Failure to do so costs you everything.
Ebony S. Muhammad (EM): You are going into your 3rd annual Black Male Summit on November 17th . What inspired you to begin this special seminar for young boys and men?
Deric Muhammad (DM): Growing up in the inner-city without a father, myself, I realized how easy it was for me to relate the young Black males who are growing up under same or similar circumstances. My role as a justice advocate usually calls for me to come to their defense in a time of trouble. I wanted to make sure that I do more to impart the knowledge that has been so freely given to me to them. We want to get to them BEFORE they get into trouble so that there is no need for us to be there after they get into trouble. I call it “proactivism.” I grew up under the “three-thirds” dynamic. A third of my friends that I grew up with are dead. Another third is incarcerated and the other third are just trying to make it. These are not numbers that I am willing to accept. We must make Black males to know that there is a better way.
EM: Why did you choose to focus on education?
DM: The Schott Foundation for Public Education released some interesting statistics this year. Only 52% of Black males graduate from high school in four years. To add to that, we must ask ourselves how many of that 52% graduate functionally illiterate? The number one enemy in the Black community is no longer the White man. The number one enemy in the Black community is ignorance. It is an enemy that we must take on and overpower if we are ever to reach the rendezvous with destiny given to us by God himself.
The scripture teaches “My people perish for the lack of knowledge.” It is properly applied knowledge that will resurrect the Black male from spiritual, mental, social, economic and political death. The brother Tyrese Gibson said it like this: “We have to make being smart ‘sexy’ again.” Not my choice of words, but I agree with his sentiment.
Lastly, we must consider the aforementioned statistics and look at the reality that the educational system in America was not designed to free the minds of young Black males. Therefore we must redefine what true education represents for Black boys and men in this day and time if the lion who is asleep in Judah is ever to be awakened.
EM: How has the summit evolved over the past three years? What are you seeking to accomplish during the 3rd annual?
DM: I am very proud of the evolutionary path that this summit is taking. A child’s third step is always stronger than his second. And his second step is always stronger than his first. Our third summit is expected to be our most powerful and impactful summit yet. We want this summit to embody what a particular author, whose name I can’t recollect, calls a “Wow experience”.
Our goal is to inspire Black males to pursue the attainment of knowledge “by any means necessary.” We believe that learning takes place inside the classroom and outside of the classroom. We want them to know that higher education is in the very DNA of the Black man. We are laying the base for this year’s summit to be a life-changing experience for our participants. We are grateful to Allah for the opportunity to serve. As a child of God I have privileges…the greatest of which is to serve.
EM: Although this seminar is for males, what has the response been like from women, especially the mothers of the young boys?
DM: The response from women has been phenomenal. Seventy percent (70%) of the homes in the Black community are headed by women. The majority of Black boys are being raised by their mothers and grandmothers, just like I was. They understand the need for programs like this just as much or more than Black men. We encourage our sisters to come on out and hear what we have to say.
Many sisters have already signed up as volunteers. They wish to play a supporting role in the war to save the Black male. The mothers of young boys are ecstatic about this opportunity for their boys to be in an environment with positive Black men. They are grateful for the “Smart’n Up” Black Male Summit and we are grateful for them.
EM: How do you select the workshop topics within the summit, and how are you able to gauge whether any of the previous attendees utilized the tools and benefited?
DM: As a year round activist I try to keep my ear to the streets and my finger on the pulse of what’s going on with our current generation. I look at trends, statistics, etc. But, more importantly, I speak with many Black males who, for whatever reasons, tend to open up to me.
From my personal interactions with my people I develop a needs assessment. I take a look at what needs to be taught to Black males that they can never learn in a traditional classroom setting. From there, we choose our workshop topics. And “YES”, we are able to somewhat gauge the progress of past attendees. For instance, I was told by a young brother that his experience at our first summit inspired him to go back to school. He says he almost has his associates’ degree and he wanted to thank us. There are many others who have offered testimony. All praise is due to Allah (God).
EM: What Black male has had the strongest impact on you and why?
