Overcoming Black Complacency in an Hour of Crisis

by William P. Muhammad

“Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul. Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he. A servant will not be corrected by words: for though he understand he will not answer.” (Proverbs 29:17-19 King James version)

In American society, there is a commonly held belief that learning the lessons of history will prevent past mistakes from reoccurring. Likewise, an adage that defines insanity as continuing a given behavior, while expecting an altogether different result, gives credence to those advocating alternative solutions beyond the narrative of obsolete ideas.

Seeming to rest upon the laurels of the 1950s and 60s, traditional Civil Rights leadership, in the name of access and inclusion, is today focusing more upon selling partisan loyalties than on promoting an unapologetic Black agenda. Within the context of America’s various Black communities, the common denominator of substandard education, unacceptable incarceration rates and high unemployment reveals not only the failure of “non-economic liberalism,” but also the failures of a movement that for too long has relied upon corporate patronage, political favoritism and the diluting of Black agendas in order to secure acceptance and approval.

Furthermore, in this compromising of Black interests, as a means for admittance into the so-called mainstream establishment, Black America’s collective well being is unfortunately being harmed. By rewarding the few, at the expense of the many, and contingent upon a political climate that changes every four to eight years, the relevance of ideas, programs and solutions, accepted and rewarded by government and philanthropic organizations, is limited. Clearly requiring a new direction and perspective, the current Civil Rights paradigm, which demands jobs and justice over independence and land ownership, undermines the concept of meaningful participation in a global market-oriented economy.

For instance, when comparing Black Americans to the collective economic progress of relative newcomers, it goes without saying that within one or two generations, many immigrant communities are reflecting a greater level of freedom and productivity. Although the hamstringing of Black economic advancement has been well documented since Post-Reconstruction, the fact remains that 21st century obstacles are more psychological in nature than they are of physical obstruction.

Subsequently creating a so-called permanent underclass, the decimation of Black communities through disenfranchisement laws, poor public education and an overabundance of political posturing, the system, to which Civil Rights leadership has tied itself, is cruelly indifferent to the plight of the Black masses. While the rural and urban poor are under no illusions regarding the limitations inherent to such an arrangement, regardless of well meaning intentions, Civil Rights leaders must reassess their agendas, reflect upon proven and workable solutions and leave egos at the door.

Considering the “Economic Blueprint,” long advocated by the Nation of Islam, as one model for positive change, the issue of poverty and want could be addressed within a relatively short period of time. Incorporating a holistic approach starting with teaching Black people the knowledge of self, the importance of unity and the value of pooling resources, if only one percent of the $1.1 trillion Blacks spend annually were harnessed, a renaissance of wealth, consciousness and productivity could be the result. Having an impact reaching far beyond the borders of the United States, once adopted, the “do-for-self” model would not only elevate Black America in the eyes of the world, but it would also do a great service in redeeming a flawed American society.

Unity is the key to Black America’s relevance and prosperity and our failure to “consider the time and what must be done” will lead to an unfortunate loss. With the simple elimination of alcohol, tobacco and other unhealthy habits, the dollars needed to make such an endeavor possible could be achieved with minimal sacrifice.

By capturing only $10 billion dollars annually, urban factories could be repurchased, thousands of acres of farmland could be acquired, healthcare facilities and new schools could be built and the Black community could enter into international trade and commerce for the good our ourselves, our families and our people. Such a vision is not a pipedream; the model was actually carried into practice and proven to be successful by the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and studied by both advocates and detractors alike.

If we are to defeat the complacency that is hindering Black America’s progress, then it is time to consider a program with a proven track record. Whether you are Muslim, Christian or Hebrew, if you are Black, you cannot escape the overall image and condition of our people. The time for action is now and the world is definitely watching.