North Carolina Newspapers

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OPINIONS/ The Charlotte Post
May 15, 1997
Black minds in need of a serious locksmith
By Robert Muhammad
SPECIAL TO THE POST
The Honorable Elijah
Muhammad taught that there
were 17,000,000 rusty locks in
America, in 1934. The term
“locks” was used to represent
the minds of Black people.
These were minds that had
become rusty from lack of use
since the advent of chattel slav
ery in the West. By today’s cen
sus, that number would
increase to over 40,000,000.
The smith who works on these
locks that are rusty and there
fore, inoperative must be a true
craftsman of his guild. He must
be a master. He must recondi
tion the lock in order that it
may function properly. It must
be oiled and primed for use.
There must also be the provi
sion of a master key that will
catch and turn the tumblers. If
he is able to succeed in an
undertaking of this magnitude,
individuals that were affected
with the rusty mind are most
grateful.
To place the above illustration
in a modern context, consider
the young student who suffers
from math anxiety. He is unable
to unlock the secrets of success
rmtU a “special” teaching (key)
is provided from a unique indi
vidual. After years of struggling,
a particular instructor is able to
assist the student in breaking
free from the dense fog to
embrace mathematics. Of
course, the student is grateful
and there is little doubt that
this event will certainly have a
deep, lasting effect on him.
The student cannot imagine a
way in which to pay back this
extraordinary person who
helped him unlock his mind. He
may feel the inclination only to
receive and give future instruc
tion in mathematics in the man
ner that the beloved teacher
taught. He may personally rede
fine and practice the science of
mathematics under the name of
his instructor. Even worse, he
may begin to
Muhammad
propagate this
“new” science
to others.
This may
seem far-
fetched.
However, I
submit that
the above sce
nario has
occurred
throughout
time, most commonly in reli
gion. Each time a figure of great
proportion was commissioned
by Allah (God) to go unto a spe
cific people, he taught great
things and exemplified a great
way of living. Invariably in each
case he assisted the failing stu
dent in becoming masters of
their fates. He has in fact,
unlocked the rusty locks with a
superior wisdom from the
Supreme Being.
Unfortunately, in most cases
after this figure’s departure the
people he taught were given to
hero worship and conjuring
myths. Those that were taught
by great illuminaries such as:
Buddha, Tsao, Zoraster, Jesus
and Muhammad, often called
the expression of Allah’s (God’s)
concern for them by the names
of the teachers. Consequently,
we now have: Buddhism,
Tsaoism, Zorasterism and
Christianity. The adherents to
Islam were said to follow
Muhammadism and were
referred to as Muhammadans.
Naming the expression of
Allah (God’s) word after the
messenger is a direct affront to
the Creator of the worlds. None
of the great men of God are self
made from the material that we
find in sperm and egg. None
gain the knowledge of God and
His great mission for them
through osmosis. Yet, the stu
dents of the doctrines continue
to give one that is sent more
credit than the sender.
We must remember that all
the wisdom that was possessed
of the craftsmen, (messengers,
son, prophets) belongs to and
comes from the Creator. He is
the source of all power. He may
express the power in whatever
manner He chooses. The power
then may be conferred on who
ever, the creator has chosen.
In Islam it is common to hear
a believer say, “All praises are
due to Allah.” This gives due
credit to the source finm which
everything originates. It also
serves as a reminder to the
speaker and those that are
effected by He to whom the
believer gives praise, that there
is only one God. The Holy
Qu’ran reminds us in sura 112,
entitled “The Unity”, of the fol
lowing truth, “He, Allah, is One.
Allah is He on Whom all
depend. He begets not, nor is He
begotten and none is like Him.”
As-Sallam Aliakum.
ROBERT MUHAMMAD is a
minister and leader of the
Nation Of Islam in Charlotte.
Late recognition for World War n hero
By George Wilson
NATIONAL NEWSPAPER PUBLISHERS ASSOCIATION
Whenever America has gone to war, African Americans
have always answered the call. Over the years, people of
color readily given their lives to defend freedoms that
weren’t always guaranteed to them. And those who
didn’t pay the ultimate price, often suffered life-changing
injuries. In times of combat, some soldiers exhibit brav
ery above and beyond the call of duty. Robert Jones of
Newport News, VA, is one such warrior.
