Tuesday, October 15

From The Final Call Newspaper

‘The Beginning of Sorrows’ Farrakhan calls humanity to atonement on 24th anniversary of Million Man March

By James G. Muhammad Contributing Editor @jgm3000

CHICAGO—The stench of Satan’s world has fouled the whole of humanity and the earth is “entering a new day” where God and His Christ have come to take over rulership, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan announced to a cheering crowd at Christ Universal Temple church during the 24th anniversary observance of the Million Man March.

Mosques, churches and synagogues have become full of devils because of the effect of Satan and his lifestyle, and congregations have become full of people who read and quote scripture but refuse to live the word of God, he said, from a venue that was live streamed and viewed internationally.

“The Bible calls the human being the glory of God, but all of us have fallen short of the glory of God. Satan is like a snake and a skunk that has urinated on the human family. Satan has done a job on us. The rule of the earth under the wicked has been a horrible nightmare,” he said.

The stench of Satan’s world can’t be covered up with white garments, a suit, a bow tie, a cross or a collar, he said. The world is totally messed up, so where are the righteous; we’re in the church, the mosque, the synagogue, but Satan laughs, he added.

The Black man and woman in America are like the “dry bones in the valley” who have fallen so low that they are considered “lost souls” by God and His prophets, the Minister said. But it is the Black man and woman of America that God has come to resurrect and make rulers in the world, he added Oct. 13.

Calling the people of the world’s great monotheistic faiths—Christians, Muslims and Hebrews—back to the right path, the Muslim leader reflected on the day 24 years ago when the call was made for one million Black men to come to Washington, D.C., to atone for their sins and their failure to carry out their responsibilities.

“We called for one million men to come to Washington, not to picket, not to beg the government but to atone to God for our failure as men to shepherd our families, to be the guides for our people, good husbands for our wives, good fathers for our children,” he said.

When you don’t live right you bear the burden of your sins, the Minister said. “All of us are on our own cross. We’re walking upright and living downright funky and the battle is raging inside ourselves. We’re in a constant struggle against the flesh.”

“Allah is calling us. He doesn’t want us to go down with the devil, but the devil wants us to go down with him,” the Minister warned.

America under judgment

America is under the judgment and God is using the weather to curtail her resources, Min. Farrakhan said. The country is $22 trillion in debt that President Trump has no intention to pay, he said.

“That’s why he put $700 billion into the military. America will say to the world it owes, ‘don’t even try to collect. I’ll blow you off the face of the earth.’ He’s trying to frighten the world,” the Minister said. “But in a few minutes the bubble is going to burst.

“So begging the government is folly today. Whatever you think you want from the government ask them can they produce it. They’re broke,” he said.

The Honorable Elijah Muhammad said God will use the weather against America, the Minister said, explaining that temperatures would drop from 70s and 80s to below freezing in just a few hours.

“Now it’s happening,” he said. This past spring 19 million acres of land failed to be planted because of the weather, and the land that was planted was planted late in the season. Now they expect two feet of snow in the Midwest, he said.

“What they thought would come out of the earth is buried under the snow. So, the words of the Master are coming true,” he said.

The 24th chapter of Matthew in the Bible speaks of wars and rumors of wars, famine, pestilence, earthquakes and nations rising against nation, the Minister said, but it’s just the beginning of sorrows.

“Have you seen the storm clouds of war gathering? They’re turning their pruning hooks into spears,” he said.

“America, you have to answer. You have cooked a hell of a meal for others, but now you are going to have to sit down and eat what you cooked for others because it’s all coming back to you,” he said.

The Minister explained the purpose of a 2018 trip he took to Iran as President Trump increased sanctions on the Muslim nation. He said the 90 million people of Iran live for the return of Al Mahdi (the Self-Guided One) who would return with the Messiah to turn the people back to God.

President Trump targets Iran as a so-called sponsor of terrorism; ask Mr. Trump to show in Iran’s history where they attacked another nation trying to take their wealth as America does, the Minister said.

Since Iranians expect the return of Al Mahdi, Min. Farrakhan went with a message that Al Mahdi had visited Black people in America and raised up the Honorable Elijah Muhammad as His Messenger and Messiah. “And I represent the two of them to you,” he told Iranian leaders. The Minister also told them that America is number one on Al Mahdi’s list to be destroyed.

“Since you’ve been looking for the Mahdi and I come to you representing him then it would be wise for you to study me, study the message, study the man who taught me, study the two that back me then answer your question, is he the Mahdi,” he told Iranian leaders.

“He comes to set down every tyrant. He comes to set justice in the earth,” he said.

Demonstrating how one allows Jesus to take over his or her life, the Minister explained that the Honorable Elijah Muhammad once asked if he would give up his popularity as a musician for him (Elijah)?

“Without hesitation I said, ‘yes sir.’ When I gave up all that, then I could put myself in a position to be fed that he could make me into himself. Jesus can’t use you if there’s anything in your life you love more than him and his Father,” the Minister said.

“I say this to Mr. Trump. Don’t even think about harming me. The day you think it and move to do it, that’s the day you sign your own death warrant with God,” he warned.

Home to the Nation
For decades, Christ Universal Temple—under the leadership of its founder the late Rev. Dr. Johnnie Colemon—has opened its doors to Min. Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam, student Minister Ishmael Muhammad said in opening remarks, a statement repeated by senior pastor Derrick B. Wells.

“On behalf of the entire Christ Universal Temple family, I am happy to welcome our Nation of Islam family home, welcome home. The Rev. Dr. Johnnie Colemon is my spiritual mother and I’m blessed to have as my spiritual father, your spiritual father, the Honorable Minister Farrakhan,” Rev. Wells said. “I am truly your brother, and this is truly your home. Happy anniversary. I pray that Almighty God, Allah, will move in a mighty way on this afternoon.”

Student Minister Tairah Muhammad, 22, who was asked to represent the generation that wasn’t born during the time of the march, said when you see the magnitude of the Million Man March, some would call it a phenomenon.

“But there’s really nothing questionable about what happened that day because when you have a man backed by the Supreme Being you can expect the extraordinary,” she said.

“What does that day and the principles of atonement mean for me as a 22-year-old Black woman and my generation? The principles laid out were eternal. The principles of atonement and reconciliation are forever. This is how we learn to love ourselves and learn to love God.

“My generation has grown up under such hate and the violence that permeates our community is of such magnitude that all we see is wrongdoing. We are surrounded by hate and conflict when all we want is love and peace,” she said.

A short video titled “Project Separation” was shown and laid out the case for Black descendants of slaves to be separated in a land of their own and supported for 20-25 years by the U.S. government as reparations as laid out in the Muslim Program of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. Project Separation is a national campaign where town hall meetings are held to gauge the opinions of Blacks on the issue.

Describing the Million Man March as “the greatest gathering in history,” Min. Ishmael Muhammad said, “never in the history of the world has a call been made for a million men and a million men answer the call bringing with them nearly another million of their brothers.”

Oct 16, 1995 fell on a Monday and many said if you want it to be successful you should have it on a Saturday or Sunday, Min. Ishmael Muhammad said. “But this was not the call of a man. This was the call of God through a man for all of us,” he said.

Acknowledging the national and local leaders who helped to organize the march, Min. Ishmael Muhammad asked the men to stand and give a round of applause to the many women throughout the country who encouraged their men and sons to attend the march.

The Day of Atonement is not a 24-hour day, but it represents a period of grace and mercy from God for a sin-sick nation to acknowledge their shortcomings and seek forgiveness, he said.

“They were expecting a riot or uprising, but the very opposite occurred. It was heaven that day,” he said.

Before God punishes a people for their rebellion, He always extends mercy, Min. Ishmael continued as he introduced Min. Farrakhan. A watchman is placed among the people and when he sees the hand of God coming against the people, the watchman alerts the people that God’s wrath is at the door.

“Our beloved Minister has been a faithful warner. If America fulfills the modern Babylon, the modern Egypt, then there has to be a modern man of God. The Minister has given his all to us. He has kept the faith; he has fought the good fight. He has not compromised the message and warning of God given to the Honorable Elijah Muhammad,” he said.

Tuesday, October 8

From The Final Call Newspaper

Show me the money: Will college athletes be granted chance to reap financial reward for their play?

By Bryan 18X Crawford -Contributing Writer-

The biggest talk in the world of college athletics isn’t who the number one team or player is in the country, it’s if the NCAA has finally been stripped of its authoritarian power to prevent student athletes from capitalizing off their name and likeness. It’s the very thing the powerful athletic collegiate governing body has done for years—bringing home billions of dollars in the process and penalizing young men and women for accepting things like meals, or anything of value related to their position as high-profile athletes.

Graphic: Bigstock.com

However, while the “Fair Pay to Play Act” is the latest shockwave to hit the world of college sports, the reality is this fight has been ongoing for more than two decades. And, it all started with something as innocuous as an electronic video game.

California Governor Gavin Newsom may have signed the Fair Pay to Play (Calif. Senate Bill 206) act into law on Sept. 30, but it was former UCLA basketball standout Ed O’Bannon who got the ball rolling in 2009 when he filed a lawsuit against the NCAA and the Collegiate Licensing Company, accusing both of violating the Sherman Antitrust Act. That act regulates competition among enterprises and prevents agreements that lead to anticompetitive conduct. Simply stated, the Sherman Antitrust Act essentially ensures the preservation of a competitive marketplace.

