Friday, January 8, 2010

The Nation of Islam!!!

The Nation of Islam!!
In my humble opinion, there needs to be a change within the Nation of Islam--it is only fair to women. Some of my fondest and earliest memories are of the Nation of Islam: reading the Final Call (or Muhammad Speaks), and coming to an understanding of what happened between Malcolm X and Elijah Muhammad during the early days. It would be nice to see the various factions of Black Nationalists (and by just about all accounts the Nation of Islam is our premier Black Nationalists organization) begin to create a family of leaders (both men and women) who will come together once a month to create a communication channel between the various groups—some of which don’t talk to one another and may even despise one another at this point. ALL our leaders talk about unity—this could be the first step of a healing process to create more unity. There needs to be a change within the Nation of Islam that respects women, their issues and the long-standing gripe about the alleged indiscretions of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad.

Moreover, the ONLY reason I stopped eating pork was because of my belief that it is not good for you. This belief can be traced back to a 10 and 11 year-old Black boy from Philadelphia reading through the pages of the Final Call with great interest. At 14 I stopped eating swine forever. I believed and still believe that the Nation was right—on this and many other things--one should NOT take part of the pig because it is a dirty animal and not good for good health. (Elijah Muhammad has a host of informative and helpful books that can be ordered by looking through the pages of the Final Call which is available in most Big City Black neighborhoods.) But that is not the only part of my life that has been greatly influenced by and impacted on by the Nation of Islam.

During the early 1980’s the Up Town Theater in North Philadelphia was open for a brief while. During this time my mother and I went to see Minister Louis Farrakhan speak there. Of course there was a long line of Black people waiting excitedly to hear the Good and Honorable Minister speak and tell it like it is. A gentleman came up to us and asked that we step out of line. He was obviously from the Nation. I didn’t think we had done anything wrong so we went along with him. He took us to the front of the line and we went through the security checkpoint and into the theater. They said thank you and for us to enjoy our afternoon with no explanation. I said to Mom that they must have selected us because Mom had graying hair and was obviously my Mom. The Nation has always treated older Black people with respect, honor and grace. This is just one example of many things they do for Black people that we often take for granted everyday.

As Mom and I enjoyed the Minister’s talk, we knew we were getting an education that we could NOT get from listening to the TV or the radio, in most instances. I would never become a member of the Nation, but I have always respected them and I even sent them a $1,000.00 (One Thousand Dollar) donation once for the many positive efforts they support and spearhead in the Philadelphia area. I have bought their newspapers and bean pies and even go to their Mosque on Broad Street in Philly from time to time. But I will always remember that afternoon when they took us out of line and let us in the theater. I felt so honored that someone would treat my elderly Mom that way. It helped me respect her and love her even more than I already did and I thank them for that and so much more...

Over the years I have come to respect and honor Minister Louis Farrakhan, Minister Rodney Muhammad and others associated with the Black Muslims even more, in spite of the fact that they are against homosexuality and don’t elevate women within their ranks the way I would like. .. (Please note that I said ``the way I would like’’. I am only one voice and I am quite sure that there are reasons within the Nation that are far beyond my understanding as a lay person looking in from the outside.) This, however, is why the concept of Same Gender Loving people is so crucial to our at least beginning to see eye to eye enough to work together on some important issues facing the Black community such as HIV and how to be more honest about the Down Low issue and how it impacts on Black families and Black men and women. That is just to mention two issues that could be worked on by The Nation and Black Same Gender Loving people.

I recently spoke with Minister Rodney Muhammad briefly at a public event and he said they are in the process of opening a restaurant at their site on Broad Street in Philadelphia. This will be a great thing because you know the food will be of good quality, fairly priced, nutritious and that the profits will be going to good causes within the Black and Muslim communities. I let the Minister know that I am in full support of him and what they are doing. I also let him know that I will be right there when they open their restaurant doors looking for some great food to purchase.

This points to the reason why we all need to have more open minds as Black people. I have some friends associated with the local Philly NAACP who would not give the time of day to the Black Nation of Islam and their leadership. This represents a closed mind. There are things that the two groups could work together on. These issues and concerns of similar interests should be sought out and we should promote our divergent groups working together on those issues—whatever they are and wherever they can. Isn’t that what real unity is all about? Isn’t that why UNITY was made the FIRST principle and day of Kwanzaa by Doctor Maulana Karenga when Kwanzaa was founded in 1966?

At the same time, it is important to point up that some Black Nationalists have claimed that the NAACP is heavily weighted with and jinxed with Jewish money and will probably never want to work with the Black Nation of Islam for that reason. I don’t have the evidence of that, but I know the Jewish people have given money to the integrationists NAACP for years and that they helped found the NAACP. While this may be true, again, I don’t think it should preclude the two groups (the NAACP and the Nation of Islam) from working together on some issues such as: an end to police Terror and violence against the Black community; Black consumer rights; Black voter registration; support of Black-owned businesses and the development of Black-owned businesses; supporting the Black Arts; and so forth. The better we work together, the further we go!!

There are stumbling blocks and road blocks with the Black Muslim movement that need to be discussed also. Discussing them can get you into trouble, but building bridges to true unity, true and meaningful Black cooperation and shared economic development within our community has NEVER been easy. Unity is a linchpin issue. Just ask the remaining members of Martin Luther King’s family, Malcolm X’s family, and the family of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. The Black Muslims don’t even give lip service or try to defend some of the alleged relations that the Honorable Elijah Muhammad is supposed to have had with women outside of his major relationship when he was still alive. However, it has been over 40 years and there needs to be some movement on this issue. The problem in not looking at the development & growth of the Black Muslims; the Malcolm X controversy; the leadership of Minister Louis Farrakhan; and other issues within the Black Muslim movement honesty and openly (but within our Black community) is that we don’t and won’t heal, learn, grow and move on to a higher place unless we do. There are women, Black women, who want nothing to do with the Nation of Islam because of some of these issues. They feel Minister Elijah Muhammad’s memory needs to include some kind of confirmation that these things happened, but that he is, by all means, still a valued and viable Black leader and must be considered such in our history books and in the minds of Black people. But we must heal from whatever happened in the past and move on. Letting such things fester for years is not helpful. I know that this is an extremely touchy subject among Black Muslims and may earn you a fat lip and a sore butt for speaking about them—but they need to be aired as we move onto another era in Black political awareness and as the paradigm shift that is going on in our country & world moves forward. I hope Black leaders can come together and relate on this matter and other matters that are holding us all back. Not wanting to work with one Black group or another for whatever reason is not helping, as I stated in the beginning of this section. We need to find common ground & UNITY and learn to work together where we can. Doing anything else deprives our Black community of it’s birthright of decency, pride, unity, true freedom, justice and economic stability. Each and every day I hope and pray that new lines of communication can be opened very, very soon. If we are about true unity and not ego, this should not be a problem.

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