By Charlene Muhammad CHARLENEM
Black people face harsh realities in all areas, including but not limited to economics, education, health and mass incarceration.
As Blacks continue the fight for political and social justice in the wake of America’s so-called post-racial progress under its first Black president, how can they continue to survive a Donald Trump administration when in better times, solution after solution has failed or netted limited progress?
A snapshot of solutions implemented to curb Black suffering shows former president Barack Obama’s administration ushered in 11 million new jobs and reduced racial disparities in health care coverage by passing the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), now under constant threat of repeal by Pres. Trump and the Republican Party.
Pres. Obama passed the Fair Sentencing Act, which reduced the draconian mandatory minimum drug sentencing ratio for powder and crack cocaine from 100 to 1 to 18 to 1. He released a National HIV/AIDS Strategy Federal Implementation Plan to reduce HIV infections, increase access to care, and reduce HIV-related health disparities.
He also created the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative to create more pathways to success for young men of color. Prior to that, there was a long history of fights for equality during the Civil Rights Movement which netted passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and Civil Rights Act of 1964 and some progress.
But today, Blacks earn less hourly wages (men 22 percent and women 34 percent) than White men with the same education, experience, marital status, and region of residence, according to the Economic Policy Institute.
One-in-five incarcerated Blacks are serving life or virtual life sentences in America’s prisons, according to the Sentencing Project.
And although the Centers for Disease Control indicates national HIV infection rates have declined, Black women are still disproportionately affected by the disease compared to their female counterparts (4,524 Black women diagnosed with HIV in 2015, compared to 1,131 Hispanic/Latino women and 1,431 White women).
The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam has warned that any gains in Blacks’ desire for equity, greater freedom and greater equality of opportunity made during Pres. Obama’s eight-year tenure were not secure.
Rather, after eight years in office, the lullaby of what Mr. Obama represented is now leading to a rude awakening and White people are now lashing out because making “America Great Again” to many means Make America White Again,” said Min. Farrakhan.
“ ‘Bring back White Power, bring back this idea that no one is better than we and we are better than all.’ So this wind will blow on Black people from every direction to force us to come to the realization that we cannot get along in peace with this people after giving them 400 years of our sweat and blood and receiving in return some of the worst treatment ever accorded to a human being. This is going to pick up with greater force, these winds, and so the bones will ultimately be forced to come together,” the Nation of Islam minister explained during a previous Final Call interview.
Pres. Trump’s Department of Justice under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has rolled back the use of federal consent decrees to check law enforcement misconduct in rogue police departments. And his 2017-18 budget slashed funding for Medicaid and social service programs, including food stamps and low-income housing.
Black beatings and deaths
During Pres. Obama’s tenure and even as Mr. Trump was campaigning for office, there was an uptick in beatings and justifiable homicides of Blacks by White vigilantes and police officers across the country, or as several activists pointed out, there was an increase in revelations about such incidents.
“I believe that their intention was to push us until we went over the edge, to start what they wanted, which was called a race war,” said Harry “Spike” Moss, a long-time activist in Minnesota.
Essentially, White men, women and children began preparing themselves for a race war, which they knew they were going to create and wage through various assaults by right-wing organizations and from within police and sheriff’s departments, but they didn’t get that,” Mr. Moss told The Final Call.
Blacks in America have been oppressed for 460 years and the negative impact of these experiences generation after generation runs deep in their spirit, soul, and intelligence, explained Mr. Moss. But, the Black community has run from good information and good leaders, and run to weak leaders, who weren’t saying strong things, he continued.
The solution remains, Blacks need good teaching, need to respect the leadership willing to tell them the truth and, need to learn how to follow, Mr. Moss urged.
“Most of what the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan told us, he told us years ago! We are still not listening. He was clear years ago! … When we stopped listening to truth and moving on truth, then we would be right where we are,” the activist said.
The reality is Blacks live under a predatory system, said activists and educators like Dr. Melina Abdullah, chair of the Pan African Studies Department at California State University Los Angeles, and an organizer with Black Lives Matter Los Angeles.
“Living under the system of criminal justice that we do, living under the system of miseducation that we do, the existing capitalist structure, the economic system, all of it is meant to exploit and abuse us so with that comes Black suffering,” said Dr. Abdullah.
Her solution-oriented approach means finding beauty in the midst of the struggle, and peace amid Black suffering.