DM: A very special man by the name of Louis Farrakhan has had the strongest impact on me, because his life and the sacrifice that it has became is the greatest example of legendary love for Black people and humanity, in general. He is greatly misunderstood; but, what servant of God isn’t? He is nearing his 80th birthday and his passionate work ethic for Freedom, Justice and Equality still makes him to move at a relentless pace. Young brothers like myself can hardly keep up with him. As a baby cub he is the lion that taught me, and millions like me who never had a father, how to “roar.” There are others who have had a profound impact on me, as well. But, since you asked for just one I will leave it at that.
EM: What is in your arsenal of literature?
DM: I am currently rereading the Miseducation of the Negro by Carter G. Woodson. I have my children reading it right now, as well. I finally picked up The New Jim Crow by my Sister Michelle Alexander. What a great offering about mass incarceration and modern day slavery. I strive to read the Holy Quran every day and I study the Bible often. I am always feeding on Message to the Blackman in America (Hon. Elijah Muhammad), which is the book that has had the greatest impact on my life. Other books in my arsenal include The Fall of America, The Secrets of Effective Leadership, The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews and the list goes on. I enjoyed both of the official biographies of Fidel Castro (entitled “My Life”) and I enjoyed Steve Jobs’ life story as well. Don’t get me started talking about books. I am a nerd to the second power. I love to learn.
EM: You made an amazing announcement during the first annual Black Male Summit that you were going back to school for your degree in Finance. How are things progressing with that, and what have you learned about yourself along the way that you can share with those who are unsure about college?
DM: Yes ma’am, I made that announcement at the first summit and, with God’s help, I have made my word bond so far. At the time I was keeping a grueling schedule and I realized that I did not have the time to read and study like I should. I was very dissatisfied with that. I went back to school; not necessarily to get a degree, but I felt I needed to put myself back into an environment of learning. I knew absolutely nothing about attending college. They had to walk me through everything. I never set foot on a college campus in my life except to make mischief (lol). Then, after becoming a Muslim, I only went to college campuses to speak. So it was very interesting sitting in a classroom again.
Already under a demanding schedule as a community watchman, I had to make some major adjustments. But by the grace of Allah (God) we grabbed the bull by the horns and we are still on the path that we set out on two years ago. I look at Brother Robert Muhammad, the Student Southwest Regional Minister of the Nation of Islam who is just around the corner from receiving a doctorate degree. With so much on his plate, he decided he would continue his education and he stuck with it. Our message to Black men is that you are never too old to learn. If you have the desire to return to the classroom then you can do it. If the classroom is not for you then you must develop the habit of reading good material that will enrich your life. The only time a human being should stop learning is when he has stopped breathing.
EM: What are your thoughts about taking this summit to other cities? Have invitations been extended?
DM: It’s interesting that you ask, because I just got off of a phone call with a brother from Alabama who is trying to duplicate what God is blessing us to do with Smart’n Up. I am definitely interested in bringing the summit to other cities. We have been invited to some cities and many others have shown interest. It can be very difficult to take such a program on the road when in Houston we have approximately a million Black people. The need is so great here I can hardly get out of town to share what we have with others. But, as we become more organized we will be able to travel more often….if it be the will of Allah (God). Thank you for your questions.
EM: Thank YOU for everything you do for our community! May Allah bless you all with a successful 3rd Annual Black Male Summit and in ALL you do of good!
“We have as far as possible, closed every avenue by which light may enter the slaves mind. If we could extinguish the capacity to see the light, our work would be complete; they would then be on the level with the beast of the field and we should be safe.”
These are the words of Mr. Henry Berry, a member of the Virginia House of Delegates, put on public record in 1832. Mr. Berry recognized the necessity of keeping the Black race ignorant in order to preserve the institution of slavery in America. One hundred eighty years later his words still sting bitterly, particularly in the case of the Black Male. The lack of knowledge is his worst enemy and the American education system appears to be failing to adequately supply him with what is necessary for survival and success in the land of the free.
While some may argue such a claim, the numbers don’t lie. The Schott Foundation for Public Education released a 2012 report stating that only 52% of Black males graduate high school in four years. These statistics were revealed in its 50 state report on Public Education and Black Males. In Texas only 53% of Black males graduate high school in four years.
