Saturday, March 1, 2008

Stakes Be High, pt. 7

Now that Minister Louis Farrakhan has popped back up in the news, injecting himself into America’s electoral conversation, I am moved to ask a question of my man DeAngelo Starnes.

I’ve heard lots of wild stuff about the Nation of Islam over the years. An old head from Detroit told me that when Elijah Muhammad was running things, if a Fruit of Islam didn’t sell all the Muhammad Speaks newspapers he was assigned to sell, the other FOIs would beat his ass.

In a documentary film about Malcolm, Captain Joseph X – who’d led the Fruit of Islam for the Harlem mosque – recalled that Malcolm’s “complexion” was one reason Elijah Muhammad groomed him for leadership. (Could Farrakhan similarly have been groomed for NOI leadership because he was light-skinned? Because of the white blood in him?)

Journalist Sonsyrea Tate, in her memoir “Little X,” wrote about the indoctrination she received in the Nation’s school for girls. (TEACHER: “Who is the colored man?” CHILD: “The colored man is the Caucasian, white man, or Yacub’s grafted devil, the skunk of the planet Earth!”)

Prof. Vibert White, a member of the Nation of Islam until 1995, wrote a behind-the-scenes book – “Inside the Nation of Islam” – describing the Nation under Farrakhan as “an empire [built] on hatred, anti-Semitism, racism, sexism and homophobia.”

I could go on. But I’ll ask it:
QUESTION #7: What has Louis Farrakhan actually accomplished for the benefit of black people? Isn’t he basically the leader of a mind-control cult, pushing rhetoric that’s 50 years out of date? Isn’t it time for the rest of us to quit taking him seriously?

68 comments:

DeAngelo Starnes said...

If the sources of what you referenced in your introduction are credible and their accounts accurate, sure sounds kinda cultish to me. Some that that Nation stuff is really out there. Even when I was at my most sympathetic, I thought their shit was out there.

But my mind was always strong enough to resist what I felt was stupid and take what I felt was beneficial.

And until you phrased it like you did, I never really gave it a serious thought that the Nation was a cult. I just thought of them as an organization that had some very cool shit to them vis a vis having a strong Black identity and fighting against white supremacy. I always thought of the NOI as an organization that stressed discipline as a means to bettering oneself. But some of the robotic mantra I found myself being confronted with when having a discussion that often transformed into a debate before devolving into an outright argument was frustrating. Because I thought the program was one that could be very helpful to the Black community if used constructively.

Now is Farrakhan's rhetoric outdated? Which portion of his rhetoric are you referring to? Because if you're speaking of "The White Man is the Devil," that shit is tired. It ain't no different than "All Muslims are Islamofascists." The point of that rhetoric was to point out that Black people had to be careful of white deception under the system of white supremacy. Once the message was understood, the shit was tired.

But there are aspects of the rhetoric that is very helpful to upliftment. Anytime, Black people are told their lives transcend media stereotypes and that they should get to know their history, that's some good timeless shit.

Before I go on a tangent, I want to address the third part of your question. I never understood why white America got so afraid of Farrakhan. He's very good at rallying people. But have any of those rallies led to an insurrection? I recall during and for a few weeks after the Million Man March, bruhs were in love with each other. That rally was a spiritual moment. Too uplifting for words. It was the first time I thought to myself we can win and we can overcome all this bullshit. Unfortunately, that feeling subsided collectively and bruhs went about the business of self-destruction. Yet, I recall reading editorials by Charles Krauthammer and Richard Cohen that had nothing to do with the Million Man March but somehow managed to work Farrakhan as a threat into the pieces. What kind of shit is that?

I think the question is better aimed at white people than it is at someone like me. Because outside of the Million Man March, what has Farrakhan accomplished? And that was almost 13 years ago. Why do Black politicians still have to repudiate Farrakhan, Sharpton, and Jesse for shit that happened in the Eighties? Ask John McCain if he repudiates Oliver North's support. Ask McCain to repudiate David Duke's support.

This Farrakhan as a litmus test is race-baiting. And if anyone had any inkling to support Mrs. Clinton, her hanging onto the Farrakhan litmus test should kill her support.

Because why is that question being asked. Last I heard, the brotha was being treated for cancer. He hadn't made a significant statement in years. If he was on his game like he was in the Eighties, he would've lost his voice twenty times screaming about the country's holy war against Islam. Couldn't you hear that shit? "AMERICA, is waging a HOLY war AGAINST Islam at the hands of the evil Jews from Israel! Black America, you must stand against this debauchery and fight with your brothas and sistas from the Holy Land! America is headed towards a destructive END for its DESTRUCTIVE ways."

Can't you hear him saying that shit? Oh, he would've been good in the '04 campaign. He would've called all those fundamentalist Black Christians out for being bought off by Bush. Man, that would've been some powerful shit. Now, that I would've loved because I had relatives brainwashed by that gay marriage, anti-abortion, flag-burning, and anti-Muslim bullshit.

Just yesterday, I heard a woman on the radio claim Barack is dangerous because he's a Muslim, which isn't true. He's not a Muslim.

In any event, it's not the religion that's dangerous. It's what people do with it. It's just like a gun. A gun doesn't kill people by itself. But in the wrong hands, a gun, with bullets, will do major fatal damage.

To answer your question, Farrakhan is harmless. He's more harmful as a double agent for white supremacy if you ask me. Because, unlike Jesse who's assumed a low profile, Farrakhan should know better. A public statement in support of Obama could cause more harm in the minds of the straddling-the-fence white supporters. He didn't need to galvanize the Black community to support Obama.

Ding!

Undercover Black Man said...

To answer your question, Farrakhan is harmless.

This is the question. Is it "harmless" to brainwash black children in 2008 into believing that the white people are literally devils?

Farrakhan has a nationwide organization of devoted followers. David Duke doesn't. Rappers have been praising Farrakhan by name in their lyrics for 20 years... on records released by major labels. You don't hear country music stars name-checking David Duke in their music.

So if we can talk about David Duke like he's the bogeyman, we can't blame white folks for treating Farrakhan like he's a bogeyman.

Yet Minister Farrakhan has a seat of honor at events like Tavis Smiley's State of the Black Union gathering. What is that about?

People like Smiley are the ones I'm talking about. The ones who should quit taking Farrakhan seriously as some kind of political or moral or intellectual leader.

On more thing, DeAngelo, from that book "Inside the Nation of Islam"... just to mess with your mind. Prof. White writes:

"For all the diatribes of Farrakhan against Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and Bush, he is a staunch Republican. The problem is that the minister must behave in front of his followers like a Huey Newton or a Malcolm X militant."

Farrakhan... a Republican? Does Vibert White mean this literally? That he literally votes Republican? Or just that the NOI's social program is in line with some conservative values?

I don't know. But if he means that as a literal fact... damn.

SJ said...

"Yet Minister Farrakhan has a seat of honor at events like Tavis Smiley's State of the Black Union gathering."

Wow are you serious? My respect for Tavis Smiley went down a lot.

Undercover Black Man said...

^ Here's video from a couple years ago, SJ... complete with Tavis giving him the "you-the-man" finger-point.

DeAngelo Starnes said...

Dave, is the NOI actually still teaching that "white man is the devil" bullshit? If so, are they teaching it as a literal concept? Are they actually still teaching that the white man is an invention of a mad scientist? If so, you got my vote. That's as stupid as the myth that Eve was created from a rib from Adam.

But are you sure, we're not talking figuratively. Maybe "the white man is the devil" is a metaphor for white supremacy. If that's the case, I wouldn't assign that designation to all white people, but there's a good case for that being true.

