From The Final Call Newspaper

The Case For Separation: Discussion of the ‘best and only solution’ to the race problem in America is growing

By Charlene Muhammad National Correspondent @sischarlene

Dr. Ava Muhammad

When an opinion article by Peter C. Herman attacking Dr. Ava Muhammad, national spokesperson of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, was recently published in San Diego it spawned a controversy.

Mr. Herman falsely labeled the Nation of Islam student minister an anti-Semite and opposed her participation in a reparations conference at San Diego State University.

It also opened the door for discussion of a major issue that Dr. Muhammad has been dealing with: Separation as the solution to America’s race problem.

The intrusive actions and falsehoods of Mr. Herman, a Jewish English professor at San Diego State University, helps make the case for separation, said Student Minister Muhammad.

“It absolutely confirms the words of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, both in Point No. 4 of The Muslim Program, that we simply cannot get along with them in peace, and it confirms his words where he stated to Black people, ‘Allah will make you separate,’ ” she said.

“It is another example of the profound level of intrusion on our freedom of thought, speech and action in our own interests. And to say to Black people, that in essence, we are not allowed to come together to map out our future, and to make decisions based on our unique experience, indicates the absence of any progress from 1555, when we were brought here in chains,” she added.

Ta-Nehisi Coates

Mr. Herman was upset that doctoral student Terry Sivers received $68,000 for a student-led program exploring slavery and reparations with a proposed speaker list that included Ta-Nehisi Coates, author of “The Case for Reparations,” Min. Muhammad, and Omali Yeshitela of the African People’s Socialist Party.

Omali Yeshitela

Mr. Herman also leveled a false charge of anti-Semitism against Min. Farrakhan.

On May 10, 2014 Min. Muhammad, an attorney, author, radio talk show host, wife, mother, and grandmother, offered historical analysis, facts, and sound reasoning at the Salaam restaurant in Chicago. The title of the discussion was “The Testimony of Extraordinary Women: They Denied Themselves So That He May Give Life.”

An emailed question put to Min. Muhammad said: “Why is it necessary for (Min. Farrakhan) to keep attacking the Jewish community? What benefit has it had for him and the NOI, or Black folks? What will this do for the liberation of our people? I mean, really. Get over it.”

In part of her response, Min. Muhammad shared how the Jewish community had at that time relentlessly attacked Min. Farrakhan for 30 years as he and the Nation of Islam were trying to uplift the downtrodden.

“I have never seen a Jew in the Black community, inviting any Black person to Judaism, inviting any Black person to know the Torah,” she said, as the audience applauded.

“The only time the Jews have ever been present among us is to open their outposts, their retail stores, to sell us damaged, cheap goods, marked up against the price. They were down there in the cotton fields, in the Mississippi Delta, teaching the White Anglo-Saxon Protestants who were too stupid to keep us in check after the end of the Civil War. It was the Jews that have taught the White man, all the way up to the NBA, right now, a modern-day microcosm of a plantation. Min. Farrakhan, contrary to this idea he attacks them, he is Allah’s weapon against them as a life-giving sun. He is exposing them.”

“We need to charge them with being anti-Black, because they need to define to us what is ‘anti-Semitism,’ and if we point out the role that a Jewish person played in history are we going to be anti-history?” asked Student Minister Waliullah Muhammad of the Nation of Islam’s Muhammad Mosque No. 8 in San Diego.

“Are we going to tell lies as opposed to the truth?” he asked.

At Final Call press time Dec. 29, he was planning to meet with San Diego State University’s administration, Black Student Union, and others to show support for Min. Ava Muhammad and address pressure put on the Black students.

Project Separation tour

Min. Ava Muhammad will kick-off year two of her national Project Separation tour with a Jan. 11 town hall meeting in Washington, D.C.

The 2020 Project Separation tour will include a major plenary session Feb. 22, in Detroit, during the Nation of Islam’s annual Saviours’ Day convention.

“Should Blacks and the Indigenous Consider Separation?” will be the plenary session’s focus.

Previous town halls have been held in Birmingham, Memphis, St. Petersburg, Fla., Tampa, Fla., Detroit, St. Louis, Harlem, N.Y., Phoenix, Prince George’s County, Md., Chicago, Orlando, Milwaukee, Raleigh-Durham, N.C., Richmond, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Coldwater, Miss.

Min. Ava Muhammad predicts 2020 will be a profound year with Blacks moving toward the realization that they cannot live in peace with Whites. Thus begins the exodus, as prophesied in the book of Genesis with God’s promise to Abraham, which describes Blacks’ sojourn in America, she said.

And, Blacks are already separate in an inferior condition called segregation.

Blacks die earlier, get paid less, get sicker more, are more likely to be arrested and jailed, serve longer sentences, are less educated and live apart from Whites.

Construction apprentices stand with Student Minster Anthony Muhammad of Memphis and Brother Louis Ali of Northgate Land Development in New Orleans. Separation Town Hall meetings and focused discussions are growing as Blacks look to prepare young people in disciplines needed to build independent communities. Photo: The Final Call

“I think that Blacks are attempting to live, all people in America are trying to live out this dream,” said Cheryl Mango, assistant professor of history at Virginia State University. “They say it’s an experiment, and we are in the midst of an experiment, and this experiment is basically a whole bunch of different people from different geographic locations, different racial backgrounds, religions, descending upon land that was Native American land, and we are all trying to exist in this idea as one.”

“Ideally, it’s the idea that we are integrated, but in reality, Black people are separated, because we are inherently our own group of people that exists inside of this larger reality,” said Professor Mango. “We live separated just by our experience of the fact of segregation, living in our segregated communities, in our own communities, and things of that sort.”

The Nation of Islam has been criticized for calling for a separate state or territory for Blacks in America, but the Nation is not the only group that has advocated for changing political bonds: A vote in 2021 on whether California should become an independent country has been proposed. California’s secretary of state announced in April 2018 that proponents could begin gathering signatures to qualify for the ballot. If approved by a majority of voters, it would require the legislature to declare California’s independence from the United States.

International independence and secessionist movements are active in Asia, Africa, Europe, South America and North America. Some are calling for separate sovereign states while others want greater autonomy or self-rule within existing nations.

Min. Farrakhan talked about separation during the 30th annual conference for the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America last summer in Detroit.

“We have never been allowed to grow to the fullest manifestation of who we are. There’s always a Caucasian reality and a wicked system that is at the head of your desire to rise,” he said.

Every generation of Blacks believes America’s system will grant justice, but in over 464 years Blacks have never been granted justice, the Minister said.

In his 2013 lecture series “The Time and What Must Be Done,” Min. Farrakhan broached the idea of an eventual vote among Black and Indigenous people on whether they wish to separate or remain with God’s enemy, Ava Muhammad said.

“Separation is not the goal. The goal is the spiritual, mental and moral resurrection of God’s people. Separation is just the process. It is a means to an end and not the end,” explained Ava Muhammad.

Separation Town Hall meetings discuss the advantages of self-determination and having space in America where Blacks can live in peace and control their own affairs, she added.

“We know that there are 40 million to 60 million of us here, and there are areas where we are the majority population. So we educate and enlighten people to the political realities of why this is attainable. That’s it’s not only necessary, it’s attainable. And that’s why the Honorable Elijah Muhammad called it the best and only solution.

“It’s the best thing for our safety and future, but it’s the only solution that we confront the United States leadership and government and demand at the behest of Allah (God) that some of this 2,000 by 3,000 mile continent be allocated to us,” Ava Muhammad continued.

“I definitely see separation as a logical option to the kind of ongoing oppression that we as a people face here in this country,” said Zaki Baruti of the St. Louis-based Universal African Peoples Organization.

Separation could take place on several levels, he argued. “One is as the Honorable Elijah Muhammad used to teach in terms of being separate as far as five southern states,” said the activist. “But as I see that, there needs to be a mass migration. And with a mass migration, in terms of making it happen, we could seize what I say is state power and that state power would be founded as the legislative and judicial branches of the state. Along with state power comes control of the National Guard, so those are elements that we can use to protect ourselves from ones that want to oppress us,” he argued.

Mr. Baruti said he once recommended to Min. Farrakhan that the Nation of Islam consider moving its headquarters from Chicago to the South.

Another example of separation is repatriation back to Africa or somewhere else in the world, he said. He’s explored the idea of places such as South or Central America.

He highlighted the experience of the African Hebrew Israelites as an example of Blacks who moved to create a life outside of America.

Led by their late spiritual guide Rahbee Ben Ammi Ben Israel, the Black Hebrews first migrated to Liberia in West Africa and settled in Dimona, Israel in 1969.

“I happened to go and visit them, and they had a settlement of a couple thousand Black people and they were living peacefully,” said Mr. Baruti.

Minister Fuqua Bey, Grand Chief of Moorish Science Temple No. 25 in Detroit, named the Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey, who called for Black repatriation to Africa, and the Honorable Noble Drew Ali, father of the Moorish Science Temple, among giants who struggled in the 20th century for Black liberation.

“First, you’ve got to think your conditions can be better. Other than that, it don’t hurt bad enough,” he said. “If you think the conditions that you’re in are not bad enough, then you don’t try to walk in a noble light. You don’t try to march toward the noble light. You’re comfortable in the dark, so it’s no big thing for people that don’t think it’s nothing wrong.

“That’s why everybody don’t move at one time, because they don’t think nothing is wrong, until they’re burning down the town,” said Mr. Bey.

As for Blacks in America, said Mr. Bey, they still aren’t hurting enough to leave White America.

Dr. Ava Muhammad has a different view. “I think our people always understood (separation). It was a matter of whether they accepted it, and what I’ve experienced since June 2018 through November 2019 is not only acceptance, but embraced the solution offered by the Honorable Elijah Muhammad,” she said.

Separation is found in the Muslim Program, “What The Muslims Want-What The Muslims Believe.”

