By Charlene Muhammad CHARLENEM
Blacks suffered a year of attacks and distractions but persevered in 2017, according to economists, legal analysts, political scientists, and spiritual leaders.
“By and large, it was a discouraging year,” said Dr. Julianne Malveaux, economist, author, and president emerita of Bennett College.
Some attacks on Blacks were obvious, and others were more subtle and barely noticed, depending on how closely people followed the news, she said.
“Frontally, we had the leader of our country, actually in the wake of Charlottesville, say that there were good racists out there. There were good people among the racists that killed a woman at a rally, and he backtracked and fore-tracked and backtracked and fore-tracked, but we can read between the lines,” Dr. Malveaux told The Final Call.
“I watched those very closely, much more closely than you people watched it. And you have you had, a group on one side that was bad, and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent, and nobody wants to say that, but I’ll say it right now. You had a group, you had a group on the other side that came charging in without a permit, and they were very, very violent,” said President Trump after a weekend “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va., in August.
James Alex Fields, Jr., an alleged White supremacist charged with driving his car into anti-racism demonstrators, faces 20 years to life in prison in the death of 32-year-old Heather Heyer.
Judge Robert Downer increased his charge from first to second-degree murder during a Dec. 14 hearing. The 40 year old faces 20 years to life in prison.
President Trump declared, “Not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were White supremacists, by any stretch. Those people were also there because they wanted to protest the taking down of a statue, Robert E. Lee.”
Charlottesville represented one of the central attacks from the highest office in the country on Blacks protesting racism, so that might have been the lowest point, in Dr. Malveaux’s view.
Another assault came with revelations about a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) report that labeled groups and activists Black Identity Extremists who posed a violent threat to police.
The Congressional Black Caucus met with FBI Director Christopher Wray and expressed concerns about the Aug. 3 report. Given the FBI’s “troubling history” of targeting Black leaders and movements, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and other civil rights leaders, the Black political leaders said there was reason for concern.
“As you are no doubt aware, the FBI has a troubling history of utilizing its broad investigatory powers to target Black citizens. During the 1960s, Director J. Edgar Hoover used the Counterintelligence Program (COINTELPRO) to surveil and discredit civil rights activists and members of the Black Panther Party. For example, the FBI falsified letters in an effort to blackmail Martin Luther King, Jr., into silence,” said Black Caucus members.
The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam addressed the plan head-on during a major message to President Donald Trump and the U.S. government Nov. 16 from the historic Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C.
“To the government: You’re not coming into the Black community looking for ‘Black Identity Extremists,’ and not looking for me. You’re not coming looking for ‘separatists,’ and saying you’re not looking for me and the Nation of Islam. Muslims, do you know that we are the only thing that stands in between their wicked plan of the demasculinization of The Black Man?,” Min. Farrakhan stated.
Another attack from the White House via President Trump was his calling Black National Football League players a derogatory name for protesting the National Anthem by taking a knee.
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began protesting racial injustices and the unjust police killings of Blacks by not standing for the national anthem last year.“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son-of-a-bitch off the field right now, out, he’s fired!,’ ” Mr. Trump said during a reelection rally in the Alabama senate race.
“We have an elected official of our nation who is hostile to Black people, and that is the overarching challenge that we have,” Dr. Malveaux stated.
The biggest triumph for Blacks in 2017 has been the awakening, the sprouting of the seeds that Min. Farrakhan has been planting in his 40 years of labor in the absence of his teacher, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, said Dr. Ava Muhammad, national spokesperson for Min. Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam.
The attorney, author, and radio personality said people are witnessing globally Black people’s awakening and their desire to be free, justified, equal, and to go for self.
“We are witnessing in every arena, from agriculture to entertainment, young, Black people are making it clear that they no longer desire to be in servitude to the children of their slave masters. They desire that which Allah has intended for them. I think that is the greatest victory that we’re witnessing, finally, the fruits of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan’s labor,” said Dr. Muhammad.
In the movement for economic justice, hip hop artists and activists, like rapper Killer Mike (Michael Render) who spearheaded the #BankBlack movement, have echoed Min. Farrakhan’s call to boycott holiday spending given the false worship of Jesus and oppression of Blacks and to unite and pool resources for progress.
“I think everybody in America should read Message to the Black Man,” Killer Mike told The Final Call. He saluted popular radio talk show host Charlemagne “Tha God” for pushing the Honorable Elijah Muhammad’s revelatory book and Min. Farrakhan on his national platform.
“I’d just like to say that I really appreciate sitting in a room with Min. Farrakhan and folks in Atlanta, from Young Thug, to 2Chainz, Rick Ross and other brothers, and us being educated and updated. He’s loved amongst us. I’m glad that we’ve never turned our back on him, and I’m proud and I hope that he remains engaging us for as long as Allah allows him to be here, and I hope that his message continues to seep into our lyrics, because whether it was 2Chainz saying he had a meeting with Farrakhan or Young Thug mentioning the same thing in his raps, as long as he is always engaging us, his message will always be spread on this side of the fence, as it should be.”
Killer Mike wants the Black community to be “financially nationalistic.” If Blacks owned from a nationalistic standpoint things the Honorable Marcus Garvey and the Honorable Elijah Muhammad prescribed, like businesses and institutions, their communities would be better, he explained.
“What I mean is, we can’t be defeated if we’re thinking and we remain pliable with our tactic in beating the system. If charter schools are about to be the new way of the system, then we need to start to figure out pooling our resources and starting more Clara Muhammad’s (schools), versus complaining about charter schools or public schools are underserving our children,” he stated.
According to Killer Mike, hip-hop has been the only consistently fearless voice in arts and music. Whether the topics were the dangers of drugs, warnings about gang violence, or impact of poverty in the 1990s, the genre has always been informative of where the people are, he argued.
“I’ve always been proud of hip-hop, but I think this year, it’s been ramped up, because artists actually hit the streets, and not just big artists,” he said.
Dr. Boyce Watkins labeled the year 2017 as a year of distraction for Blacks. He feels Blacks spent a lot of time talking about President Trump, and many spent little time working on things to build their families and communities.
“Complaining about which White man is doing what in the White House is not what’s going to build the future of Black America. If we lived every year, moving forward, the way we live this one, I don’t think that we’d make a whole lot of progress,” Dr. Watkins told The Final Call.
At the same time, there are many beacons of hope, such as Black wealth building through investments in things such as bitcoin, a new type of cryptocurrency, or electronic cash system.
“Cryptocurrency represents both a huge economic opportunity, as well as an opportunity for political liberation, in addition to an opportunity to understand how technology and the understanding of technology is going to drive the future,” said Dr. Watkins.
He feels the low point for Blacks came with their filthy use of the internet in spreading sexually derogatory challenges.
“You had millions of children watching adults that they respect saying things that were degrading about themselves and about each other, and just sort of being proud of that, and it was really an embarrassment to the whole community, when your most respected and esteemed celebrities are the ones who are leading the charge,” Dr. Watkins stated.
(Final Call staffers contributed to this report.)