Tuesday, December 10

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!”

Tuesday, December 3

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 BackPage.com 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 BET.com. 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,” BET.com 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 BET.com 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 BET.com.

“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 BET.com.

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.

Tuesday, November 26

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 MappingPoliceViolence.com. 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 Bankrate.com 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),” Bankrate.com 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 Bankrate.com.

Sixteen percent of those surveyed by Bankrate.com 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,” Bankrate.com 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 (https://theblackmall.com), 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.)

Tuesday, November 19

From The Final Call Newspaper

Riveting testimonies, partisan bickering mark impeachment hearings

By Askia Muhammad -Senior Editor

WASHINGTON—Donald J. Trump, the 45th President of the United States, is now only the fourth president in U.S. history to face public impeachment hearings. As the hearings continue, the contentiousness and bitter partisan politics have been on full display before the country and the world.

For hours and hours, three witnesses testified before the House Intelligence Committee Nov. 13 and Nov. 15: George Kent, a deputy assistant secretary of state; William Taylor, a former ambassador and the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine; and Marie Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine. More witnesses are scheduled as the proceedings unfold.

Mr. Kent and Mr. Taylor both said President Trump withheld aid to Ukraine in an attempt to pressure the country to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter, who served on the board of a Ukrainian natural gas company. Ms. Yovanovitch revealed a shocking account of her ouster and condemned foreign policy in the Trump era, while Mr. Trump attempted to intimidate her and other potential witnesses, condemning her on Twitter, even as she sat testifying in the relative security of the U.S. Capitol.

The first testimony “corroborated evidence of bribery” by President Trump in his dealings with Ukraine, according to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Her use of the term “bribery”—one of the crimes the Constitution cites as an impeachable offense—suggests that Democrats have in mind a specific set of charges that could be codified in articles of impeachment.

After countless scandals from the day Mr. Trump was elected—including the convictions and resignations of more than a dozen top White House officials—what’s at issue now is whether or not Mr. Trump withheld hundreds of millions of dollars of Congressionally authorized military aid to Ukraine in order to force that country’s newly elected President Volodymyr Zelensky to publicly announce a corruption investigation into the business dealings in Ukraine of former Vice President Biden’s son Hunter.

That conduct came to light after a CIA whistleblower complained of improper attempted coercion of Mr. Zelensky by Mr. Trump in a July 25 telephone call.

“If we find that the president of the United States abused his power and invited foreign interference in our elections,” House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calfi.) told reporters, “must we simply get over it? Is this what Americans should now expect from their president? If this is not impeachable conduct, what is?”

Mr. Schiff began the hearing itself with a somber note in his opening statement. “The president has instructed the State Department and other agencies to ignore congressional subpoenas for documents. He has instructed witnesses to defy subpoenas and refuse to appear. And he has suggested that those who do expose wrongdoing should be treated like traitors and spies.

“These actions will force Congress to consider, as it did with President Nixon, whether Trump’s obstruction of the constitutional duties of Congress constitute additional grounds for impeachment. If the president can simply refuse all oversight, particularly in the context of an impeachment proceeding, the balance of power between our two branches of government will be irrevocably altered.”

The top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), dismissed the entire impeachment process. In his opening statement he was blunt. “We should not hold any hearings at all until we get answers to three crucial questions the Democrats are determined to avoid asking. First, what is the full extent of the Democrats’ prior coordination with the whistleblower, and who else did the whistleblower coordinate this effort with?

“Second, what is the full extent of Ukraine’s election meddling against the Trump campaign? And third, why did Burisma hire Hunter Biden, and what did he do for them, and did his position affect any U.S. government actions under the Obama administration? These questions will remain outstanding, because Republicans were denied the right to call witnesses that know these answers. What we will witness today is a televised theatrical performance staged by the Democrats,” said Mr. Nunes.

Republicans want the whistleblower whose complaint prompted the impeachment inquiry to testify and be publicly identified, claiming that he was compromised because of his contact with the staff of Rep. Schiff, and because he did not hear the July 25 call between Mr. Trump and Ukraine’s president firsthand. Mr. Trump’s allies have said the president should be able to face his “accuser,” despite the whistle-blower’s entitlement to anonymity.

Rather than defend the president’s innocence of the charges, the Republican strategy is to discredit the impeachment process itself. They “are going after the whistle blower,” one New York City news analyst named Ms. Taylor said in an interview with WPFW-FM in Washington during a hearing break. “They are defining this process and calling it a coup and treating it as such and avoiding compliance with it in every way they can.

“And then when they are participating, it’s this: de-legitimize it. So, number one, I think that there is no reason to believe and expect that they will play by the rules, and it is an extraordinary and unlikely situation where (Mr. Trump would be) voted to be found guilty in the Senate.