The reports also reads: “after decades of highlighting increasing lost opportunities for Black males, most states and districts have yet to institutionalize state or district-wide policies focused on providing the supports to create an environment for Black and Latino boys to thrive.” More on this report can be found at www.blackboysreport.org.
The aforementioned statement speaks to the unique support system needed for the Black male to thrive in education. If no light enters his mind he will end up just like Mr. Berry predicted; on the level of the beast of the field. Because a beast is without knowledge, it uses raw survival instinct to make every day decisions. Black on Black violence, crime, homicide, suicide and other diabolical trends among Black males is not the cause. On the contrary these are the EFFECTS of darkness in the mind that the traditional education is failing to enlighten. Therefore education for Black males must explored be redefined.
Houston-based activist Deric Muhammad and Lone Star College North Harris’ Victory Center and others have partnered for the third annual “Smart’n Up” Black Male Summit. The summit seeks to inspire, motivate and navigate young Black males to pursue knowledge inside of the classroom as well as outside of the classroom. The theme “Smart’n Up” is an appeal to young Black (and Latino) males to seek knowledge in order to make better decisions in life. Admission into the Black Male Summit is FREE.
If half of all Black males are not graduating high school in the prescribed time this is a red flag that the traditional educational route is not for everybody. The Black Male Summit encourages Black boys and men to pursue higher education. It also promotes self-education; becoming self-taught like great men the likes of Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey and others. The summit also strongly encourages Black males to take up trades, becoming certified welders, Architecture and Construction Professionals, Electricians, etc. Lone Star College Victory Center provides these and other programs as well. GED and College entrance information will be available at the summit.
The Lone Star Victory Center sits in the heart of the Acres Homes community (9191 Victory Dr.) which has produced some excellent examples. State Representative Sylvester Turner is Harvard graduate who overcame life’s obstacles to excel in the traditional educational system.
Mr. Roy Douglas Malonson, Publisher of the African-American News & Issues, didn’t pursue his education the traditional way. Malonson was born poor into the family of 11 in a two bedroom house with no electricity or running water. He was stricken with polio at six months of age. He was given braces to help correct partial paralysis on his right side. His mother left him at the age of 5 and his father committed suicide in 1974. He overcame obstacles that would make most buckle and give up in this day and time.
Malonson started by selling bottles in order to pay for his Boy Scout uniform. He believes that being teased by his classmates about his condition made him stronger. At age 13 he developed an interest in carpentry and started building and selling cabinets. The rest is history. Malonson went on to become one of the most successful Black businessmen and one of the strongest Black voices in the history of the city of Houston; a great example for Black boys who embodies what the Black Male Summit represents.
Register for Black Male Summit at www.blackmalesummit2012.eventbrite.com
Life in America with a Felony
By: Deric Muhammad
From the time the first slave ship landed in Jamestown, Virginia life in America has been a rough journey for Black people. Four hundred and fifty seven years later statistics indicate that it still is. And if being Black in America isn’t rough enough, try having a felony on your criminal record. It’s like being asked to race Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps with cement shoes. Before you can get a good start it seems you’re already weighed down.
“Have you ever been convicted of a felony?” It’s the “line in the sand” on every job application that legalizes discrimination. It’s the line item that often determines whether a young Black male will humble himself to flip burgers or compromise himself to hustle crack. Even McDonald’s makes it difficult for a felon to find honest work these days. Such is life in America when you’ve been convicted of a felony. You pay your debt to society. Then you are punished for the rest of your life. America must learn that not everyone who has a felony is a criminal. And not everyone who is a criminal has a felony.
To be a felon in the land of the free is no different than having a plantation’s brand on your back during the days of slavery. Society limits opportunities for you so the chances of you returning to that plantation (prison) are almost guaranteed. The inability to find gainful employment is just the beginning.