“We want our people in America whose parents or grandparents were descendants from slaves, to be allowed to establish a separate state or territory of their own–either on this continent or elsewhere. We believe that our former slave masters are obligated to provide such land and that the area must be fertile and minerally rich. We believe that our former slave masters are obligated to maintain and supply our needs in this separate territory for the next 20 to 25 years–until we are able to produce and supply our own needs,” stated the Honorable Elijah Muhammad in Point No. 4 of “What The Muslims Want.”

“Since we cannot get along with them in peace and equality, after giving them 400 years of our sweat and blood and receiving in return some of the worst treatment human beings have ever experienced, we believe our contributions to this land and the suffering forced upon us by white America, justifies our demand for complete separation in a state or territory of our own,” he continued.

Dating back to the 1960s, the Muslim Program appeared on the back page of Muhammad Speaks, the Nation of Islam’s legendary newspaper. Today it appears on the inside back cover of The Final Call.

“And many people may not realize that No. 5 of What the Muslims Want contains a declaration from the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, that he wants every Black man and woman in America to choose whether or not they wish to separate,” said Ava Muhammad.

A growing interest in separation?

“We don’t even have to be extensive in our explanation and our reasoning for wishing to separate,” said Patrick Alexander of the Black Liberation Movement in Coldwater, Miss.

“If we just take the last 10 years in our plight, we begin to see the derivative results of us acting in an irresponsible way under the oppressors of racism and White supremacy.”

“We’ve seen the influx of our children being killed, and we see the mass incarceration of our people. We see the continued miseducation of our people, and we see the economic deprivation of our people, as well,” he told The Final Call.

“Moving forward, we’d be totally irresponsible if we do not even begin to have this conversation on separation and control and having our own self-determination,” said Mr. Alexander. “It’s the only logical thing that any intelligent people would be talking about right now.”

A national dialogue on separation, petitions and participation on a mass scale begins with understanding the importance of what’s being suggested, he said.

“Historically, in my observation, our organizations do not push this to the forefront of our people’s collective awareness, so then you only have organizations, such as the Nation of Islam, that has brought this type of proposition to Black people,” observed Mr. Alexander. “So if we’re not aware of our potential, and what it would entail if we were to separate in again a self-determined way, then we won’t have the response that we need.”

In North Mississippi and surrounding areas in the Delta, activists have begun to take the message of separation to residents for discussions with local councils and city government, said Mr. Alexander.

Mississippi has Black townships, but they are not operating with the mind and spirit of having control, land, and a cultural atmosphere of Black self-determination, he said.

Crystal_Giles & Kadeem Ali

Crystal Giles of the Black Liberation Movement added, “I think people are now more aware of what has been happening to us and it’s changed their thought process of what we need to do as far as to guarantee our survival and the survival of our children.”

Separation is way overdue, said Gregory Turner, CEO of Word on Da Street newspaper, magazine and TV show in Orlando, Fla. The key is building the relationships to help meet needs, and become self-sufficient, he said. Those who don’t know about separation want to learn more, Mr. Taylor insisted.

“There’s definitely a buzz,” he said.

(Final Call Staff contributed to this report.)

From The Final Call Newspaper

The Black struggle in 2019: Staying aware, facing injustice and fighting for the future
By Brian 18X Crawford | J.S. Adams and Toure Muhammad | The Final Call @TheFinalCall |

2019 saw challenges and signs of a continual awakening of the Black community, even as racism and police killings remained a problem in the United States. Alongside the insults was a strong spirit of resistance and growing frustration with the lack of respect for and deprivation of Black lives.

Heroes continued to emerge in sports and entertainment as Black stars refused to bow to the desires of powerful figures in those industries.

Colin Kaepernick Photos: MGN Online

Colin Kaepernick continued to be a lightning rod for discussion, even though the former NFL quarterback played his last game in 2016. He continued to challenge the NFL for essentially blackballing him and keeping him off the field. Mr. Kaepernick was openly critical of what was billed as an NFL workout in November for team scouts, but in actuality, was an attempt to get him to sign a non-standard waiver that included language that would have limited his ability to pursue legal claims against the NFL. Mr. Kaepernick held his own, private workout instead, and his representatives sent that tape to all 32 NFL teams.

Hip Hop mogul Jay-Z, negotiated a major deal with the NFL.

Hip hop guru Jay-Z received criticism for entering into a business relationship with the NFL. His Roc Nation imprint was named the league’s “live music entertainment strategist,” putting the rapper’s company in charge of the Super Bowl halftime show. The rapper took heavy criticism from NFL players and many in the Black community but others urged caution, saying time will tell what happens.

Lamar Jackson broke Mike Vick’s season rushing record.

On the field, it was the year of the Black quarterback in the NFL. Players like Patrick Mahomes (Kansas City Chiefs), Deshaun Watson (Houston Texans), Kyler Murray (Arizona Cardinals) and Lamar Jackson (Baltimore Ravens) busted up the stereotype that Black athletes aren’t smart enough to play quarterback at the pro level. Both the Chiefs and Ravens are legitimate NFL contenders. And with top notch collegiate prospects like Jalen Hurts (Oklahoma), Justin Fields (Ohio State), Khalil Tate (Arizona), and Deondre Francois (Hampton), the Black quarterback talent pool was deep.

America and Black people continued to suffer from violence in 2019.

According to the Gun Violence Archive, as of December 1, 2019, there were more mass shootings in America (385) than days in a calendar year.

There was a mass shooting in this country every single day in 2019 and 29 of those 385 mass shootings were also mass murders. Some of the most devastating tragedies included the Aug. 4 mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, that killed nine people, an Aug. 13 mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, where 22 people were killed, and three Dec. 1 shootings in New Orleans that left 11 people injured. The Gun Violence Archives reported the highest number of mass shootings since 2014.

There were more than 35,000 gun-related deaths in 2019, over 27,000 gun-related accidents, and still no meaningful, federally mandated gun legislation.

Elijah Al-Amin, a 17 year old from Peoria, Arizona, was shot and killed by a White man at a convenience store because he didn’t like the rap music the teen was playing. In Louisiana, Sean Barrette fatally shot and killed three people at random in New Orleans; one of his victims was Black.

Violence at the hands of police continued in 2019. According to a study by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Black men’s risk of being shot and killed by police is 2.5 times higher than that of White men, and 1 in every 1,000 Black men will be shot and killed by a police officer. Black women were also victims of police violence in 2019.

Atatiana Koquice Jefferson, was fatally shot inside her Fort Worth, Texas, home by a police officer. Photo: MGN Online

In October, Atatiana Jefferson was shot and killed by a police officer in Ft. Worth, Texas, while at home playing video games with her 8-year-old nephew. An officer began peering through Ms. Jefferson’s window after a neighbor called a non-emergency number to ask for a well-being check. Her front door was open. Officer Andrew Dean shot through a window killing Ms. Jefferson. The 35-year-old had only been on the force 18 months, and resigned before he could be fired. He’s been charged with murder.

The trial of Amber Guyger, a Dallas police officer who shot and killed Botham Jean in his own apartment, saying she mistook it for her own, was probably one of the most talked about stories of 2019. Ms. Guyger was convicted of murder and sentenced to 10 years in prison for the killing the young Black man who was a native of St. Lucia. Both the judge, who is Black, and Mr. Jean’s brother hugged Ms. Guyger after the verdict was read. The judge even gave Ms. Guyger a Bible.

These perceived acts of kindness and forgiveness enraged many in the Black community. Lee Merritt, the attorney representing the Jean family, understood the outrage. But, he said, key elements in the Jean story as well as the case of Atatiana Jefferson were overlooked.

Some of these elements have often been used to justify police killings of Black people, said the Dallas-based attorney.

“For a long time, the conversation was about compliance. In other words, it was said the Black community wasn’t properly complying with law enforcement and giving them the respect that they deserve; and Black men, women and children were causing the brutality to happen to them,” said Atty. Merritt.

“But 2019 kind of dispelled that myth,” he told The Final Call. “You have Atatiana Jefferson who was playing video games in her home, get shot and killed by police. Botham Jean was eating a bowl of ice cream after a long day of work, being shot and killed by police in his home. These weren’t even legitimate police encounters. This was just people going through the mundane activities of their daily lives, and police brutality came to visit them at their home.”

“The problem in the Botham Jean case is that it actually represented an advancement in police brutality,” Mr. Merritt continued. “This case should be textbook in how we deal with police brutality, because a lot of things had to come together to convict a White woman, a police officer, of murdering a Black man. There was a whole new bench of primarily Black women elected in Dallas County, and one of them served on that trial—Judge Tammy Kemp. Even though she later became a problematic figure, there would have been no conviction without her.”

Judge Kemp barred the testimony of the Texas Rangers, a respected law enforcement agency, because they were set to testify that Ms. Guyger did nothing wrong and didn’t deserve to go to jail, he said.

Mr. Merritt also credits the district attorney’s office for being aggressive in pursuing the case, and Dallas residents who showed up in droves for jury duty. The jury that found Ms. Guyger guilty was one of the most diverse ever to hear a murder trial in the city, according to Mr. Merritt. It was comprised of six Black jurors, 5 Hispanic jurors and only one White juror.

“The response to the jury summons was record-breaking. There were hundreds of people lined up for jury duty around the corner on the heels of Bothan Jeans’ trial,” Mr. Merritt said. “This is something that needs to be replicated. It was a lot of work for one conviction, but this is something that can be replicated throughout the country.”

Social activism and art

One of the most heartbreaking events this year was when Nipsey Hussle, an up and coming rapper from Los Angeles, Calif., was gunned down March 31.

“It’s unfortunate that it has happened, because I would say he’s an artist that was gaining steam. I have a friend of mine who I discovered was a huge Nipsey Hussle fan and was devastated when he passed away,” said Clayton Gutzmore, a 30-year-old freelance journalist who often covers Black culture and entertainment. “In terms of his impact, I just want to say that Nipsey has been known as a giver. He invested in his community by opening up a tech space where people could learn about coding, and also a space where he could employ people, because there’s the Marathon store, and other things like that that he planted in California where people can actually benefit from him and his influence.”