I want to clarify something. Farrakhan and David Duke do not belong in the same sentence. People's reaction to folks who support those two people is a more valid comparison. A lot of Farrakhan's rhetoric is backed by actual historical events. Duke is a straight-up racist whose rhetoric has no intellectually redeeming components to it.

Farrakhan's citation to Willie Lynch by itself outweighs anything Duke has said.

As for Farrakhan being a Republican, I ain't buying it. Here's a guy who came out and supported Jesse's campaign, who supported Marion Barry when no one else would, and who is now supporting Obama.

There was a time when Farrakhan could've galvanized the large numbers of the Black community. But white people, the corporate media, as well as his talking about his own spaceship abduction, have marginalized him. His endorsement only appeals to members of the Nation. He's not the lightening rod white people want him to be unless ...

They insist that a Black politician pass a litmus test by requiring a rejection and denouncement of his support. That litmus test is indicative of racism/white supremacy to me.

Ding!

DeAngelo Starnes said...

I know this is off topic, but I saw that you gave Buddy Miles some love.

I'm surprised you didn't give Miles Davis' producer Teo Macero similar love.

While Teo was Miles' producer for a number of year, his value really occurred when he edited Miles early electrical experiments into coherent songs. Not all of his editing worked. But his editing was work of art unto itself.

My public kudos to Teo as that Miles Davis electric music helped me with my homesickness during my initial days at Howard (along with Weather Report).

Qadree said...

It's really up to the parents when it comes to teaching that the white man is the devil. I do not follow any organized religion at this point, but I spent most of my grammar school years in the Nation of Islam and I was never taught to hate white people or that the white man was actually the devil.

We had stacks of "Final Call" papers in our basement because you had to buy them from the nation so that you could sell them, whatever you didn't sell was your loss, so when you see those guys on the street selling papers that are six months old now you'll know why.

Farrakhan is still influential and well connected in certain areas and he can still draw a very large crowd here in Chicago. Many people still seem to fear the Nation of Islam because they believe that it's members will not hesitate to respond with violence towards a perceived enemy and they still effectively recruit and protect people behind bars.

While most black people are not going to join the NOI, they don't necessarily want to see it go away. Generally, people feel safe when they see those guys out. That alone will win him support from non-members. People look at Farrakhan the same way they look at many politicians, his words don't matter as long as there is something in it for them.

Undercover Black Man said...

^ Thank you for contributing to this conversation, Qadree.

Michael Fisher said...

Well, as you can imagine, the NOI many years ago spent about 10 years trying to recruit me. Never succeeded. Nontheless, I know a few of the key leaders and have known them for many years.

The NOI is like most black organizations: Hi on rhetoric, but ineffective in practice. Nonetheless they have accomplished quite a few thing through back channels. There is no black leader that doesn't at least talk to them.

I remember that Quincy Jones organized an informal and intimate get together with a number of black leadership including Colin Powell under the guise of the first Vibe mag. conference in NYC some 10-15 years ago. Hi level NOI reps were there and Powell (post JCS Chair, but pre State department) and them had very cordial exchanges.

You can not discount the NOI's influence in Black American political life. It is immense. Especially among black middle class males.

The NOI's emphasis on clean living, self-reliance, and education is very positive. The respect which NOI sister garner from the young brothers on the corner who will verbally accost any other black girls alone is worth thee NOI's presense.

I also must say that I am old enough to have been able to observe the tail-end of the old NOI under Elijah Muhammad.

Farrakhan's NOI does not compare. The old NOI was highly disciplined and the FOI was a military organization one just did not fuck with. Ordinary black folks felt safe wherever the FOI was present.

As to the "white man is the devil" thing. So what? Maybe he/she is, maybe he/she isn't. The question is, can black people make a positive change in our existence?

If you want more and detailed info on the NOI I suggest you get this book by Australian author Dennis Walker "Islam And The Search For African-American Nationhood - Elijah Muhammad, Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam". It's about 600 pages and extremely well written and resourced.

By the way, Farrakhan's NOI isn't the only one out there Silas Muhammad has one and then there are other small groups.

As far as the "antisemitism" thing is concerned, it is overblown. Besides black folks traditionally have not liked the white people who call themselves Jews. It doesn't have anything to do with any Nazis. It has to do with the fact that they decided that they are white and it mostly dates back to the Garvey days when Garvey was hounded by Jewish-led organizations. I think it is the covert and since the 70's increasingly overt anti-black racism of Jewish-led organizations (beginning with Prodhoretz) that is responsible for much of the negative sentiment towards Jews within the black community. So Farrakhan's NOI is a crystallized expression of that.

Anonymous said...

The NOI will always have relevance and a degree of importance to the black community as long as the number of black people who can speak without regard to what white people think is 5 people or less.

You debate what is good or bad about the organization, but the reality is there is a deep need in our community for a spokesperson and organization that is not scared of the consequences of white supremacy.

Think about how many times you experience something...either personally or in the media...and think to yourself "that's some racist bullshit". Now how often do you express that in racially mixed company?

Undercover Black Man said...

The NOI's emphasis on clean living, self-reliance, and education is very positive.

Thanks for the insights, Michael. What I've wondered is... with all these positive aspects going for it, why the need to rely on such a potent strain of hostility to hold it all together? And why the bizarre mythology and the mind-control techniques?

There's a reason they didn't succeed in recruiting you.

Now, 50 years ago -- when black folks were almost invisible on TV and in the movies and in the newsrooms of the New York Times and the Washington Post, etc., I can imagine what a shock to the mind it was for a gifted orator like Malcolm to say publicly: "Fuck white people and their bullshit."

But America has changed so much since the 1950s. With each passing year, I think the NOI is simply less and less relevant.

Lola Gets said...

Dammit,I have too much to say!

Ok, I do not believe that Farrakhan is a threat to anyone anymore. Perhaps he was, back in the 60s and 70s, but from the 80s on, hes just been the leader of an ever-dwindling scoio-political organization (not a religon, but perhaps a cult).

What Farrakhan has accomplished is he has continued to lead an organization that helps provide stability, guidance, and a foundation for those persons needing that in their lives and communities. You see the results in different ways and at different times, but the evidence is still there. Look to the former convicts needing structure and purpose in their lives, and look at the crime-ridden housing projects that need additional secuity, for evidence of the NOIs good deeds.

But, does Farrakhan help the Black community as a whole? No. Farrakhans infulence is hindered by the divisive and sometimes inane doctrines of the NOI itself. And perhaps even hindered by the use of the word Islam in its name.

There are a few, newer developments that we should mention is this discussion, as they are important. 1) Yes, Farrakhan has been sick for some time now (I want to say that hes not the head of the NOI anymore, but I think thats wrong) and because of his illness, hes not in the public sphere that often.

2) Farrakhan made the claim several years ago, that he has converted, and his branch of the NOI has too, to Sunni Islam. If we are to believe this, he would not be making the same kind of divisive comments the NOI have made in the past. But even though Farrakhans NOI is Sunni, they still honor Elijah Muhammad as a prophet. (There is still an "old school" version of the NOI that follows the old teachings. They have different leader, but I forget the name now).

ALL of these things prove that Farrakhan is NOT a threat, nor to be taken seriously on a national scale.

For example, I remember when that federal government building was bombed in Oaklahoma in the early 90s. On the news, they said that they were looking at the Nation of Islam as one of the suspects. Even though I was drugged out of my mind in the hospital, I KNEW that the government was wrong! Aint no kinda way the NOI could or would have done something like that!

I said all that so say...you can take Farrakhan seriously, just not out of context, hehehe.

L

dj said...

I will say off the top,I usually avoid commenting on things like this as I live in another Country and am no authority on politics,the NOI,FOI or any other organization.

Plus some times I talk out of my ass and piss people off.