In 1944, Jones was serving in the U.S. Navy as a stew
ard on the USS Intrepid. Because of the Armed Services’
misguided practices at that time, the only jobs he and
other African Americans could perform were cooking and
cleaning. Fortunately for the Navy and the nation,
Jones also received training on how to use the ship’s
guns. In his first taste of combat, that knowledge came in
handy. Jones used his newly-acquired skills to shoot
down a Japanese suicide bomber that was heading
directly for him. Instead of fleeing, Jones held his
ground. Ten of his colleagues would lose their lives dur
ing the attack. Jones, meanwhile sustained severe bums
for his bravery.
For Jones, his heroism was a direct result of the Navy’s
unofficial policy. “At one time, they thought we couldn’t
do anything but serve officers, wash dishes, make beds
and cook. When it comes down to war, the Navy wants
you to do everything. They don’t lock you in the kitchen
and tell you stay down there. You had to come topside
and fight,” he said.
While hospitalized, Jones was told that he would
receive an award for his heroism. But 50 years after that
promise he was still waiting. The beginning of the end of
his wait occurred when he and his daughter were watch
ing a television documentary on the USS Intrepid.
During the program, a fellow seaman was filmed receiv
ing a Navy cross for heroism. Jones and his family react
ed to the obvious slight by contacting Virginia
Congressman Bobby Scott.
Scott contacted Naval Secretary John Dalton and the
baU was rolling. “Appropriate recognition had not been
awarded. I was privileged to sign the award. This is an
act that should have been awarded 50 years ago. When it
came to my attention we reviewed it with the appropri
ate procedures and it was clearly merited,” the Secretary
observed. Although it was 50 years late, a ceremony was
held recently in the Capitol where the Jones family and
friends got a chance to see history corrected. The Navy
and other branches of the Armed Services are taking
steps to improve. However, as the current problems at
the Aberdeen Proving Ground and other facilities show,
it is clear that a lot more work needs to be done. And in
the past the playing field had been slightly level, there is
no telling how many other African-American heroes
would have been produced, recognized and awarded for
their valor.
Perhaps the biggest lesson to be learned by Jones’ case
is to never lose faith. Congressman Scott and his staff
should be commended for helping Robert Jones. Because
this brave sailor got his just reward, the Armed Services
in general and the Navy in particular, are well on the
way to the type of equality that many dream of.
GEORGE WILSON is a 16-year Capitol Hill correspon
dent for the American Urban Radio Network.
Big U.S. tobacco, restitution and racism
By Gyasi A. Foluke
SPECIAL TO THE POST
“Then they shall confess their
sin which may have done; and
he shall recompense his trespass
with the principal thereof, and
give it unto him against whom
he hath trespassed.”
Numbers 5:7, The Holy Bihle
As quoted above, the Judeo-
Christian tradition includes the
spiritual principle of restitution
- restoring losses to those who
have been injured. Moreover,
this same principle is an essen
tial part of the American legal
system, embracing the concept
of civil “equity,” fairness or jus
tice.
Indeed, this salutary principle
is paradoxical, both simple and
complex, based upon multiple
implementing circumstances or
contingencies in a specific con
text. And the context of the pre
sent focus, quite simply is big
tobacco, those corporate purvey
ors of uncountable deaths, and
white racism, a profuse societal
sickness which, similarly, has
caused astronomical deaths.
Moreover and recently, racism
has caused a degree of institu
tional embarrassment -
”thanks” to video and audio
tapes on the Rodney King and
Texaco cases respectively -
revealing “secrets” that many
blacks have always known.
Clearly, “the cat is out of the
bag” and - perhaps - the “chick
ens are coming home to roost”
for both of these theoretically
related “institutions.” For
almost everyone now knows
what, apparently, hig tobacco
executives have known for a
long time, irrespective of their
public denials or ostensibly bla
tant lies before the U.S.
Congress; that is, their cigarette
products are additive and kill
millions of Americans yearly.
Consequently and belatedly,
these big tobacco tycoons are
engaged in serious negotiations,
but only as a result of unrelent
ing pressure; that is, they have
been subjected to lawsuits by 24
states attempting to recover
multimillion dollar costs of
treating Medicaid patients for
diseases caused by cigarette
smoking. And $300 billion is the
latest (as May 5, 1997) mone
tary figure that is being dis
cussed as payment or restitu
tion or damages incurred from
tobacco products.