“Number two, it is unlikely. I think that the Senate, the Republicans are not going to vote to convict absent something that’s been missing up until now, which is a third force, the masses of people in the streets in a different way,” Ms. Taylor continued.

Absent a “third force” protesting against Mr. Trump’s government in the streets she said, the mounting evidence presented in these hearings appears to many observers to be extremely unflattering, but not necessarily destructive of the Trump presidency.

“What the Democrats have done that’s really smart through all the smoke and bluster is that they made it very simple that the president of the United States tried to get a foreign power to intervene in the 2020 elections on his behalf. And that is a very, fundamental takeaway I think that they want to present,” Dr. Clarence Lusane, professor of international relations and former chair of the political science department at Howard University told WPFW.

“Well, what I think it will do, and I think one of the objectives of the Democrats broadly, is just to get it on the record and help hold this president accountable because he’s basically existed his entire life and certainly for his tenure as president in a way (where he’s) not been held accountable because he’s been protected by Republicans in Congress and by a Justice Department that refuses to acknowledge what he’s done. So, this is really the only opportunity to really hold him accountable.

“I think it lays the groundwork then for what they would do in the Senate as they bring (an impeachment) trial into reality. And Trump cannot escape that. I doubt that there are 20 Republicans who are willing to cross the line and vote against the president. I just don’t see it,” Dr. Lusane continued.

“And I think this, to go back to your original question about the interest of the people and how many different kinds of crimes against the people, against the environment, against immigrants, against women and LGBTQ; the White supremacy that’s been whipped up, all of this that goes along with the Trump/Pence regime that has not found a home in these impeachment hearing,” said Ms. Taylor.

“All of that gets expressed only if the people act independent of the impeachment hearings. The opening for (the removal of the President from office) to go forward, what could change the hand of those Republicans in the Senate? What could tip the balance of them and others, is whether people themselves act.

“So, with the impeachment, it’s high stakes. It’s very damning,” she continued. “There’s every ground in what we’ve heard so far for the man to be removed from office. But whether that goes forward or not, it does depend on whether people get rendered as spectators to this (as) cheerleaders; to this feeling that the job is being done, or whether people see this as an opening to act and to take history into our own hands and seize on this fight at the top to move in a way that the interests of the people do get asserted.

“So, I feel it’s unwritten, and the main factor that could swing the hand is still too much sitting on the sidelines,” she said.

Mr. Trump’s election and controversial presidency and subsequent impeachment has continued to divide a country already split among party and racial lines. The president still enjoys overwhelming support among Republicans and bitter opposition among Democrats.

Seventy percent of Americans think President Trump’s request to a foreign leader to investigate his political rival, was wrong, a new ABC News/Ipsos poll finds. “A slim majority of Americans, 51%, believe Trump’s actions were both wrong and he should be impeached and removed from office. But only 21% of Americans say they are following the hearings very closely,” the poll notes.

“In addition to the 51%, another 19% think that Trump’s actions were wrong, but that he should either be impeached by the House but not removed from office, or be neither impeached by the House nor convicted by the Senate. The survey also finds that 1 in 4 Americans, 25%, think that Trump did nothing wrong,” continued the poll which surveyed 506 adults Nov. 16-17.

“The unfolding political drama between congressional Democrats and the White House reveals a polarized populace, with Democrats more united in their belief that Trump should be impeached and convicted than Republicans are in their belief that the president has committed no wrongdoing: 85% and 65%, respectively,” ABC News/Ipsos concluded.

As the hearings moved into the second week of public testimony—heading perhaps for a full House vote on an impeachment resolution possible by Dec. 15, another new witness emerged—a State Department official in Kiev named Suriya Jayanti—who will be able to describe the overheard phone call that Mr. Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, testified about.

On that call, the President and Gordon Sondland, the Oregon hotel magnate and mega-donor whom the President made the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, discussed the political investigations Mr. Trump sought from Ukraine. Mr. Sondland is also set to testify publicly. (Final Call staff contributed to this report.)

Tuesday, November 12

From The Final Call Newspaper

Life, death and doctors: How, why race still matters when it comes to your health

By Charlene Muhammad -National Correspondent-

Photo: Pixabay.com

LOS ANGELES—Blacks still struggle to get proper medical care and are paying a heavy price, sometimes financially and other times with their lives.

The problem has surfaced even with artificial intelligence alongside a consistent lack of culturally competent doctors and other health professionals, access to treatment, and some say, a lack of self-care.

“Studies have shown that when you factor out variables such as income, employment status or level of education, Blacks still have the worse health outcomes. This demonstrates that the issue in this country is race and racism,” said Dr. Oliver Brooks, president of the National Medical Association, which represents Black physicians and their patients in the United States.