What caused Mr. O’Bannon to put his name and reputation on the line to become the lead plaintiff in a case against a multi-billion-dollar entity?

In 2009, EA Sports released “NCAA Basketball ‘09” which featured the 1995 UCLA National Championship team in which Ed O’Bannon was the star player. All of the players’ heights, weights, positions, jersey numbers and even features mirrored their real-life counterparts. The only difference? There were no names associated with the players, but you knew exactly who they were when you played the game.

“I played basketball at UCLA in the 1990s and loved almost every minute of it. I went on to play in the NBA, but my true passion stayed with college basketball. After a decade in pro hoops, I retired in 2005,” Mr. O’Bannon wrote in a recent op-ed for Sports Illustrated. “A few years later, I saw myself featured in a college basketball video game that sold for $60. I hadn’t asked to be in the game. And no one had offered to pay me, or any other current or former players who were ‘in the game’ as the game’s advertisement boasted,” stated Mr. O’Bannon.

“That experience led to me to bring a lawsuit against the NCAA ... . This wasn’t about money. This was about taking someone’s identity and profiting from it. And it was about changing the rules to not let that happen again,” he added.

Julius Hodge was a highly ranked, highly recruited high school basketball player from Harlem. In 2001, he was a McDonald’s All-American and went on to play collegiately at North Carolina State, and professionally in the NBA and overseas. He too remembers seeing and playing with his own likeness in the game and thinking how someone was making money off him while he never saw a dime.

“I was a sophomore in college playing this video game, and I see myself at 6-7, number 24 in a red jersey, playing in the ACC for NC State. I know that’s me, and I’m not able to monetize that, but I know that someone else can and has, it’s not a good feeling,” Mr. Hodge told The Final Call. “I stopped playing basketball video games because of it and I haven’t since then.”

While this issue of monetizing real people’s likenesses and not paying them for it may have started with video games, it’s reach is much broader. Colleges, universities, and the NCAA rake in millions of dollars in annual revenue from the sale of merchandise made popular by athletes as part of apparel deals they sign with sneaker companies like Nike and Adidas, which sponsors athletic programs and provides athletes with branded products.

Calif. Gov. Newsom signing legislation on new bill on LeBron James’ show “The Shop.” Photo: Youtube

Schools routinely sell on campus and online, jerseys, shirts, hats and other items that have been popularized by star athletes. They keep 100 percent of the profits, giving nothing in return to the athlete whose performance, name recognition and popularity is the reason the item even sold in the first place. But it goes even deeper than merchandise, or even the athlete’s on men’s teams. Women are penalized too.

In 2017, twins Dakota and Dylan Gonzalez were forced to forgo their final year of eligibility at UNLV because under NCAA rules, the sisters wouldn’t be allowed to play basketball, while still pursuing interests such as modeling, music and creating a clothing line, all of which capitalized on their social media popularity, and would’ve paid them as student athletes and members of the UNLV Lady Rebels basketball team.

“For me I think the rules and regulations are 100 percent the reason why we didn’t want to continue to play,” Dylan Gonzalez told the Las Vegas Review-Journal in an interview. “We personally felt like if we would have been able to take on the opportunities outside of basketball, then we would have still continued to commit ourselves to playing for the last year that we had,” she pointed out.

“We are bred and conditioned to believe that college is what’s going to get you ready for that start in your life after school,” Dakota Gonzalez added. “So, as a student-athlete when you feel like you’re being held back from that, where are you really getting an advantage? Because even though I’m getting an education, I don’t have a resume.”

While many people associated with sports at all levels support college athletes being able to monetize their own likenesses the same way the NCAA has for decades, there are many detractors who feel the decision made by California, which is also gaining traction in states like Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Minnesota, Ohio and others, will ruin college sports and the NCAA as we know it.

Tim Tebow was an All-American quarterback at the University of Florida who won the Heisman Trophy and led the Gators to two SEC and NCAA football championships. He was completely against the Fair Pay to Play Act.

“When I was at the University of Florida, I think my jersey was one of the top-selling jerseys around the world. It was like Kobe, LeBron and then I was right behind them. And I didn’t make a dollar from it, but nor did I want to because I knew going into college what it was all about,” Mr. Tebow said on ESPN’s morning sports talk show, “First Take.”

Mr. Tebow was soundly criticized for it, largely based on his upbringing which differs from that of a large percentage of college athletes who drive revenue and don’t come from the same situation as he did. Tim Tebow grew up on a 40-acre farm outside Jacksonville. His parents had a swimming pool in the backyard, a basketball court in the driveway, and they built their son a batting cage because some say he was a better baseball player than quarterback. Mr. Tebow, who is White, was given every opportunity to become an elite athlete; opportunities that athletes from less privileged backgrounds—many who are Black—the same ones fighting to not be pimped by the NCAA system, aren’t afforded, critics argue.

So, what is the harm in allowing college athletes to make money off their likenesses? Mark Emmert, president of the NCAA whose base salary is reportedly over $2 million a year says the bill is an existential threat to the college sports model. But that’s exactly what it was designed to be. Making 100 percent of the profits off the hard work and sweat of another is akin to slavery.

The California bill will give all student athletes enrolled in public and private four-year colleges and universities in California the right to their name, image, and likeness, allowing them to earn money from sponsorships, endorsements, and other activities related to their hard work and talent—a right that all other students and California residents have, says the legislation.

It would prohibit colleges from enforcing NCAA rules that prevent student athletes from earning compensation. Receiving income would also not affect a student’s scholarship eligibility.

The bill had bipartisan support, passing the state Assembly on unanimous 73-0 vote and winning final approval from the state Senate on a 39-0 vote before being signed by the governor.

Another argument is Fair Pay to Play kills amateurism. However, many former college athletes think a bill like this would help improve amateurism and make college sports that much more competitive in the long run.

“I have a soft spot for the value of a college scholarship, but over the last couple of years, I’ve taken a different stance to a certain degree because now I see how much money the NCAA has made off collegiate athletes and they’re not able to see any of those funds,” Antoine Walker, another former McDonald’s All-American who won an NCAA championship, NBA championship, and who was the cover athlete of an NBA basketball video game, told The Final Call.

Former NBA player Antoine Walker (c) with Michael Jordan and Grant Hill. Antoine Walker was a former college basketball star and NBA champion. He values college education for athletes but argues they should also be allowed to make money while pursuing their education. Photo: Youtube

“I don’t think allowing college athletes to make money in this way will hurt the NCAA because people love college sports, and this can only make it better. In basketball for example, these schools bring in, sometimes three or four future pros every year and they only compete for one year before they turn pro for financial reasons because they have to take care of their families,” said Mr. Walker.

“But what if they could’ve made money off their likeness in school? They might have stayed. Fans could’ve gotten a chance to see them play for another year. That brings in more money for the school and the NCAA.”

Ed O’Bannon agrees. “If a college athlete signs an endorsement deal, won’t he or she be more likely to attend class, since if their grades fail, they’ll be kicked off the team and they’ll lose their endorsement deal? Also, won’t college athletes be more inclined to stay in college since they are gaining from endorsements while there,” O’Bannon said in Sports Illustrated.

The Fair Pay to Play Act has nothing to do with athletic scholarships. It wouldn’t take a dime away from schools. It’s all about the relationship between college players and companies that would like to pay for their endorsement or sponsorship, state supporters of the legislation.

Julius Hodge echoed the sentiments of Ed O’Bannon, Antoine Walker and the Gonzalez twins, and expounded on it saying, a move like this actually helps these student athletes become better business people; especially as they navigate and maneuver through the world of high-stakes sports and athletics.

“I think the NCAA should look at it this way: you can have a young student athlete learning the world of business and how to be business savvy at 18-years-old. This would really introduce them to the real world, as opposed to taking a stance that something like this is hurting amateurism of collegiate sports,” said Mr. Hodge. “The NCAA could look at it as we’re helping our student athletes to be their own business owners. That’s something they could learn that will help them for the rest of their lives,” he added.

Gov. Newsom signed the bill on “The Shop,” a television show hosted by NBA superstar LeBron James, who supports the bill. As a basketball phenom in high school, Mr. James states if he would have played college ball, neither he or his single mother would have reaped the financial benefits a university and others would have made from his image.

“Me and my mom, we didn’t have anything,” Mr. James told reporters. “We wouldn’t have been able to benefit at all from it. And the university would’ve been able to capitalize on everything that I would have been there for that year or two or whatever,” he added.

“I understand what those kids are going through. I feel for those kids who’ve been going through it for so long, so that’s why it’s personal for me,” he added.

The Fair Pay to Play Act won’t become effective until 2023. In that time, it’s unclear how many more states will pass similar laws, especially since the NCAA would be barred from banning member schools and their athletes from competing as a result. But two things are certainly clear. The first is the NCAA business model will never be the same. The second is the attitude and mindsets of college athletes have been changed forever because for the first time, they finally know how much they’re worth and they’re ready to cash in.

(Final Cal staff contributed to this report.)