Mr. Hussle died outside of his Marathon store. His work and catchphrase “The Marathon Continues” now often refers to furthering the community work he dedicated himself to. That hashtag, along with portraits of him, have circulated throughout social media. He left behind his longtime girlfriend, actress Lauren London, and two children.

His death also brought together gangs in the area for a peace walk and effort to broker peace. It also brought Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan to speak to those who convened near Nipsey’s store, and speak to attendees at his funeral service at the Staples Center.

The Netflix docuseries “When They See Us” dove deeply into the true story of the Central Park 5, which younger viewers may not have been exposed to.

Ava DuVernay, an acclaimed director, told the story of five young Black and Hispanic youths who were wrongfully accused and convicted of raping a young White woman in Central Park.

“It was traumatizing at the moment because you see these young boys who are being told certain things, and these are back in the days where it wasn’t so tech savvy or whatnot,” Mr. Gutzmore said. “Also, more people just being more conscious of the whole judicial system and letting people be more aware of how the cops and young Black teenagers interchange.”

Melissa Hunter Davis, founder and publisher of Sugarcane Magazine, a Black arts publication, said the series brought out both the good and the bad.

“I think it was far wider than we thought,” Ms. Davis said. “I don’t think it was necessarily positive by some people. I’m not saying the film wasn’t positive. I think there were people who this touched a wrong nerve for them. They were probably supportive for these young men of being thrown in jail for the rest of their lives.”

Recently, there have been complaints of notable Black artists, including Ms. DuVernay, being “snubbed” at the Golden Globes nominations.

“We saw her being snubbed at the Golden Globes and plenty of films that depict Black people not just positively, but that are politically charged,” Ms. Davis continued. “I think Beyonce’s ‘Homecoming’ was hard for people to take. I think any time we start to speak politically and quite loudly, I think that frightens people and keeps us from getting what we deserve.”

Many people have taken to Twitter and other social media platforms to express their dissatisfaction with Black artists not getting their proper due.

Ms. Davis said one artist who has made strides this year is Tyler Perry, with the opening of his grand, new studio.

“I’m really proud of him,” she said. “I think that the idea of anybody Black owning their own collection of sound stages is phenomenal, especially in Georgia. The state of Georgia made it really easy for him to do that with all the tax incentives they give to people, and he took advantage of it and ran with it.”

November’s Democratic presidential debate was held at Tyler Perry’s studio in Atlanta, soon after its opening in October.

“Clearly he’s done well off the bat,” she said. “It was used very quickly and it gave people a place to shoot different types of films with different locales.”

Many activists have helped to shape up this year for Blacks, through arts and social justice.

“[It shows] the changes in making sure there’s positive representation of Black people in this country to commemorate the fact that we are here,” Ms. Davis said.

Both Mr. Gutzmore and Ms. Davis see a brighter future in 2020 for Black people in terms of moving the culture forward.

“Hopefully sharper and better material in both music and movies,” Mr. Gutzmore said. “Hopefully we will want to raise our stakes. Hopefully we will want to deliver better material ... that can say, okay, this is actually different from the 2010s.”

Project Separation moves across America

The year 2019 also brought a national separation tour by Dr. Ava Muhammad, national spokesperson for the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam.

The attorney and student minister went across the country lecturing and convening discussions about “the best and only solution” to the race problem in America—separation.

“Separation is not the goal. The goal is the spiritual, mental and moral resurrection of God’s people. Separation is just the process. It is a means to an end and not the end,” said Min. Ava Muhammad, during a successful visit to Los Angeles. She visited 18 cities, including Birmingham, Memphis, St. Petersburg, Fla., Tampa, Fla., Detroit, Mich., St. Louis, Harlem, N.Y., Phoenix, Prince George’s County, Md., Chicago, Orlando, Milwaukee, Raleigh-Durham, N.C., Richmond, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Coldwater, Miss.

Student Minister Abdul Malik Sayyid Muhammad, Nation of Islam Western Region representative, hosted the town hall, which featured Dr. Melina Abdullah of Black Lives Matter Los Angeles; Hector Perez Pachecho, a Quechua from the Confederation of Tawantisuyu in South America and member of the intertribal Harmony Keepers which protects the indigenous ways and traditions of their people; Tino Phoenix, an Indigenous gang interventionist, and Rizza Islam, author of “A Message to the Millennials,” and social media influencer.

In her presentation, Min. Ava Muhammad quoted Minister Farrakhan’s warning: “As long as we live with White people, we will be under White people, because they have manufactured a false reality that is built on a doctrine of White superiority and Black inferiority.”

“We can’t even get an idea across until that idea is filtered through the White man’s damaged perception of reality, so by the time any plan we had comes to fruition, it is no longer the original thought. It is a grafted thought that is no longer from the Creator because it has to be made palatable to White people,” said Min. Ava Muhammad.

Separation is to purge Blacks of a self-defeating inferiority and rebellion against the will of Allah (God) that produced these destructive conditions, she continued.

Reparations is land, it’s not money, she added.

Mr. Perez-Pacheco felt it was important to bring separation to the people’s consciousness. It can be achieved, just like the Indigenous people’s eradication of so-called Columbus Day in Los Angeles, he said. Native peoples now celebrate their accomplishments and are moving to get rid of Columbus Day across the state, he added.

Dr. Abdullah underscored the many ways Blacks have been fighting for freedom from the moment they were stolen from Africa and fighting problems inside a system built to produce devastating outcomes.

“It’s not accidental that Black children have targets on their backs. It’s not accidental that in the County of Los Angeles, 540 people have been killed by police in the last six years. It’s not accidental that our children are searched and dehumanized and decriminalized in our schools,” she said.

She answered the question of separation through the lens of her 13-year-old daughter Amara, who said of course Blacks should separate, but the question is, “Will we?”

Impeached Presidents (left to right): Andrew Johnson, Bill Clinton, Donald Trump. Photo: MGN Online

Reparations became a hot topic in 2019 as Democratic presidential hopefuls seeking to run against Donald Trump in 2020 largely backed reparations or a federal bill studying reparations, promising to sign bill H.R. 40 into law if passed into law by Congress. The year ended with the small city of Evanston, Ill., announcing a plan to spend $10 million over 10 years to provide reparations to its Black population.

But money alone will never solve the problems of Black people, said Nation of Islam student ministers. “We’re not looking for a one-time check from this government,” said Min. Abdul Malik Muhammad. “We want to be treated even better than how Israel is being treated. … Every year since 1948, right off the top, before they even balance the budget, $6 billion of the American taxpayers’ money goes to the state of Israel, not talking about the other $30-40 billion in military aid, in airplanes, in high technology that this government gives to that nation that it had nothing to do with destroying,” he said.

Building Black economics

Black entrepreneurs and businesses got a boost in 2019 with more campaigns and efforts to buy Black through festivals, pop-up shops, cash mobs that flooded Black businesses with customers on predetermined days, increased advocacy for stronger Black economics and online product and services sales.

There are 3,000 new businesses started daily in the U.S. and 70 percent are owned by Black women, said Black business proponents.

“I tell my children to go to school and get a good education and then create a job. Create a job for yourself, create a job for your children, and if God gives you the power and the glory, create jobs for our people and if you have to get a job, get a job working for a Black company,” said Dr. George C. Fraser, chairman and CEO of FraserNet, Inc; a company he founded roughly 32 years ago that leads a global networking movement that brings together diverse human resources to increase opportunities for people of African descent.

Of the nearly eight million businesses classified as minority-owned that year, 2.5 million were owned by Blacks, and 109,137 of these were employer firms with a total of 975,052 workers, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

In 2019, the top 100 Black-owned companies in the U.S. accounted for more than $25 billion in revenue and employed more than 70,000 people, according to Black Enterprise.

While there are many new businesses popping up, there remains much opportunity for Black businesses in health care and technology. “With artificial intelligence, virtual reality and augmented reality still improving and changing, you can’t even imagine what the internet will look like in 50 years,” explained Mr. Fraser.

One business owner that has made good use of both health care trends and technology is Wendy Muhammad, co-founder and president and director of business affairs and development of Minimally Invasive Vascular Center, a $20 million, three story, 27,000 square foot micro-hospital. Located in Laurel, Md., the hospital encourages early diagnosis and offers minimally invasive treatment.

“I decided to build a hospital after I saw how my father didn’t like going to the doctor because he didn’t like how he was treated,” she said.

Another huge opportunity for Black business exists across the Atlantic Ocean, explained Dr. Fraser, who recently launched FraserNation, a globally focused website that seeks to connect Black people throughout the Diaspora to encourage the sharing of business knowledge, resources and opportunities.

“Africa is 20 years behind and we (Black Americans) have the skills and experience they need,” said Dr. Fraser. “We must learn, earn and return. That’s what FraserNation is about. That’s what the Nation is about. That’s why I love the Minister and the Nation.”

Final Call staff contributed to this report.

From The Final Call Newspaper

Acrimony, Animosity and Growing Anger: Impeachment, PICKING SIDES AND DIVIDING AMERICA

By Askia Muhammad Senior Editor @askiaphotojourn

WASHINGTON—The House Judiciary Committee voted to approve articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump after a bitter committee debate that stretched over three days.

The committee action Dec. 13 set up a historic vote to impeach the president on the House floor at Final Call press time that would make Mr. Trump the third president in American history to be impeached by Congress.

The Judiciary Committee approved the impeachment articles of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress on two party-line votes that underscored the partisan tensions running throughout the impeachment proceedings.

Democrats say that Mr. Trump should be removed from office for abusing his authority by pressuring Ukraine to investigate his political rivals in exchange for U.S. security aid and a White House meeting. Then, Democrats insist, he obstructed the investigation into his misconduct.

