It’s not the gangs in our cities. It’s not the overwhelming poverty in our communities. It’s not even the absence of fathers that results in disjointed and unprotected Black families. It’s the state of mind that we bring with us that creates these realities.

The French writer Victor Hugo once thoughtfully declared: “The soul in the darkness sins, but the real sinner is he who caused the darkness.” 

The Honorable Elijah Muhammad declared, “No one person can rise above the condition of his (her) people.” In another instance, he espoused, “A nation can rise no higher than its woman.”

Each of these realities, these conditions, is created by a mindset.


What is this entity, this person, who causes darkness?  An examination of every country on our planet reveals nations in decline. Despite these modern societies’ technological, medical, and economic advances, their trajectory is downward. Why?

Across the global spectrum, those in power collectively create and horde wealth by exploiting individuals and nations, confining the exploited masses to a cycle of seeking freedom and opportunities to escape their conditions. The desire is mostly for freedom and opportunity for the individual, not realizing that the lasting impact will only come when achieved as a collective people or nation.

The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad

In the quiet subconscious of every Black millionaire or billionaire in America—even Oprah and MJ—is the realization that they are Black, and they never escape the reality of their people and ultimately are judged by that.

Every leader of impact among Black people appealed for a collective freedom. Every leader of impact preached liberation and justice for the masses because in freeing the masses, the individual would realize freedom. Despite their personal frailties, they had an elevated state of mind beyond the limitations crafted by those in power through their institutions and narratives of reality.

Think Matrix.

Does art shape our culture, or is culture reflected in our art? Are Nike’s and fake nails popular because of personal choice, or is personal choice a result of a barrage of advertising and social media images making a product a trendy status symbol? What, or who, moves you?

Unfortunately, and predictably, every Black leader of impact was and is set upon for destruction and even death by the collective powers who horde wealth and seek to direct the thoughts and actions of the masses. 

When truths spoken by that leader cause the masses to reconsider their views and change their behaviors in ways that impact the “bottom line” of the power structure, the leader becomes dangerous. The concepts espoused by the Honorable Marcus Garvey, though considered militant but calling for a new reality beneficial for Black people, were too threatening to the status quo.  

What made some of us, our leadership, publicly oppose the free-thinking leader? What was the source of that bold leader’s perception of the world? 

The programs and positions developed by the Black Panther Party—free clinics, free breakfast for schoolchildren, the right of Black people to bear arms—caused us to think more independently. So, the power structure had to take over the programs, redirect them and destroy the Party.

Under the leadership of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali talked and walked in ways that reflected a knowledge source beyond the institutional structures of White America. They didn’t scratch where they didn’t itch.

Regrettably, when the leader is eliminated, the only thing left for the masses is a memory, or maybe a holiday, celebrating a deceptive, recreated narrative of that leader’s life and legacy.

Malcolm X has a stamp now!

The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan established a course of study titled “Self-Improvement: The Basis for Community Development.” The course redirects our analysis from outward-looking to looking inward.

Every lesson, every question put forth, removes the White man as the source of our problems and condition—if we can remove him as the source of our thinking. The Minister moves us to the realization that we are responsible for the realities that exist in our homes and, by extension, our communities.

The Honorable Elijah Muhammad, the Eternal Leader of the Nation of Islam, taught that Allah (God) created our minds to think rightly. And when we think in ways that are devious, evil and wrong, it’s like planing wood against the grain. 

Do we as a collective people like living in our dark existence, constantly fighting for freedom, justice, and equality in a White-ruled world?  If not, why do we stay in this condition?

The Honorable Elijah Muhammad preached that Black people—like a couple seeking a divorce—must separate from White people to truly be independent. Of course, that thought impacts the masses like a tsunami hitting a brick wall.

The only “reality” we have known is one in co-existence with White people who have always taken the superior position. Our mental concepts have been crafted and continue to be influenced by the “realities” he creates in his world.

A popular hip-hop artist wrote a lyric that said, “When I move, you move.” That has been the White-Black reality.

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places,” the Bible instructs us.

In general, the White-ruled status quo—through the wicked forces at the top who set their global agendas—confines us to environments that shape our mental outlook. We generally follow the trends he sets. We love his friends and hate his enemies, even when those “enemies” would potentially be our (Backs and the oppressed) allies.

Minister Farrakhan’s quintessential quote, “He who gives you the diameter of your knowledge, prescribes the circumference of your activity,” is quite instructive.

When we find a new and higher source for our knowledge and begin to think differently, beyond the “realities” created by an enemy of our freedom, then we can truly be free.

Just like that.

Brother James G. Muhammad is a longtime journalist and former editor-in-chief of The Final Call