Tuesday, October 1

From The Final Call Newspaper

God’s anger is kindled and the day of justice has arrived

By Starla Muhammad -Managing Editor-

Minister Farrakhan addresses City of Grand Rapids, Michigan

The sanctuary of True Light Baptist Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan was filled to capacity Sept. 24 for a message delivered by Minister Farrakhan five years after the mysterious and troubling death of Student Minister Robert Dion Muhammad. Photos:Andrea Muhammad

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.—The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan delivered a serious and sobering message of warning to the City of Grand Rapids from the pulpit of True Light Baptist Church to a packed audience. The time is up for the powers that continue perpetuating injustice in the world, he cautioned.

Even before doors of the church opened, lines of people began forming outside anxious to hear and see the Nation of Islam minister. His Sept. 24 visit came five years after the mysterious death of Student Minister Robert Dion Muhammad, who served as the local representative of the Nation of Islam in Grand Rapids. The 40-year-old’s body was pulled from Muskegon River, September of 2014 after an outing with co-workers.

A wrongful death lawsuit filed against seven of his co-workers by his widow Yreva Muhammad was dismissed but there is hope it will be reviewed by the Michigan Supreme Court. Authorities state her husband accidently drowned, but the lawsuit alleges Robert Muhammad’s co-workers assaulted him.

Attorney Sa’ad Alim Muhammad Photo: Haroon Rajaee

In November 2017, Judge J. John Rossi dismissed the case stating there was not enough evidence presented to go to trial, calling the claim “frivolous.” He also ordered that $1 million be paid to the other side as a judgement. But, Atty. Sa’ad Muhammad added, the judge assigned the judgment and attorneys’ fees without reviewing any documentation about the other side’s costs for legal representation. An appeal of the case was subsequently filed with the Michigan Appellate Court, which was denied, explained Atty. Sa’ad Alim Muhammad. A petition for the case to be reviewed by the Michigan Supreme Court is pending.

“The Honorable Elijah Muhammad said, ‘when truth fails to bring justice about, truth should always lead us to a just conclusion, but if the forces of evil are so strong that truth falls in the street and is not allowed to bring about justice, then the God of truth and the God of justice must physically remove from power the forces of injustice,’” said Min. Farrakhan. That time has arrived! he stated.

“I don’t come to this city or any city in America like a beggar who doesn’t know power to remove the wicked! No. No. I came here tonight to let you know the end has come,” said the Minister, taking his subject from the Book of Revelations, Chapter 11 verse 18 which states, “The nations are angry, and thy wrath has come. It is the time of the dead that they should be judged and given justice.”

In the U.S. and Middle East and other countries of the earth, anger is brewing due to the injustices perpetrated by those in powerful positions on the backs of Black people, women and the poor, he explained.

Min. Farrakhan touted the bravery and outspokenness of Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate change activist from Sweden, who along with other young people mobilized millions of people around the world in a global climate strike. The teen recently rebuked world leaders in a Sept. 23 address at the United Nations General Assembly in New York at the Climate Action Summit.

Robert Muhammad

Those in power are not the author of the climate and cannot do anything to change it, the Minister explained.

“The young girl, Miss Greta Thunberg from Sweden, was addressing the rulers and I have to tell little Greta, they hear you, but they don’t have the power to change the climatic conditions. But you went to the right people because the rulers have created the climate of war and hatred and bloodshed on the earth so the response from heaven is now answering the cry of the children.”

God’s anger has been kindled, He is angry and His wrath is here, as it is described in scripture.

“He’s angry and His anger is strong and vengeful. It’s retributory punishment for many offenses, it is the beginning of a divine chastisement and that’s why I chose to come to this city to tell the Black and the White, the Brown, the Red and the Yellow, the rich and the poor, the powerful and those who have no power, your days of playing with God is finished!”

Jesus, the woman and trials of the Believer

The Bible and Holy Qur’an are both full of examples of the trials and tribulations experienced by people of faith. Those who call themselves Believers regardless of whatever faith traditions they practice are not exempt from trial, Min. Farrakhan explained.

“You cannot think that because you’re a Christian or a Muslim that you shouldn’t be tried. We’ve come under a time of great trial. So, the Qur’an asked the question: ‘Do men think that they will be left alone on saying we believe and will not be tried while others were tried before you? This is so that we may know those of you who are liars from those who speak truth,’ ” he continued.

Yreva Muhammad Photo: Haroon Rajaee

Yreva Muhammad and her family are Believers, said Min. Farrakhan. “Don’t you ever think that because you try to do righteousness that God shouldn’t try you,” he added. “This is how God knows whether you’re his. He’ll bring misfortune into your life and watch to see how you handle it. Some of us can only follow God if he does everything we want him to do.”

God allowed Jesus to be arrested, put on trial, mocked, abandoned by his disciples and those that claimed to love and be with him and he was ultimately crucified. His finest hours were not the hours in Galilee, at the riverside or even when he was casting out demons, said the Minister. “His finest hours were when he was on the cross. Oh, Christians, I want you to listen to your brother since they don’t want you to believe that I know Jesus. That’s why they hate me because I know Jesus, very well.”

Women of the earth have also been abused and misused but are rising up, the Minister pointed out. The world was blessed through the womb of Mary, mother of Jesus, yet women are still relegated to second-class citizenship and mistreatment in most parts of the world, a reality Min. Farrakhan also addressed.

“Women have been catching hell a long time. I’m not going to let nobody that’s with me continue to make women suffer out of the ignorance of the world in which we live. We, the people. When did that take place? Women aren’t part of the people? We, the people and women just got the right to vote less than a hundred years ago, or a little more than a hundred years ago?” the Minister asked rhetorically.

“There has to be a revolution in the world to let the world know that the mistreatment of women has sentenced this world to death. You have the #MeToo Movement. How many women have been abused by men even men that they respected and honored, their own fathers? How many women and girls are being abused while we sit here watching girls being trafficked throughout the earth? Men selling young girls to be put into sex trafficking. That’s real. That’s going on. How do you think they should be handled?” 

Family members of Student Min. Robert Muhammad. Front row from left: daughter Nikah 13; daughter Ilyasa 7; niece Zamina 8; daughter Shahada 11; daughter Mizan 5, mother Karla and wife Yreva. Second row from left: sister April; nephew Akil 10; son Najm 15; son Toussaint 17 and son Nioveh 21 with other supporters at True Light Baptist Church. Photo: Andrea Muhammad

A warning to the wicked and the manifestation of losses

As extreme weather events continue hammering the United States and abroad, none of the rulers or their scientists and meteorologists can accurately predict the weather, said Min. Farrakhan. “Something is going on,” he warned. “Six hurricanes lining up one behind the other in the Caribbean. What are you doing, Father? ‘I’m destroying your playground.’ ‘Please don’t touch Mar-a-Lago.’ He’ll let you worry about what you think you got but I’m here to tell you, the day of judgement has arrived,” the Minister cautioned.

Hurricane Dorian which struck the Bahamas in late August, was the most powerful storm cyclone on record to strike the islands and is regarded as the worst natural disaster in the country’s history. “When that hurricane lifted, nothing was left. People lost everything. Surely man is in loss. This is the day of the manifestation of losses,” said Min. Farrakhan.

“When I looked at the Bahamas and saw all my Black brothers and sisters, I wept and I begged God to show mercy—and He waited for me to calm down as if to say to me ‘have not you seen the abundance of mercy that I have sent to all of you?’ Do you think you’re alive because God has not shown mercy? And you continue to go your way and do evil as though you never have to pay for that. He wants to forgive you but some of us will not allow him to because we won’t repent.”

A man of truth and his resonating message

Student Minister Sultan Muhammad of Grand Rapids, Mich. delivers remarks. Photo: Andrea Muhammad

Min. Farrakhan’s visit to the second largest city in Michigan was highly anticipated but it was not without controversy. Baseless claims made by those who continue to misrepresent and misinterpret Min. Farrakhan’s uncompromising stance on truth rooted in scripture once again became an issue. The 86-year-old Muslim leader was previously scheduled to speak at a different church, but that church cancelled the invitation stating the Muslim leader’s “views regarding Jews and others” were “contrary” to their own. Local NBC affiliate Channel 8 posted a press release attributed to the church that stated it valued free speech but was “equally committed to defending the equality and dignity of all people, including women and those in the LGBTQ community.”

These are contrary to some of Min. Farrakhan’s professed values, the statement continued. Yet the Minister previously spoke in Grand Rapids at that church. No one went away with the feeling that “this is a hater,” said Min. Farrakhan referring to his previous visit. He thanked Rev. Dr. Carl Pace, pastor of True Life Baptist Church, and its board and congregation for opening up the doors and welcoming him to speak and thanked Sultan Muhammad, the NOI student minister in Grand Rapids.

“What was the reason for my rejection? ‘He has views that we don’t agree with.’ If I could ask, reverend, what views do I have that you as a Christian disagree with?” asked Min. Farrakhan.

Audience listens to sobering message of guidance from Min. Farrakhan. Photo: Andrea Muhammad

“Do you mean to say if Jesus visited Grand Rapids, you would tell Jesus the way you talk, Jesus, about homosexuality or lesbianism, you can’t come to this church that bears your name? This didn’t mean that Christ did not love the homosexual community. That’s not true. He said he came to save his people from their sins. He didn’t come to judge us for falling away from the glory of God. He said, even though your sins be like scarlet, yet, he would wash them white as snow in His blood,” said Min. Farrakhan.