“In all of this, President Trump abused the powers of the presidency by ignoring and injuring national security and other vital national interests to obtain an improper personal political benefit,” according to the first article. “He has also betrayed the nation by abusing his office to enlist a foreign power in corrupting democratic elections.” The second article charged him with obstructing the impeachment inquiry by blocking witnesses and documents that House Democrats requested.

House Democrats decided not to charge Mr. Trump with “bribery” or “extortion,” as they had contemplated. Those are criminal charges, meaning they would have invited complicated debate about judicial precedents, but an impeachable offense does not have to be a specific crime, according to constitutional scholars, so the Democrats decided to use the more comprehensive accusation of “abuse of power.”

“In the history of the republic, no president has ever ordered the complete defiance of an impeachment inquiry or sought to obstruct and impede so comprehensively the ability of the House to investigate ‘high crimes and misdemeanors,’ ” the obstruction article says.

However, as hard as the Democrats are pressing the issue, there is not complete unity in their caucus.

There are Democrats in heavy Trump congressional districts that are still on the fence.

At presstime The Wall Street Journal reported at least 17 from the 31 Democratic-held districts that Mr. Trump won in the 2016 presidential race had announced they would support the abuse-of-power and obstruction of Congress charges, according to a survey conducted by the paper, with two saying they are opposed. These moderate Democrats are feeling the pressure as lines have been drawn in the sand by members of both parties.

Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota said he is voting against impeachment and Rep. Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey recently announced he was switching parties over his decision to break with Democrats. Rep. Van Drew’s announcement he will now be a Republican caused members of his staff to resign. Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan left the Republican Party and became an Independent earlier this year over his differences with Mr. Trump and the direction of the GOP. Rep. Amash now caucuses with the Democrats and has indicated he will vote to impeach the president.

The latest CNN polls reflect as much division in the American public as there is among political leadership in Washington when it comes to impeachment. CNN reported on Dec. 16 that support for impeaching President Trump and removing him from office was at 45 percent in favor with 47 percent opposing. The percentage of those in favor decreased from 50 percent in October and November.

According to the New York Times, as of Dec. 16 evening, 192 Democrats in the House support impeachment, two opposed, 11 were undecided or unclear and 28 had not responded. The paper reported that no Republicans support impeachment, one was undecided or unclear and 31 had not responded.

Rather than defending his conduct however, Republicans supported the president by attacking the impeachment process itself, and by maligning dozens of witnesses—administration appointees and career civil servants—who testified about Mr. Trump’s behavior in a telephone call on July 25 with the president of Ukraine.

One GOP amendment offered to “strike Article I, because Article I ignores the truth.” Hours later, another Republican Judiciary Committee member called for eliminating the obstruction of Congress article, saying that Mr. Trump has in fact cooperated with the inquiry and that Democrats have not been fair to him.

But Democrats argue that the political calendar makes their effort even more urgent, in light of the charges against the president. They say he has engaged in a troubling pattern of behavior that began when Mr. Trump welcomed Russia’s help in the 2016 election and would continue into the 2020 election if they don’t stop it.

“The argument ‘why don’t you just wait’ amounts to this: ‘Why don’t you just let him cheat in one more election?’ ” said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), chair of the Intelligence Committee who oversaw the House’s Ukraine investigation, at a news conference. “Why not let him have foreign help just one more time?”

Despite his boasts to the contrary, some of his advisers say Mr. Trump really does not want to be impeached, viewing it as a personal humiliation. Even in private, he accepts no blame and expresses no regret, they say.

“It’s a witch-hunt. It’s a sham. It’s a hoax,” Mr. Trump said in the Oval Office during a meeting with the president of Paraguay. “Nothing was done wrong. Zero was done wrong. It’s a scam. It’s something that shouldn’t be allowed. And it’s a very bad thing for our country, and you’re trivializing impeachment.”

Polls before Dec. 16 showed public support for impeachment and removal from office has remained at 50 percent in favor and 41 percent opposed, and prominent newspapers around the country—the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Orlando Sentinel, Philadelphia Inquirer, and USA Today—have already editorialized in favor of impeachment. But Senate Republican leaders have promised Mr. Trump will not be removed from office after his trial before that body, where the GOP controls the majority. A two-thirds vote is required to remove the president from office.

There is “no chance” that 67 senators would vote to remove Mr. Trump from office, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Tenn.) said in an interview with Fox News Dec. 12. “Everything I do during this, I’m coordinating with White House counsel,” he said, adding that he would be in “total coordination” with the White House.

“There’ll be no difference between the president’s position and our position as to how to handle this,” he said. Similarly, Sen. Lindsey Graham, (R-S.C.), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee called the impeachment effort “a crock.”

“I want to end it,” Mr. Graham said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” Dec. 15, adding: “I have nothing but disdain for this.”

Democrats condemned Senators McConnell and Graham for openly stating they’re “not trying to pretend to be a fair juror here,” said House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.). “They have to pledge to do impartial justice,” Mr. Nadler told ABC-TV’s “This Week” host George Stephanopoulos Dec. 15. “And here you have the majority of the Senate, in effect the foreman of the jury, saying he’s going to work hand in glove with the defense attorney.

“And that’s in violation of the oath that they’re about to take, and it’s a complete subversion of the constitutional scheme,” Mr. Nadler continued.

Despite the dim prospects of conviction of Mr. Trump in the Senate, some good may still come out of the process, according to Dr. Gerald Horne, professor of History and African Studies at the University of Houston. “It’s possible. I think that the thinking of the Democratic leadership is that Mr. Trump will not be deterred and that it’s very important to suggest to him that there might be a penalty to pay,” Dr. Horne told this writer in an interview.

“And so even though it now appears that Mr. Trump will not be removed by the Senate, I think that the thinking is that there must be obstacles strewn in his path, perhaps to slow him down in terms of getting other nations to interfere in the November, 2020 elections,” Dr. Horne continued. Their aim, he said, is clear.

“I think that the Republican office holders are listening to the Republican base—63 million strong (who voted for Mr. Trump and who remain fiercely loyal to him)—and the base feels that this is a marvelous opportunity to turn back the clock, to restore the patriarchy, to erode affirmative action, to further erode the voting rights act of 1965. They see Trump as ‘their vehicle’ as outgoing energy secretary Rick Perry put it. He is the chosen one selected by God, as they put it, to effectuate these demonic deeds.

“I think that the communities most impacted by Trumpism really need to go through an agonizing reappraisal,” said Dr. Horne concerning a strategy for dealing with his possible reelection in 2020.

“I’m speaking of the Black community in the first place and I think that it would do well for the Black community to try to reinvigorate some of its international connections. That is the way historically we’ve been able to erode the right-wing dominance that tends to prevail in the United States of America.

“That obvious point somehow has been lost in recent decades, which I think is one of the many reasons we find ourselves in such a deep hole,” said Dr. Horne.

Regardless of the impeachment outcome, pressure will remain on this presidency, according to Rep. Al Green (D-Texas), one of the first to call for Mr. Trump’s removal from office, soon after Democrats won the House majority in the 2018 elections.

“If the Senate does not convict, that does not mean that it’s over,” Rep. Green told Yahoo News shortly after the articles were unveiled. “It simply means that for these two charges the president has not been convicted and he is still in office, which means that he is still subject to impeachment for other charges,” he said.

Those potential additional impeachable charges include the obstruction of justice allegations outlined in the report following the two-year-long investigation of improper conduct by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Battle lines drawn and increased acrimony

Mr. Trump not only has staunch, unwavering support of his Republican Party in the House and Senate, but his tens of millions of supporters are firmly in his corner. During the Dec. 9 opening of the impeachment hearings a pro-Trump protestor was dragged out of the hearing room after he shouted “treason” at Democrats.

“Jerry Nadler and the Democratic Party are committing treason against this country,” he yelled before he was escorted out of the chamber by Capitol Police Officers. “America’s done with this! America’s sick of the treason committed by the Democratic Party. We voted for Donald Trump, and they’re simply removing him because they don’t like him,” shouted the man later identified as Owen Shroyer, a host on the InfoWars website, reported The Independent Journal Review, a conservative news and opinion website.

Angry Pro-Trump, anti-impeachment protestors disrupted Rep. Schiff at a recent Armenian Genocide Recognition event held in a Los Angeles suburb. He was heckled and booed as he spoke with some folks holding signs that read, “Don’t Impeach.” Police eventually cleared the venue after fights erupted between pro-Trump protestors and others.

Politico reported that conservative groups are ramping up attack ads aimed at Democrats in Trump districts dubbed by one group the “Dirty 30.” The plan is to blanket the 31 districts with “millions of dollars’ worth of TV spots, Facebook ads, texts and tweets blaring that the ‘radical left’ is trying to remove the president after a ‘witch hunt’— and that their Democratic representative is complicit,” reported Their goal is to try and win back the seats, flipping them back into Republican hands.

The acrimony and bitterness has been displayed by pro-and anti-Trumpers. An Indianapolis news site reported a schoolteacher allegedly ripped a Trump button off of a student. “At Mason High School in Michigan, a 16-year-old female student, Sadie Earegood, went to school wearing a ‘Women for Trump’ button. Paul Kato, a media technology teacher at the school, saw the pin and ripped it off her shirt,” wrote Tony Katz in the article titled “Trump-Hating Teacher Rips Pro-Trump Button Off 16-Year-Old Female Student” posted on the website of 93.1FM WIBC. According to the site, the school is still investigating the allegations.

Violence, angry demonstrations, shouting matches and discord since the election of Mr. Trump have amplified in wake of the impeachment hearings and both sides do not appear to be backing down anytime soon.

Clashes erupted in Seattle in which that city’s police are investigating viral videos showing cops allegedly ramming their bicycles into anti-Trump protestors officers then wrestling them to the ground at a MAGA (Make America Great Again) march held Dec. 7. There have been clashes between opposing sides in that city, according to media reports.