“For example, studies have demonstrated that Black women are three to four times more likely to die within one year of giving birth, known as maternal mortality, regardless of these other factors. Racism still exists in America; and it has a direct effect on Black lives,” Dr. Brooks, chief medical officer of Watts HealthCare Corporation in Los Angeles, told The Final Call.

In addition, Blacks tend to live in areas where environmental toxins such as lead and air pollution are at higher levels, stated Dr. Brooks.

“Some of this can be traced back to redlining policies that have had us living in specified neighborhoods. Higher levels of these environmental toxins have led to respiratory illnesses such as asthma, and lead exposure leads to delayed development in our children. Racism or a lack of cultural sensitivity also leads to Blacks not being offered life saving treatments such as heart surgery or other procedures related to vascular disease, or as stated more advanced cancer treatments,” continued Dr. Brooks.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, racism has been linked to low birth weight, high blood pressure, and poor health status. Further, Blacks received worse care than Whites for about 40 percent of quality measures such as person-centered care, patient safety, healthy living, effective treatment, care coordination and affordability, according to the 2018 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report.

The death rate for Blacks is generally higher than Whites for heart disease, stroke, cancer, asthma, influenza and pneumonia, diabetes, and HIV/AIDS, according to the Office of Minority Health.

Railroad to death?

Race and its impact can even surface in seemingly unlikely places, such as data driven programs. New York state is investigating UnitedHealth Group, Inc., for using a data analytics program that significantly underestimated health needs of Black patients.

Between 2013 and 2015 flawed algorithms, or calculations, used by the program Impact Pro “ranked healthier white patients as equally at risk for future health problems—and therefore in need of more intensive healthcare intervention—as black patients who suffered from far more chronic illnesses,” said state officials late last month. They cited a study of the system published Oct. 25 in the journal Science.

Based on the algorithms, which were marketed to health insurers and healthcare providers, Black patients’ health concerns were deemed less significant than White patients, the officials told UnitedHealth in a letter.

Linda Lacewell of the New York State Department of Financial Services and Dr. Howard Zucker, a commissioner with the New York State Department of Health, chided UnitedHealth. Discriminatory results, whether intentional or not, are unacceptable and unlawful in the state, they said.

Citing America’s long, troubled history of racism in healthcare, the officials called on the company to immediately investigate and show the algorithm is not racially discriminatory or stop using Impact Pro or any other data analytics program if UnitedHealth could not prove it doesn’t rely on racial biases or perpetuate racially disparate impacts.

It’s well documented that Blacks endure longer wait times than Whites when seeking treatment, and Black claims of pain are taken less seriously than Whites, so Black medical histories are less likely to reflect their true medical needs than Whites who have historically been given greater medical attention, observed Ms. Lacewell and Dr. Zucker.

“New York will not allow racial bias, especially where it results in discriminatory effects that could mean the difference between life and death for an individual patient and the overall health of an already-underserved community,” they said.

Ill, ignored and misunderstood?

Another recent study from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the University of Texas Southwestern found racial disparities in culturally competent cancer care.

Non-White cancer survivors are less likely than Whites to be seen by cancer specialists who share or understand their culture, and the disparity is likely due in part to a low representation of minority physicians in cancer subspecialties, said the study’s authors.

One of the first nationally representative studies to examine patient-reported preference for, access to, and quality of provider cultural competency among cancer survivors, the study published Oct. 31 in JAMA Oncology.

Almost half of non-Whites—49.6 percent—said it was somewhat or very important to be treated by doctors who understand their culture. Non-White patients were also less likely than Whites to receive treatment from health providers who understood their culture, by a difference of 65.3 percent to 79.9 percent.

And 12.6 percent of minority patients said they were never able to see physicians who shared or understood their culture—compared with four percent of Whites, according to the study.

“To us, it was definitely a little shocking. The numbers are pretty clear. The numbers almost flipped between disparities between how important it is to minority cancer survivors to have this care and their inability to,” said report author Santino Butler of Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center.

“The most shocking thing was also that when these people were asked how are their providers doing on a specific basis—such as how often do they get respect, easily understandable information, asked about their opinions—all those didn’t show any disparities between racial minorities and non-Hispanic White cancer survivors, so that was also pretty surprising, because that’s the discrepancy,” said Mr. Butler.

“You’d think that if minority cancer survivors are 15 percent less likely to see these providers, that maybe these providers are less likely to provide certain types of care, but that wasn’t the case. That’s not what we saw,” he said.

Mr. Butler told The Final Call one explanation might be that those three factors aren’t all-encompassing or capturing all that it takes to be a “culturally competent” provider.

“There’s probably a lot more that goes into that and just because a provider checks off those three check boxes or a couple of check boxes, doesn’t mean that they’re providing the patient-centered care and getting the trust and the other factors that go into their patients considering them doing a good job in terms of being culturally competent,” Mr. Butler explained.