Jesus did not come to judge and punish people for their sins but save them from their sins, he explained. “So, the Jesus that I know, the Jesus that I am familiar with, he wouldn’t turn a homosexual away from him.”

Contrary to how Min. Farrakhan continues to be misrepresented and slandered those that filled the pews at True Light Baptist Church were touched by the key themes of his message.

Brittany Roland is a medical assistant and homeschooling mother from Grand Rapids. She found the Minister’s teaching on the weather riveting. “In Michigan the tornados and the different things that we’ve had here that we don’t usually have and the multiple hurricanes right behind each other. Everything he touched on was amazing. I’m looking forward to the winter here, to see what happens,” she said.

Rev. Dr. Carl Pace, pastor of True Life Baptist Church Photo: Haroon Rajaee

Ms. Roland attended the program with her husband Cam, a truck driver. “I resonate with his (Min. Farrakhan’s) whole spirit. Everything that comes out of his mouth, everything that he says, I resonate with. I’ve been listening to him for years. I brought my family along and they’ve seen the change in myself when I first heard the Minister. I was introduced by a brother of mine about four or five years ago and it just changed my life,” said Mr. Roland.

Pastor Idella Williams stated she along with another local pastor approached True Life about hosting Min. Farrakhan. “He’s Church of God in Christ and I’m Spiritual and now we’re coming in with the Muslims. God said he’s going to bring all of his people together. The war is now. It’s time for us. If we want justice, it starts with us and we have to make that change,” said Pastor Williams. She is Christian and appreciates the Minister’s exegesis on Jesus. “Jesus said he is that I am and so when he talks about Jesus it more assures me we’re on the right track.”

For Myron Guyton, a teacher and basketball coach, what stood out was the Minister’s views on climate change and the treatment of women.

“There’s a lot of bad things happening to women for years. They say we are the people, but a lot of women are unprotected. It’s good that he spoke on that. We come from women. They’re the heart and soul of our lives.”

Queen Roshae, a natural hair stylist traveled five hours from Columbus, Ohio. She too was moved by Min. Farrakhan’s view on women and appreciated what she called the “diverse simplicity” of his message. 

Attorney Sadiyah Evangelista Karriem and Attorney Abdul Arif Muhammad were on the legal team for Yreva Muhammad. Photo: Andrea Muhammad

True Light Baptist Church was filled to capacity for the Minister’s message. Photo: Andrea Muhammad

“Being a sister and being a sister in the business of women and hearing many of my sisters’ cries of mistreatment, misjustice and then the suffering of women in general, I really appreciate when that is recognized and its imperative to our overcoming—the woman being in her rightful stature,” she said.

“I have six children of my own and I’ve had to remove myself, separate myself just to raise mine up in peace. Go off to the country, come out of the city, change friends, guard myself and I appreciate the brother standing and recognizing, because I’m tired of doing it alone,” she added, her voice quivering slightly and tears brimming her eyes.

The Minister’s revelation that Jesus’s finest hour was suffering on the cross, resonated with Student Minister Dr. Wesley Muhammad, “tenfold,” he said. “He (Jesus) came to make us into him so we have a cross and we run from it but that gives a perspective that our finest hour is on the cross,” he said.

“That just blew me away when he said that because all Black people suffer. Black people are in pain, but Jesus gives us an understanding of what Black people go through. What the family of Minister Robert Muhammad is going through, they are suffering but it’s their finest hour in the depths of their pain. That resonated so deeply with me,” said the author, researcher and member of the NOI Executive Council. (Read transcript of Min. Farrakhan’s message beginning on page 20.)

Tuesday, September 24

From The Final Call Newspaper

Could failed U.S. policy lead to war with Iran?

By Brian E. Muhammad -Contributing Writer-

Marines assigned to Weapons Company, Battalion Landing Team 3/5, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) observe an Iranian fast attack craft from the amphibious transport dock ship USS John P. Murtha (LPD 26), during a strait transit, Aug. 12. The Boxer Amphibious Ready Group and 11th MEU are deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of naval operations to ensure maritime stability and security in the Central Region, connecting theMediterranean and the Pacific through the Western Indian Ocean and three strategic choke points.

United States antagonism against the Islamic Republic of Iran escalated to dangerous heights in the aftermath of drone and missile attacks on oil refineries in the Abqaiq and Khurais areas of Saudi Arabia. The two facilities are the core of the Saudi oil industry.

The mid-September attacks severely impacted crude oil and natural gas production and intensified geopolitical friction in the Middle East. Houthi rebels fighting a U.S.-supported and Saudi-led coalition in neighboring Yemen claimed responsibility. The U.S. rejected the claim and charged Iran, a mutual U.S.-Saudi foe, was responsible for the attack. Defense Dept. officials said additional U.S. military personnel and weapons were headed to Saudi Arabia to protect the Kingdom and bolster its security.

Britain, France and Germany joined the United States Sept. 23 in blaming Iran for attacks on key oil facilities in Saudi Arabia, according to the Associated Press. Their remarks came as world leaders were gathering for the United Nations General Assembly in New York. “The leaders of the U.K., France and Germany—who remain parties to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal—said in a statement that ‘there is no other plausible explanation’ than that ‘Iran bears responsibility for this attack,’ ” said the Associated Press.

“British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the U.K. would consider taking part in a U.S.-led military effort to bolster Saudi Arabia’s defenses,” according to the wire service. “French President Emmanuel Macron said at a news conference at the U.N. that he planned to meet separately with both Trump and Rouhani over the next day and would work to foster ‘the conditions for discussion’ and not escalation. Macron called the Sept. 14 strikes ‘a game-changer, clearly’ but reiterated France’s willingness to mediate.”

U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo

“This was an Iranian attack,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters on a Sept. 18 flight to Jeddah. “It’s not the case that you can subcontract out the devastation of five percent of the world’s global energy supply and think that you can absolve yourself of responsibilities,” he said. He waved off Houthis taking responsibility as a “fraudulent claim.” Even if true, Mr. Pompeo argued, “it doesn’t change the fingerprints of the ayatollah” in putting at risk the global energy supply. He was referring to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

As U.S. officials pushed the “blame Iran” narrative and increased fears of an all-out war, Iran denied involvement in the attacks. Iran also warned Washington and Riyadh that any acts of military aggression would be met with military force.

President Trump pulled back from early language that seemed to suggest a military response and announced additional sanctions, including targeting Iranian banking. Russia said it would ignore the banking sanctions. When the attack happened, China and Russia said U.S. accusations against Iran should not be hastily believed. Pentagon officials also announced Sept. 20 America is deploying more troops to the Middle East in response to the crisis. Specific numbers were not given, and the deployment was requested by the Saudis and the United Arab Emirates. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs-of-Staff General Joseph Dunford remarked that hundreds of troops, “not thousands,” would be deployed. There are currently 70,000 U.S. service members stationed in the region.

“The president has approved the deployment of U.S. forces, which will be defensive in nature and primarily focused on air and missile defense,” said Secretary of Defense Mark Esper.

***image6***Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told CNN it’s “all-out war” if the U.S. and Saudi Arabia opt for a military solution. He questioned why the Americans and Saudis want to “make this up” and blame Iran after the Houthi claim of responsibility. The charges against Iran are based on “lies” and “deception,” charged Mr. Zarif. He called the accusations agitation for war and reiterated Iran’s resolve to defend itself.

Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan has repeatedly warned against U.S. military action against Iran, saying it would have devastating consequences for America and could usher in a wider global war described in scripture as the war of Armageddon. He has repeatedly urged the Iranians and the Saudis to find a way to resolve their differences to avoid war and more destruction in the Middle East.

During a major address from the Nation of Islam’s flagship Mosque Maryam in July, Min. Farrakhan explained America is ready to go to war with Iran and wants to use Black bodies “to achieve their wicked aims.”

Mr. Trump has walked away from an agreement former President Barack Obama made with Iran, an agreement upheld by powerful permanent members on the UN Security Council. Mr. Trump also didn’t like that the agreement called for the return of some of Iran’s billions of dollars in U.S. banks, the Minister said.

Going to war would put America into much more debt than it’s currently in and Congress would have to go to the Federal Reserve Bank to print more money, he noted.

“America is provoking Iran, but the world is not afraid of America,” the Minister warned, “but our president wants the world to fear him.”

Mr. Trump has warned that if Iran enriches its uranium to a level that could produce a nuclear bomb, then Israel will attack and the U.S. will support Israel, Min. Farrakhan continued. “When you are guilty of evil and you see that (Iran) has the technology to get a bomb, your fear of them having it makes you do things. Mr. President, it would not be a wise move for you,” the Minister warned.

“The first thing to realize is that the reason that we are here is largely because of failed U.S. policy on Iran,” said Mana Mostatabi, communications director for the National Iranian American Council in a telephone interview with The Final Call.

“This is not happening in a vacuum. This did not start in the last couple of weeks,” Ms. Mostatabi continued. “As soon as the U.S. decided to ditch their nuclear deal … imposing their maximum pressure campaign, this is when everything was catalyzed.”

