LETS LIFT OUR HEADS UP
LET'S LIFT OUR HEADS UP
By Imam W. Deen Mohammed
With the Name Allah, the Gracious, the Compassionate. As-Salaam-Alaikum
On Feb. 24, 1984 Imam Warith Deen Muhammad leader of the World Community of Al-Islam in the West, delivered a stirring address on the subject of the African-American "Identity Crisis" in a nationwide, live radio broadcast. Speaking from Masjid Elijah Muhammad in Chicago, where more than 6,000 Muslims gathered for the address. Imam Muhammad urged African-Americans Bilalians to "lift our heads up" and put faith in God
Following the Imam's hour-long broadcast directed to the general public, the members of the WCIW conducted an extended meeting on Community matters via telephonic connections with scores of masajid communities around the country.
According to the WCIW Council of Imams, this February meeting ends a near 50-year tradition of the Community in conducting a special February observance or convention during the last week in the month.
Following is an abbreviated text of Imam Muhammad's historic address, Continued from week:
So when I read the book by Eugene Perkins I had to agree and also disagree with him. I agree with him that we do suffer a plantation problem, but I am aware that the plantation problem goes beyond the plantation.
If we had had our right minds as slaves when were freed we would have taken better advantage of the opportunity. But because we didn't have our right minds as slaves, when the opportunity came we couldn't take good advantage of it. We have been sloppy in our effort to try to take advantage of opportunity very sloppy.
The very proof of that is the fact that more money comes through our hands than comes through the hands of any other minority in the country or in the world. There is not another minority in the world that has more money coming through its hands than we do.
I heard a figure not so long ago that $130 billion a year comes through our hands. There have been estimates here recently of $90 billion to $130 billion that comes through our hands annually every year.
At one time our spending money amounted to more than the grass national product of Canada. But we have the greatest percentage on welfare, we have the greatest percentage out of jobs, we have the greatest percentage in crime, we have the greatest percentage behind bars.
Those are facts that we as responsible people, especially leaders, have to deal with. We have to face those facts, we have to deal with those facts, we have to find the causes; all problems have causes.
All this money is coming though our hands and our condition stays relatively the same. What I mean by relatively if we go back in history we find that during Reconstruction time, many Bilalians held more positions of prestige than we do now; we do not hold as many prestigious positions now as we held in the time of Reconstruction.
I am not considering the numbers. If we dismiss the fact that we have grown so many times over, still we don't have those positions. We don't have one member in the Senate. We did have Brooks, but he is no longer in the Senate. Over 30 million people, and we don't have one representative in the Senate. We have a poor share of the seats in Congress.
Many of us are fooled to think that our political situation is OK because you see a lot of preacher congressman a lot of precinct captains and you think because we have all these preachers around here we must be doing alright politically.
We're not doing alright politically. It's not the fault of the system, it's the fault of the community. The community of Bilalian people has not become sophisticated enough yet. We are not worldly sophisticated enough yet to really make the sacrifices necessary to compete with leadership outside of our race. These are the things that we have to face, these are the problems that we must look at, and we have to find answers for them.
I wouldn't talk if I didn't have answers. You should only talk when you have answers. Until you get answers you should listen and ask questions. I thank my parents for raising me that way.
Dear beloved Brothers and Sisters, I want now to mention another writer who is a Caucasian. This writer's name is Christopher Lasch. He has the book out now called "The Culture of Narcissism." In that book he also points out a very serious problem for the African-American people we call Bilalians.
He said in words I'm using my words but you can get the book and read it for yourself he says that black consciousness backfired on us: now the term "backfired" is my own term. When it came to me, I liked it so much that I said I've got to say "backfired," and I have to agree with him, it backfired on us; it backfired because it wasn't our pistol to start with. We picked up the white racist pistol and it backfired on us.
If you study the history of African people, they never had any black complexes. They've never had black supremacy; not in the history as we know it. They have always been a people who respected the individual for the individual's content, and never named themselves colors. They never nab themselves black. It was the Caucasian that named them black.
African people named themselves after human characteristics; they named themselves after Divine characteristics, characteristics that they saw in human beings that they felt were a reflection of what was in God. They named themselves love; they named themselves compassion; they named themselves worker; they named themselves names that had real social meaning. They didn't name themselves black, white, brown, yellow. We are talking about identity crisis.