Dr. Brooks offered a once long-held, but difficult to achieve solution: Increase the number of Black doctors and other health professionals.

“A study out of Oakland, Calif., found that when Black men were treated by Black doctors for heart disease, their outcomes were better than when they were treated by others. At present about 1 in 8 Americans are Blacks but only about 1 in 15 doctors are Black,” said Dr. Brooks.

“The second solution is not simple or easy: reduce the systemic racism that is at endemic proportions in America. This can be done by elevating the level of cultural awareness of the majority population and along with implicit bias training. That is a steep climb, but we’ve seen over the mountaintop, and there is always hope ahead, however hope without a plan is folly,” Dr. Brooks added.

Educate and advocate

For Charles Mattocks, award-winning filmmaker, celebrity chef, author and health advocate, the key is to educate and inform. As he went about doing that through a 2013 national RV tour, providing free diabetes testing at major sporting events, shopping malls, churches, and state fairs, he realized people knew nothing about diagnoses they were receiving, especially Black men and women.

“They would just get a prescription, and that was it. They didn’t have any other information. They didn’t have any, per se, real follow up or other experts to go see. They just got a prescription, and was sent home,” Mr. Mattocks told The Final Call.

From Black churches to other Black institutions, education and information about Black health care from prevention to treatment simply was lacking, said Mr. Mattocks, who suffered himself with Type 2 diabetes.

“We seem to be undereducated and under informed, and we also don’t seem to ask many of the questions that we need to ask. We know that White males live approximately seven years longer than African American males, and White women live more than five years longer than Black women,” Mr. Mattocks told The Final Call.

That is due to not just disease prevalence, but also the severity of diseases plaguing Blacks, and some are preventable, experts noted.

Part of the problem is also cultural, Mr. Mattocks observed. His father died from cancer.

“This is a man who had an amazing career as a union welder, so he had all the access to doctors, tests, whatever you want, and he literally died overnight, per se,” said Mr. Mattocks.

According to Mr. Mattocks, his father didn’t go to the doctor, and didn’t get recommended exams for Black men at age 50, such as a prostrate exam or colonoscopy, which tests for abnormalities in the large intestine and rectum.

“He didn’t know he had cancer until literally he got it and then no more than a few weeks later—dead,” said Mr. Mattocks. He urged Blacks to get early and proper testing and an understanding of drugs and healthcare.

“We just seem to be a community that once the doctor gives us some medication, we take it without question and we’re on 4, 5, 6 different medications from blood pressure to cholesterol, diabetes. And we also fail to at times, let’s face it, we fail to take into consideration our diet and our health,” said Mr. Mattocks.

His father’s ordeal and desire to help people have led him to, create a cancer TV reality show “Eight Days with Charles Mattocks.” It takes viewers inside individual cancer patients’ journeys through their treatments and their compelling stories. His aim is to inspire and educate people in their living rooms.

Matthew Knowles, father of singer Beyoncé, is executive producer of the show, which is scheduled to air January 4, 2020 on A&E’s FYI channel.

“He’s dealing with breast cancer, which almost no minority male understands that a Black man or minority can get breast cancer. We really need to check ourselves, to speak up for ourselves,” said Mr. Mattocks.

Sheila Muhammad and her husband Elroy Williams of Houston spoke up when they felt doctors were trying to have him undergo unnecessary chemotherapy treatment for prostate cancer.

According to Ms. Muhammad, who retired three years ago as a medical assistant professor at Houston Community College, despite a successful surgery, being in remission for five years and positive results after extensive and expensive tests, doctors insisted on radiation treatment.

“I just think it’s a money thing, because he has insurance, and he is doing fine. The doctor that recommended the test didn’t stay in the room with my husband no more than five minutes. They already had set up his payment plan and everything for chemo, although he told them, ‘I can’t afford this.’ But they had set it all up before he had even agreed,” Ms. Muhammad stated.

Tuesday, November 5

From The Final Call Newspaper

Driven by high winds, fire and distress plague the West Coast

By Charlene Muhammad National Corespondent @sischarlene

LOS ANGELES—Raging wildfires peppered with fire tornadoes that have gripped California for several weeks are the latest manifestations of Allah (God’s) prophesied and promised divine judgment of the United States.

The raging inferno struck both Northern and Southern California simultaneously, causing mass evacuations. At Final Call press time, 2019 had seen 6,190 fire incidents. Three people had died, and damages topped $160 million as of Nov. 1. The fires incinerated approximately 200,000 acres of land and destroyed over 700 structures, according to state officials.

“And what for?” one television reporter near tears asked as she described the scene of a Southern California home burned to the ground and next door, one standing only as a black, hollowed frame.