She described Iran and America as locked in an unending “tit for tat.” She pointed out America’s swiftness to conclude—without definitive proof—Iran bombed Saudi oil facilities. The Saudis and other Gulf nations were slightly more cautious. While saying the weapons, described as cruise missiles and drones, were Iranian, the Saudis had not directly stated they were launched from Iran.

“When it comes to figuring out what parties are to blame … we need to really take what the U.S. is saying with a grain of salt,” said Ms. Mostatabi. “This administration, in particular, has a history of distorting and manipulating intelligence on Iran,” she said.

Mr. Trump initially tweeted America was “locked and loaded,” awaiting final verification Iran attacked the Saudi oil facilities. Mr. Trump is also on record saying he doesn’t want war. Hawks in his administration have sent contradictory messages observers say reflect internal divisions and the president’s own ambivalence.

“The Trump administration and the U.S. government in general are suffering from an extreme paradox,” said Brian Becker, national coordinator of the anti-war A.N.S.W.E.R Coalition. “They want to overthrow the independent government in Iran, and they are threatening military action ... hoping that the military threats and the intense economic sanctions would create a division within Iran such that they would have an opportunity to carry out regime change.”

“This administration’s lack of a strategy has led to escalation and confusion in the Middle East,” said Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs in a statement.

“While we don’t know who is responsible for the attacks ... without a clear strategy to deescalate tensions with Iran, the situation will only get worse,” he warned.

The Pentagon and United Nations have experts in Saudi Arabia to determine the location from which the attacks were launched.

Houthi rebels said they bombed the oil refineries in retaliation for Saudi atrocities committed in the war against Yemen.

While some argue Iran bears guilt because of their support for the Houthis, Ms. Mostatabi dismissed such reasoning as a “false equivalency.” “There’s a lot of going back and forth about Iranians giving arms to the Houthis,” she said. “We seem to forget that the U.S. is also providing the Saudis arms in the same conflict.”

And, she said, regardless of anti-Iran chest bumping, “any strikes without congressional authorization would be illegal.”

Saudi Arabia and America are not “treaty allies”’ with obligations to engage in war for one another, she noted.

To deescalate hostilities a “real third party” independent investigation is required, argued Ms. Mostatabi. “Neither the U.S. nor the Saudis have the credibility needed to conduct a conclusive investigation,” she said.

In a Sept. 18 report before journalists, Colonel Turki al-Malka, spokesman for the Saudi Defense Ministry, dismissed claims the attacks originated from Yemen, saying it was a false narrative designed to cover Iranian complicity.

Although the Saudi defense spokesman admitted investigations were ongoing to determine the launch point for the attacks, he insisted the strikes were “unquestionably sponsored by Iran.”

Relying on photos, graphics and physical debris from the 25 drones and cruise missiles collected from the targeted sites, the Saudi Defense Ministry presented what they said was evidence of Iranian culpability. Mr. Al-Malka said 18 drones hit the Abqaiq facility, four penetrated the Khurais facility and three fell short.

U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo stuck to an anti-Iranian hardline during meetings with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and other government officials in Jeddah. Mr. Pompeo labeled the attacks an “act of war” by Iran. “This is an attack of a scale we’ve just not seen before,” Mr. Pompeo told reporters on his flight to Jeddah. “The Saudis were the nation that were attacked. It was on their soil,” he said. “It was an act of war against them directly.”

Mr. Pompeo said flight patterns suggested the attacks didn’t come from the south, in the direction of Yemen, and said American intelligence doubts the Houthis possessed the weapons used.

Mr. Pompeo also admitted the U.S. hasn’t seen evidence of the attack being launched from Iraq or possibly over Kuwait as some speculated.

Concerned about future attacks, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates signed on to a military alliance dubbed the International Maritime Security Construct led by the U.S. It reportedly includes Israel and is designed to increase security in gulf waters.

The state-run WAM news agency announced the UAE’s decision. Salem Mohammed Al Zaabi, director of the International Security Cooperation Department, said UAE interest is in protecting maritime navigation, global trade, and the “flow of energy supplies” to global markets. The alliance would protect member ships passing through the Strait of Hormuz, Bab Al Mandab, the Sea of Oman and the Arabian Gulf, major oil transportation routes.

Australia, Bahrain and the United Kingdom are also part of the alliance but Iraq declined to join, warning U.S. formation of a military force to allegedly protect strategic waters would only escalate regional tensions.

Tuesday, September 17

From The Final Call Newspaper

Weed Isn't The Answer

By Bryan 18X Crawford -Contributing Writer

While some consider marijuana, or weed, a natural healer or even a gift from God linked to religious practices, the plant has in some ways also been the bane of Black existence. There are literally hundreds of thousands of people—of the more than two million people incarcerated in America—locked up on some kind of weed charge.

According to research from the Drug Policy Alliance, in 2017, 659,700 people were arrested for a marijuana law violation. Of that number 599,282 people, or 91 percent, were arrested for possession of marijuana. All told, of the number of people arrested for drug law violations, 47 percent of them were either Black or Latino.

Still, these figures have not quelled the daily ritual of Black people smoking weed and getting high.

Now, as legalization initiatives are being passed from state to state, springing forth a brand new economic industry that is no longer underground and at the forefront of society, the relationship between Black people and weed seems to have gotten deeper, but there are some troubling aspects of this relationship.

Some view the burgeoning marijuana industry as a modern day gold rush because there is now the ability to actually sell weed and not be arrested for it. Others are taking the softer laws around possession as a sign that America is finally doing right by the Black man who has served more jail time for weed crimes than any other group of people in this country.

But is it a trap?

Can Blacks really trust those who have overseen the system of their oppression for centuries to give us a way out of the condition we’ve been purposely placed and kept in for so long?

“The reason marijuana is being legalized at the state level, but remains illegal at the federal level, is part of the trap,” Dr. Wesley Muhammad, a Nation of Islam student minister who has done a series of popular lectures on the subject, told The Final Call. “But even more than that, marijuana is being legalized because it’s a sedative. Marijuana quiets Black rage.”

For Black people who have personally used marijuana, or know someone who uses it all the time, Dr. Muhammad’s words about weed quieting Black rage may ring true. The drug is quite often used as an escape from the daily pressures associated with being a Black man or woman in America. It’s a drug that helps Black people not focus on whatever problems they may have, and works as a form of escapism. Essentially, as long as you’re high, you’re not as overly concerned with things the same way you might be if you were sober. While on a surface level, this can be viewed as positive in terms of stress relief, the reality is Black people live in a constant state of stress and anxiety, meaning more often than not, they may be more willing to smoke marijuana as a form of relief.

But, if weed acts as a sedative, could smoking it hinder Blacks from channeling righteous anger and indignation they should feel as a result of their condition? Could weed lessen motivation to act to change things and contribute to a more passive state?

Weaponized weed?

Dr. Muhammad, who is an author and holds a Ph.D. in Islamic Studies, said there is a difference in the THC content of marijuana of today and that of the past. THC is the chemical in the drug that produces the users’ high. Modern weed has been scientifically altered to contain significantly higher levels of THC than what would normally be found in marijuana that is cultivated naturally, warns Dr. Muhammad. It is that high grade of marijuana that is not only pushed on Black people, but is now demanded by Black people, he added. These days, weed smokers in Black neighborhoods and communities only want “loud” and not “Reggie,” or a powerful type of marijuana known for its unmistakable smell versus a less powerful version of the drug, he continued.

When consumed in a tobacco leaf or “blunt,” meaning marijuana placed inside a hollowed out cigar, two chemical compounds mixed together can have detrimental effects Black people aren’t even aware of, Dr. Muhammad said.

“White people smoke joints. But because of the weaponization of hip hop, we smoke blunts, which are a Negro phenomenon. When you take the weed with the elevated THC, and mix it with the nicotine in tobacco, both of these compounds have an affinity for melanin,” explained Dr. Muhammad. “The nicotine in tobacco is more dangerous to Black people than White people. Nicotine attaches to melanated tissues and latches on, forever releasing its poisons into the body. … So when Black people smoke blunts, we become walking reservoirs of these two compounds. With weaponized THC married to nicotine in tobacco, it’s doing double the damage and it’s two times as dangerous. So when we talk about recreational legalization, because Black people and White people are not only socially segregated but also scientifically segregated, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that dispensaries in the ’hood have very different marijuana than dispensaries in middle class, White neighborhoods.”

Dr. Muhammad’s intense study of marijuana and the elevated THC currently found in today’s weed is right and exact. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a study saying, “The marijuana available today is much stronger than previous versions. The THC concentration in commonly cultivated marijuana plants has increased three-fold between 1995 and 2014 (4 percent and 12 percent respectively). Marijuana available in dispensaries in some states has average concentrations of THC between 17.7 percent and 23.2 percent. … Higher doses of THC are more likely to produce anxiety, agitation, paranoia, and psychosis.”

Danger to pregnant women, unborn children

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, in a recent advisory, warned there is no safe amount of marijuana for teens, young adults, or pregnant women.