Anger is also continuing to be displayed over social media. “The media lied in unison with Schiff, Comey and the rest. Same as they are doing with impeachment #EnemyOfThePeople Don’t forget that. And don’t forget what they did to Nunes, the only person that was telling the truth,” said a tweet by @steph93065 that was retweeted by Mr. Trump.

“Impeachment will be bipartisan ....bipartisan AGAINST it. Hahahahaha Democrats wasted all their political capital on a witch hunt, they can’t even get 100% of their own party on board with this sham. GO TRUMP!!,” said @Rockprincess818.

Trump supporters outside of his Dec. 10 rally in Hershey, Pennsylvania told CBS News that the president’s impeachment could lead to violence, anger and “the second civil war.”

“There’ll be a lot of mad Americans. Possibly, 70, 80 thousand—70, 80 million Americans on the loose, not very happy,” said one man. “What we’re seeing is a divided country. Both sides are dug in, no one’s budging,” he added.

(Final Call staff contributed to this report.)

From The Final Call Newspaper

Up with Jesus: Down with Santa, What is X-mas really all about?

By Charlene Muhammad -National Correspondent-

Identity theft is illegal, but Santa Claus is co-opting Jesus with impunity.

Across the world people are planning to celebrate Dec. 25 or Christmas Day, as the son of God’s birthday, but they will actually be doing the opposite.

Two-year-old Mali Muhammad distributes love note to a community resident durin Thanksgiving. Photos: Majidah Muhammad/Khabir Muhammad

“… Jesus was not born in December. God in the Person of Master Fard Muhammad, to Whom Praises are due forever, has taught me that his birthday took place between the first and second weeks of September, and that no one knows exactly what day he was born, for it was a secret kept between Joseph and Mary to save them both from being murdered by getting a baby out of wedlock,” stated the Honorable Elijah Muhammad in his 1974 book, “Our Saviour Has Arrived.” He offers a deeper understanding of his teacher, the Great Mahdi Master Fard Muhammad, and insight into prophecies and world events.

“The real truth that the Christians hate to confess is that Joseph had gotten the child, Jesus, by Mary while he was married to another woman and at that time had six children by the first marriage. So Master Fard Muhammad (God in Person) has taught me,” revealed the Honorable Elijah Muhammad.

The 25th of December is the birthday of Nimrod, the evil demon of the White race, who was born in the last 300 years of the civilization of Moses, around the 17th century B.C., he wrote.

“Nimrod was one of the most wicked men who ever lived. Nimrod is the man that destroyed the Law of Moses: He broke the civilization of Moses 17 centuries after Moses, and three centuries before Jesus was born into the world,” said the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, further explaining what his teacher revealed from God.

“What is meant by ‘he broke the civilization of Moses’ is that Nimrod made the Law of Moses of non-effect. And when you make the law that Moses established of non-effect, you have busted up the civilization of Moses. Nimrod was a man that had a strange [incestuous] relationship with his mother, Semiramis; and when she died, they say an ‘evergreen tree rose up out from her grave,’ and they would put gifts under the tree. So here you are practicing what the heathens practiced who worshipped Nimrod and his mother. Both of them rebelled against God,” stated Min. Farrakhan.

Co-opted, corrupted and commercialized

Christmas is branded with slogans of good cheer, prosperity, merriment, and joy to the world, but the whole season is permeated with stress, greed, commercialization and consumption.

Every holiday season, hundreds of lives are lost due to drunk drivers. Nationally, over the past five years, an average of 300 people died in drunk driving crashes the week between Christmas and New Year, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Alcohol-impaired fatalities make up more than a quarter of all crash fatalities. In 2016, 781 people lost their lives in drunk driving-related crashes in the month of December alone, according to statistics.

Participation in Christmas to some degree is waning, observed Student Minister Demetric Muhammad of Muhammad Mosque No. 55 and member of the Nation of Islam Research Group.

As consumption and consumerism have become predominant throughout American society, many people aren’t found shying away from purchasing or receiving gifts. “But you have very little of the association of the buying and the receiving of gifts with the religious reasons and the religious traditions that circulate around Jesus as it once was, and that could be both good and bad,” said Demetric Muhammad.

Holiday retail sales are likely to increase between 4.5 and 5 percent in 2019, compared to 2018, according to Deloitte’s annual holiday retail forecast. It forecast overall holiday sales will exceed $1.1 trillion between November to January, not to mention e-commerce sales, projected to reach between $144 billion to $149 billion this season, according to the accounting giant’s Sept. 17 press release.

Drunken stupor

During chattel slavery, according to the great abolitionist Frederick Douglass, plantation masters who feared their slaves would either escape or revolt, gave them plenty of alcohol to drink during Christmas. And this drunken stupor or state of near-unconsciousness dampened the revolutionary spirit of the slaves.

Majidah Muhammad (with baby) poses with recipient of love note distributed to her community during Thanksgiving.

“In other words, they wanted us to be too drunk, too out of our right mind, to think about the wretchedness of our condition, that really in truth, we didn’t have much to celebrate,” commented Demetric Muhammad. “We didn’t have much to be happy about. We were slaves, and Jesus was born to liberate all mankind, then should not we during his birthday celebration as an appropriate response to the birth of a liberator, should not we seek to liberate ourselves?”

“There is no doubt that too many Africans, unaware of the history of Christmas, will spend too much money that we do not have to splurge during this harmful holiday. However, it is also clear that more and more Africans and other oppressed peoples are escaping the ideological grasp that our oppressors have over us with the use of institutions like Christmas,” Omali Yeshitela, chairman of the African People’s Socialist Party, told The Final Call in a statement in an email.

He said one of the more egregious or shocking implications of Christmas is that it teaches that there is a fat White man located in a part of the world where labor is often impossible because of the climatic conditions. Yet somehow this obese Caucasian brings goodies that are the product of labor.

“The tale is that these goodies, brought to those who are ‘good,’ are created by mythological creatures called elves. This is a myth that helps to obscure the origin of the wealth in the possession of the White world, the ‘good.’ We know that the wealth was actually created by people, by the enslaved and colonized, especially Africans whose enslavement was part of the productive process that gave birth to the system of capitalism and the rise of White power,” stated Chairman Yeshitela.

Christmas helps to consolidate a White national consciousness upon much of the world and undermines a Black national consciousness necessary for Black liberation, he added.

“It keeps us locked into a belief system that serves our oppressors and supports our servitude. It is a holiday that facilitates the voluntary surrender of our hard-earned resources to our historical exploiters and national oppressors. It is a holiday that serves to keep us loyal to a system that impoverishes and kills our people with impunity,” he said.

“And, of course, it continues to be true that it is a holiday that makes it necessary for us to ignore the heroic struggles of our impoverished parents and elderly to provide for our children,” he continued. “The mythological jolly fat White man, the stand in for White power, is offered up as the real provider for our people whose enslavement created all the wealth that is responsible for White men being fat and jolly.”

The problem of paganism

The problem with the celebration known as Christmas is it’s all about White idolatry or worshipping White images that Blacks cannot see their own Black divinity, according to Dr. Ashra Kwesi, historian and lecturer on ancient African history and religion.

“When we look at this time of the year, that we have to go all the way back to ancient Kemet, referred to as Egypt by the Greeks, and this is where many of the stories were plagiarized from—the holy birth and the origin of the story of the Black Madonna—all is coming up out of African people’s consciousness,” he said.

“That first story of the Black Madonna would be that of a statue the Greeks refer to as Isis and the holy child being Heru and the Holy father being Asar,” according to Dr. Kwesi, who referred to research by the late great Dr. Ishakamusa Barashango, author of “Afrikan People and European Holidays: A Mental Genocide.”

Dr. Barashango chronicled how Christmas and other European holidays were copied from the ancient spiritual system of Black divinity.

Black families seeking spiritual alternatives turn to the Pan African holiday Kwanzaa, created by Dr. Maulana Karenga, professor and chair of the Department of Africana Studies at California State University-Long Beach.

Kwanzaa is based on the Nguzo Saba (The Seven Principles): Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-Determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity), and Imani (Faith). It is observed Dec. 31-Jan. 1, and was first celebrated in 1966.

Revolution of kindness

“It doesn’t cost money to be kind … this Christmas, let love break out in the ghetto,” said Min. Farrakhan, when he issued a two-fold call in 2015 for people to stop the madness and make Christmas a real mass for Christ.

People like Majidah Muhammad, a young Muslim teacher in Washington, D.C. responded and launched the Spread Love Crew, an effort to feed the spirit. The wife and mother of two, along with her husband, Khabir, their two children, mother, Final Call Staff writer Nisa Muhammad, and brother Nasser, began a crusade to give at least 2,000 hugs and kind notes to strangers by January 2020.

“I gave some to my brother (Nasser Muhammad). He works at a school and he gave them to all the teachers. I have put them on people’s car window shields. I went to feed the hungry in an area where there are some people who don’t have homes, and they’re living outside, and so I gave the notes to them. We’ve been in the mall. We’d hand out the notes. I was in the hospital before visiting one of my friends, I gave them to a nurse, and so really it’s just to put a smile on people’s face and just a way for me to create the world in which I want to see, where people feel valuable, worthy and loved.”

“I would love to live in a world where everyone feels valuable as well as feel loved and I know that I play a part in creating that world that I want to live in,” she said.

“And it really doesn’t take much at all to write a note, literally. We all have paper and pen to write a note to give to somebody that you don’t even know, to just bring joy to them, to show love to them, and it does take vulnerability, of course, to do this, but, we all can do it and the impact is major.”

Part of her effort stems from a mandate by her participation in a leadership group inspiring her to do good, and in part by Min. Farrakhan’s example.

“Specifically with community, of course, I thought about the Minister and how he is constantly spreading love to our community, and I thought about the Minister galvanizing the brothers to go out into the communities with The Final Call,” she said. “And when I had the notes in mind, I imagined going with my husband, my husband with The Final Call and me with the notes to give to people and being able also to give them The Final Call, give them the notes, and invite them out to the mosque,” she stated.