Just my impressions as a outsider looking in.
Feel free to educate or re-educate me.

Just watched the video link you provided and say what you will about the Minister,but he is a powerful speaker.

I do not find his words threatening and as you say he bases them on facts.

Abusing or twisting those facts is a different story,but don't see that in this example.

A angry man rooted in facts does not scare me as much as a ignorant angry man.

That is where he and Duke differ greatly,one tries to spread the knowledge of what history shows us,the other just fear and ignorance.

Historically there have been a large number of people in positions of power that certainly qualify as "White Devils"and there are more than a few still running things.

I think this is who this label is aimed at?

The rest of us inconsequential White people who have asked for the best way to help the cause,have been politely told the the best way to help is to stay out of the way.

I don't fully agree with that and think there are other roles we could play,but can understand there would be paranoia about infiltrators,however "Every Brother Ain't A Brother" and history has shown that disloyalty has no shade.

I think there needs to be more organizations that take things a step further than words though and take it to the front door of "The Man",oh wait there is it's called Al-Qaeda!

Now,before I get roasted here,hear me out.
In concept,I am saying there should be more "if you continue to F**k with us,there will be a price!"

I do not condone their specific actions,but the fact that they did something,instead of just talking about it or waiting for a change.

However in reality,who makes those decisions as to who is evil and needs to be "taken out"?
They generally turn out to be just as twisted as the ones they have grievances with.

If there was a way to ensure it was only "The Devils" got their due without the loss of innocent lives,I'd be all for it.

However,"Shock & Awe",Surges,Suicide Bombs or Hijacking Planes is too random and unfocused and the loss of even one innocent life is not a acceptable loss for a cause.
That is just the justification of more evil regardless of whose "side" you are on.

So who will judge?

Kill 'em all and let YOUR God sort 'em out.

Rant mode off.

Just riffin' off the top of my head,please don't rip it off.

dj said...

And BTW,please tell me about the picture you use for the Stakes as it is in my area,but on the wrong side.

See the better looking set of Falls in the top right?
Those are the Canadian ones and that sewer run-off on the left are yours.LOL

Only joking,none of it really belongs to any of us on either side of the ditch!
Those who came before,the First Nation here.

However,they would be smiling a lot more in the picture on our side as once there,they would be entering H.Tubman territory.

dj said...

And since I kinda brought it up.

Am I the only one that mistakenly thought the phrase"My Neck Of The Woods" to be a reference to Lynchings?

...And now back to regularly scheduled programing.

Undercover Black Man said...

DJ: That's a photo of the founders of the Niagara Movement.

12kyle said...

1st time on your blog

I don't think Farrakhan is relevant anymore. However, he still has a following. While I don't agree with most of what he says nowadays, I will admit that I did agree with some things at an earlier stage in life. Is he still influential to our community? I'd have to say no.

Great post!!!

Undercover Black Man said...

Lola: I haven't heard that Minister Farrakhan has brought the NOI in line with Sunni teachings. (Here's a 2007 New York Times article on point.)

Dragon Horse said...

He's a cult leader, but he has done more to seriously help black folks lead lives of ill repute (other then their cultish racism/antisemitism) than 85% of the black protestant churches have, which hardly any men under 60 attend at all.

As far as Tavis Smiley (at himself in the mirror) screw that negro.

He ain't nobody.

Undercover Black Man said...

12kyle, thanks for that.

DeAngelo Starnes said...

dj gets the award for quote of the post:

"A angry man rooted in facts does not scare me as much as a ignorant angry man."

In fact, dug your post period.

Farrakhan is still very relevant, however, I think he's more relevant to the "white devils" who're scared of his potential to incite a riot.

But sheeiiit, don't let him organize some shit. Then we might see some real progress.

Fact of the matter is, we can't get nonwhite people to understand the system of white supremacy is probably the most relevant factor in our lives to get enough folks to confront it seriously enough to neutralize and reverse the system.

Until then, I guess we'll continue to get distracted by whether a Black politician appeals to white people by "rejecting and denouncing" Farrakhan.

Some real good comments from folks who vividly recall potency of Farrakhan and the good the NOI/FOI have done.

On a lighter note, I wondering why my Road-Dog ain't said some shit to bring out the haters. fisher, you sick or something?

Ding!

Mister T said...

I agree with Dengelo Starnes. The questions I have for undercoverblack man is: how do you know that country music artists don't disapprove of Davik Duke via their lyrics? I personally heard, with my own ears, on the Don Imus show, after lambasting Terry Bradshaw for having an all-white team on Fox's NFL show, he played a country music song with "nigger" in the lyrics. Where was the white outrage? White people get away with this stuff all the time.

Last time I checked, there are pockets of the American south that is still fiercely wedded to the confederate flag. And when I visit the state of Virginia, I drive down Jefferson Davis Highway, Jefferson being the pro-slavery president of the confederacy. Forget David Duke, Don Imus and Bill O'Reilly have tons of support out there. The tragic fact is that much of their support comes not from far-right constituencies but from moderate white young whites who just want a cheap laugh.

So do the same forces that want Obama to repudiate Farrakhan also force Hillary Clinton and John McCain to repudiate O'Reilly and Imus? Does the larger white community say that we should rid or communities of the enduring symbols of racism and the American legacy of slavery? So why does white media insist on imposing disunity when it comes to controversial black figures? Barack Obama should never have to repudiate Farrakhan until Hillary Clinton publicly repudiate Bill O'Reilly and call for his removal from the air. Don Imus would still be there if the advertisers didn't react. It was not even about the Black community. And top that whole fiasco off, both O'Reilly and Imus occupy the public airwaves and continue to be employed by publicly traded corporations. They are all suppoed to be operating in the public interest. So, for the sake of argument, what public interest is being served? Black people continuously bear the brunt of all of this free speech the and have to justify and defend our community against the onslaught of attitudes and statements from enemies of our community.

My argument is not that two wrongs make a right. However, I do maintain that the responsibility for decency falls upon each and every citizen and organization, not just the the Barack Obama for President campaign. These white racist figures have a following and a loyal constituncy out there. And ironically they turn out to be ordinary citizens like police officers, judges, journalists, academics, etc. This form of racism in ingrained into our institutions.

A good example of "scientific racism", a form of bigotry used by the American Psychological Associate, was when a scholar named Bell published "The Bell Curve". And he documented that black people were athletically superior to whites and were intellectually inferior. This stuff is still out there. How can it be ignored and why have these events been forgotten?

Minister Farrakhan publicly disobeyed the Honorable Elijah Muhammad in 1983 when he urged members of the NOI to register to vote and support the condidacy of Jesse Jackson. I remember because I was active on the ground in Jackson's campaign. Farrakhan is demonstrating the kind of unity we should all have by courageously placing differences aside.

I must agree, however, that Farrakhan's public support at this time hurts more than helps. Obama is doing just fine without Farrakhan's support. However, there are many figures much more controversial than Farrakhan who needs to be repudiated.

DeAngelo Starnes said...

mr. t, welcome to the forum, brotha. Like the insights.

Dave, I think you owe t a response.

Ding!

Mes Deux Cents said...

Hi UBM & Everyone,

Aren't all religions cults? They all preach crazy things to differing degrees.

Mormons and Joseph Smith, Catholics and people being Saints, Hinduism and Sacred Cows, Southern Baptists and their racist rhetoric, etc.

So the Minister speaks his own kind of craziness. The difference is that he's Black and held to a different standard.

My point, to answer your question, is should any thinking person take any religion seriously?

And exactly what has any religious leader done for the masses lately? It seems to me that whether it's Farrakhan or the Pope or the Dali Lama, they don't really do much more than talk.

