom, which means more than just having the right to vote under a so-called democratic system of government. If freedom is having the opportunity to grow into our full potential, then are we as a people truly free? Black people have the talent, Black people have the knowledge and Black people have the wealth to accomplish what we will. If as consumers spend around one trillion dollars annually, then there is no excuse to not harness some of those dollars to advance a cause that will benefit us all.
“When the famine had spread over the whole country, Joseph opened all the storehouses and sold grain to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe throughout Egypt. And all the world came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe everywhere.” – Genesis 41: 56-57 New International Version