A felony conviction could very well prevent you from finding decent housing, exercising your right to vote, being eligible for Federal School Financial Aide, obtaining trade certifications, etc. One out of every 13 Blacks of voting age cannot participate in the 2012 Presidential Election due to their past criminal history, a number 4 times greater than that of non-Blacks in America. Nowadays a felon can’t even apply for food stamps. In the words of Sister Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow, this indicates that a convicted felon is not even “fit to be fed.”
This is one of the most profound hypocrisies considering the history of this country. Consider the fact that many, if not all, of the early Europeans who came to America were felons themselves. Society refers to them as the Founding Fathers. I call them “The Founding Felons.” Europe emptied her jails and sent her convicted criminals here as a way of ridding herself of the dregs of society. America represented new opportunity for its Founding Felons. The nerve of this nation to be so unforgiving of ex-felons when she, herself, was founded by criminals
The presidential candidates will not likely speak up for America’s millions of disenfranchised felons. Why? It’s simple. Way too many of them cannot vote.
I refer it as “the F word”, because in our social structure it is likened to a profane word; a “cuss word”, if you will. However, those who are struggling to move forward in life with the “ball and chain” of a felony on your record must become acquainted with another “F word.” That word is FAITH.
Regardless of what mistakes you have made, there is no blemish in your past that God cannot erase. In scripture He promises us beauty for our ashes. He promises to throw of our sins into the sea of forgetfulness if we would, but, have FAITH in Him. That FAITH is Him does not simply require that we pray. Once we get up from our prayer we must embark on a journey to “do for self” and have enough FAITH that we can make a future for ourselves and our families regardless of our criminal record. Brothers and sisters, it can be done!!!
If you can’t find a job, find a way to make a job for yourself. If they’ve denied you the right to vote, find a way to fight against felon disenfranchisement. There are other ways to participate in the political process. If they won’t give you food stamps, take a piece of land in your community and start an urban garden and grow your own food. If they deny you decent housing, learn how to build your own home. If they won’t give you financial aid for school, get a library card and educate yourself the way Malcolm X did. I know that these things are easier said than done. However, if you have FAITH the grain of a mustard seed you can remove the social consequences of having a felony on your record.
The Honorable Elijah Muhammad set the blueprint for socio-economic development for Black men and women coming out of prison. He created what is likened to an “underground railroad” for ex-felons, regardless of their religion, that was not dependent upon the government of America. He taught Black men and women how to, first, forgive themselves and then discipline themselves to cultivate their gifts and talents, ultimately becoming owners of their own businesses and architects of their own futures.
When I look at the concept of recycling and “going green”, it amazes me how White people can pour unprecedented resources into the recycling of things, but place very little value on the recycling of the human spirit. If the Lord’s prayer says “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us”, then what chance does America has of being forgiven of her history if she won’t even forgive the “trespasses” of those who have made mistakes and paid their debt to society. Think about it.
The Truth Behing the “Ice Grille” on The Black Male’s Face
by: Deric Muhammad
It evokes fear. It unsettles nerves. It can change the atmosphere of virtually any room as it enters. Able to make a White person walk on the opposite side of the street in a single bound. It’s not a bird. It’s not a plane. It’s not even superman. It’s simply the look on a Black man’s face.
It is universally recognized, yet known by man names. Referred to as the “Mean Mug,” the “Ice Grille” and other names it has become a cultural staple that has become socially synonymous with thug life and urban warfare. It is reminiscent of a mug shot. Some consider it the “game face” of hip hop because so many artists deem it mandatory to look as “hardened” as they possibly can on album covers and in videos. So what’s the truth behind the mean mug? Why do we as Black men feel the need to look so intimidating? Some say it’s an attempt to strike fear in society so that we can get ahead and stay ahead. Well, apparently it isn’t working. Statistics bear me witness.
Some social scientists have determined that we are an endangered species. One out of every three of us are in some way under the direct control of the criminal justice system (prison, probation, parole,etc.). We are the most unemployed and unemployable race-gender in America. Only 52% of us graduate high school in 4 years. And we are suffering at historical highs from health conditions such as diabetes, cancer, hypertension, heart disease and other illnesses. Suicide among Black men is at unprecedented levels. And lets’ not even approach the discussion about mental health.