And just so that I'm clear; I'm not talking about God, I'm talking about religion.

Undercover Black Man said...

Dave, I think you owe t a response.

After I double up on my "Wire"-watching for the evening and catch the West Coast feed.

MIB said...

There's an old cliche that goes something like, 'The only difference between what we call a cult and a religion is the size of the bank account'. Farrakhan and the NOI are no more cultish, xenophobic, and/or just plain weird than Roman Catholicism -- which says the Pope is infallible and requires celibacy of its clerics (contrary to several Biblical passages). It's certainly not any more bizarre than Mormonism -- which taught polygamy, and a town in Missouri as Utopia -- and we had a LDS church member campaigning for President. I won't even bother talking about Protestant and/or non-denominational Christian televangelists like Pat Robertson, James Dobson, or Creflo Dollar.

Sen. Clinton's campaign use of Farrakhan was a race baiting straw man erected in a fit of desperation. His (relative) celebrity among Af-Ams is at best nominal, but not so great as to qualify as influential.

Michael Fisher said...

Mills...

"There's a reason they didn't succeed in recruiting you."

I'm not into Theocracies.

I ain't catholic either.

Aside from that, the old NOI wasn't and the new one isn't really religious cult. It was conceived as a nation centered around a counter-racist philosophy/ideology/strategy. Black folks in America have traditionally responded best to strategies in religious trappings.

Objectively seen, the invention of a counter-racist "black" religion was a stroke of genius.

America has changed, but it really is just a refinement of the same old White Supremacist system. The refinement, however, I would argue had to do a lot with the emergence of the NOI as a powerful force and generator of counter-racist IDEAS, memes.

DeAngelo Starnes said...

I knew my road dog wouldn't let me down.

"Aside from that, the old NOI wasn't and the new one isn't really religious cult. It was conceived as a nation centered around a counter-racist philosophy/ideology/strategy. Black folks in America have traditionally responded best to strategies in religious trappings.

Objectively seen, the invention of a counter-racist "black" religion was a stroke of genius."

That's some good shit and I think you might've hit the nail on the head.

Where's the hate mail? Lotta folks leaving my boy UBM out there without coverage.

Vince Spence said...

Next month is the 40th anniversary of MLK’s death. What do you, UBM, think Dr. King would say if he came back and looked at the progress of blacks in the past four decades? Who would he point his finger at?

By 1968, the NFL had Jim Brown, Jim Parker and Lenny Moore. Baseball enjoyed Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Roberto Clemente. How about Oscar; and Wilt versus Bill? The entire nation listened to the Four Tops, James Brown and the Supremes. My airport is named after Thurgood Marshall and we had Shirley Chisholm and Dr. Bunche. Who was funnier than Dick Gregory, Cosby and Flip Wilson? In 2008, we have LaDainian, Barry B., LeBron, Kanye, Chris Rock & Barack. But, where are the 2008 versions of Muhammad Ali and Arthur Ashe? Is the Rev. Al Sharpton the updated Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King? Or is it Jesse or Mr. Mfume? Almost two generations have past. Would he be impressed? Where would he place the blame?

I am a 59 year-old white guy and I wear my hair just long enough to cover the horns. I grew up in Baltimore city and lived in a 95% black neighborhood and I could run very fast. Sometimes, not fast enough. Moved to the county and laughed about it for many years. I experienced college, Vietnam, work, kids, alcoholism and the other normal stuff. I guess I still had some racial issues, but my wife & I made a conscious effort to raise our kids to be colorblind. I am ashamed I even mention that.

I don’t like rap, Al Sharpton and end zone dances. I love black non-rap, Chris Rock and Barack Obama. Jimmy the Greek and Imus got what they deserved. Kelly Tilghman did not. That incident opened my ears. DeAngelo Starnes put me over the edge.

Two incidents on a Baltimore radio station (105.7, WHFS) got me started. The host, Troy Johnson, was having a discussion about a recent Obama/Clinton primary. His producer, Gus Gordon, a very young man, made a statement regarding honesty between candidates and used the phrase, “I call a spade a spade”. Troy immediately stated that he should not have said that today. A black caller immediately got through and verbally berated young Gordon. Troy and his female co-host mentioned on air that he “did not mean to say that”, but otherwise did not defend him. You and I both know 50 words used everyday that at one time in the past may have been a racial slur or reference. I am glad Rev. Al did not hear about it.

A few days later, I am listening and I heard DeAngelo Starnes for the very first time. He was discussing a particular piece of legislation in Washington that did not go the way he wanted. He ranted and raved for a while and then stated, “I guess we have to riot”. Now that’s a word you don’t hear too often. I ‘googled’ DeAngelo and found your site.

I guess I found what I expected. DeAngelo doesn’t particularly care for white people. Also, Mr. Starnes is a very, very unhappy person. This quote pretty much sums it up. “Because for better or worse, white thought dominates everything nonwhite people do in America. If that weren't true you and I wouldn't speak English and have European-based names.”

Every rational, mature adult I know, black or white, realizes how little we can change our circumstances – people, places or things. The SERENITY PRAYER tells us to ‘accept the things we cannot change, have the courage to change the things we can and the power to know the difference’. It does not say we have to like the things we cannot change. Therefore, Mr. Starnes’ life will be a daily hell by allowing ‘white thought’ to dominate his waking hours. I wish him well.

In closing, UBM, I love your site. The music alone is worth a daily visit. You seem not to be trapped in a myopic trance. You are a proud black man, proud of your heritage and willing to take the necessary steps to improve your emotional, financial and spiritual well-being every day. I personally feel overall black progress is being impeded by the refusal to let go of things they cannot change and the absolute willingness to blame everybody and everything for not being where they think they should be. Too many other blacks are succeeding every day for this attitude to be valid.

This is my first and final blog. How did I do?

P.S. While heading the NAACP, Kweise lived around the corner from me in Baltimore County in a $650,000 home where his nearest black neighbor was at least two miles away. What’s that all about?

dj said...

Vince:

"This is my first and final blog. "

Duck and cover?

You take the time to search Mr.Starnes out,just to have your one-sided say,instead of a conversation and exchange of views with him?

You write him off,throw in a couple of jabs and then try to run away to a safe distance?

You came all this way,just for that?

LOL

Michael Fisher said...

Vince Spence...

"You are a proud black man, proud of your heritage and willing to take the necessary steps to improve your emotional, financial and spiritual well-being every day. I personally feel overall black progress is being impeded by the refusal to let go of things they cannot change and the absolute willingness to blame everybody and everything for not being where they think they should be."

Yeah, and Dave is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy, too.

Matt Norwood said...

Most of the best arguments have already been made here, so I'll try to pick the ones I like and riff on them briefly. The points I liked, in order of their importance:

1. DeAngelo nails the big issue right on the head: our opinion of Farrakhan matters much, much less than the fact that politicians are held to a double standard based on race. Obama has to repudiate Farrakhan, but McCain doesn't have to repudiate Pat Robertson, or Strom Thurmond, or Jesse Helms, or any of the other white-supremacist religious nuts on the right? You can think what you want of any of those guys, but the most important issue here by far is the double standard. If the rule is that black people are held accountable for the positions of the most extreme black voices in the country, but white people are not held accountable for the most extreme white voices, then we're never going to get black leaders in positions of power. This is the fault of the news media, and people need to be screaming and yelling about the disconnect between the press's treatment of Obama and McCain w.r.t. denouncing their unsavory supporters.