Surely, those who support
restitution by big tobacco com
panies, also should support
restitution or reparations-
repairing the damage—^for vic
tims of white racism. For racism
— much longer and more severe
- has caused major damages to
blacks, far in excess of any ill
ness or death inflicted by big
tobacco companies. Indeed, it is
the devastating, cumulative
results of such racism for over
500 years - that is the greater
sin in this context. And this sin
includes, but is not limited to, a
documented “guesstimate” of
300 million deaths of Hack peo
ple (and still cormting) since the
mid-15th century, the beginning
of the ignominious European-
Arab slave trade in Africa,
although the Arab slave trade
began much earlier.
Accordingly, I encourage the
dominamt, misruling majority
society to “confess their sin,”
and to “cease and desist” from
their psychological denial, (like
big tobacco) alrout incalculable
damages caused by their
racism. For damages they have
inflicted, beyond physical
deaths cited above, are both
mental and emotional, including
protracted unprecedented,
uncompensated dehumaniza
tion, traceable to incivility -
uncivilized behavior. Moreover,
cigarette smoking is a voluntary
act (“addition” notwithstand
ing), in contrast to involuntary
victimization by racism.
Nonetheless, the misruling
White majority, including the
so-called “Christian Coalition,”
are conspicuously silent about
the need for racial restitution,
advocated for decades by some
Americans, both black and
white.
Yes, these hypocritical
“Christians” (“scribes and phar
isees”) will preach loudly about
“family values,” while destroy
ing families throu^ their prac
tice of both racial and sexual
bigotry. And such despicable
behavior includes their silence
on racial reparations and the
“bashing” of homosexuals, based
upon their narrow-minded mis
interpretations of the Bible, con
travening Divine love, as taught
by great avatars of history, like
the Gospel Jesus.
One can “prove” almost any
thing, including chattel slavery,
by misusing the Bible. And
“slavemasters,” past and pre
sent, have demonstrated their
skill in twisting biblical
Scripture to promote their dehu
manizing agenda. Alas, “God
wants spiritual friiit, not reli
gious nuts.”
Unquestionably, opponents of
racial restitution, irrespective of
race, are morally obligated to
tell us - very specifically, and
without imbalance reliance on
the victim - how they would
address, successfully, the pre
vailing racial inequality in soci
ety - unacceptable gaps in
unemployment, poverty, under
employment, aggregate wealth,
prison population, etc., ad nau
seam. For example, the 1995
mean wealth nationally of white
families, ages 51 to 61, was
nearly $300,000 in contrast to
about $71,0)0 for black families
in this same age group. And this
cumulative, privileged position
of the white majority did not
occur accidentally, but through
calculated public policies which
created this sinful, “disadvan
taged” (read: “ripped-olT) pos
ture for the black minorily.
Moreover, we cannot “dia
logue” or talk these problems
into oblivion, without proactive,
corrective action which address
es this imbalance of resources
between the races - caused by
greed and ignorance.
GYASI A. FOLUKE of
Charlotte is a minister and
author.
Just what is President Clinton up to these days?
“What is Bill Clinton up to
anyway?”
It is a question a lot of people
are asking these days. A ques
tion they ask before they give
you their answers. “Nothing,” a
lot of them say.
“He is just marking time.
Doing things to get favorable
attention and make people like
him. But nothing substantial.
Nothing controversial. Nothing
that makes any real difference
in the long run.”
Or, along the same line,
“Volunteer summits. Travel to
foreign countries. Pushing for
the FDR memorial to include a
representation of Roosevelt’s
wheelchair. And lots of talk
about motherhood and apple
pie. They just get him good
press, but they don’t push the
country to do what it needs to
do.”
“He is just trying to act like a
constitutional monarch, the
Queen of England for instance,
cutting ribbons, making high
minded statements, and appear
ing at state occasions.”
Or, “He’s changed his model
from the activist and bully-pul
pit preacher Teddy Roosevelt to
Dwight Eisenhower. Like Ike,
he hopes to preside over a pros
perous America, one that only
needs to be encouraged and
watched over - and changed
only at the margins.”