But these disasters plaguing America are not by happenstance. They are connected to scripture.

“The Honorable Elijah Muhammad and the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan are two divine warners from Allah to America and the wicked of the world. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad taught us that we’re living in the days of Allah, that we’re living in the time of God’s judgment of the wicked. And he taught us that Allah (God) would visit America with Four Great Judgments: rain, hail, snow and earthquakes,” said Student Minister Ishmael Muhammad, national assistant to Minister Farrakhan.

The unusual and unprecedented weather witnessed by those in America and seen around the world are fulfillment of scripture and fulfillment of the warning that the two men gave, he continued.

According to Min. Ishmael Muhammad, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, patriarch of the 89-year-old Nation of Islam, prophesied that the judgment would start on the West Coast and the fires are a sign of that warning.

“Fire is mentioned in both the Bible and the Qur’an of what Allah has reserved for the wicked. California is a major state of agriculture and the fires are interfering and shortening the food supply, the produce that that state produces for the American people and around the world. So, famine is on the horizon, which is also prophesied,” warned Min. Ishmael Muhammad.

“America you are reaping now what you have sown. You can’t fight the natural disasters that are coming. Way back in the ‘60s, Elijah Muhammad said, ‘America would suffer from unusual rain, unusual snow, earthquakes unusual.’ Then the forces of nature, hail, sleet, snow, cold, fire. Now, look at America,” said Min. Farrakhan who has repeatedly warned about the judgements taught by his teacher, Elijah Muhammad, in lectures and in monumental books, “The Fall of America,” “Our Saviour Has Arrived,” and “Message to the Black Man in America.”

“God has said you have to reap now what you’ve sown. You’ve destroyed cities and towns in Europe and Africa, in the Middle East. Things that you didn’t want, America destroyed. Now, look at your cities. They’re under water; your farmland being destroyed; fire burning the lands of California and the West; tornadoes, hurricanes,” he said in a previous article published in The Final Call.

“This is ‘just’ the beginning and that is what I wanted to say about whoever will be our president. If you’re not dealing with that which has incurred the wrath of God, then you can’t make America great again and you can’t bring America back from the abyss that she’s falling into. Within the next few years, the dollar that we kill each other for will be devalued into nothing.”

“There is a power and in one that is called Mahdi, M-a-h-d-i. That’s the guide that the Islamic world has been expecting, and Massi or Messiah which the Christian and Jewish world have been expecting. And this Mahdi when he comes, his number one aim is to set justice in the earth and remove every tyrant. And set up a government of peace. That’s his aim. That’s the aim of the Messiah, the Christ. Now, what we are looking at, these are not spooks and spirits that come out of space. These are human beings anointed with power and wisdom to do exactly what they purposed to do,” said Min. Farrakhan.

California’s agricultural abundance includes more than 400 commodities, and over a third of the country’s vegetables and two-thirds of the country’s fruits and nuts are grown in the state, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

California is the leading U.S. state for cash farm receipts, accounting for over 13 percent of the nation’s total agricultural value, said the agency. Its top producing commodities for last year include dairy products, grapes, cattle and calves, strawberries, lettuce, tomatoes, and oranges.

“So these fires represent the anger of God, the wrath of God, the judgment of God, so we have fires on the West Coast. We have record rain and flooding in other parts of the country. And then the Honorable Elijah Muhammad told us that the worst is yet to come,” Min. Ishmael Muhammad told The Final Call.

At one point, there were 10 active fires across California, according to officials, but the numbers come and go, said Scott McLean, deputy chief with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire).

In 2017, over 1.6 million acres burned in California. Over 1.8 million acres burned in 2018. The highest amount of acreage burned prior to that was 1.5 in 2007, all according to Chief McLean.

“This year right now, we’re probably looking at, as you and I are talking, probably just over 100,000 acres as well, and in this same time period last year, we were looking at 632,000 acres, so we’re dramatically lower due to the moderate climate I feel we’ve seen this year in the state,” Chief McLean told The Final Call.

He attributed that to a good winter, good snowpack, and mostly 80-90 degree temperatures with no winds. Though things dried up in the summer, nothing happened that really propelled the region to be that dry until fall came, he stated.

“With fall weathers in the North, we saw a lot of winds all of a sudden come up and just dry everything out that much more and then the Santa Anas down in the South doing the same,” said Chief McLean.

Santa Ana winds are those which come off the desert and contain very dry air. They travel over the Santa Ana Mountains in Southern California which accelerates air speed and combine with the hot dry air to increase and spread fire hazards, according to weather experts.

California’s seven-year drought ended in early 2017, yet the fires fueled in part by dried-out vegetation spread very dangerously due to the winds, which moved at hurricane-force speed and created the perfect storm for fires.

