A person visits a makeshift memorial near the scene of Saturday's shooting at a supermarket, in Buffalo, Thursday, May 19, 2022. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

When America catches a cold, an old adage says Black America catches pneumonia, and considering the past year’s roller coaster ride of victories and setbacks, an honest assessment of 2022 reflects not only the risks of Black folk placing their hopes in politics, but also of the high cost of dependency as new social narratives shift national priorities, price increases raise the cost-of-living, and agendas specific to the needs of Black people are pushed deeper into society’s margins.

Although the year began with an American populace exhausted from the second year of COVID-19 fallout, humiliation from the previous summer’s ignoble withdrawal from Afghanistan, and made weary from the 2021 conclusion of the Trump administration, the final week of February 2022 closed with the Russian invasion of Ukraine followed by the Nation of Islam’s annual Saviours’ Day message in Chicago.

“Life is always presenting the living with a problem, a problem that will make you or break you, you were made to conquer whatever life presents,” the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan said during the opening of his Feb. 27  keynote address titled “The Swan Song” at Mosque Maryam in Chicago.

Serving as both a history lesson and a warning to an American civilization in decline, Minister Farrakhan likened an individual’s or a nation’s origin to that which occurs from conception through all levels of its existence in a competitive, if not hostile, environment.

The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, Feb. 27, at Mosque Maryam in Chicago. Photo: Andrea Muhammad

“You are a generation that is born from ancestors that came through the roughest of times, the hardest of trials, the depth of privation, our ancestors died longing for a generation that would come forth, that would not bend, would not bow, would not scratch when they don’t itch, but stand tall,” Minister Farrakhan said.

Adding that it was under a cycle of pain and total degradation that children were born, Minister Farrakhan said prayer was learned the hard way, and that it was through this process that Black people became the strongest of the strong and that the lifting of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, through the Coming of the Great Mahdi and Allah (God) in the Person of Master Fard Muhammad, is what started the process of resurrection and the raising of a dead nation to life.  

“We are Black people who were brought to America to be made slaves—beaten and brutalized, misused and abused. Our women were the plaything of a slave master who used your womb to bring forth more slaves that whichever slave that was nurtured as a slave, the slave master could become rich.  The slave died.  The woman that birthed him died, but children were born under that cycle of pain. In that period of total degradation, children were born,” Minister Farrakhan said.

Politics, power and leadership models

In what is often called “the Obama Effect,” a phenomenon energizing Black people to master the apparatuses of the most powerful government on earth, the April 7, 2022, confirmation of Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first Black woman appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court over its 233-year history, serves as an additional sign that the self-government of Black people is not outside the realm of possibility.

But, aside from Justice Brown Jackson’s impeccable qualifications, Black faces appointed to high places cannot solve the multiple conditions ill-effecting Black America today. With the high court’s balance now a 6–3 majority favoring Conservatives, Justice Brown Jackson’s appointment can do little more than document dissenting legal opinions, not only regarding the blatant reversals of established legal precedent but also to record how special interests influence America’s legal process. 

“The Supreme Court has recently proven to be a bastion of partisanship and ideology that is not geared toward the bar of justice but geared toward those who have the same political agenda of the majority,” said Dr. Abdul Haleem Muhammad, Student Southwest Regional Minister of the Nation of Islam’s Mosque No. 45 in Houston.

“What Justice Brown Jackson is doing in her brilliant questioning, her brilliant dissents to the majority’s decisions is that she is doing what the Holy Qur’an says in Surah 45, she’s making a record that America will be called on by Allah (God),” he said.

Added to the list of other political victories this year is the selection of New York Democrat Hakeem Jefferies as his party’s leader in the U.S. House of Representatives. He will make history in the 118th Congress as the first Black person to hold the position of minority leader once Republicans take control of the House in January. Other victories include the election of Wes Moore as Maryland’s first Black governor.

The 2022 midterm election season also found Karen Bass elected the first Black female mayor of Los Angeles, meaning that all four of America’s largest cities, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston, are to be led by Black officeholders, although Chicago’s Mayor Lori Lightfoot is campaigning for reelection on February 28, 2023.

Describing Black political leadership as a two-edged sword, where one side demonstrates mastery over the structures, functions, and mechanisms of governance, Student Minister Muhammad said this does not necessarily make Black politicians into Black leaders.

“Their sole function cannot be to right all of the wrongs that have been done to Black people in those municipalities,” he said. “They can do a measure of good, a measure of equitable governance, but that’s only a measure, not the full measure.”

He pointed to the fact that Black advancement is contingent upon unconstrained Black leadership to organize, finance, or field candidates and agendas that unapologetically represent a community’s self-interest.

It requires more than just voting for one personality over another, Student Minister Haleem Muhammad explained.  “Our politics are to guard our economics and as the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan has taught us: ‘Politics without economics is symbol without substance,’” he added.