2. As far as Farrakhan himself, MDC and MIB both sum it pretty well, even if they come to different conclusions: Farrakhan is a religious leader, and any religious leader believes (or purports to believe) ridiculous and reprehensible things. The NoI's belief that white people are devils is no more ridiculous, nor any more inherently destructive, than the Catholics' belief that people who use birth control burn in Hell for eternity, or the Buddhists' belief that victims of genocide brought on their own suffering through their actions in a previous life. The actual social harm or good caused by a religious movement usually has much more to do with the social circumstances in which it develops than with its belief system. Buddhism, Catholicism, and the NoI have all accomplished some positive and negative things in different situations, but at root, yes, of course they're all crazy.

As for where the NoI ranks on the scale of actual good versus actual harm produced, I'm really not an authority on the subject. I am under the impression that the Nation has brought about quite a few positive developments in various black American communities, and I've seen some evidence of this firsthand. My most prolonged first-hand exposure to the NoI was the couple of years growing up in DC when I took the Metro bus to school through some of the city's rougher neighborhoods -- Shaw, Cardozo, Logan Circle -- and a FoI would get on about halfway through my route to sell papers. I was almost always the only white person on the bus, and I'd stick my nose pretty deep into my book as he held forth about how white people were created in a lab by ancient mad scientists, how AIDS was engineered by white scientists to kill blacks, etc. (I got pretty good at keeping my head down while growing up in DC; on that point, I hear where Vince is coming from, even if I ended up with different priorities. I was pretty resentful about racial issues as a kid, but when I got a little exposure to the wider "white world" and the deep, demonic racism that festered within it, I came to understand that my little scrapes as a kid were just collateral damage in a long-running, vicious conflict, and I took it a little less personally.)

The thing about the NoI white-blaming mythology is that it really is a double-edged sword with respect to its usefulness in mobilizing black Americans to get their shit together. On the one hand, yes, there's some merit to UBM's position that black people are not really well served by blaming white people for all their problems. They're not well-served by it even if it's true. The longer black America pines for justice, the longer it will build up a self-defeating resentment toward the world that will interfere with the development of a healthy, vital black citizenry. Justice is not coming. It never has, not for any wronged group in history. This is not fair, but it is true.

On the other hand, the white-blaming mythology of the NoI also serves useful, positive function in promoting exactly the independence from white power structures that has served black America very well when it has been allowed to develop. The NoI tells its followers: give up on justice from the white man. Give up on getting your due from him. Anything you want to build, you will have to do it yourself, with no help from him, even though he owes it to you, and much more. He will never help you or give you your birthright. Why? Because he is the devil. Give up on him. Focus on saving yourself.

Obviously, you don't have to tell me this is a faulty premise in its literal terms. White people are not the devil. But it doesn't have to be literally true to have some positive effects, because it is true in the more important sense that taking white people out of the equation is actually a net gain for black America. And so, like the Catholics and the Mormons and the Buddhists, the NoI manages to accomplish some good on the basis of a mythology that is batshit crazy.

Of course, the NoI mythology is more effective in more racist, more segregated social contexts than it is in more tolerant, more integrated contexts. It works pretty well when you live in a world where, by and large, white people do not actually exist as anything but abstract, outside forces. It gets trickier when you live in an environment where there might be some value in regarding individual white people as human beings. Perhaps this difference accounts for some of the divergent views on the NoI that we see in this thread.

Undercover Black Man said...

Vince Spence, welcome to my spot. Thanks for taking the time to share.

I'll say more after DeAngelo has his turn, since you called him out by name.

Undercover Black Man said...

Mister T, welcome here. I appreciate the comment.

I'm afraid I have to correct you on one point of fact. "The Bell Curve" wasn't written by a guy named Bell.

This indicates to me you haven't read the book. And you ought to at least flip through the book before you condemn it as "racist"... unless you're comfortable letting other people define the world for you.

You bring up Bill O'Reilly and Don Imus as if they're comparable to Louis Farrakhan. They would only be comparable to Farrakhan if they led organizations that taught systematically that one race of people was "the devil" (whether metaphorically or not).

I'm not about impinging on Farrakhan's free-speech rights, or his disciples' freedom to believe. But we are all free to assess Farrakhan's words and ideology -- and his history of deeds and accomplishments -- to determine whether he should be held in high esteem.

Big Man said...

UBM

You said early in the comments that Farrakhan and Duke could not be compared because Duke doens't lead anyone.

While that's true, I think you did your readers a disservice by ignoring the fact that Duke has made several credible runs for public office in the state of Louisiana, and only lost many of those runs because of a huge turnout by black folks at the polls. I think Duke may have actually been elected to a state rep.

So, David Duke, a former member of the most deadly American terrorist organization, was elected to public office after he said he no longer supported his most heinous views, but still seemed willing to spread those views under the cover of conservatism.

Do you think Farrkhan could be elected to public office?

If not, then wouldn't it seem that Duke does have a following somewhere?

Lola Gets said...

@UBM
The info that I had about Farakkhan not being truly NOI and more Sunni now was from a NOI sister I knew who lived in Oakland, CA and was in the NOI splinter group. I love facts but I also like first-person commentary, so Im somewhat inclined to believe the sis.

L

Undercover Black Man said...

^ ... and was in the NOI splinter group.

I don't get that, Lola. What does that mean? What splinter group?

Lola Gets said...

Ok, the woman I KNEW, was in the NOI in an Oakland, CA chapter. Her chapter, and according to her other chapters as well, didnt recognize Farakkhan as head of the NOI long before he stepped down last year. They followed another man, whose name I now forget. His name has been in the media before. I do believe that hes the guy that had the other Million Children March.

I know that doesnt clarify much, but thats all I got. For me to come up with any other info, Id have to do some serious 'net research, and we all know the only 'net time I get is limited and at the library, lol.

L

Undercover Black Man said...

^ Thanks, Lola. Didn't mean to put you through changes... but I am interested in the complexities of NOI. There are quite a few splinter groups... one based in Atlanta, one in K.C.

I wonder if your girl was part of the crew that ran the Your Black Muslim Bakery? (Yusuf Bey was the leader.)

Lola Gets said...

Dammit, man! Got me all stressed out nshyt! Lookin on my Black Planet page for my friends name nshyt. Got so confused that I accidently clicked the wrong button on the "friends" page, and now Ive got a bunch of freakin idiots listed as my freakin friends! DAMMIT!

Now, I think the group that my friend belonged to leaders first name was Malik, but I could be wrong. I seriously think its the same dude I brought to speak at a conference I organized at Smith. He was a real ass.

L

cnulan said...

The Bell Curve is racist trash as are its two pseudo-scientist authors Charles Murray and the late Richard Hernstein.

Fools got UCBM confused as hell when he was young and impressionable - and he hasn't fully recovered since...,

cnulan said...

What has Louis Farrakhan actually accomplished for the benefit of black people? Isn’t he basically the leader of a mind-control cult, pushing rhetoric that’s 50 years out of date? Isn’t it time for the rest of us to quit taking him seriously?

A simultaneous lack of technological and entrepreneurial excellence has kept the NOI from achieving its full potential.

It's a shockingly homogeneous organization with some serious barriers to entry for the best and brightest folks, and no meritocratic framework by which a diversity of subject matter expertise could be brought to bear on both its own organizational growth and development and on serving the needs and interests of Black folks.

In terms of organizational capabilities, the NOI hasn't evolved any at all since the very early 1970's, with the primary barriers to evolution being the insular hyper-egos in charge..,

Undercover Black Man said...

^ Your analysis of NOI is spot-on, Craig.

As for "The Bell Curve"... the future will tell. They done mapped the human genome, bruh. You heard about that, right?

Des said...

Vince,

I don't know the shape or size of whatever trial balloon you were blowing...but you just stuck a spear in it with this:

"P.S. While heading the NAACP, Kweise lived around the corner from me in Baltimore County in a $650,000 home where his nearest black neighbor was at least two miles away. What’s that all about?"