“The picture that is constantly in my head is just the Minister with the people in our community, whether that’s him hugging them, him talking to them, him shaking their hands, and so I am now myself and my family doing the exact same thing.”

“People are already joining. Even when I was passing notes to those who were feeding, other people asked, ‘Oh, can I have some of the notes to hand out?’ ”

She added, “As I write them, I’m like, I need this! This is giving me joy and life and inspiration!”

From The Final Call Newspaper

Hurting, hunting Black Girls and Women: Facing a devastating sex trafficking crisis not limited to vans, strangers and abductions

By Richard B. Muhammad, Bryan 18X Crawford and Brian E. Muhammad The Final Call | @TheFinalCall

Social media warnings of white vans that lock from the outside and follow school buses, arrests in several states, accounts from Black women about kidnap attempts and thousands of missing women and girls have raised fears about increased sex trafficking in the Black community.

The problem, however, is wider than strangers snatching young girls and women, though that happens. It includes a plethora of abuses and failures, said advocates fighting to end the scourge.

The Black and Missing Foundation says Black people, just 13 percent of the American population, are almost 40 percent (232,881) of all missing persons. Black women, just seven percent of America’s population, are 10 percent of all reported missing persons cases, said the foundation. In 2018, roughly 64,000 Black women and girls went missing, it said.

“African American youth are at increased risk for domestic minor sex trafficking, with being female, living in an urban area, and experiencing abuse prior to trafficking all being factors that are associated with risk for sex trafficking. Of the over 300,000 minors in the U.S. who are victims of domestic sex trafficking, it is estimated that 43 percent are African American girls,” according to research by Thema Bryant-Davis, PhD., of Pepperdine University. The U.S. Justice Dept. has reported that of confirmed sex trafficking victims whose race was known, 26 percent were White and 40 percent were Black.

Advocates and survivors believe many missing women and girls are victims of sex trafficking. A 15-year-old Houston girl ended her life in mid-October. The young Latina disappeared at age 13, was drugged and sex trafficked. Her family found her two years later, but she was never the same. Family members were heartbroken when she killed herself.

Who cares about Black girls, women?

“A few years ago, around 80 girls in Washington, D.C., went missing in a month, and it was crazy to me that nobody was talking about this. I started doing research and couldn’t find anything about it,” said Imani Blair, a Virginia-based rap artist. She made a song and a video called “Shoot ‘Em,” about Black women being abducted and taken against their will. “Nobody was talking about it. No news was talking about it; and that made me feel some kind of way. And the more research I’ve done it, the more I’ve learned that this is a really big problem in our community.”

The video for “Shoot ‘Em,” features powerful images. In one scene, Ms. Blair pulls up to a gas station with a group of suspicious men sitting in a nearby car. She doesn’t notice them watching. From the time she pulls into the gas station, walks in and then out again, she’s on her phone; oblivious to her surroundings before she is surrounded and forced into the trunk of a car.

The images are haunting, but at the same time, all too real because this kind of scenario does play out in the Black community and other neighborhoods.

In addition to abductions and kidnappings, young women and girls are often lured into “the life” by promises of love, fame, money or all three. They can also be sold from one trafficker to another. In other cases, young women have gone to parties and found themselves held captive, beaten and forced into sexual slavery.

Chandra Cleveland, based in Columbia, S.C., is an expert who deals with sex trafficking, sextortion, and sexual exploitation. Much of her work focuses on highly vulnerable female runaways.

Among the girls was a common pattern of “friendship” with an older male who influenced them.

“As I kept hearing the stories—after they have been gone for days—it started adding up like this was a plot,” said Ms. Cleveland, who runs a group called It’s On Me 2. “Someone knew what they were doing in order to get these girls.”

Having worked in law enforcement for more than 30 years and through her organization, Ms. Cleveland gained experience working with sexually exploited women and girls.

She believes more awareness is needed through trainings and focusing on sex trafficking, missing females and violence against girls and women. She conducts community trainings as well as sessions at schools, colleges and even corporations.

She and other advocates stress females trapped in “the life” are victims—which has spawned a movement to change laws and end the prosecution of these victims, especially children, for prostitution. There are also efforts to strengthen punishment of customers, or “johns,” pimps, who may be male or female, and combat legalization of prostitution.

Female runways are often labeled fast or loose, noted Ms. Cleveland. But, she said, the girls were often seeking some kind of help and devalued by their community.

Such dysfunction left girls vulnerable to someone selling false hope and who ended up exploiting them, she explained.

“I tell parents … regardless of the child that you raised, when they get around a manipulator such as this, they can change your child in three days to something you never met,” warned Ms. Cleveland.

If girls say something strange or suddenly change, parents and loved ones need to act quickly and find out what’s happening, Ms. Cleveland said.

Then there is the ugly online dimension to the problem.

“Social media plays a critical role,” commented Armie Hicks, a filmmaker based in Atlanta who wrote and produced the film “Circuit,” which explores human trafficking. Mr. Hicks was inspired to make his film because of work his sister did helping survivors of human and sex trafficking. He listened to their stories while working on the film.

“Women are increasingly being lured online with false promises of lives of luxury, love and security,” he said. “Predators can easily message and connect with vulnerable young girls on social media and dating apps.”

These same girls, whether going on a date or casting call for a movie, can end up captives and drugged to force their compliance—if seduction doesn’t work.

And, the sellers or abusers of girls and women are often boyfriends and family members, not strangers.

“Our team was granted interviews with various women who had been sold into modern-day slavery as young girls by their own families or by men who they thought loved them and wanted to build a relationship with them,” Mr. Hicks explained. “They shared their heartbreaking stories, providing a glimpse into the very dark and dirty world of human trafficking that we needed in order to know that this was a much-needed film. As a father, son and brother of Black women, this scared the hell out of me.”

Ms. Cleveland said the increase in sex trafficking is also tied to the so-called gang culture with some shifting from illicit drug dealing to prostituting young girls.

“African American men who have been caught with drugs before have found out that it’s easier to get a little girl from school and flip the value on her over and over again,” said Ms. Cleveland. “It’s not like they have to hide a commodity, or they have to go and get it. The human commodity is more accessible, and they make more money.”

Since traffickers are looking for vulnerable victims, they may recruit girls from foster homes or group homes, or target women who are already in jail using online records about sentencing and release dates. They may send money to women who are incarcerated and romance them. Once the women are released, traffickers may offer drugs and a place to stay. In the end, they push the women into sex work to repay their debts, sometimes under threat of violence. They may also literally lock women into rooms or houses.

A billion-dollar industry

Human trafficking, or modern slavery, affects some 40.3 million people worldwide. That means for every 1,000 people, nearly six are victims of human trafficking. Nearly five million people endure “forced sexual exploitation,” and as the International Labor Organizations reports, some $99 billion is made.

While only 19 percent of victims of human trafficking are sexually exploited, the money generated represents 66 percent of the global human trafficking profits. Every woman forced into sex trafficking generates approximately $100,000 annually. Those persons trafficked for non-sexual purposes generate around $22,000 a year.

“Domestic minor sex trafficking is the commercial sexual exploitation of children within U.S. borders. Congress, in the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act, has made sex trafficking of a minor a crime. Federal law makes it a crime when a person ‘recruits, entices, harbors, transports, provides, obtains, advertises, maintains, patronizes, or solicits by any means’ a minor for the purpose of a commercial sex act. When considering the crime of domestic minor sex trafficking, under the TVPA, the victim’s age is the critical issue—there is no requirement to prove that force, fraud, or coercion was used to secure the victim’s actions if the victim is a minor. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, 1 in 7 endangered runaways reported to NCMEC in 2018 were likely child sex trafficking victims,” said the Protected Innocence Challenge, which does an annual report on domestic child sex trafficking.

Its 2019 report found positive changes in laws that once punished child victims. The group wants to see continued changes in laws that target customers and pimps, which have seen increased penalties.

A federal judge sentenced rapper Jaimian Simms, a 27-year-old Black man, to life in prison Nov. 22 following his conviction for conspiracy and sex trafficking. U.S. District Judge David Hittner ordered $1,575 in restitution to a 17-year-old victim. At trial, the jury heard that Mr. Simms trafficked adult and minor females. The jury also saw and heard three rap videos featuring Mr. Simms which contained many of the terms used in prostitution. “He references selling ‘White’ women and how successful he is at being a pimp,” said federal prosecutors. “The defense attempted to convince the jury that the women were not victims and engaged in the sex acts willingly nor did he use force, fraud or coercion to make them do so. They were not convinced and found him guilty of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of a minor and sex trafficking of a minor.”

Sex trafficking victims are often presented in online ads and sometimes in dating apps. The online website was shut down in 2018 for running ads soliciting sex.

Federal authorities charged a South Florida man, William Foster, with running a sex ring and recruiting girls from foster homes in November. The man had the women, two of whom were brought into the operations as minors, selling sex as far away as Detroit and created a non-profit foster care company, said authorities.

Jason Roger Pope, 42, from Florence, S.C., withdrew his request for bail in October as he faces sex trafficking and child sex crime charges. Federal authorities say the 42-year-old White male preyed on young females, often boasting of his Black conquests, according to He is charged with promoting the prostitution of a minor, kidnapping, three counts of trafficking people, and criminal sexual conduct with a minor in the second degree. Authorities say others may have been victimized and are seeking help from the public.

“Arrest warrants show that between July 2017 and July 2019, Pope allegedly forced four underaged girls to perform sex acts at his home. One of the girls was reportedly as young as 13. Another alleged victim, a 17-year-old girl, told police Pope gave her money, drugs and/or other items in exchange for sex,” reported. “Between July 1, 2018, and Sept. 1, 2019, Pope sexually assaulted a 16-year-old, identified as A.B., and paid the victim for sex acts, according to arrest warrants,” said citing TV station WMBF. Authorities also accuse the deejay and party promoter of sexually assaulting a 14 year old, holding another teenager in his home against her will and assaulting her. One victim feared she contracted AIDS from Mr. Pope, whose record of improper conduct with minors goes back to 2011, said

“According to a Facebook screenshot, Pope reportedly once bragged that ‘I’m 36 with 693 BODIES (All Black females), WBU?’ Atlanta Black Star reports,” said

Some feel more needs to be done on the enforcement side.