An example of this model is found in the evolution of Hamtramck, Michigan, the 1930 birthplace of the Nation of Islam under the leadership of Master W. Fard Muhammad and His chief student, the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad. At that time a small depression-era city encompassed by greater Detroit, populated by poverty-stricken Blacks and working-class Polish immigrants, by January 2022, the city grew into the first American municipality featuring an all-Muslim city council, a Muslim police chief, and a Muslim mayor. 

Ketanji Jackson Brown at the Supreme Court Confirmation Hearing, March 23. Photo: MGN Online

“It’s important to remember that although we all happen to be practicing Muslims, we are elected through the processes set forth by the United States, Michigan, Wayne County and Hamtramck,” said Amanda Jaczkowski, a convert to Islam and a newly elected city councilmember, during an interview with the Detroit Free Press in November 2021.

Black lives still don’t matter?

While discrimination and anti-Black racism continue to ill-effect Black communities across the United States, police violence toward Black people continued at a much higher rate than toward other groups, and according to a report published December 5 by The Washington Post, it continues to persist. Numerically, more Whites are shot and killed by police than Blacks, the report said, but Black people account for only 14 percent of the U.S. population and the problem goes back a long way.

Two years after a White police officer gunned down 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., which sparked the Black Lives Matter movement, The Washington Post reported: “White people make up roughly 62 percent of the U.S. population but only about 49 percent of those who are killed by police officers.

African Americans, however, account for 24 percent of those fatally shot and killed by the police despite being just 13 percent of the U.S. population … that means Black Americans are 2.5 times as likely as White Americans to be shot and killed by police officers,” the 2016 article said.

This year saw some updates on high-profile cases as well. Three White men convicted of murder for chasing and killing Ahmaud Arbery were sentenced to life in prison on Jan. 7, with a judge denying any chance of parole for the father and son who armed themselves and initiated the deadly pursuit of the 25-year-old Black man. The trio were also found guilty of federal hate crimes.

Community leaders and activists in Chicago were furious that former Chicago cop Jason Van Dyke was released in February after only serving half of his six-year sentence for the killing of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.

From left: Travis McMichael, William “Roddie” Bryan, and Greg McMichael, convicted in the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery. Photo: MGN Online

Amir Locke, 22, was gunned down in Minneapolis by police during a no-knock warrant on Feb. 2. The young man was not the target of the warrant. No charges were filed against the officer who killed him. Also in Minneapolis, there was anger when White former police officer Kim Potter was sentenced on Feb. 18 to only two years in prison for killing Black motorist Daunte Wright during a traffic stop. And in Grand Rapids, Mich., Patrick Lyoya, a Congolese refugee was shot and killed by a police officer on the city’s Southeast side on April 4.

Regarding other questions of justice, a report released December 13, during a hearing by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, revealed that for years most federal prisons tolerated the rampant sexual abuse of female inmates by male guards, staff, and other employees. 

The hearing also included data that the BOP (Bureau of Prisons) Office of Internal Affairs has a backlog of at least 8,000 sexual abuse cases and included the emotional testimony of Ms. Briane Moore, an abuse survivor formerly incarcerated within the federal prison system.

“Over the past decade, female inmates in at least two-thirds (19 of 29) of federal prisons that held women were sexually abused by male BOP employees, including senior prison officials,” the Senate report said, and “there were at least 134 instances across 19 female facilities where BOP employees were either prosecuted for sexual abuse of female prisoners or where BOP [Office of Internal Affairs] substantiated allegations that BOP employees sexually abused female prisoners.”

Krystal Muhammad, national chair of The New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense (NBPP), told The Final Call that if Black leadership continues to subordinate their interests within the confines of the two major political parties, Black people’s grievances will never be addressed adequately, nor will the call for justice be fulfilled.

The abuse of both women and men is an extremely serious problem within America’s prisons and jails, Ms. Muhammad agreed. The NBPP has received many reports of various other forms of abuse often covered up by politically connected police departments or officials. “The police are employees of a city, or a state, or a county, or the federal government and these employees are committing ethnic cleansing and genocide, and it is being sanctioned by the court system, from the district attorneys, who fail to prosecute, to the U.S. attorneys, the states’ attorneys, (and) by the legislators. They have not created any laws to protect Black people,” she insisted.

The unraveling continues

“Here in America we can see nothing but the fall of America,” the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad wrote on page 170 of his book, “The Fall of America,” published in 1973. “It is no secret. It is obvious to the eyes that are open. If we want to close our eyes and minds and claim that we do not see and understand, then we will be falling ourselves,” the Messenger proclaimed, foretelling the country’s dreaded destiny for rejecting divine guidance in a time of trouble.

Nearly 50 years from the release of “The Fall of America,” the final hearing of the “Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol,” chaired by Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), and released December 19, the nine-member bipartisan panel voted unanimously to forward its findings that former President Donald J. Trump played a key role in the insurrection of January 6, 2021, and attempted to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

“That faith in our system is the foundation of American democracy,” Rep. Thompson said. “If the faith is broken, so is our democracy. Donald Trump broke that faith, he lost the 2020 election and knew it, but he chose to try to stay in office through a multi-part scheme to overturn the results and block the transfer of power,” he said at the Committiee opening. “In the end, he summoned a mob to Washington, and knowingly, they were armed and angry, pointed them to the Capitol and told them to fight like hell.”