Bring your PUNK AZZ back here....and I'll tell u that and more. And btw, did u move out there looking for the Pearly Pure?
WTF is that all about?

Be aware that I wipe SERENITY off my Anton Chigurh boots every time I cross the screet. Or shld I do as you say and roll over and take it... Sheeeeiiiiiiiiiittttt.

Matt Norwood,

Logan Circle...Tuff Hood. Ever been to Anacostia? I sat on a train in East Berlin between 3 Skinheads, after telling one to move over, the summer after the wall fell....and I ain't 5'8" standing on a biscuit. I did have a switchblade that I picked up outside of Checkpoint Charlie.... but I couldn't have gotten to it time.

And you're burying your head on PUBLIC FREAKING bus in Our Nation's Capital because some guy with a bowtie and bean pie is talking? I hope you made it alive.

De Starnes,

I gotta tip the hat to my boy too:

"A angry man rooted in facts does not scare me as much as a ignorant angry man."

IMHO most religious orgs are basically social orgs.... And the real ones are all based on a similar premise which is: "What rules shld we follow so we can live in this place together without killing ourselves off" Most of the trappings are are simply that.

DeAngelo Starnes said...

At first, I was going to leave this shit alone.

But I'm pissed.

Yo Vince Spence, stop e-stalking me!

Okay, we get that you missed the tongue-in-cheek "riot" comment.

Let it go and take a deep breath because that was two weeks ago.

The rest of your babble is too silly to dignify with comment.

The subject if the continued relevance of Farrakhan. You want to make a point about that subject and that subject only, we might can go.

Mister T said...

Dave; First, I stand corrected with the author's name of the scientific study called "The Bell Curve". But I never called him a racist. I never met the man. I called his particular area of scolarhsip/study "scientific racism". And it derives from the same branch of science as eugenics. And it's sole purpose was to provide a science-based justification for oppressing non-whites, evidence of white supremacy.

I am also shocked that you actually read the publication. Should I have read it? Or is it just recycling of the same white supremacy in academia that has continued to flourish?

Not to stray too far off point, the relevance here is that Barack Obama in general and the black community in particular continues to bear the brunt of the responsibility when it comes to repudiating objectionable speech. The only white person in public who I observe that repudiates white hate speech almost every day is Keith Olberman on MSNBC. Not Hillary Clinton, John McCain, or any other elected official or journalist, white or black.

The tragedy here is that white media coerces our community to publicly betray one another. Almost like forcing two reluctant pit bulls to destroy one another. It's not good enough for us to have a genuine disagreement on policy. I personally don't like that fact that Barack Obama rarely, if ever, speaks on enforcing civil rights laws, employment and housing discrimination, etc. which even the Bush administration has characterized as "rampant".

The only real solution, and D. Starnes knows this, is what I call the 10-step program. And this starts shoring up our economic, politial and social institutions. And Farrakhan has attempted to build this through his cleaning products, and independent newspaper, and personal development classes. As far as I'm concerned, he has already contributed more to the black community than all our black elected official combined.

Vince Spence said...

Good evening, Des...

I have no idea what these three paragraphs mean.

"I don't know the shape or size of whatever trial balloon you were blowing...but you just stuck a spear in it with this:"

"Bring your PUNK AZZ back here....and I'll tell u that and more. And btw, did u move out there looking for the Pearly Pure?
WTF is that all about?"

"Be aware that I wipe SERENITY off my Anton Chigurh boots every time I cross the screet. Or shld I do as you say and roll over and take it... Sheeeeiiiiiiiiiittttt."

I am guessing you disagree with something I said. Can you 'dumb it down' a little for a 59 year-old?

Vince Spence said...

Fair enough.

I am not sure what white people you guys were talking to, but Farrakhan's message was welcomed by most of my friends and people I discussed him with.

He was convinced white supremacy would never give the blacks what they deserved and what they needed. And, that by using government assistance type programs, the hole was actually being dug deeper and deeper. Black men were allowing themselves to be emasculated by the white man's system. By accepting these programs, blacks were accepting domination. His message was accountability. Don't take welfare checks. Don't accept food stamps and unemployment insurance. Work 40 hours and be a father to your children and a husband to the mother of your children. Worship your savior. Protect your community.

Believe me, Mr. Farrakkan can call me any name he wants. If the past 40 years were spent following his message and not hanging onto issues from 150 years ago, the plight of the black race would be improved one hundred fold.

Mr. Starnes, your sense of humor eludes me.

Des said...

No prob Vince,

Let's start with the part you left out about where Kweise lives.

Where do you think he sld live? Do you think that he should live in a predominantly Black neighborhood because of his NAACP connection?

Does Frank Perdue live near Chickens?

You grew up in a "95%" black hood. How many of them non family darkies did you take out there with you?


Most people live in the best neighborhood/house they can afford. I'm assuming that's what you did. Why is it so hard to believe he'd do the same thing?

I'll pick up the other stuff when you respond. Don't want to OverLoad ya?

Mr T,

Way to holla at my boy K.O. As for your 10 step program, I'd love to see the steps. You can be brief at first, I pick up pretty quickly. But without seeing them, my initial question is don't you think we need to do a few more preliminary things at first before "shoring up our economic, politial and social institutions"?

Vince Spence said...

Des,

You are 100% correct. I just thought it was a little ironic, but I made much more out of it than I should have.

You are also right on part two. in 1965 I moved into a lily white neighborhood (except for Mr. Mfume, of course) His house is three times nicer than mine.

I also agree with with Mr. Starnes and I will try to stay on topic. Bear with me. Thanks.

Undercover Black Man said...

Mr. T, you wrote: "... the relevance here is that Barack Obama in general and the black community in particular continues to bear the brunt of the responsibility when it comes to repudiating objectionable speech."

I can't argue with you on that. Not after watching Tim Russert take up time in the last debate asking Obama to comment on an award given to Farrakhan by the pastor of his church.

First time I've ever seen a presidential candidate asked to comment on something his daggone pastor did.

Undercover Black Man said...

Vince Spence, glad you're back. Keep it goin', y'all...

Des said...

No prob Vince,

On The Serenity Prayer:

"realizes how little we can change our circumstances – people, places or things."

Two things to start. It is often difficult change people. Circumstances, places (or shld I say, Locations) and things are very changeable.

It sounds like you're saying We shld just give into White Supremecy and accept it and move on... because we are powerless to do anything about it.

While I have no dreams of flipping every racist in the world.... I do what I can to make the world a better place everyday. Most days I succeed. Some days I falter and screw up. But the days I spend doing nothing....are the days I FAIL.

DeAngelo Starnes said...

Spence re: sense of humor, whatever.

On the issue of hanging onto 150 years' worth of shit, what 150 years' worth of shit are you referencing. Because if you're talking about slavery? That may have ended one hundred and forty-three years ago, but it lasted three times as long.

You know it's very fucking easy for some white dude to tell a Black person to get over the effects of slavery when he ain't suffered the lasting effects of it. Some sorry ass I'm a poor white person and my family didn't own slaves rhetoric is so fucking tired.

And so the only part of Farrkhan's message he can latch onto is self-sufficiency. Not that I disagree with that component of the message. But you don't get to that part unless you listen about the legacy of slavery.

But that's the problem with most people in America today. They don't deal with the whole context and the complete answer.

So how can you pick and choose if you haven't listened to everything to make a judgment?

That's the reason why you get distracted and fixated on "riot" comments because you didn't lisen to and/or understand the whole context. You missed the point that we're all getting fucked over.

But even though white people are getting fucked over, they forget all that and start drinking the kool-aid as soon as Farrakhan or Sharpton or Jesse gets injected into the argument.

I think it's because of subconcious racism.