Yet increasing numbers of pregnant women are using marijuana, often dealing with conditions like depression or severe nausea despite risks to their babies—a risk many physicians say should not be taken. “I would say we are really rolling the dice with our kids if we expose them to it,” Dr. Neeraj Gandotra, chief medical officer at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration at the Department of Health and Human Services told USA Today. “We have a preponderance of evidence marijuana does affect brain development.”

“Studies out this summer in the Journal of the American Medical Association also reported a sharp increase in the number of pregnant women smoking marijuana and an alarming link between cannabis use and preterm births, defined as 37 weeks or earlier,” USA Today reported Sept. 12. “The authors concluded marijuana is ‘likely unsafe’ because preterm births were twice as common in marijuana users vs. non-users. (12 percent vs. 6.1 percent). That’s despite finding a positive effect between marijuana use and lower incidences of preeclampsia—a dangerous condition that includes high blood pressure—and gestational diabetes.”

“Between 2002 and 2017, pregnant women who used marijuana in the previous month increased from 3.4 percent to 7 percent overall and from nearly 6 percent to just over 12 percent during the first trimester, according to new federal data published in the Journal of the American Medical Association,” according to USA Today. “We don’t have any evidence it is safe, but many women at this point don’t even question it as a potential problem,” one doctor observed. “It is often coupled with a distrust of the medical system and particularly medications for mental illness.”

“Yet even doctors who support medical marijuana say medical professionals aren’t warning women enough. They say there is misinformation and an overall lack of information on using cannabis products during pregnancy. Medical marijuana is now legal in 33 states. “Women aren’t getting a consistent message,” Dr. Jordan Tishler, president of the Association of Cannabis Specialists and an advocate for legalizing medical marijuana, told USA Today.

As part of a National Institutes of Health study, “officials called dispensaries and told them that they were pregnant and suffering from extreme nausea. Transcriptions of phone conversations were recorded. In one case, a dispensary employee told a woman, ‘Edibles wouldn’t hurt the child, they’d be going through your [digestive] tract.’ Dispensary employees also sometimes told women to consult with their health care provider, but few did so without being prompted. The study also found 36 percent of recommendations said cannabis use is safe during pregnancy,” said USA Today. “With mixed messaging on marijuana, pregnant women in need of relief are not able to make fully informed decisions, physicians say.

“I don’t think any woman goes into pregnancy wanting to hurt her child, so if she’s using it it’s either because she doesn’t understand the science or hasn’t heard the science,” a physician told USA Today.

A multi-billion dollar industry
According to a study by Grand View Research, the legal marijuana market will be worth $66.3 billion in the next six years. That’s a compound annual growth rate of 23.9 percent. To put that in perspective, according to The Motley Fool, that growth is on par with heavy civil engineering construction (25.7 percent) and alcohol distillation (26 percent), but higher than beverage manufacturing (17.1 percent), real estate (15.1 percent), specialized freight trucking (14.9 percent) and architectural engineering (13.7 percent).

“In terms of recreational, we’re talking about a brand new industry. But the fact is, cannabis is a 99 percent White-owned industry. But with recreational legalization comes the social equity conversation for those impacted by the war on drugs,” explained J.R. Fleming, community activist and founder of E.P.I.C (Equitable Partnerships in Cannabis) to The Final Call.

There have been calls for purging records of Blacks who had weed charges in the past and calls for freeing those jailed for doing what is being presented as a legitimate, even welcome business, as politicians tout its potential to bring in revenue.

Then there is also the question of drug testing, how it would work, or how results should be interpreted by employers?

“How can an employer continue to pursue a drug-testing policy in the midst of the continuing trend of states legalizing marijuana for both medical and recreational use, especially when these states’ laws run up against federal laws that still ban the psychoactive drug’s use?” asked the online magazine EHS Today, in an article titled, “Drug Testing in the Era of Marijuana Legalization: In a constantly changing legal landscape, employers must take care when creating a zero-tolerance policy.”

“‘It can be hard to do so, but it is still possible,’ according to attorneys J. Christopher Selman and Alexander Thrasher of the law firm of Bradley, Arant, Boult, Cummings LLP. ‘This rapidly evolving legal landscape presents new challenges for employers, particularly those with offices and employees in several states,’ they admit. ‘Employers must balance complying with often divergent federal and state laws, maintaining a safe work environment and protecting employees’ rights,’” wrote David Sparkman.

“Most employers today have implemented a zero-tolerance policy that bans the use of alcohol and illegal substances for obvious safety reasons, but new state laws can create additional problems partly because those company policies usually exclude prescription drugs when a worker informs the employer about using them.

“At one end of the spectrum, some states require that employers must accommodate an employee’s use of medical marijuana. … At the other end of the spectrum, states like California and Ohio where medical marijuana is legal do not require accommodation of employee use.

“An effective drug policy decreases hazards and promotes an accident-free work environment. While state and federal laws meant to promote this goal may seem straightforward when read in isolation, problems arise when these laws overlap or conflict with one another,” the article cautioned.

Legal, illegal and unresolved questions

Black people are overrepresented in jails and prisons when it comes to marijuana arrests and convictions, but though many states are legalizing weed, at the federal level, it still remains a Schedule I drug; meaning the government views marijuana as being just as dangerous as heroin, LSD, but somehow less dangerous than cocaine. In addition, even though the penalty for possession has now been greatly reduced and the drug is becoming legalized at the state level, the federal government has no plans to release anyone currently convicted and incarcerated on weed charges in states where marijuana is legal.

“As long as marijuana is federally illegal, the government has the discretion to go in any state where marijuana is legal and make arrests. Federal law trumps state law,” argued Dr. Muhammad. “This is the trap and the ultimate win-win for our enemy. Make it legal so that we continue to partake of it, but suffer the physiological consequences of it and be lured into a false sense of security that we can’t be arrested for it. But you can still get arrested and we still are getting arrested for weed, which continues to feed the private prison industry which has a relationship with the government. Legalization is our enemy’s trap and trick.”

Wednesday, September 11

From The Final Call Newspaper

Race, Class and Privilege and the NFL’s Unresolved Issues

By Barrington M. Salmon Contributing Writer @bsalmondc

See Also
Dreads, Super Bowl tickets and a tricky start to NFL-Roc Nation community partnership

“I’m not going to stand to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black People and People of Color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish for me to look the other way.” —Colin Kaepernick

Perhaps it was inevitable that the National Football League would not be immune to the raw, angry clashes around race that have exploded into super bursts of toxic energy around the country particularly since wannabe cop George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin in Florida in 2012.

San Francisco 49ers Eric Reid and Colin Kaepernick take a knee during the National Anthem prior to their game against the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte North Carolina, Sept. 18, 2016. Photo: MGN Online

Sports, we’re told, is the great equalizer. On the field, they intone, race doesn’t matter, only athletic prowess, hard work and the devotion to winning. But this truism is as false as a $3 dollar bill, as illustrated by the NFL’s reaction to Colin Kaepernick’s fateful decision to kneel before a preseason game in August 2016. His gesture demonstrated his opposition to the second class treatment of Black people, racial injustice and condemnation of a society which condones police brutality and the extra-judicial murders of Black men, women and children.

Since then, the former San Francisco quarterback has been banished by owners of the NFL’s 32 teams, ostracized by some fellow players and shunned because of a principled stance against the laundry list of racial- and racist-inspired challenges that confront Blacks in America. He has also won the admiration of many, inspired a movement, was offered a Nike deal, continued his activism and forced the league to settle and pay him as part of a labor dispute. He still doesn’t have a job in the NFL.

Despite NFL team owners antagonizing, threatening and bullying players who knelt in solidarity, spoke out or displayed other forms of civil disobedience—and President Donald Trump jumping in to disparage and insult the Black players and changing the narrative of the real reasons for the protests—the issue hasn’t gone away.

Color of Change is just one of a number of social justice organizations that have supported Mr. Kaepernick since he began his protest. Executive Director Rashad Robinson said Mr. Kaepernick has played a vital role in pushing forward the struggle for racial equality, fairness and justice.

“Colin Kaepernick and Black Lives Matter activists have opened up the movement and engaged to change written and unwritten rules,” he told The Final Call in a recent interview. “We’ve been really engaged. We’ve done work to push corporations to respond and support Kaepernick and Eric Reid. We’ve gotten members of Color of Change to give visible support. We’ve fought back in the media on behalf of Kaepernick and other players and offered other support with op-eds.”

“We feel that we have to leverage these movements for system change. That’s our goal.”

There have been noticeable impacts on the NFL because of the player protest movement. The subsequent public boycott of the NFL by those supporting Mr. Kaepernick—who last played for the San Francisco 49ers—has hurt revenue, reduced viewership and tarnished the brand.

Fans who support Mr. Kaepernick have refused to watch games, attendance has fallen and big money entertainers refused to be a part of the NFL’s signature Super Bowl 2019 halftime show as the league refused to allow Mr. Kaepernick—who despite his age is still considered an elite quarterback—to vie for and take his place on a team.

At its start in the first year, more than 200 football players joined Mr. Kaepernick in kneeling or engaging in other forms of silent protest. But over time, the numbers have dwindled, with players like Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid and now-Houston Texans wide receiver Kenny Stills being the most outspoken supporters of Mr. Kaepernick and articulators of the protestors’ positions.

