The economic plight of the Black people of this land has so long been neglected by so-called leaders that even our own people have forgotten its basic importance.
Our economic position remains at the bottom of the ladder because of this ineffective leadership and because so many of our people ignore the basic rules of a healthy economic life. We fail to develop self-leadership in economics.
We are in the midst of the so-called civil rights struggle and ferment among the Black and oppressed reaches new heights. I shall list, critically, but constructively, the guide and outline which must be followed if this Black nation of 22 million is ever to achieve true independence and equality.
We shall begin with these four points.
No. 1. Our knowledge of self, others, and the time should force us to become more prudent in our spending. Unnecessary spending by trying to keep pace with the wealthy of this country has done more to put us on the path of the “prodigal son” than anything else. Let us be taught how to spend and save by those of us who desire to see us out of poverty and want.
No. 2. Do not be too proud to meet together as leaders and teachers to discuss the solution of “How to stop this reckless down-hill fall of our people.”
No. 3. Not one so-called Negro leader seems to want a meeting with me to discuss the plight of our poor people in North America.
No. 4. I have set before you a program, according to the Divine Supreme Being and his Prophets. You have neither produced a better program nor anything to equal it. Your present plans are involved in one of the most disgraceful programs–especially you who boast that you are free and want freedom, Justice and equality with your slave-masters by sitting, standing and begging to be accepted as the brothers of those who, for 400 years, have brought you into your present condition, and have made you a people unwanted by the civilized nations of the earth.
No one wants foolish people who love everyone but themselves and their own kind; who would rather beg than go for self, or even ask the slave-masters to help them go for self. Such people, numbering into the millions, are on the road to destruction if their down-hill speed is not checked by Allah (God) and His Messenger.
HOW TO MAKE AN ECONOMIC PROGRAM SUCCESSFUL: It is very hard for an economist to plan a wise program and see his plans carried out, because the so-called American Negroes’ economics are controlled by the white man. The white man owns the country and the industry. He is manufacturer and producer of everything. Now, it is difficult to plan an economic program for a dependent people who, for all their lives, have tried to live like the White man.
The first step the so-called Negro wage-earners should take is to spend only when necessary and according to their income. They should save as much of their salaries as possible–weekly, biweekly or monthly. We, as wage earners, should always plan to save something from whatever we are paid. Do not become extravagant spenders like the rich, who own the country and everything in it. It is sheer ignorance for us to try to compete in luxury with the owners.
If we can save just five cents a day from our wages, 25 cents a week, $1 a month–that would mean $13 a year we could save in a national savings bank. We number around 22 million and approximately five million are wage-earners. If five million wage-earners saved $13 a year, this would mean $65 million saved out of our wages. At the rate of 25 cents per week, it would be painless. But the so-called Negroes do not have that in a national bank.
Let us see how much money we spend unnecessarily: Suppose we spent the same amount (25 cents a week) in tobacco (cigarettes, cigars, chewing or snuff dipping). But, of course, you will spend far more than that. Some people spend 25 cents per day for cigarettes alone. Let us say we spent the same amount (25 cents a week) on beer. Again the actual amount would be more. This means $65 million a year spent for beer and the same spent for whiskey, wine, cigarettes and cigars. We also spend unnecessarily on sports. You average the same on sports ($65 million). Another $65 million is spent in gambling–averaging five cents a day, 25 cents a week. This is just the minimum.
If five million wage earners saved just $47 per year, they could $235 million dollars a year. And this figure would be far greater if we included extravagant buying of clothes, furniture and cars. Eating the hog, the Divinely forbidden flesh which keeps us filled with arthritis, rheumatism, high blood pressure and fever makes unnecessary doctor and drug bills. All of this wasteful spending should be checked and you will see within a one-year period that you have not saved one billion dollars, but several billions.
The economical way to use the money you save is first to buy farm land and produce your own food. You can raise enough cattle, sheep, cows and chickens by the thousands if you try following our program. We could cut down on our clothing bills–some of us by about 30 percent–and yet be well-dressed. Again in this way we could build a national savings bank from deposits for ourselves, and invest our money in the purchase of necessary things for our nation. Then, you could cut down your present high cost of living.
Purchase real estate, buy farm and timberland. Convert the timber into lumber and build homes for yourselves as the White man is doing. Of course, he will have the authority over whether or not to sell the land to you. Get clay land. With marsh clay land and hill clay, you can make your own bricks. Bricks are inexpensive to make once you get your kiln built and tracks laid. The greatest expense would be coal or gas to fire your bricks. Build brick homes for your own people and sell them to your people at a very reasonable price.
Try and save your people from unnecessary high-price buying. Take your cotton to the mills and have it converted into lint. And take the lint to the textile mills and have it converted into cloth. You are very smart. We have many technicians among us who are about as smart as they come. Why shouldn’t we get together and produce something for ourselves?
Ask the government to help us go for ourselves. And if the government will not help us, although we and our fathers have been loyal and helped them to become and remain independent, then appeal to your own people to allow you to move in among them. I am sure that if you are a Muslim you can find a place anywhere on the earth.
We are the righteous and it should not be hard for us to do something for self if we unite. We do not need to unite and then go fight some other nations to get their country. No! That will not be necessary. Come follow me and I will show you how to do this without having to shed a drop of blood. Shedding blood for something that you are Divinely justified in having is not necessary.
It is a disgrace for us to have all this present trouble–standing around begging, quarreling and fighting with slave-masters over something that we can do for ourselves if only given a chance. This chance can be had if you go about it in the right way.
(Reprinted from “Message to the Blackman,” 1965.)