Others say he is just hiding
and avoiding any controversy
that might stir up anger against
him and his family - anger that
might drive forward the series
of investigations, any one of
which might somehow, someday
bring down his presidency
before its scheduled conclusion
in January 2001.
In a recent edition of “The
New Yorker” the reporter and
columnist Joe Klein takes up
this question.
Klein, in case you don’t
remember, is “Anonymous” who
wrote the successful fictional
account of Clinton’s 1992 cam
paign, “Primary Colors.” That
book made him millions of dol
lars, and won him the scorn of
many Clinton supporters. It
marks him as an informed,
though not necessarily objective,
student of the Clinton presiden
cy-
Klein thinks that Clinton and
his administration are simply
“exhausted.”
Some fiiends and members of
the administration suggest that
the president’s knee injury has
taken a heavy toll—and made
him very depressed.
Klein acknowledges that Bill
Clinton has always been eager
to please - a quality that is an
important contributor to his
great success as a politician and
leader.
But, he says, “The distance
between being eager to please
and being unwilling to offend
may seem small, but it is not
insignificant. One is active and
optimistic, the other is reactive
and dark....the aggressive need
to be loved has been trans
formed into a more defensive
impulse.”
I hope Klein is vzrong.
D.G. MARTIN is vice presi
dent Public Affairs for the
University of North Carolina
system. He can be reached via e-
mail at dgmartin^a.unc.edu
Redefining
color line
Manning
Marable |
A century ago, W.E.B. Du Bois
predicted that “The problem of
the twentieth century is the
problem of the color line.” At the
time, Du Bois’s prediction
focused on the domination of
Europe and the United States
over the non-Westem peoples
throughout the globe. Africa,
Asia, Latin America and the
Caribbean were dominated by
colonialism and imperialism.
The struggle against the color
line was a fight for political
independence and self-determi
nation.
As we face the dawn of a new
century a new color line defines
the realities of the 'Third World.
With the processes of globaliza
tion and corporate expansion
ism the economic dynamics of
exploitation have been even
more intense than a century
ago. 'The information revolution
in computer technology has
transformed the very character
of production, eliminating mil
lions ofjobs.
As devastating as these
processes have been for black
people throughout the African
diaspora and inside the ghettoes
of the United States, it has also
been very destructive to millions
of Europeans and white
Americans. Increasingly, white
middle America is suffering
from economic stagnation and
the loss of jobs which can actu
ally support families. There are
growing social problems in
white communities which
Daniel Patrick Moynihan had
previously identified as the
“social pathology” of the urban
ghetto. Now one witnesses in
millions of white households
growing rates of unemployment,
out-of-wedlock childbirth, and
drug dependency. Even in the
Republican Party, growing
numbers of white working class
people have expressed their
social alienation from the poli
cies of those in power. However,
the U.S. political system is not
designed to permit working
class opposition to express itself
through third parties.
We are entering a new politi
cal period where the old reali
ties of race and class in the U.S.
and globally are being trans
formed before our very eyes.
The majority of non-white peo
ple in the U.S. by the year 2010
will no longer be African
Americans. The old binary sys
tem of race which defined black
and white alike is rapidly com
ing to an end. This process of
cultural and ethnic reconfigura
tion is also occurring in many
other countries as well
The government has recog
nized the dangers of these
changes in racial and ethnic
identities and has attempted to
steer the discussion toward safe
boundaries. The concept
“Hispanic” was established by
the Federal government as an
official ethnic category less than
30 years ago. The Bureau of the
Census is contemplating the
creation of a “multicultural” cat
egory in effect to subdivide com
munities of African descent. The
debates about racial and ethnic
terms illustrate that “race” still
has terrible and destructive
power within American society.
But accurately defined, the real
ity of race expresses itself most
clearly and fundamentally as
the pervasive reality of inequali
ty - the imequal distribution of
resources, food, shelter, educa
tion, employment and power.
During the civil rights move
ment, African American
activists contemplated the poli
tics of social change as an effort
to gain access to the socio-eco
nomic mainstream of American
society. In the period of the new
color line facing the 21st centu
ry the objectives of our struggle
must be changed. The main
struggle is to redefine the politi
cal project we call “America.”
MANNING MARABLE is a pro
fessor and author.
    

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