“Predicting is really hard to say. It depends on mother nature and what the winds are doing and how soon we can get that moisture,” Chief McLean stated. “We’re still in that point where anything can happen at any given time. The grasses, the brush and the trees are still very volatile as far as being receptive to fire. It just takes one spark, as we’ve seen all along, so everybody needs to remain very, very cautious and very, very careful,” he said.

“Ninety-five percent of wildfire starts are human caused and that’s usually by a spark caused by something mechanical or parking your car over dry gas, a myriad of different things. So even though our weather is definitely getting cooler, the humidity’s still down and if the winds continue to pick up, we’re still in for a few more weeks of susceptible weather.”

Strong winds fanned new Southern California wildfires on Oct. 31, burning homes and forcing residents to flee their homes in a repeat of the frightening scenario already faced by tens of thousands across the state.

The latest blazes erupted in the heavily populated inland region east of Los Angeles as strong, seasonal Santa Ana winds continued to blow with gusts of up to 60 mph.

A fast-moving fire spread into the northern neighborhoods of the city of San Bernardino, forcing the evacuation of 490 homes, about 1,300 people, the San Bernardino County Fire Department said.

On Oct. 28, basketball star LeBron James was among evacuees as a fire that erupted early that day grew to more than 70 acres.

The Los Angeles Lakers player tweeted just before 4 a.m. that he was trying to find rooms for his family after having to “emergency evacuate” his house, calling the fires “no joke.” He later tweeted that he found accommodation, said he was praying for those affected and advised people to get to safety.

Evacuation orders were given for communities as the fire moved westward, affecting communities including the affluent Mandeville Canyon, Mountain Gate, Brentwood, Pacific Palisades, and Topanga State Park.

Even earlier that morning, a fire erupted on a hillside near the Getty Center museum in Southern California. Videos posted on social media showed the fire burning along the southbound side of Interstate 405, just a few miles north of LAX (Los Angeles International Airport), and near the University of Southern California Los Angeles (UCLA).

Evacuation orders were expanded to parts of Santa Rosa as firefighters struggled to beat back a wind-driven wildfire that had started in Northern California’s wine country on Oct. 23.

Authorities issued the order as historic winds fueled the fire overnight and prompted the state’s largest utility company to shut power to 2.3 million people to prevent additional wildfires.

Santa Rosa was hit hard by a wildfire that destroyed thousands of homes and killed 22 people two years ago. The evacuation order affected the northwestern section of the city.

California fire officials say the Kincade Fire, that began on the evening of Oct. 23 has burned approximately 78,000 acres and was 68 percent contained at press time.

The National Weather Service said at one-point wind gusts topped 90 miles per hour in California’s wine country.

Northern Californians were not only affected by the flames, but also by the infrastructure of power companies, including Pacific Gas & Electric Company, which is responsible for several of the wildfires that spread through the area, said Student Minister Abdul Sabur Muhammad of Muhammad Mosque No. 26B in Oakland.

A few years ago, San Francisco area residents sued PG&E after their neighborhood was burned due to fires started by sparks from company equipment.

PG&E power lines may have started two wildfires in the San Francisco Bay Area, the utility has admitted. The fires persisted despite widespread power shutoffs to prevent downed lines from starting fires during dangerously windy weather.

“Unfortunately, that has meant that millions of people have spent some days without power in response to those who are concerned that they are paying regular PG&E bills are now left without power. PG&E has now actually stated it would refund some of the power bills of those who have been afflicted, however, they’ve spoken of somewhere between $100 and $250 in response,” said Min. Abdul Sabur Muhammad.

But that only covered utility bills, not other losses, such as spoiled food and other damages suffered by businesses who thought their power would be out for brief, limited times, he observed.

In addition, Min. Abdul Sabur Muhammad stated, the hotel industry in Northern California began hiking prices to accommodate evacuees during the fires. “So rooms normally already over-priced at $200 a night went up as high as $1,500, saying to the poor, you may as well pitch a tent if it doesn’t blow away in the wind, because you’re not coming here to these major hotels that are now hiking prices to take advantage of the need of the suffering people that were afflicted by black-out and by fire,” he said.

“All of this should quicken in us to do the things that the Honorable Elijah Muhammad asked us to do so that we will not suffer from these calamities and that we would prepare ourselves sufficiently in our homes for the times that we are living in,” Min. Ishmael Muhammad said. “So what we need to do is follow the divine instructions of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan.”

“This verse comes to my mind: ‘Whenever Allah sends a Messenger, He seizes the people with distress and affliction.’ God does not want to kill the people. He comes to save them from the consequences of their evil and if we do not heed to the warning of God’s servant then we suffer the consequences of our own rejection and rebellion to God,” he continued.