Now look, dear people I hope this clock is right because I only have an hour on the air we're on WJPC and we take great pride in saying that WJPC belongs to a Bilalian.
Dear beloved Brothers and Sisters, we're talking about identity crisis color. Look at the other races they are called by names too, but who gave them those color names? They didn't give them to themselves; Caucasians gave those color names to them.
There is a race called the yellow race, a red race, a black race. But how many Indians do you find saying, I'm red? How many Japanese do you find saying, I'm yellow? When you locate the people calling themselves after color you find where the devil is.
I'm talking about the devil that exploits racial differences to dominate all races. More of that has been done in Europe and in America than anyplace else in modern history. In America it's common to call each other black and white. No matter how close I am to white as long as there is any African blood in me, I am black.
This worked well for the slave-master because he wanted to multiply the production of slaves. If they all didn't fall under one identity he would lose some of them while trying to produce slaves. Many immoral, filthy, wretches among the Caucasian slave-masters were so low that they would go with their black mistresses to produce more slaves for free labor.
Many of us got our Caucasian looks not from the freedom that has been given to us here recently and not from some wild eyed, red eyed buck that jumped on the mistress knowing that he would be lynched but many of us got this blood in our veins from a white slave-master daddy who did not make babies to enlarge his family but to enlarge his free labor camp.
Now dear people, knowing that the Caucasian called us all black during slavery time to keep the camp of slavery multiplying and full that alone should make us put down color labels as a way of identifying ourselves.
The man who is called yellow also has another nationality he has a proper name; yellow is improper, he has a proper racial name Chinese, Japanese. The man who's black in Africa has a proper name. If you call him black he might answer to that, but he also has a proper name, a name more at home; he's Ghanaian, he's Nigerian, he's Swahili, he's Yurba, he's Howsa, he's Sudanese he has a proper name but when it comes to us, we're Negro.
What does Negro mean? Black in Spanish. We're colored people, we're black. Somebody has put us in a frame of mind that is doing racial harm not only to us but to our babies from here on until we correct this thing.
You might say well what answer do you have? I have a natural answer. People have gotten their names from their fathers; they have gotten their names, from their human family, from social experiences. We have a figure in our past who identifies us with a religion that has dealt the blow against slavery, against racism, and against color consciousness, more courageously, more intelligently, and more effectively than any other religion.
We have in our ancestry a figure who accepted that religion. A figure who was a caller to that religion. Not an ordinary caller to that religion he was number one caller to that religion, appointed by the Prophet of that religion Muhammad, upon him be peace.
His name is Bilal. Here is an identification that's not a color identification, but nevertheless it permits release from identifying with color inferiority. Here in a man who by chance was of our color; here is a man by chance an African, black, and nappy-headed, but by good fortune, by Divine fortune he became a shining star in the history of Al-Islam.
Here is a man that we can look to not to draw some kind of power, some kind of security, some kind of courage for racial dominance, for militarism, but for humanitarianism, to conquer those in-humanitarian things that have made the world miserable.
Can you point out to me a better ancestor? Mamsa Musa was great, but when I identify with Mamsa Musa I identify with another social or political leader. Askia the Great was great, but to identify with him is to identify with something political.
Bilal was not in a political position of authority. Bilal was in a prophetic role representing justice for the common man, representing the undying spirit of the man, that spirit for dignity, that spirit for truth, that spirit for moral righteousness that would rather see the flesh dead than bend or knuckle under to corruption and lies. That's what Bilal represents.
He was put in the hot desert. In Arabia the desert temperature in the daytime goes up to 120, sometimes 130 degrees. The sun is so hot that it will give you a stroke if your head is not covered with white cloth or some kind of cloth to keep out the heat.
The idolater put Bilal, stripped, on the hot desert and placed heavy hot stones upon his chest to make him give up this dignifying religion he refused.
Every time his master would send somebody to him to see if he had given up they'd find him shaking his head. "No, no," he said. "One God, Muhammad is His Messenger." At one point he was so weak from the heat and the torture that he couldn't speak he raised his finger. He couldn't speak but he had the strength to point one finger and with that one finger he said, "One God, and one humanity."
If we want to make some progress in satisfying this identity hunger in us, then we should look to what has come out of the lost - found Nation of Islam in America.