Consider that approximately 70% of the homes in the Black community are headed by women. This means that 70% of Black males grow up without the immediate influence of a father. This is a painful reality for the son and the absentee father as well. No man is truly happy neglecting his duty as a father and that pain will at some point be reflected in his facial expression. These are just a few things to consider when you encounter a brother with his “mean mug” on full blast.
My daughters recently accompanied me to a television show interview. Afterward, I asked them if I did okay. My eldest responded, “dad you need to lighten up.” I had to take a real look at that. This was not the first time that I was told I had an “ice grill”, which perplexes me, because I don’t do it intentionally. However, I grew up in an intense environment and I think I may have developed a habit of unconsciously “mean mugging.” Not saying that I should go around smiling like a used car salesman, but much can be communicated through facial expressions. I once heard rapper/entrepreneur 50 Cent say that he consciously smiles a lot during business meetings because people in the business world tend to prejudge him based on his aggressive performance material and his backstory. Even 50 Cent agrees that there is a time to smile and that a mean mug can only take you so far in this world.
Black males in America are truly walking in the valley of the shadow of death. The above statistics clearly explain, yet does not excuse, why we look so mean so often. But how we respond can sometimes turn that mean mug into a happy face emoticon if we would but just take the time to look beyond the mean mug in search of the nature of God in that young Black man. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad taught and proved to us that the Black man is righteous by nature. He taught us to always go to our people with a smile and the good news (the gospel). He was forbidden by his teacher, Master Fard Muhammad, to communicate in a way that made his people cry. He set an example to all Black men must study.
Brothers when we become more aware of our destiny we will become more aware of our power as Black men. When you walk into a room the atmosphere should change, but not in a negative way. When you walk into a room it should be as if though somebody pulled the curtains back and let up the shades so that the sunlight came in. The mean mug has its place, but it should not be your everyday facial uniform. I told myself that I would try and do better. I can’t afford to scare off any blessings.
Brothers and sisters, behind every ice grille there is an unsolved problem. Behind every ice grille there are unresolved family issues and despair about the future. But sometimes the brother, like myself, may just not realize that he’s looking like he wants to kill somebody and needs someone to remind him to count his blessings. The next time you see a mean mug try and consider what might be going on in that brother’s life. He may have just lost his mother and simply needs someone to speak to him with a smile and tell him everything’s going to be alright. You would be surprise at the beautiful response you get by simply saying “How are you today brother?!!!” to a young man who appears troubled. Our people are a beautiful people. Don’t let that mean mug fool you.
BY: DERIC MUHAMMAD
(FinalCall.com) – Picture a lion trying to rescue his baby cubs from the jaws of a cobra. The cubs are having a good time playfully jumping about and are clueless to the artful but deadly advances of a venomous snake. The lion, seeing what the cub is too busy partying to see, spots the cobra in strike mode is willing to risk his very life to save what he loves from the core of his very being.
This is what comes to mind when I think of The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan’s relentless mission to reach, resurrect, restore and give purpose to Black youth. Virtually written off by so many Black leaders and society at-large, the minister sees their “write-off” as the key that unlocks the door to our freedom.
The rubber on his shoes touches the pavement of some of the most gang-infested areas in Chicago every week. His recent college tour continues to reach the “tattooed, skinny-jeaned” generation of Black university students by the thousands. He reaches tens of thousands weekly via his personal Twitter account and now legions are anticipating the #AskFarrakhan Social Media Townhall scheduled for September 26th where they’ll have the opportunity to digitally interface with the minister in a “no holds barred,” unfiltered question and answer session.
For decades there has been, and still remains, a concerted effort to dismantle and distort the connection between Farrakhan and young people. The cobra knows that if he wishes to have his way with the cub he must keep the cub separated from the Lion. After the historic Million Man March, the enemy went to work to forbid the minister and his representatives access to speak on college campuses. The media, for years, has been strategically utilized to vilify and create a false picture of the man. Those who control our athletes and entertainers forbid many of them to publicly show support for him. This is what I call locking the front door on Farrakhan. But, there is an old saying in the hood; “For every door that closes there’s a side window.”