The chastisement is in greater intensity and severity, because the rebellion to God and the rejection of God’s servant in Min. Farrakhan has become willful, said Min. Ishmael Muhammad.

“It’s blatant. The offenses of the people and the sins that are being committed are not out of ignorance. It’s knowingly. So when the people’s sins, and as it’s written in the Bible that in the time of Noah, the imagination and thoughts of the people were continually on evil and then the people became so hardened in their hearts and so rebellious, they told the prophets of God to bring down on them what he threatened them with. … So what is left for God to do than for the people to now taste and suffer the consequences of their own blatant, willful rebellion against God, because they haven’t listened to the warner?” asked Min. Ishmael Muhammad.

But, he added, it’s no time for the believers in God, working to obey him, to fret nor fear. “When you see all these things happening, Jesus said in the Gospel, lift up your head. Your redemption draws near … This is what God said would happen and the Believer will be delivered from the chastisement of Allah, but it doesn’t mean that some of us will not be touched with some of what is now being visited among the disbelieving people and the wicked.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Tuesday, October 29

From The Final Call Newspaper

The Challenge of LEADERSHIP in a Time of World Crisis

By Askia Muhammad Senior Editor @askiaphotojourn

[Editor’s note: The following text is excerpted from a message by Minister Louis Farrakhan April 14, 2002 at Mosque Maryam in Chicago.]

In The Name of Allah, The Beneficent, The Merciful.

The subject matter that I wanted to deal with today is the characteristic that is necessary in leadership in a time of world crisis. No one who is here today—listening and watching television and listening to the news or reading the newspapers—is not aware that we are definitely in a time of great world crisis. The world leaders that we look to for leadership are actually demonstrating bankruptcy in the qualities of leadership that are necessary in a time of crisis.

Minister Louis Farrakhan

This book, Qur’an, is called Al-Nur, The Light. Not a light—THE LIGHT. Without light there can be no revolution. Without light there can be no change. All growth must be preceded by the presence of light, for darkness represents no time, no growth—death. The Bible teaches us, “A people walked in darkness, gross darkness the people.” But then it says, “Upon them hath the light shined.” Once light strikes, the energy that is in the light causes matter to move in accordance with the law of light. Anytime light strikes you, then it forces you to move and to change. So this book, Al-Nur, is a book that produces revolution. Not the cheap kind of revolution that you see in the world where people say I’m a revolutionary with a gun in their hand. The revolutionary with the gun in his hand will take down one government only to replace it with the same thing that he is destroying.

Revolution signifies complete change. This book, Qur’an, is to bring about complete change—transformation in the heart, mind, soul and spirit of the human being. Once this book becomes the light of our lives and the example of the Prophet (Muhammad) becomes the light of our lives—not the way he wore his beard, not the way he wore his garment, not the dye that he put in his hair, that is superficial and the Prophet was not superficial and you cannot represent him in superficiality—you must address him inwardly and then dress yourselves in his character and in the way he handled the problems of his day, because the cyclical nature of history will confront us and we will be confronted with some of the same things that the Prophet was confronted with. Not knowing how he acted but knowing how he dressed will cause you to dress like him but not act like him; therefore, you will not address the problems of your time properly.

We are in a time of great problems and the solution has already been given. But the Qur’an says that they in leadership would no longer take this book (Qur’an) as their guide. They would put it behind their back. If the light is behind your back, then what is guiding your footsteps? If this book is ancient stories, unworthy of us to study it to find answers to today’s problems, then what are you following? You are following the world and its science, the world and its philosophy, the world and its precepts. But Allah (God), the Eternal and the All Wise, we have put Him behind our back.

If the leaders in the world of Islam have put the Light, the Qur’an, behind their backs, then they are leading their people by the precepts and doctrines of men, and the people can never be satisfied with the doctrines of men. Once they have come to call themselves Muslims, they don’t want to hear what men have to say. They want to hear what Allah has to say, what God has to say. It is the same with Christians. You want to hear what did Christ have to say.

I want to be the follower of God following the example of the prophets whom He raised to give us guidance. Having said that, I looked at President Bush in a time of world crisis. I wrote him a letter and I’m going to quote a portion of that letter for you because I felt that he needed guidance. I felt that he needed counsel. You say, how arrogant can you be? I’m not being arrogant. But Allah (God) can guide whom He pleases. He can take a slave and give him guidance for a master. He can take one that was a fool and give him guidance for the so-called wise, and that becomes a test for the hearer. Is he humble enough to listen?

Osama bin Laden, they say, is guilty of sending terrorists to bomb the World Trade Center, and, most Americans and people of the world have been herded like sheep into believing that without proof. I said to the President that, Mr. bin Laden and no Muslim leader could call for Jihad and make it happen. There is no Muslim leader on the earth that has that power of the Khalifah or the Khalif to call for, and actually have, a Holy War. They call for it with their mouths but there is no answer.