Mr. Robinson and other social justice warriors understand and acknowledge how formidable an adversary the NFL is. It’s a $75 billion behemoth promoting the most popular sport in America and the 32 owners wield considerable power. But as several interviewees noted, the players don’t realize the strength they have because the NFL would not and could not function without their participation.

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills (10) and Miami Dolphins wide receiver Albert Wilson (15) kneel during the national anthem before an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans, Sept. 9, 2018, in Miami Gardens, Fla. Photo: AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

“This was a golden opportunity missed,” said Gary Johnson, founder and publisher of Black Men in America, a premier online magazine. “One Sunday, just one Sunday, if all or most of the players sat down, it would change everything … it would ripple around the whole country.”

Mr. Johnson’s son Chris agreed.

“The players don’t understand the power they have. They are the billion-dollar product. Until those seats are empty, the owners won’t get it,” said the younger Mr. Johnson, a political commentator and musician.

For three years, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell searched in vain for ways to silence the protestors and turn the page on the social justice demonstrations. He now believes he’s found the perfect tool.

Enter Jay-Z.

The billionaire entertainer and mogul recently joined Mr. Goodell a few weeks ago to announce a collaboration that names Roc Nation as the league’s official live music entertainment strategists. As part of the deal, Roc Nation will spearhead and advise the NFL on artist selection for music performances, including the extremely popular Super Bowl halftime show. In addition, Roc Nation is supposed to also work on the league’s social justice platform called Inspire Change. The initiative, launched earlier this year, aims to address the criminal justice reform, police and community relations, education and economic advancement.

But the partnership has triggered fierce pushback and invited deepening public skepticism that the collaboration is nothing more than a camouflage and a not-too-subtle way to let the NFL off the hook.

“It’s a little bit of a smokescreen,” sports lawyer and businessman Michael Huyghue told The Final Call. “Top athletes were refusing to perform. The real damage was not the issues surrounding the protests, the real issue was drawing top performers. Bringing Jay-Z in is a way to make performers feel more comfortable, and by the way, ‘we’ll deal with social issues too.’ ”

In actuality, Mr. Huyghue explained, the NFL has no platform on how it will specifically deal with the social justice issues raised by Mr. Kaepernick, and Jay-Z doesn’t have any real civil rights or social justice background to offer the type of depth and expertise needed to foster real and significant change.

Longtime human rights Attorney Nicole C. Lee described the NFL-Jay Z issue as “simple and complicated,” adding that the NFL has shown no sincerity or desire to address the issues Mr. Kaepernick has raised. The larger issue, she contends, is the attempted muzzling of Black athletes and a denial of their constitutional right to free speech.

“The protest was about the treatment of African Americans by police. The support of Kaepernick is this issue but it’s also about how talented athletes and entertainers are treated as if they’re owned,” said Ms. Lee, co-founder of the Black Movement Law Project, principal of the Lee Bayard Group and former president of TransAfrica. “They’re not allowed to express their individual agency. The NFL is bypassing putting Kaepernick on a team and going to Jay-Z. Goodell bypassed the issue and went to Jay-Z. He basically said, ‘See, I got my African American, people like him.’ ”

“I think it’s actually simple and complicated,” continued Ms. Lee, a diversity, equity and inclusion expert, leadership coach, nationally recognized speaker. “People are still upset with Jay-Z’s move because Kaepernick still has not found a team. The fact that Kaepernick isn’t on a team indicates that the NFL is digging its heels and punishing speech. Black folks are penalized when they speak out. The NFL can have Jay-Z but having him will not change the situation or circumstances. People will continue to be pissed off. This is not going away.”

William “Billy” Hunter, former executive director of the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA), said he hasn’t followed everything that’s been going on in the NFL-Kaepernick imbriglio, but offered his perspective. Despite Jay-Z agreeing to work with the NFL, the issues that led to the player protest are still very present and unresolved, he said.

And the length and intensity of any protests or pushback “depends on the reaction you get from the Black community and players. If they decide that Kap hasn’t gotten justice, this will continue,” the former union head said of the public boycott. “The NFL was beginning to feel impact and Jay-Z gives them assurance that everything is alright.”

Mr. Hunter, a longtime attorney who played for the Miami Dolphins and the Washington Redskins, said it isn’t helpful that football players have split into different factions.

“The Players Coalition kinda hurts what Kap and others are trying to do because they took money,” he said of the $89 million the coalition of current players accepted from the owners for social justice programs. “The problem is that with the movement, the question is how many people would go with management. When I was with the NBAPA, (Commissioner David) Stern told me that he always had spies. The players are often insecure. They are the ones who might benefit the most but they don’t make as much as basketball players and don’t have guaranteed contracts. They won’t play for more than three or four years unless you have a breakout career.”

In all America’s other sports, the master-slave attitude persists, Mr. Hunter said.

“We had some knockdown dragouts because of this attitude. They expect that,” he said of the owners. “There are a lot of the vestiges of old days. David Stern was a lot more progressive, but the assumption is that if you have money people are supposed to bend or genuflect.”

Trade unionist, columnist and activist Bill Fletcher, Jr. said the Kaepernick protest overlaps as a social justice issue as well as a test of whether these athletes have a right to protest.

“It’s about the right to be protected in protesting which is an athlete’s right,” he said. “This is a stand against hypocrisy.”

Mr. Fletcher said he has had discussions with key people in the NFL Players’ Association and two issues surfaced: Mr. Kaepernick began his initial protest without informing them and that association leadership would only intervene if he gave the nod; and that NFLPA members were not unified on Mr. Kaepernick’s stand because of the split between conservative and left-wing members.

“I would have told Kaepernick to follow the Curt Flood model because he got player support as he fought for free agency,” said Mr. Fletcher, former president of the TransAfrica Forum and author of “They’re Bankrupting Us! And 20 Other Myths About Unions.” “I would also recommend that he build a strategy committee who was prepared to back him. Instead, he encountered periods of isolation. This needed to be a campaign. He was left standing by himself when he was expecting people to support him.

“Kaepernick taking this step by himself was noble and courageous but not strategic.”

Both Mr. Fletcher and Marc Bayard, a leading expert on racial equity and organizing strategies, cited the need for the NFL and individual owners to develop comprehensive education programs for the players on matters of race in America.

“In the past 2-3 years, I’ve had conversations with the staff at the NFLPA and the political realm has gone from typical bread-and-butter issues of better wages, concussion and safety to free agency,” said Mr. Bayard, an associate fellow and the director of the Institute for Policy Studies’ Black Worker Initiative and the founding executive director of the Worker Institute at Cornell University. “They are well-versed in dealing with traditional issues but in an era of overt political issues, we all have room to grow. It’s incumbent of the league to have education and training on hot button issues to understand the nature of issues such as the policy around police brutality. I also believe that the symbolism and importance of players educating the public on social issues is critical.”

Rally in support of Colin Kaepernick at Soldier Field in Chicago Sept. 10, 2017.

Harold Bell, long considered the Godfather of Sports Talk radio and television in Washington, D.C., said Mr. Kaepernick’s work is in the longtime tradition of athletes who’ve spoken out. Yet despite the millions of dollars football players make, they are sometimes little more than what sportswriter, author and former New York Times columnist William Rhoden called “billion dollar slaves.”

“This is about how the One Percent controls us; it’s all about divide and conquer,” said Mr. Bell, who created “Inside Sports” in 1972 and who was talking about racism in the NFL, drug use among athletes and other sensitives issues on his radio and television shows decades ago. “When people say sports and politics don’t mix, I say they gotta be crazy. This war has been going on for a long, long time. Jack Johnson, Jesse Owens and Paul Robeson are all strong Black men who stood up but got knocked down.”

Mr. Bell echoed other interviewees who acknowledged that the NFL player protest movement sits at the nexus of sports, race and activism. It’s not a new phenomenon, with athletes in the past like Muhammad Ali refusing to be inducted into the U.S. military to fight in Vietnam, and others like Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Jim Brown, Tommie Smith and John Carlos protesting racism and other racially connected social ills in the 1960s.

But in this case, the players’ opposition to police brutality, institutional racism and oppression had been co-opted by President Donald Trump and others and twisted into criticism of cops, the military, respect for law and order, the appropriateness of protest and patriotism.

“NFL owners have been very embarrassed by this. They would like to do something but they’re afraid of Trump,” Mr. Fletcher said. “You have to look at this at the level of politics. If you don’t organize, it’s very likely that you’ll fail.”

No matter the NFL does, those interviewed said, none believed the collaboration will have any real and lasting effect on the protests that continue unabated as Blacks and others push back against anti-Black racism, police brutality, extra-judicial killings and the increase in nativism, White extremism and hate crimes. What is acknowledged but often ignored too is the fact that the NFL has a White male dominated, conservative, reactionary ownership structure, no Black majority owners and a league where about 70 percent of the players are Black.

“I wonder how long is that going to work; how long is it going to last?” Ms. Lee asked of the Jay-Z and NFL deal. “It may not matter in the short or medium term. Jay-Z has shown he’s fine with capitalism, with being the only Black in the room. The reality is we’re pushing society to be more just. I’m not going to look into the intent of other folks, but I don’t think Jay-Z’s talking about radical change and radical change is needed to change the circumstances of Black people.”