I'm talking to you on the outside now. You on the outside who take pride in being intelligent, who take pride in being schooled, who take pride in your degrees, who take pride in your worldly experiences; you on the outside who belong to the African-American people, we call Bilalians. I'm asking you to do yourself a favor, do yourself a big favor and study the development of the lost-found Nation of Islam in America as it has now grown from the Honorable Elijah Muhammad to myself.
Study that, and I am sure that if you study it with the total mind and the rational senses of a civilized, intelligent scholar you will rush here to me and put your hand in mine and never separate from my leadership again.
What we have in this 50 years experience is scientific proof that the Quran is the superior book, the superior knowledge, Muhammad is the universal Prophet and Warith Deen Muhammad is the leader for today.
Now I have said that we have scientific proof I can back that up. I didn't say we have Bible proof. I didn't say we have scriptural proof, I said we have scientific proof!
We've get a few more minutes on the air and I hope we take good advantage of it:
Dear beloved people, the Quran tells us miseducation is the main contributor to oppression and inequality miseducation, the wrong information. We know as students, dear people, that progress improves with more correct information. The more correct information you have at your disposal the better the chances for progress.
There are those rare occasions when physical might, when brute force is depriving the people of their freedom. Those periods don't last long in history because the humanity is one, and the moral judgment of humanity soon comes upon the brute: it's only a matter of time that the full moral force of the judgment of humanity comes down, bears down on the head of the brute.
How long did Hitler last? His rule was just for a spell because he was a spellbinder who spellbound people. He wasn't dealing with the facts of humanity. He was dealing with prejudices, he was dealing with misinformation, he was propagating untruths and it just took a matter of time for him to stir up the wrath of humanity against him his day was short-lived.
Now look. Brothers and Sisters, think about the evil, inhuman forces that have dominated us. You think it has boon a long time. It has, and again, it hasn't been that long.
The Irish were 700 years under British domination. They had no dignity, they had no independence; they were treated as inferior.
We have only been under American or Western Caucasian domination for a little over 300 years. If we consider all the people who came under this domination since the voyage to this part of the world by the Caucasian people from Europe, it can't amount to more than 500 years; the Irish were 700 years under it.
Dear beloved Brothers and Sisters, we have to understand this the problem is in-formation; that's the most serious problem right information. If there is somebody in an inferior position and he really deserves more, and he can't make it, that person needs right information. If there is someone responsible for holding him down, the one holding him down needs right information.
We have common enemies. Black, white, yellow, red, brown all colors have a common enemy. That enemy is the one that feeds all of us color consciousness; feeds all of us racism, to keep all of us divided one against the other so he, by himself, can rule all of us.
Mister, I don't buy that stuff about a spook, a demon ruling the world and setting races against each other. This demon I'm talking about buys his suits where you buy your suits, eats the same food you eat, even drinks sometimes and gets high. He never lets it become a habit though he can't afford it. He has to run your life.
I'm talking about those who create and orchestrate racism in the world while they stay out of sight pitting whites against blacks, blacks against whites, and races against races.
At certain times in the history of man, we have proven facts that they shift the whole climate and put black supremacy in fashion. Then at later periods in the history of humanity we have proof that they'll shift the whole climate and put white supremacy in fashion.
The Earth is too small for that kind of foolishness. When the Earth was not yet populated as it is now and not yet connected with strong and fast lines of communications, a sneaking wretch like that had a place to hide. The world is too small today the word goes around the world too fast for us to tolerate the presence of a devil human being who manipulates and exploits racism to keep himself in a position of eternal power.
Dear beloved people, my radio time is running out and my spirit is just building up. Now in wrapping this up let me point to some kind of humorous peculiarity comical peculiarity.
In our search for identity, for a comfortable mind, for a comfortable identity, some of us reach out in the dark and grab anything that's not ourselves because we figure that nothing can be worse than we are. "Anything I grab that's other than myself in going to dignify me a little bit more."
Some of us reach out and get an artist tam and we wear our artist tam; we get a smock and we wear our artist smock. Others go to the surplus store and get an old soldier uniform; others go to the costume shop and get a desert garb. Some will take their regular dress and make a uniform out of it.
I remember when I was a boy I used to see some of our men folk wearing pop bottle tops around their hats; it was the closest thing that they could get to a five-star general's decoration.