Along comes the internet. Along comes social media. Along comes this “side window” that I believe the minister recognized as some of the modern equipment mentioned in the Nation of Islam’s lessons concerning “the Lion in the cage.” While most of our elders are busy rejecting social media, youth culture and buying into the “write-off,” the 79-year-old Farrakhan is busy climbing through the side window. There is something in that house that he loves more than his own life. Let me say it, candidly. Black youth, that someone is YOU.
The enemies of our rise know that a “youth-less revolution” is a “useless revolution.” The book says “old men for counsel; young men for war.” There has never been a revolution worth mentioning that was not spearheaded by the youth. As long as young Black America is being entertained and rocked to sleep in nonproductive pursuits the enemy’s world is safe and the cobra can have his way. But, when this fearless generation finds their purpose in life and takes their rightful place the enemy’s doom is signed, sealed and delivered. The fear of the fall of their world is at the root of the enemies’ fear of Farrakhan’s connection with today’s youth.
On September 26th, Farrakhan will be coming to the side window. The least we can do is come to the window to meet him. Every time the enemy sets up a roadblock between Brother Farrakhan and the youth, Allah (God) blesses him with a way to go around the enemy in order to get to God’s people. The #AskFarrakhan Townhall is your opportunity to bypass the outright lies and half-truths spread by our open enemy about the minister and see, hear and feel the spirit of the man for yourself. The reason the enemy does not want you to know the real Farrakhan, is because he does not want you to know your true self. He wants to keep you from the minister for the same reason the cobra wishes to lure the cub away from the lion. So make sure your iPods, iPads, Androids, Blackberry’s, laptops and whatnots are fully charged on September 26th and logon to the #AskFarrakhan Social Media Townhall Meeting. Turn off all other distractions and give your undivided attention to your future. Ask Farrakhan a question on Sept. 26th and, through him, watch God answer. I put that on everything.
By: Deric Muhammad
Growing up on Houston’s northside, Jheri Curls were popular. Either you had one and you mattered or you didn’t. My mother, a licensed beautician at the time, used all of her professional powers to try and make my hair look like Michael Jackson’s, but her powers failed us. No matter what chemicals she used to make my hair straight, wavy or curly my African roots just kept rising up and rebelling. Once I figured out that the curl wasn’t for me, I tried to get waves like the rest of my friends. They told me all I had to do was brush my hair constantly. I did, exactly, that and never saw one wave. All I got were headaches for brushing my hair. I just ended up wearing a low cut and eventually shaving it all off.
Unfortunately, for Black women and girls it’s not that simple. I remember being told I had “bad hair” (my grandfather called me “Jim Nappy”), but I don’t remember feeling bad about it. But a female’s hair is considered her crown and glory. It is written that in 15th Century Africa a woman’s hair signified her social status, genetic pedigree, her profession and even her power. The Black man and woman’s experience under the yoke of white supremacy forced on us the notion that the features of the white female were the standard of beauty. The more straight, stringy and long it was, it was considered “good hair.” Four hundred and fifty-plus years up from slavery we are still suffering from this sickness.
The past few years I’ve noticed an unusual number of Black women doing what is termed “going natural”; swearing off relaxers, chemicals and straighteners. From dredlocks, twists, short afros and close crops, there is a movement afoot to rid our community of the social demons that suggest our natural hair is not good enough. This makes me, as a Black man, proud. For when you know your natural self and love your natural self then you will cease to be ashamed of your natural self.
Last year I was invited to be a panelist at the NZURI Natural Hair Extravaganza held at Houston’s Reliant Center where “Naturalistas” from across the country convened to share ideas, styles, experiences, support and hair products. It was an empowering experience for me to see so many embrace such an important part of themselves. Then I began to ponder over why hair salons are called “beauty shops.” How misleading to think a woman can achieve real beauty in a shop, when real beauty takes place from the inside out, not from the outside in. True beauty is not determined by the texture of your hair. True beauty is determined by the texture of your heart.