Tuesday, September 3

From The Final Call Newspaper

Disasters gather, plague America

By Brian E. Muhammad Staff Writer @globalpeeks |

Warnings, preparation and states of emergencies were declared by the governors of Florida, Georgia and North and South Carolina as Hurricane Dorian was expected to slam into the United States southeastern coastline and travel northbound along the coast after leaving behind devastation in the Bahamas.

People cut away a tree that landed on a vehicle in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Fla., Oct. 11, 2018. Photo: AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

At Final Call presstime, a “cone of uncertainty” traveled up the Atlantic Ocean spinning its way toward America at a time of increasing calamities. The entire state of Florida was put on alert as people rushed to board up houses, businesses and other structures. Gas had to be trucked in from nearby states as pumps ran dry with Floridians filling their tanks and bracing for any possible evacuation. Uncertainty as to the exact path of the hurricane had weather experts unsure of exactly where it would strike and do the most damage. However, said experts, the damage and aftermath was of great concern.

President Donald Trump promised the “best people” were in place for the disaster, but admitted the odds seemed to be in favor of substantial destruction. “Should Hurricane Dorian strengthen into a Category 4 storm and come ashore on Florida’s Atlantic coast, it will be the strongest hurricane to hit the state’s eastern coast in nearly 30 years. Since the late 1800s, only eight Category 4 and Category 5 hurricanes have made landfall on Florida’s east coast. With Hurricane Dorian forecast to become a Category 4 storm as it makes its approach, it may become the ninth. The last hurricane of this magnitude to hit Florida was Hurricane Andrew, which hit 27 years prior in 1992,” reported Accuweather. Andrew caused between $25.3 billion and $32 billion in destruction for Florida and was the most expensive hurricane to hit Florida when it struck. Sixty-five people were reported dead.

The U.S. should expect multiple days of danger from Hurricane Dorian reported The Weather Channel. “Regardless of the track, high surf and coastal flooding will be an issue,” the network reported. The flooding was expected to affect areas most prone to it including Virginia Tidewater, southern Delmarva Peninsula, Delaware Bay, parts of the Jersey Shore, Long Island Sound and coastal eastern New England. Even if Dorian spares America a direct hit, it will still be damaging. AccuWeather estimates the total damage and economic loss would be $8-10 billion.

“Much of those costs are a result of losses to the travel and tourism industry, including canceled vacations, canceled flights, lost revenue to hotels, cruise lines diverted, and expenses in preparation for the storm. Possible flooding and storm surge to coastal areas in the Southeast will also be a factor. Citrus crop and vegetable damages could also occur,” noted accuweather.com. Over 1,100 flights had been cancelled as of Sept. 2 and three of Florida’s airports had shut down. Over one million people across at least three states had been ordered to evacuate their homes.

As states braced themselves, people also have to adjust themselves for the event and the aftermath. “I would say that it’s never too late to start to prepare yourself and your family. Having a little something is better than having nothing,” said Alva Muhammad, a Chicago-based disaster preparedness instructor.

“It’s only going to get worse …not better. We’re never going to have a time when there will be no extreme weather,” she explained.

With disasters striking with more frequency and intensity, many wonder why America seems to be suffering from acts of God and wonder if there is any prospect for relief?

For decades the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, patriarch of the Nation of Islam and his national representative, Minister Louis Farrakhan, have warned God has weaponized weather and is using it to chastise America for past and present injustices against the Black descendants of slaves and the Indigenous people which the country has decimated.

“The forces of nature are great weapons as we see them in play upon America,” said Elijah Muhammad in his book The Fall of America, published in 1973.

“Watch the weather,” Minister Farrakhan has repeatedly warned. “God doesn’t fight with your cheap weapons! God fights with the forces of nature: rain, hail, snow, wind, drought. He uses the insects and the animals and turns nature against you. You can’t win in a war against God.”

The United States is number one on God’s list to be destroyed and severe weather will be used to help bring the country down, according to the Teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad.

Others connect the disasters to global climate change.

Rescue personnel perform a search in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Fla., Oct. 11, 2018. Photo: AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

A May 2018 Pew Research paper said a majority of Americans believe global warming is manmade and the federal government has been neglectful in combatting climate change.

Pew said 53 percent of Americans say the earth is getting warmer mostly due to human activity like burning fossil fuels. However, roughly 29 percent attribute the warming to “natural patterns” in the earth’s environment and another 17 percent say there is no solid evidence of global warming.

The report said 69 percent of Americans feel vital resources like water are not adequately protected and 65 percent believe the same about air quality. Overall 67 percent said the government is doing too little to reduce the effects of climate change.

Over the last year America was afflicted by deadly wildfires on the West Coast, and bone numbing cold from a Northeastern vortex gripped New York on the East Coast after sweeping the Midwest, affecting Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin and North Dakota. In addition to fires and the bitter cold, havoc making tornadoes crisscrossed America and menacing floods further compromised aging infrastructure.

With great loss of property and lives, the financial toll disasters take on America is steep, according to a 2019 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Centers for Environmental Information report that tracks the costs of weather and climate disasters.

The center said as of July, 2019 there were six weather and climate disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion each across America. These events resulted in 15 deaths and had significant economic impact. Since 1980, America has experienced 250 disasters at a cost of $1.7 trillion.

In light of Trump administration slashing of the Department of Homeland Security budget that oversees the Federal Emergency Management Agency, financial aid to states already hit by disasters is being affected.

Two years after Hurricane Harvey ravaged Texas, federal assistance has not fully arrived.

“We lost over 300,000 housing units. Two years later we are still waiting for the federal resources to do flood mitigation projects,” said Dr. Abdul Haleem Muhammad, Southwest Regional Representative of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan and student minister of Mosque No. 45 in Houston.

Minister Haleem Muhammad told The Final Call the business and philanthropic community raised over $110 million in the aftermath of the 2017 disaster while people waited for FEMA money. “Though Houston rebounded faster than most areas hit by disasters, we still have a long way to go,” he said.

September is recognized as National Preparedness Month to emphasize the need for disaster and emergency planning.

The 2019 theme is “Prepared, Not Scared” and is part of the Dept. of Homeland Security “Ready Campaign” to educate and empower Americans to prepare for, respond to and mitigate emergencies, including natural and manmade disasters.

Professional practitioners of disaster management said the public and Black people, especially, are not prepared for disasters.

With millions of people living in vulnerable coastal cities on the Southeast border of the United States, aid and assistant groups like the American Red Cross were prepared for the disaster before it arrived.

While Dorian was still wrecking destruction in the Caribbean, some 2,600 people stayed in 60 Red Cross and community evacuation shelters in Florida.

“We are mobilizing over 1,600 trained volunteers from all over the country, 110 emergency response vehicles, and 99 tractor-trailer loads full of relief supplies, including cots, blankets and 63,000 ready-to-eat meals,” Jenelle Eli, American Red Cross director of international communications told the Final Call in an email.

Ms. Eli explained that Red Cross shelters are open to everyone , and all disaster assistance is free. It doesn’t require people to show any kind of identification to enter a shelter— just their name and pre-disaster address.

“You have to be aware before you can begin to prepare,” said Yusef Muhammad, past president of the International Association of Black Professional Fire Fighters. “Many of our people wait until the last minute to prepare—if at all,” he said.

Yusef Muhammad offered steps to prepare for disasters: (1) Get informed; (2) Develop a plan: (3) Have a survivors kit for your home and a “go to bag” of essentials for each person in your family in case you must evacuate; (4) Periodically reassess the plan and the kit.

Mosques, churches and organizations can team up with local Emergency Management offices and fire departments where courses and training are offered to become part of a Community Emergency Response Team.

“It’s really about networking … because all of us can’t do everything, but if we know who’s doing what in terms of their expertise … we can help each other save lives,” said Yusef Muhammad.

Alva Muhammad agreed. She said people must think about being prepared for long term survival. “We have to grow our own food and preserve our own food,” she said. “We have to be prepared for a time when there are no modern services and it is just us, until we can take our rightful place.” She told The Final Call that along with stocking up on water, food and first-aid supplies people should learn medical skills.

While the physical toll of damage is readily assessed, the psychological and spiritual damage caused by disasters must also be considered. There are actions that can be taken to promote mental stability in time of disaster, say experts.

Looking after vulnerable members of the community, such as the elderly, and maintaining calm are key.

“Another one is self and collective advocacy … focusing on the fact that there are things that we can do on our own and in collaboration with our family members, neighbors … to try to maintain as much normalcy in our lives as possible,” said Dr. Annelle Primm, chair of the All Healers Mental Health Alliance, a national network of mental health professionals, health advocates, first responders and faith leaders.

Dr. Primm said keeping a sense of hope, maintaining connectedness and avoiding isolation are important. “Keeping all those things in mind as we and our families anticipate disaster is important (and) will help to guide our actions,” she said.

Most Americans are economically ill equipped to handle a crisis, according to the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households, an annual report issued by the Federal Reserve. Four in 10 adults, if faced with an unexpected expense of $400, would either not be able to cover it or would cover it by selling something or borrowing money, the report said.

Such people would especially be ill-prepared to care for themselves and their families in the wake of a disaster. Blacks, who lag behind economically, often fare worse in times of emergency, not being financially able to withstand a disaster.