Activists rally for voting rights at the end of a Black church tradition known as “Souls to the Polls” event in Decatur, Ga., Sunday, Oct. 30, 2022. (AP Photo/Sudhin Thanawala)

Committee vice chair, outgoing Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) stated: “Every president in our history has defended this orderly transfer of authority except one,” she explained. “January 6, 2021 was the first time one American president refused his constitutional duty to transfer power peacefully to the next,” Rep. Cheney said.

The hearing concluded with Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.) motioning to “favorably report to the House, the Select Committee’s final report, which includes the committee’s legislative recommendations and criminal referrals of Donald J. Trump and others pursuant to Section 4a of House Resolution 503,” which passed unanimously.  

But will the recommendations of an outgoing Democrat-led House abide in the 118th Congress, which begins January 3, 2023, and does the Department of Justice have the political willingness and ability to launch an indictment of a former sitting president of the United States?

After the committee’s announcement, Mr. Trump, who in November announced his intentions to run again in 2024, took to his Truth Social account on December 20 again proclaiming that the 2020 presidential election was “stolen.”

The time, what must be done and ‘Watch the Weather’

Sharing that Black America has many vulnerabilities as 2022 gives way to 2023, University of Houston scholar and historian, Dr. Gerald Horne, told The Final Call that issues surrounding unemployment, state sanctioned police violence, the cost of housing, and the status of American education, are all major concerns requiring more than just the rhetoric of introspection. 

“The Supreme Court is poised to wreck further (with cases on) Affirmative Action, which is going to limit enhanced Black admission to universities and colleges, and that doesn’t even touch on the K-12 question,” Dr. Horne said while explaining the effect of global realities toward the Black diaspora. “Internationally, I would say that the issue continues to be the lack of Black American coordination with the African Union and CARICOM (Caribbean bloc of nations), particularly on matters of mutual interest such as reparations.”

Regarding partisan politics and economics, Dr. Horne said he applauded the recent triumphs of Black politicians but doubted their impact would affect Black America’s overall socio-economic condition. “I personally congratulate Congressman Jefferies on his victory (and) it’s certainly a plus for his record, whether or not it will be a plus for Black America is another question altogether, particularly given the strength of the right-wing.”

Agreeing that political partisanship and gridlock is a major distraction to the advancement of Black people who lack a cohesive national and international economic agenda, Student Minister Abdul Haleem Muhammad, added that within the context of international affairs, the darker people of the world are waking up and losing their fear of American hegemony, and are beginning to consolidate their resources and their people for their own benefit.

Earthquake damage is seen at the Humboldt Creamery building in Loleta, Calif., Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. A strong earthquake shook a rural stretch of Northern California early Tuesday, jolting residents awake, cutting off power to 70,000 people, and damaging some buildings and a roadway, officials said. Two injuries were reported. (Ruth Schneider/The Times-Standard via AP)

“Add on top of that God’s judgment and calamities that are taking place: droughts, pestilence, and these increasingly violent storms; this is the beginning of sorrows,” he said.

“Join the Nation of Islam and follow the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan without fail,” he insisted. “God has given us a man who has guided us, and everything he has told us is now coming to pass,” said Student Minister Muhammad.

As the end of 2022 approached, 50 million people in the U.S. were under a winter storm warning and bracing for freezing temperatures and snow with some weather experts calling it the possible worst pre-Christmas storm in decades. At Final Call presstime, 14,000 in northern California were still without power after a 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck on December 20 damaging homes, roads and killing at least two people. The quake triggered dozens of aftershocks. 

Portions of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama experienced a surge of tornadoes December 14 and 15, impacting more than three million people.

The entire year was inundated with cataclysmic weather events around the globe. Heat waves, droughts, floods, wildfires, earthquakes, and volcanoes at biblical proportions occurred worldwide, setting historical records.

Global insurance group, Swiss RE, stated, “Extreme weather disasters so far this year have caused $115 billion in insured losses around the globe, with Hurricane Ian inflicting the largest insured loss of roughly $50 to $65 billion.”

Hurricane Ian, a Category 4 storm killed more than 100 people when it made landfall in southwest Florida in late September, caused the highest insured loss this year and was the second costliest on record after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

For years, Minister Farrakhan like his teacher, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, warned America to watch the weather and that she will be faced with divine chastisement for her evil against and enslavement of Black people and genocide against Native Americans. The extreme weather punishing America isn’t an accident; but is Allah’s (God’s) direct intervention and assault on the United States, these Divine Servants of God have warned.

God will use the forces of nature to humble America for its wrongdoing, Mr. Muhammad taught.
“God doesn’t fight with your cheap weapons. God fights with rage forces of nature. You can’t win with a war against God,” stated Min. Farrakhan.

(Final Call Contributing Writer Shawntell Muhammad and Final Call staff contributed to this report.)