“As we’re working to dismantle a system that abuses, exploits, and harms us, we can find beauty in each other, beauty in the work, beauty in knowing that we are fulfilling our sacred duty to our ancestors and to our creator,” Dr. Abdullah stated.
There is also fulfillment in Blacks going a step beyond trying to simply dismantle what is currently in place. It’s about envisioning and building the kind of world they want to live in, said Dr. Abdullah.
A Black political agenda
Civil rights attorney Barbara Arnwine of the Transformative Justice Coalition said the current, biggest threat to Blacks is the erosion of their political power, caused by purposeful and deliberate acts by state governments and the Trump administration, especially through its Department of Justice and new Election Integrity Commission.
Attorney Arnwine recommends developing a serious political agenda to fight state laws that make it harder for Blacks to vote and to fight against false allegations of voter fraud, she recommended.
“We don’t have reparations in this country. Why? Because African American political power isn’t organized to demand it. We have a tax on affirmative action. Why? Because we don’t have the political power in education and collectivism to protect it,” Atty. Arnwine said.
“It’s all about the policies that are undergirding everything in this country, from the food you eat, to the schools you go to, to whether or not somebody gets a loan or not to buy a home or a car, the regulations that determine what is safe on the road for a car or safe to be ingested as food … dirty streets, that is a reflection of the lack of skillful use of political power,” she added.
Years ago, Min. Farrakhan introduced the Million Family March National Agenda, a plan of action which called in part for redistribution of tax dollars to better educate the American people, teach proper nutrition for better health, and to protect its citizenry through an enlightened, strong military force.
Best and only solution
Black people around the U.S. and abroad are greatly anticipating Min. Farrakhan’s October 15 message, entitled, “Separation or Death,” in commemoration of the 22nd Anniversary of the Million Man March and Holy Day of Atonement. The Minister’s subject matter is taken right from what his teacher, the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad taught. The message will be delivered in Newark, NJ.
“We cannot be successful in the house of our enemies; we should be in our own house. That which is other than our own is for those who are other than our own. ‘Our Own’ is unlimited physically and spiritually,” wrote the Most Hon. Elijah Muhammad in his book, “Message to the Blackman.”
Shortly before Min. Farrakhan’s address, self-rule and self-governance demands in Spain once again made news. Catalonia, located in northeastern Spain, is still fighting for separation from that nation in order to form its own country. Reports indicated that 90 percent of the 2.26 million who voted in a recent referendum chose to separate from Spain.
Separation would cause a problem for the European Union as other enclaves begin similar pushes, said Akbar Muhammad, International Representative of Min. Farrakhan. Min. Akbar Muhammad also noted the movement for independence for Puerto Rico. The island nation was granted U.S. citizenship in 1917 as a commonwealth or territory. Residents are American citizens and can elect their own governor, but are not permitted to vote in U.S. elections or independently engage in trade or international commerce with other nations.
The latest in the debate over whether Puerto Rico should remain a U.S. territory, be granted statehood or be an independent nation came November 2012, when 65 percent of the U.S. island territory’s four million citizens voted in favor of becoming the 51st U.S. state.
In the 1950s, despite lobbying, rebelling, and other tactics, the movement to become an independent country was crushed in that vote, Min. Akbar Muhammad said.
“Now, they’ve got a clear signal that there are nearly 3.5 million on the island, but in the Diaspora, there’s another three million Puerto Ricans, and they have enough to form their own country, when you look at countries in the Caribbean who are independent,” he stated.
“To be in America, and abused by America, and to have a president that doesn’t really look at them as though they’re Americans is a prime example of why they should go on their own … This kind of movement will catch on,” Min. Akbar Muhammad added.
When you come to the table unified, Min. Farrakhan recently stated, that is the power behind demand–unity.
Additional activities during the weekend of Holy Day of Atonement include: The Newark Youth Ambassadors hosting their second annual youth forum titled, “Are You Ready?” on Saturday, Oct. 14 from noon to 4 p.m. and Family Fun Day with activities, fun, food and entertainment at from noon to 5 p.m. at Newark Central High School. For more information call Muhammad Mosque No. 25 in Newark, (973) 624-5532.
Min. Farrakhan’s timely message, “Separation or Death” on Oct. 15 will be broadcast live from Symphony Hall at 1020 Broad St. in Newark, New Jersey. Doors open at noon and the program begins at 2 p.m. The message will be also broadcast live via webcast at NOI.org/webcast.