“While the demand for African Americans for sexual exploitation is higher than that of other races, the penalties associated with trafficking African Americans are less severe resulting in smaller jail sentences for abductors,” filmmaker Hicks said. “Survivors cannot even receive the small comfort in knowing their abductors and abusers are justly punished for their crimes.”

Sudan Muhammad, who lives in Prince Georges County, Md., is publisher of “Youth Creation Community Outreach” as part of her ministry to expose sex trafficking, help victims and warn the public. She visits areas rife with prostitution and often shares information via social media. She offers food, clothing, a listening ear and help to women trapped in the life.

“I’m a survivor. I was a part of human trafficking back in the 80’s. I know what it’s like,” Ms. Muhammad said. “This is back when young women and girls were sold for crack, being unsuspecting, set-up, and not knowing what was going on.”

Ms. Muhammad said in the DMV area (Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia), human trafficking is all too common. Some put themselves at risk, some put their children at risk out of financial desperation, she explained.

“Prince Georges county is said to be the richest Black county on paper, but you have a lot of people working low end jobs who can’t pay upwards of $1,500 a month for their rent. You wouldn’t believe the number of evictions that happen in Maryland,” said Ms. Muhammad. “So, you have a lot of scouts in our community—procurers, they call them—who tell these young girls if they make a movie, they can make upwards of $2,000 and pay their rent in a couple of minutes. This is why pornography is so normalized in our community because these girls and women think the quickest way to make money is to lay on their backs.”

Mothers and fathers in the Black community are pimping their own children out for money and if they come up missing, they won’t tell the police the real reason their child ran away, she added. It’s not uncommon to walk DMV streets and see advertisements for girls to make pornography, or work in strip clubs, she said.

“Allah had to put me through something so I would have a deep amount of empathy, compassion and understanding. So, I became an advocate for other women … who are suffering and nobody’s hearing them because nobody’s listening,” Ms. Muhammad said.

Judgments passed on women and girls caught in “the life,” and reducing them to nothing more than whores, sluts and thots needs to stop, advocates said. This mindset helps justify exploitation of Black women and girls, they said.

A call for Black men to stand up

“When I’m out and I see a group of Black men, I should feel safe. I should feel like those are my brothers and if something happens, they’re going to help me. Unfortunately, that’s not the case,” Imani Blair said. “I think if Black men showed more love and support for Black women, especially in public spaces, and not in a creepy or sexual way, we’d be good. We just need more love and support; I got you and you got me.”

“Men have to look at ourselves in the mirror and realize the responsibility we have to protect our women,” Mr. Hicks added. “Men have to listen up. If women are complaining about predatory men or habits, we have to listen and take them seriously. Men have to step in and confront predators if we see someone being targeted. Men must also confront and challenge our own misogyny and sexist views of women. By doing this, our frame of thinking begins to change and as a result, other men’s view on misogyny changes as well.”

“Those of us as Black men who are standing around pontificating on this subject matter of sex trafficking, and untold numbers of missing Black women and children, needs to stop pontificating,” Craig Khanwell declared.

Mr. Khanwell, founder of the Columbia, S.C.-based Vision Walkers, said Black men must organize and address the problem. Black men need to patrol the community, making “our women and our children” safe, instead of going to White law enforcement agencies, he said.

“Oft times it’s those same law enforcement agencies and others—even the military—are involved in the sex trafficking of our women,” he said.

“If we have to make examples of people then that’s what has to be done,” Mr. Khanwell continued. “We’ve been talking to damn much and doing too little.”

Blacks are “sitting back watching while the sellout negroes—because there are a lot of Black men in this—are selling our women and children across the country and the world,” Mr. Khanwell said.

The devaluing of the female is a universal problem beyond color and nationality, however because of the history and sordid legacy of racism and slavery, Black women in America are disproportionately exploited.

The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam, who has a track record of advocating for the uplift and advancement of women, has warned about the devastating impact of abusing females.

“We must respect and honor women if the nation is ever to be great,” Minister Farrakhan wrote, in his book, “A Torchlight for America.”

“When we do not have a proper appreciation for women, this is reflected in society. Women should be active in every field of endeavor except those that degrade them,” the Minister advised. “The maintenance of women as sex objects is destroying society,” he warned.

Sex trafficking is “commodification and consumption of bodies,” and victims can be adults or children, male and female. Law enforcement says the illicit trade involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to compel another person to perform sex to financially profit third parties. Sex trafficking is human trafficking specifically for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Sexual slavery is when a victim is forced, in a variety of ways, into dependency on their traffickers and pushed into sex work.

There is no “type” of female in sex trafficking, said activists and advocates. They come from various social and economic backgrounds. College girls are being targeted, said Ms. Cleveland.

Those who buy sex services include pastors, police officers, attorneys—almost anyone.

Black organizations and faith groups, like mosques and churches, need to get involved combating the crisis that is disproportionally affecting Blacks, said advocates.

“If we wait on someone else to save us, the numbers will continue to grow,” warned Ms. Cleveland. “Our community needs to step forth, get educated and change the way that they think about our Black women and girls.”

“Until we learn to love and protect our woman, we will never be a fit and recognized people on the earth. The White people here among you will never recognize you until you protect your woman,” warned the Hon. Elijah Muhammad, patriarch of the Nation of Islam, in his writings.

“My beloved brothers in America, you have lost the respect for your woman and, therefore, you have lost the respect for yourself. You won’t protect her; therefore, you can’t protect yourself,” he wrote.

From The Final Call Newspaper

Boycotts, ‘buycotts,’ & Black dollar power

By Charlene Muhammad National Correspondent @sischarlene

Annual Black spending strategies designed to support demands for racial justice and end police violence are kicking in as 2019 ends and reports of major store closures emerge.

Retailers with high hopes for Black Friday spending have offered deals earlier this year to help spike holiday sales. But activists have kicked in with Black Friday boycotts and “buycotts” just as early this year.

In the run-up to the 20th Anniversary of the Million Man March, Justice Or Else! in Washington, D.C., Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan called for Blacks to pull their money from the U.S. economy by not spending money during the holiday shopping season.

Minister Farrakhan quoted Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., often in the run-up to the 2015 gathering in the nation’s capital saying, “We have to find a way to redistribute the pain.”

A protester holds a sign in Chicago, Nov. 24, 2017, during a demonstration billed as a “march for justice” on Black Friday. Photo: AP Nam Y. Huh

“We have to now withdraw our economic support, so that those who give us pain can receive some pain in return,” Minister Farrakhan added.

He was inspired by Dr. King, Jr.’s desire for a 1963 Christmas boycott after the White supremacist bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., that killed four little Black girls.

And, in his final speech in Memphis on April 3, 1968, Dr. King talked about using Black economics in the fight for justice. He was assassinated the next day.

“We don’t have to argue with anybody. We don’t have to curse and go around acting bad with our words. We don’t need any bricks and bottles,” said Dr. King in some of his last words. “We don’t need any Molotov cocktails. We just need to go around to these stores, and to these massive industries in our country, and say, ‘God sent us by here, to say to you that you’re not treating his children right. And we’ve come by here to ask you to make the first item on your agenda fair treatment, where God’s children are concerned. Now, if you are not prepared to do that, we do have an agenda that we must follow. And our agenda calls for withdrawing economic support from you.’

“And so, as a result of this, we are asking you tonight, to go out and tell your neighbors not to buy Coca-Cola in Memphis. Go by and tell them not to buy Sealtest milk. Tell them not to buy—what is the other bread? Wonder Bread. And what is the other bread company, Jesse? Tell them not to buy Hart’s bread. As Jesse Jackson has said, up to now, only the garbage men have been feeling pain; now we must kind of redistribute the pain. …

“But not only that, we’ve got to strengthen Black institutions. I call upon you to take your money out of the banks downtown and deposit your money in Tri-State Bank. We want a ‘bank-in’ movement in Memphis. Go by the savings and loan association. … Put your money there. You have six or seven Black insurance companies here in the city of Memphis. Take out your insurance there. We want to have an ‘insurance-in.’ Now these are some practical things that we can do. We begin the process of building a greater economic base. And at the same time, we are putting pressure where it really hurts.”

The lack of opportunity, injustice, race-related and police killings of Blacks has continued.

Black people were 25 percent of those killed despite being only 13 percent of the population, according to Blacks were three times more likely to be killed by police than White people and 21 percent of Black victims were unarmed compared to 14 percent of White victims, according to Mapping Police Violence.

Beyond dangers faced by Blacks, holiday stress is affecting people across America. According to a November survey, “More than 6 out of 10 people told Bankrate they feel pressure to overspend on either presents, travel, social outings or charitable donations during the holiday season.”

“About half (51 percent) of survey respondents told Bankrate they feel pressure to spend more than they are comfortable with on gifts during the holidays. The percentage was significantly higher than those worried about breaking their budget for charity (30 percent), social gatherings (28 percent) or holiday travel (24 percent),” reported.

Nathaniel Dyer carries a sign during a Black Lives Matter protest near Lenox Square Mall in Atlanta, Sept. 24, 2016, in response to the police shooting deaths of Terence Crutcher in Tulsa, Okla. and Keith Lamont Scott in Charlotte, N.C. Photo: Branden Camp

“Consumers are expected to spend almost $1,048 on average during the 2019 holiday season, according to the National Retail Federation, a rise of 4 percent from last year. The national trade organization forecasts holiday retail sales during November and December reaching a total of $727.9 billion to $730.7 billion,” said

Sixteen percent of those surveyed by said they were considering “skipping or boycotting gifts altogether.”