Black politicians are ALWAYS asked to denounce one of the three in some form or fashion.

"Mr. Starnes, do you agree the white man is the devil as your supporter Louis Farrakhan has proposed?"

"Mr. Starnes, do you agree that Tawawna Brawley was raped by white police officials as your supporter Al Sharpton has advocated?"

"Mr. Starnes, do you agree with the anti-Semitic comments regarding New York being 'Hymietown' as your supporter Jesse Jackson said during his 1984 presidential campaign?"

"Mr. Starnes, do you agree with the Black Panthers' program of shooting the police as your supporter, Bobby Seale once stood for?"

Ad fucking nauseum.

Fuck kissing a goddamn ring of rejection and denouncement. It's a distraction.

I'll be glad when there is no Farrakhan litmus test or any other similar litmus test, and we deal with issues.

Ding!

Michael Fisher said...

DeAngelo...

"subconcious racism."

D. You're giving white folks too little credit...

Michael Fisher said...

Mills...

"...genome project..."?

Dave, what part of your genome makes you "black"?

What does a "black" person look like?

Did you know, by the way, that the actual objective racial division among male humanity is that between males that have man-titties and those that don't?

(the man-tittied race of males tend to have an IQ of 187 and genius-level blogs, non-man tittied males race of males of which I am a member off tend to have an IQ of 43 and have abandoned their paltry attempts at blogging)

You find that absurd? Hmmm... and this biological white/black race thing and the accompanying "IQ gap" you don't?

Vince Spence said...

A man has been unfaithful to his wife. For decades he has also abused and humiliated her. Every aspect of his treatment toward her has been abominable. Her self esteem could not be worse.

One day this man is approached by his preacher, the town sheriff and his friends. They convince him to sober up and change his ways. He has truly seen the light and sits down with his wife and apologizes. In his heart, he is genuinely sorry for his actions. They decide to attempt to reconcile the marriage and go forward from that day.

Understandably, the wife is dubious at best about the prospects of her husband actually being reformed. If he even looks at another woman, she calls him on it and they argue. If he is home five minutes late, a screaming match occurs. He must be careful because she listens for every word he says and is highly critical.

Is everything now the wife's fault? Of course not. Could the husband do more to help the relationship survive and prosper? Most definitely. Should the wife block out those decades of past abuse and humiliation? That is impossible. How can this marriage survive?

Acceptance, in it's purest form, is understanding how powerless one is against virtually everything - especially the past and the future. Every second we spend being distracted from today because of the past is wasted. Things do not change. Only people's perception of things can change. If you are a black person over age 15, your perception of slavery probably will never change. History will not let us forget the travesty of enslaving a race of people for centuries. But, until we understand we cannot change history, we cannot go forward. We are stuck in the past.

You definitely don't need a sermon about race relations from an old white man. What I write is my thoughts and feelings - my perception, if you will. If you are satisfied with the progress made by blacks in the past 40 years since MLK's death, I am happy for you. I do not think you are and I do not think reliving the past has added one single thing to any progress made.

Greg Banks said...

I think my bruh D. Starnes is on point. I've been to see Farrakhan speak, however, 4 times and I've never heard him say something that wasn't factual. Maybe I missed those speaches where he's making all of the accusations he's credited with, but I also know he's been misquoted or taken outen of context frequently. All I know is what I saw....him berating not only Jewish people, but Blacks, anyone who was related to the slave trade directly. The Nation was my first experience with an organization that promoted Black Self Awareness from the beginning and turned many brothers around...and what negative statement could you ever make about The Million Man March...that was just self-love bruhs...maybe some nutty stuff did go down...I just haven't seen or heard about it..I'm not about to join the Nation, because I don't know enough about the internal machinery and don't have the time to investigate, but I will support any uplifting program for the good of my people.......

Matt Norwood said...

des,

Why the hostility?

Logan Circle...Tuff Hood. Ever been to Anacostia?

Yeah, I worked at St. E's for a while as a law student, and I spent some time there as a kid. Why, are you considering me for a "Black People Love Me" merit badge?

You found me out, des. I'm white.

I sat on a train in East Berlin between 3 Skinheads... And you're burying your head on PUBLIC FREAKING bus ...

I think you must have misread something I posted, des. I wasn't trying to out-victim anybody, and I wasn't telling a story about feeling afraid for my life. I was just recounting a story about an absurd situation I found myself in when I was a kid. Because, you know, it's weird for a kid to grow up hearing from the adults around him that the color of his skin makes him the devil. If you're black, I'm sure you can identify.

I'm not trying to win a competition; I'm just saying it's kind of ridiculous, and it kind of underlines some funny little consequences of the NoI's mythology.

Like I said, the NoI's position makes sense in highly segregated environments. My being on that bus was an anomaly, and it highlighted the absurdity of what the guy was preaching. I didn't think he harbored any actual ill-will toward me; the "white people" he was talking about were abstractions, and any connection between me and them was pretty much accidental, for both him and me. But that's what's so tricky about objectification of human beings: the absurdity of it is hard to conceal when you're face-to-face with The Devil and he turns out to be a pale, pudgy, shy little 13-year-old kid reading a paperback science fiction novel.

White people in America have proved themselves adept at navigating this absurdity: they don't seem to have a problem treating young black kids as adults in dishing out prison sentences. They explain this behavior by falling back on tried-and-true blacks-as-animals rhetoric: the kid is like a young wolf puppy, and he'll grow into a killer if we don't slaughter him now. Perhaps the NoI has a similarly effective technique for quelling the cognitive dissonance that arises from telling a 13-year-old kid he's The Devil. If so, more power to them if it helps them to get through the day. But I suspect that in the long run, that kind of mythology creates more problems for its adherents than it solves.

Des said...

Vince,

"For decades he has also abused and humiliated her."

This is not a good example. Can I have a better one pls? Who is supposed to be whom or what? Is the abuser to be taken as hardcore racist or does he represent racism incarnate? After more than 20 years, friends and authorities are just stepping in? Does the wife have serious psychological problems? Please?

And, btw, you've really got that whole "slavery" thing screwed up. Nobody wants to erase "slavery" from the past. Decent people have a problem with racism and racist behavior...and we refuse to put up with it. Hope that wasn't too simplistic?

And as for sermons, I'll take a sermon from Satan, if he's telling the irrefutable truth.

And speaking of MLK, did you know that he didn't believe in the Virgin Birth? Go Figure?

Matt,

"I've got a right to be hostile, my people been persecuted" Flavor Flav, P.E.

Are you Dougie Howser? When you went to law school, how old were you? And he probably wasn't referring to you. You were just a lil Devil-ette.

Most religions contain mythology.

And on the subject of Demonizing, what do you think of this country's feelings towards Muslims? Imagine what it's like dressed in "Muslim" garb, burying your head the Koran, riding a bus through the "White ghetto". Where do you go to get away from that?

Matt Norwood said...

des:

"I've got a right to be hostile, my people been persecuted" Flavor Flav, P.E.

I didn't say you didn't have the right, des; I asked you why you're acting this way. As in, what cause are you advancing by being hostile toward me?

And on the subject of Demonizing, what do you think of this country's feelings towards Muslims?

Uh... I think it's fucked up? I'm not sure what you're looking for, des. Like I said, I'm not trying to compete with anybody for victim status. Trust me, I'd choose being a white man over being anything else in America, in a heartbeat. My story wasn't about being a victim; it was just a story about how race in America is weird, and growing up here, white or black, gives you some weird racial shit to process as a kid.

If you're trying to win some kind of competition with me, des: you win. I concede.

Now can we keep talking about the matter at hand?

Most religions contain mythology.

That was the main point of my first post, des, which you seem to have skimmed, but perhaps not read.