I said, but you, President Bush, are in a position of power like no human being has been in since Adam. And if you make the wrong moves, you can bring one billion, eight hundred million Muslims into anger against the United States of America. You have that power. You are right to go after those who bombed the World Trade Center. But, I said to him, Allah (God) has shown me what is in your mind. If you pursue what you have in your mind, the coalition will fall apart. The Muslim world will rise in anger against America. Even England will back out on you. And whatever you do, you will have to do it alone; and you will run into something that you had not counted on and Armageddon will be on.

I told him this in late November or sometime in December. He never answered. He sent Vice President (Dick) Cheney into the Muslim world to ask them to back America in their desire to destroy Saddam Hussein. The whole Muslim world turned him down. The other day, however, in a press conference at his farm in Crawford, Texas, he and Prime Minister (Tony) Blair were together and the President said, “It is the policy of this administration to remove Saddam Hussein from power.” I did not say it. He said it.

Since when has it ever been the policy of an administration of the United States openly to remove another man in another country from power when you’ve got 15 million or more homeless people in America? Where is your policy for the homeless? Where is your policy for the weak and the hungry that go to bed every night without adequate food in a land of plenty? Where is your policy to put the American people who are out of jobs to work? Where is your policy to give decent health care to the American people who don’t have adequate health care? That’s what the American people want to hear.

If the policy of his administration is to remove a man from power, and in order to do it he has to use the patriotic spirit of the armed forces of America, then young lives will be lost on an outlaw adventure that is not supported by the United Nations (or) by international law. It is supported by an executive order that he signed, but the executive order of the government of the United States of America is not binding in an international forum. If he does this, the innocent lives of American soldiers that are lost … and the innocent lives of Iraqi people that die, then he will be a war criminal. But what court will be strong enough to try the President of the United States as a war criminal? Only God, and the power of God.

In an hour like this when there is so much patriotic zeal, one would be afraid to speak a word that would cause somebody to say he or she is un-patriotic. But, to be patriotic is to conform to the meaning of the root of that word. The word patri means father. The Founding Fathers of this nation laid in the Constitution and in the Bill of Rights and in the [Declaration of Independence] words that we cannot ignore in an hour like this. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Toward these ends governments are instituted among men” for the preservation of these rights.

That’s what a government is for, to preserve the right of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Whenever a government’s policies and practices are counter to life, counter to liberty and counter to the pursuit of happiness, somebody who is patriotic should stand up and say, “Enough is enough.” But even deeper than this, Christians say, when they asked Jesus, teach us how to pray and he said, pray on this wise: “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” The highest form of patriotism is to recognize the Father and recognize His Will. In the time of the Apostles, according to the New Testament, they were forced to answer the question, “Shall I obey God or shall I obey man?” You and I are in that valley of decision today. Will you obey Allah (God) or will we be so afraid of men that we will obey men and excuse ourselves from the higher duty to obey Allah (God)?

When the President of the United States said his policy was to remove Saddam Hussein, I’m not with that. But, not only am I not with that, I’m not going to be in a hole somewhere whispering that I’m not with that. What kind of leader are you? Will you be somewhere hiding in a hole talking about you’re not with that? Or will you stand up like a man and like a woman in an hour like this?

The prophets did not lie when they saw blood up to the horse’s bridle. That’s not just over there (Israel), that’s here. If you don’t try to stop it over there, then the same thing you see over there will be at your doorstep. I have met the leaders of Hamas. I have met the leaders of Hezbollah. I have met the Palestinians who are called extremists and I have met with Chairman Arafat. I have met with Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gadhafi, Omar Bashir of the Sudan, the President of Syria, the rulers of the Emirates. I’m very respected in that area of the world. Not because they agree with everything that I say, but as they saw in my brother (Muhammad Ali) a champion, they see the same in me.

I’m not before you because I’m seeking some kind of self-aggrandizement. I was born. I will die. I soon will be 70 years of age. I thank Allah (God). He kept me alive because I yet have work to do. The Bible says there will be a time of trouble like there never was since there was a time and a nation. And in that day Michael, the Archangel, will stand for his people. Stand! Stand! Michael will stand in a time of trouble. What were the others doing in the time of trouble? They were lying down.

When Jesus went to the cross, the disciples didn’t go with him. They fled. They couldn’t stand in a time of trouble. You’ve walked with me, many of you, for 25 years. But the race is not to the swift. I don’t know what the results will be but I’m going to do everything in my power to stop this war. They may call me a terrorist. They may say that I’m anti-American. They may freeze bank accounts. It’s alright. The money has your face on it. You can have everything that I’ve got. It’s just me that you cannot have. I don’t belong to you.

I want to know, who will stand?