Tuesday, October 13, 2015

THANK YOU, NATION OF ISLAM!

I am NOT a Black Muslim; I am a CHRISTIAN, an Episcopalian, but I AM UNBELIEVABLY ANGRY --- at MYSELF!



I have lost friends over my contention that I can't get all upset over incidents of perceived police brutality against innocent blacks while the daily oppression and persecution of blacks by blacks is ignored. I've asked more than once why there aren't more black leaders addressing THAT issue.

Well, there IS a nationally-known black leader who is doing exactly that --- and I, in my inexcusable ignorance, was completely unaware of it. I mean, many other people were very aware of it, but I was not. Stupid! Damned STUPID of me!

The leader I'm speaking of is Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam. Way too many of us black non-Muslims regard anything coming from those people as a bunch of radical, violent nonsense, so we blithely ignore anything they say. Oh sure, we may buy a bean pie from them now and then (they're good, actually), and may even give them a dollar or two for their paper --- which usually ends up in the trash. But, something POSITIVE coming from those people? Seriously?

Minister Farrakhan organized a march a few Saturdays ago, in which hundreds of thousands of black men marched on the Mall in Washington, DC. I didn't know a damned thing about it.

I'm addicted to Facebook, and saw a couple of pictures on it of huge crowds on the Mall, and frankly, I thought those were pictures of the crowd (including me) that heard MLK's speech there years ago. I paid little attention.

Then, a few Sundays ago, there was an article about the incident in the Los Angeles Times, and I read it. It was entitled "Black men repeat march at Capitol," and was on page 23 of the first section of the paper. Did you hear me? Page 23 --- that's TWENTY-THREE. Hell, I guess I should be glad that it was at least in the first section of that large paper, huh? Page twenty-three, I kid you not!

I am not a Muslim. Despite what my evangelical friends might say, I am a Christian, an Episcopalian. But I agree with the strong undercurrent of self-reliance and self-responsibility that was present in this demonstration. In fact, even back in the old, clearly racist days of the beginning of the NOI, I have to admit that there was a basic sense of self-accountability which I found refreshing and appealing, largely because it was the way I was brought up, back in the strictly-segregated 1940s and '50s in ultraconservative Oklahoma City. Sure, there were clearly things that were wrong back then, things that needed to be changed, but I just can't imagine the adults back then letting us sit around and bemoan the fact that we were black and many of us were poor, so we couldn't do whatever anyone else could do. I often heard that we had to work twice as hard and be twice as good as a white person in order to prove ourselves --- so we did just that. Was that the way it should have been? Of course not. But it was the way it was. There's the Ideal, and then there is the Real; they are not always the same.

Anyway, back to 2016: There have been uprisings and demonstrations and all that against perceived (or real) police brutality in black neighborhoods. I've maintained that even if every single one of the incidents we've heard about was a legitimate case of unwarranted police brutality against totally innocent black folks who were blithely going about their business of living, and even if for every incident that we know about there are four or five that we don't --- even if all that is true --- the numbers pale in comparison with the number of rapes, murders, assaults, and other such atrocities committed by blacks against blacks in their own neighborhoods every week, I've always insisted. So, I've asked, why don't black leaders speak out against that and organize demonstrations against that?

Well, one very prominent, nationally-known black leader did do exactly that --- and I was too dense or stupid to realize it. And it was all but ignored by the mainstream media.

How did the hundreds of thousands of men who showed up to demonstrate precisely what I've always insisted needed to be demonstrated know about it? I suspect that it was because they don't limit their news-gathering mainly to the corporate, mainstream media. They probably trust "minority-owned" newspapers, magazines, and radio and TV outlets more. And, I'll bet dollars to donuts that the March on Washington was highlighted there for weeks. But I missed it. I missed it.

The Nation of Islam and I disagree profoundly on many points of theology and cosmology. But on at least two points we are in complete agreement: (1) The fact that I am black does not mean that I am inferior to anyone else in any way; and (2) the black community can and must protect itself from all enemies, from without and within.

I've got to pause here and clarify two things about the first point I listed in the last paragraph: First of all, I did not say that I am not inferior to certain other people; I am. What I said was that it's not because I'm black. I may be intellectually inferior to Stephen Hawking, but that's not because he's white and I'm black. I'm also intellectually inferior to Drs. Neil deGrasse Tyson and John McWhorter --- but their asses are as black as mine. The other thing I want to make clear is that I don't buy into the black superiority idea, either. I'm black; so?

Anyway: For those who have been very upset with my harping on the community-responsibility-for-itself theme, I want you to know that I hear you, and I was largely wrong. No, I don't think I was really wrong; not so much as that I was clueless and ignorant. I'm sorry.

And: Thank you, Nation of Islam.