Maybe this conversation would be easier if you laid out the attitudes and beliefs you've attributed to me, so we can sort out which ones are true, which ones aren't, and where you got the impressions you did.

To review:

1. The topic of the thread is Farrakhan's relevance or irrelevance, brought up by the recent Obama litmus-test in the media.

2. My post was mostly a defense of Farrakhan and the NoI as a positive force, but it was also critical of the limitations of their position, especially when taken out of its native social context.

3. My post also agreed with deangelo in his point about how Farrakhan qua Farrakhan is a red herring to distract us from the actually relevant political issue, which is the impossible double standard black politicians are held to.

Now, if you need to vent some hostility toward something you think I represent, knock yourself out. It's the Internet, so nothing we say matters anyway, but do it if it helps you to get something off your chest.

When you're done, though, I'd really like to continue the conversation, because I'm into it.

Are you Dougie Howser? When you went to law school, how old were you?

I'm not sure what this means. I grew up in DC, and I was there again as a law student in my late 20s, working for the Public Defender.

Des said...

Matt,

I did skim your mythology comment...and we're on the same page.... As we are on several other points raised...and that's why I only mentioned the portion I had a problem with....which was the bus riding segment. I found to be most condenscending. That strikes a nerve in me...thus my reaction.

You mentioned that you were both 13 and a law student....didn't know you were referring to Two separate times, thus the Dougie Howser remark.

Vince Spence said...

Des,

Probably more a parable than a sermon. Just like the 'wedding feast at Cana', there were no Jews or Pharisees mentioned - just wedding guests. There were no blacks or whites in my story. In this case, 20 years represents (slightly exaggerated) an inordinate of time that has passed.

Racist behavior is not ending in our lifetimes nor in our grandchildren's lifetime. White vs. black, Arab vs. Jew, black vs. white, ad infinitum. I have a problem with other people's racism. I have a problem with mine. However, if blacks (or Jews, Arabs, etc.) decide to postpone their own spiritual, emotional and financial growth until racism is totally eliminated, you will experience another 40 years of rather dubious progress.

Go back to my original point. Would Dr. King be pleased with the product of his labors 40 years after his assassination? How much blame would he apportion to the blacks and how much to the whites. I think you would be very surprised at the answer.

Des said...

Vince,

"How much blame would he apportion to the blacks and how much to the whites. I think you would be very surprised at the answer."

Considering the present state of Dr. King, I'd be surprised at ANY answer.

As for racism ending....May not end in my lifetime, but as we used to say in Calculus class, as Racism approaches Zero....the equation looks brighter in my eyes.

Render said...

Shortness of useable time...

Just a quick correction Mr. Starnes.

David "PlasticDickhead" Duke most certainly does have a nationwide organization of devoted followers.

In fact, unlike NOI, Duke's organization is international.

Granted it isn't currently as well organized as NOI, or perhaps as devoted, but it does exist, and it is growing, again.

Stormfront and it's 200,000+ registered international members are just the tip of the iceberg.

===

Sorry guys, from my perspective Farrakhan is the same as Duke.

Just another cult leader using his flock to support his own chosen lifestyle.

NOI, on the other hand, in spite of its leadership's rhetoric has done something that Duke's many named organization has never done and will never do...

Be helpful to and within its own community.

Whereas Duke's people have a long and well documented record of extreme violence.

oh, and NOI dresses better then the Duke's skinheads.

BOWTIES?,
R

Matt Norwood said...

Des:

Sorry if my bus story came off as condescending. Re-reading it, I can see how you might have gotten that impression. But I wasn't so much trying to highlight the wackiness of the NoI's ideas as the disconnect between the ideas and my lived experience while I was hearing them.

Like I said, the NoI's ideas don't seem any stranger to me than the Catholics', or the Buddhists', or the Jews', or the Evangelicals', or the Scientologists', or anybody else who tries to tell you they've got access to secret magical knowledge. And given the circumstances in which they were formed, I'm not really in a a great position to judge people who subscribe to them if they find the ideas helpful. From what I've seen, black America could do a lot worse than to sign up under Farrakhan's banner.

But even if the NoI is the ultimate solution to black liberation and empowerment, at some point, the disconnect between a useful idea and the truth will make itself known. White America has depended on useful lies for a long time: the inferiority of women and non-whites, the evils of homosexuality, the inexhaustibility of natural resources, the ability of capitalism to provide economic growth idefinitely. As these lies have begun to unravel, the costs of keeping the truth supressed has continued to grow and to consume more and more of white America's time and energy.

Even if the NoI really thinks it's going to prevail and avoid assimilation into white American culture, as happened to the Jews over the last 200 years, they would still do well to jettison the "tired" rhetoric of diabolical whiteness that Starnes talks about in the first comment above. In the long run, that kind of thinking can only hurt them, even if it once had a useful function. From what I understand, there has been some softening of the rhetoric in this area recently, and I think that's a positive development.

Mister T said...

I will share with you a short-list of the 10-step (or more) program for Black America:

1) take your savings and investments out of large corporate banks and place it in a Black-owned bank (like the Cubans have done-Banco Popular)and demand consistently good service and competitive rates. Hold them accountable. There's now even a couple of black owned internet banks.
2) join an orgnization (preferably not a church unless they are active in the communities where they are located because they suck up your time, money and energy)
3) vote consistently, especially in local elections
4) contribute to political campaigns for favorable candidates
5) hold local governments accountable for services in your community (especially city councils, police departments and school officials-call them all the time and attend community meetings.

There are other constructive steps we could take to transform our communities which I can share at another time.

Anonymous said...

Harmless? Not only does that non-sense fill kids with a world view that's down right mal-adjusted anywhere outside the NOI temple, what's worse is it corrupts the individual's morality as it makes up its own rules and rather than correct corruption within its organization, still, to this day seeks to silence individuals who "air the dirty laundry."

When I published a column in a Black newspaper in DC, I asked the question about the legacy of Farrakhan beyond the famous Million Man March. I also shared some of my personal experiences having grown up in the NOI as a third-generation child of the NOI. One of Farrakhan's goons tried to shut me down. He frightened the publisher so she told me not to write about the NOI anymore in her paper. The nerve. These guys are still using brass intimidation like they did in the 60s and 70s. I wrote about some of that foolishness in my memoir, "Little X", which the blogger here mentioned.

I've detailed more about the impact of that non-sense indoctrination in my new book, "Do Me Twice: My Life after Islam." (You can read excerpts from both books at www.sonsyrea.com.)

Of course I've counted as blessings, the discipline I learned and the training in being "uh" different. Weird is the word, for real. I can remember being at a family picnic with relatives not in the NOI trying to convince them mthe object we marveled at in the sky was "The Mother Ship." I tried explaining Elijah Muhammad's Mother Ship theory (not to be confused with Parliament's), and my folks thought I was a little nut!

Anyway, I think families in the NOI have been more harmed than helped - in most cases. Of course folks who aren't in the NOI and only marvel at the scrubbed public presentation would argue me down. But you have to ask why they're not IN it if they love it so much.

Of course many have gone through the NOI, learned a few lessons they needed to learn and were better for it. NOI stories are as varied as the individuals once in it. We've got thousands of stories to tell.

Is Farrakhan's rhetoric harmful? I would advise against indoctrinating children with his brand of foolishness. It's fine for adults who need a break from reality and need to revel in the angry words of a man who'd felt their pain. But consider this too, when we were in the NOI, we lived in crowded houses or apartnments and made major personal and family sacrifices to pay offerings to the leaders. We were buying Elijah Muhammad an airplane after affording him and his family a mansion. This kind of exploitation is just wrong, even when the exploiters are Black.