Most people (31 percent) told Bankrate they start worrying about holiday costs in November as the holiday displays start to go up and Black Friday appeals bombard everyone. Twenty-three percent of respondents worry about how much the holidays will cost in October, while 20 percent of people don’t start stressing until December.

“The end of the year can be a tricky financial time for families even before considering holiday costs. Colder temps often mean higher heating or energy bills or expenses to winterize cars and homes. Charities and other programs help some families struggling to juggle end-of-year expenses,” observed.

WalletHub, a personal finance website, reported that despite near-record credit card debt levels, some 35 million Americans still have credit card debt from last holiday season, and nearly one-third of consumers will spend less on holiday this year than last year.

“That indicates people are just treading water financially and have been unable to use the past 12 months to prepare for the next recession, the arrival of which is just a matter of time,” warned WalletHub CEO Odysseas Papadimitriou.

“The fact that nearly one-third of consumers plan on spending less this holiday season than they did last year could be either good or bad news. It depends on whether people are recognizing the need to cut back and save before it’s too late or simply beginning to falter financially.”

Up with Jesus, down with Santa

“You’re either going to treat us right, or we’re going to withdraw from you our economic support,” said Min. Farrakhan. “We intend to boycott Christmas but not Jesus. We choose not to spend dollars on Black Friday, Black Saturday, Black Sunday, Black Monday. We are not going to spend our money for the rest of that year with those companies that we have traditionally spent our money on,” the Minister added.

“If you love Christ, then to hell with Santa! Up with Jesus! Down with Santa!” Minister Farrakhan reiterated during Part 2 of his Justice Or Else! address delivered on Oct. 11, 2015 at the Washington, D.C. Marriott Marquis.

Last year, Minister Farrakhan called on Blacks to be kind and loving to each other; to be the gift, instead of spending money on children and giving the credit to a mythical Caucasian. “Let love break out in the ghetto,” said Minister Farrakhan, as he offered an alternative Holiday approach that reflected the Holy Quran’s 107th Chapter, “Acts of Kindness.”

“I thought it was prophetic, providential … As we know, God always calls his prophets to a place of warning the people before devastation comes,” said Pastor Dinah Tatman of St. John African Episcopal Church in Kennett, Mo., and CEO-founder of Greater New Visions Ministries, Inc. of Minister Farrakhan’s call.

It came in a timely manner, said Rev. Tatman, also co-convener of “No Justice, No Profit” boycott.

She started the campaign with other leaders in St. Louis to not only boycott businesses, including Target, US Bank, Burger King, Shell, Schnucks grocery chain, Gap, Inc., Goldman Sachs, and the St. Louis Galleria Mall, but to encourage Blacks to spend with one another. “I recognized that if Black people withheld our money, we could get anything we want,” said Pastor Tatman.

Among things they wanted at the time No Justice, No Profit launched on November 2, 2017 was justice in then-officer Jason Stockley’s fatal 2011 killing of Anthony Lamar Smith. The cop’s acquittal set off a new wave of outrage and protests.

The community and the country were already in turmoil over the killing of Michael Brown, Jr., by White male officer Darren Wilson in 2014 and the failure of state and federal authorities to charge the cop in the 18-year-old’s death.

“If we can recognize the power that we have, and use it, and stop begging, kings and queens don’t beg. Yet we beg the masters to take care of us when we take care of everybody else, except for us. When we recognize us, things will change. So, I love Brother Minister Farrakhan, because he’s not afraid to stand on the greatness, and the justice, and the righteousness of God and speak what God has told him to speak unabashedly, and not be afraid,” stated Pastor Tatman.

In addition to No Justice, No Profit, groups like the Chicago-based Black Mall and Houston-based Shrine of the Black Madonna, have consistently worked on two fronts. Their efforts began locally but have grown to inspire support nationally.

Nailah Nelson, executive director of the Shrine of the Black Madonna’s Shrine Cultural and Event Center, observed that five years after Justice Or Else! Blacks are still experiencing injustice, police brutality, and injustice. People cannot let up, she said.

“We started this movement as a response to the brutality with Michael Brown, following the Justice Or Else! movement with the Honorable Minister Farrakhan. We did it in an effort to raise consciousness and to recirculate the dollars into the Black community,” Ms. Nelson said.

“It is a boycott movement empowering our people, and the only way that we could effectively do this is to join together and boycott the stores, put our dollars back into the Black community, because Black businesses are the largest employers of Black people. So, this is for our own economic development that we seek to push our movement,” Ms. Nelson told The Final Call.

The Shrine’s Buy Black Market started on the first Saturday of every month but has grown to include the third Saturday of the month as well. What began with approximately 30 vendors has grown to a list of over 620 across the country, according to Ms. Nelson. She is hoping the group will launch an online component to its economic movement in mid-December.

“We joined with the Justice Or Else! under Minister Farrakhan and we’ve been doing it effectively since then, giving small Black businesses an opportunity to grow their business,” Ms. Nelson said.

‘Retail apocalypse’ hits U.S. stores

“More than 9,100 stores are closing in 2019 as the retail apocalypse drags on,” reported Business Insider in November. The story looked at statistics for record-breaking store closures.

Charlotte Russe, Family Dollar, and Chico’s announced more than 1,100 store closures in a span of 24 hours at one point. Payless ShoeSource, which filed for bankruptcy in February, is closing 2,500 stores, amounting to the largest retail liquidation in history. The Gap is closing 230 stores over the next two years. Walgreens plans to close 200 stores, and GameStop is closing 180 to 200 stores.

Sears, Kmart, Party City, Walgreens, and Barneys are among the retailers that recently announced store closings. Forever 21 expects to close 350 stores globally, including 178 in the U.S. after filing for bankruptcy. Sears planned to close 175 stores, and Walmart is closing at least 17 stores across the U.S. and Canada.

“Anybody who would just do their research since 2015 and go back and look at Minister Farrakhan’s Saviours’ Day address in 2016, he laid out the stats during his message, and it has only increased since them,” said Jesse Muhammad, social media director for Minister Farrakhan. “That’s one thing that can’t be overlooked … and it has not stopped.”

Big box stores including Sam’s Club and Walmart reported closures, as well as everything from vitamin and health stores, to cookware stores, children’s clothing and toy stores, and electronics stores.

Some mainstream analysts blame tax reforms, lingering effects of the U.S. government shutdown—Dec. 22, 2018 to Jan. 25, 2019—and severe, unmerciful weather for the decline of brick-and-mortar stores. But Black activists and some Black leaders say the tsunami store closings are also tied to strategic withdrawal of Black dollars as a weapon against injustice.

“Right now what’s really awesome is that our efforts were not in vain,” said Casseopia Uhuru, co-founder of The Black Mall, based in Chicago. “There are more people buying Black than ever! So, actually, this particular year, we’re not having our usual, annual Buy Black holiday event, because there are so many people now heading up their own small business markets and fairs that are featuring Black-owned businesses all over. We don’t want to create any type of competition,” said Ms. Uhuru.

She is so excited about Black business engagement and commerce with The Black Mall online (, and a South Side storefront, using it’s platforms to highlight many businesses. The Black Mall plans to release a Holiday Gift Guide, and daily info about great Black-owned businesses for an economic “buycott,” Ms. Uhuru told The Final Call.

The call for justice has raised awareness and interest, so Blacks are looking at ways to strengthen their own communities, she said.

No easy victories

There have been some small victories in getting police brutality indictments, but they’re not sufficient, added Ms. Uhuru, who cited the second-degree murder conviction last year of former Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke for shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald to death.

He was found also guilty on all 16 counts of aggravated battery—one for each shot he fired into the teenager in October 2014. Activists say he received a “slap on the wrist” sentence, which was a slap in the face. Mr. Van Dyke could have faced a maximum sentence of 96 years, but prosecutors sought 18 to 20 years.

Judge Vincent Gaughan sentenced the killer cop to 81 months, less than seven years, in state prison, on the second-degree murder conviction only. The ex-cop could serve a little more than three years in prison with time served and enjoy the possibility of parole in two years.

“Now we know if this happens again, we need a stronger prosecution, and longer terms and being more knowledgeable of the actual judicial system itself and how if you don’t actually convict on the correct charge, then literally, somebody could get away with murder!” said Ms. Uhuru.

“I think what’s happening is that one aspect of awareness is helping us to be more knowledgeable in the other areas that we need to be more knowledgeable in, like the judicial system, like the political system, and how we are living in a capitalistic country and politics is directly connected to corporations and how they work,” said Ms. Uhuru.

Just a beginning of the fight

While there have been victories with the Justice Or Else! economic boycotts, activists are under no illusion that justice has won the day.

Former Fort Worth Officer Aaron Dean, who was supposed to be responding to a neighbor’s well care call, shot 28-year-old Atatiana Jefferson in her own home, in front of her 8-year-old nephew on Oct. 12.

Convicted White female former officer Amber Guyger is serving 10 years in prison for fatally shooting 26-year-old Saint Lucian native Botham Jean inside his Dallas home on Sept. 6, 2018. She claimed she mistook his apartment for hers, felt threatened and fired her weapon.

In Arizona, Pima County Sheriff Mark Napier placed Deputy Manuel Van Santen on administrative leave following violent arrests of a 15-year-old quadruple amputee, with no arms or legs, and a teenager who recorded the Sept. 26 incident at a Tucson group home.

The 15 year old was upset and knocked over a trash can, prompting the call for police, according to media reports. Disorderly conduct charges against him were dropped after an explosive video of the incident surfaced in November. The other teenager, a 16 year old, was still facing charges at Final Call press time, media reports indicated.

“What it’s really doing is it’s waking us up in a really grand way, understanding how nations work. Period. We’ve just been bystanders. We’ve just kind of let it gloss over us and done lots of unfortunate, just complaining, but not really understanding how we can get to the root of these issues so we can fight back in the most effective way,” Ms. Uhuru said.

(Final Call staff contributed to this report.)