The Nation of Islam has come through this experience as students studying the problem, although most of us were not aware of it. We had our uniform, our FOI suit, and we really understood what it meant to be in a new dress. We felt so free, so independent, so powerful, and our identity didn't weigh any more than that FOI suit.
The sisters were the other military unit called MGT they had their MGT suit. For most of us that identity, that sense of newness, that sense of superiority weighed no more than the clothes we were wearing. These are the facts!
I remember one day in Chicago at the dinner table of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, one of the sisters of the MGT, who also was a worker there in the secretary staff of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, was talking about the discomfort that the MGT hat was bringing to her and she asked if they could design a different hat that would be more comfortable?
The Honorable Elijah Muhammad shook his head. I said to myself, wonder why that man didn't tell that sister that she could design a hat that would be more comfortable on their heads? And it wasn't until here recently in my leadership that I understood that maybe two and one-half years ago, not too recently.
The man was so hurt seeing his people so ignorant that he actually wanted to hurt them to get them out of their ignorance. I guess he said, maybe if that hat chokes your brains out you'll stop putting so much importance on that uniform.
I've noticed around the masjid here, certain characters and I know there is an identity conflict; they can't fool me I've studied the neurosis for some time now and I notice some of them slipping about like slimy snakes. Others are walking very obvious exhibiting such mannerisms or personality quirks that make your mouth--"What in the world is that?"
You see one standing in the shadows of the building with half of his face shaded by the brim of his hat pretending to read a newspaper. Another one slipping about the premises pretending to have some abnormality, pretending he has some mental disorder, (pretending) he's a secret agent. He's not crazy.
The Sister who comes out in that uniform down there on Madison and State, Randolph and Dearborn, and just snaps around, she wasn't always crazy...tribal or plantation identity crisis.
Dear beloved Brothers and Sisters, we have discussed identity problems, and we promised that we were going to talk about how the Community that was under the name Lost-Found Nation of Islam has contributed.
Let me just say this in summary even though we did have this neurosis, this identity problem, and we found our new identity in uniform in formality, in costume we at least had a degree of independent-mindedness that most of us did not have. That degree of independent-mindedness gave us the environment, the conditions and circumstances needed for pushing us forward to do something for self with our own hands.
A Community of very poor people, a Community of very poorly educated people, grew into thousands and hundreds of thousands under the courageous leadership of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. I say courageous because when we look at his distinct significance, we see it in his courage because he didn't have superior power, he didn't have the academic achievement. He was only from elementary school and didn't go very far in elementary school.
But what he did have was courage. He had the courage to say I can make it without Harvard, without Yale, without the City Hall, without the federal government; I can make it without the intellectual, I can make it without the professional he had the courage to say that. He had the courage to get into business and had faith in his own limited knowledge and ability in his courage that he could make it prosperous.
I saw him myself work as a butcher when there was no skilled butcher around, I saw him butcher a whole cow; I'm talking about the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. I saw the Honorable Elijah Muhammad butcher a whole cow, and he never was a butcher, he never slaughtered animals. He got the chart, followed the chart and he butchered a cow not once, but many times. He put nice, clean, decent cuts of meat on display and built a business.
I saw him serve in the grocery store, I saw him go to the market and order produce, I saw him build a grocery from the bottom. His education didn't go to the fifth grade elementary school; the man had courage, the man had faith in himself and his own in-dividual worth, the man was fired up with a sense of greatness, so he was able to do with his five years of elementary school what many of your so-called professors haven't been able to do for 300 years. These are the facts we need to know and study to see where is man's superiority.
Does man have to wait for the college to come to him and give him his superiority? Does man have to wait for the government leadership to come to him and give him his superiority? No. Man has an inborn, native, natural superiority; he only needs faith in it and once he has faith in it he can accomplish things of great worth for himself.
That's a lesson that we have not just been told, that's a lesson, dear people, that we have experienced! However, in the second half of this talk we are going to deal with the other side of this problem, but I think that's enough for our radio audience today, and for our visitors. That's enough to let them know that there is a new vision on Earth, in America, and in this leadership. That there is a new sense for the problems that we face, there is a new way of interpreting the problems that we face.
There is a doctor on the scene who does more than just say you've got a disease, but he writes the prescription. That's what we want the people to know today, those in the radio audience and those who came to look at us.
At this point, I hope that we will see you at another time.