The Black Hair Care Industry is a 9 billion dollar industry. Statistics show that 30-34% of all hair products in the U.S. are purchased by Black women. According to comedian, Chris Rock’s critically acclaimed documentary “Good Hair”, hair weaves make up about 65% of hair care revenue. With poverty and unemployment rampant in the Black community, we could benefit from a 9 billion dollar industry; especially one that naturally belongs to us. Koreans literally control the Black Hair Care and Nail industry in America. I consider this a “Haircare Holocaust.” However, I saw something at the Natural Hair Extravaganza that was equally as powerful as Black women going natural.
I realized that “going natural” is not just about hair. Going natural is a thought process that begets a lifestyle. When Black consumers spend Black dollars with Black businesses, this is another aspect of “Going Natural”, because self-preservation is the first law of nature. I noticed that most of the Natural and Organic Hair Care product vendors were Black-owned. I saw Black-owned nail salon operators, braiding experts, lock experts, etc., being patronized by their own people. Then I realized that the more Black women “kick those chemicals to the curb”, the more we would be forced to buy natural products from our own people instead of the scalp damaging, skull detroying chemicals sold to us by the Korean community and others. I felt like I was in the midst of a slave revolt.
The Bible teaches us that Jesus had hair like “lamb’s wool.” But, to say that Jesus had “bad hair” would be considered blasphemy. We must swear off the language of White Supremacy among us and declare terms like “bad hair” to be blasphemous in the Black community. Self-hatred makes merhandise of the self-hater. I call it the “commercialization of self-hatred”, where white society convinces you that there is something wrong with your natural self and makes billions selling you products to “fix it.” Through the acquisition of the knowledge of self we can learn to better love our natural selves and UNITE to starve the monster who makes us believe we are not good enough in order to sell us that which is not good for us.
As a Black man, I would like to say that I am proud of all my sisters who have made the decision to wear their hair natural. Let no man tell you that it is unattractive. But, please do not pass judgement on my sisters who may still, for the moment, use perms, chemicals and straighteners. Instead, ENCOURAGE them by educating them on the dangers of such use and the practical reward that is to be gained when we stop spending large amounts of money buying weaves, perms and ponytails from others, negating our personal finances and the economy of our own community. Brothers let us encourage our wives, daughters and sisters as they journey to accept their own and become themselves.
(Join me for this year’s Nzuri Festival on December 8th & 9th at Houston’s Reliant Center.)
Ashahed Muhammad is man of many gifts who wears many hats. He is an accomplished author, journalist, student leader, activist, speaker and ,more importantly, one of the "realest" Black men you'll ever meet. He currently serves as the Asst. Editor of the most powerful Black newspaper on the planet The Final Call. As we approach the big date, Sept. 26th, of the #AskFarrakhan Social Media Townhall (Ashahed is scheduled to serve as moderator) we were blessed to steal our brother away from his cumbersome schedule to ask a few questions about the upcoming townhall, the rising tide of violence in Chicago, the state of Black student leadership, etc. Please read his responses carefully for there are many "hidden explosives" therein. Let's go!!!
1). DM: Ashahed, before you became the assistant editor of the Final Call Newspaper you were very well known as a student leader. What is your view of the state Black student leadership on college campus’ today?
AM: Many are surprised when I say this, but I actually see a bright future for Black student leadership on many campuses today. Each campus I visit, I am seeing strong student leadership that appears to be firm in their desire to create a better future. I also hear many of them considering ways to help their people improve conditions. I’ve observed this primarily over the past two years, and I think it coincides with the awareness and information being delivered through the words of Minister Farrakhan over the same period of time. Now, that is not to say there are no challenges. I believe many of those student leaders have yet to be tested by those nefarious outside forces who seek to control their movement and their future, however, those that make it through without falling for those promises that are made only with the intent to deceive will be powerful and great liberators.
2). DM: From your perspective, why does the enemy fear Farrakhan’s connection with young Black America so much? What would you consider three of their major fears?
AM: The enemy has always been afraid of the power of ideas, and he is aware of the Minister’s ability to connect with others, teach, galvanize and then mobilize. The enemy uses their own ideological and psychological limitations to form conclusions about the Minister. Because this society teaches through their globally destructive actions that ‘might makes right’ they can’t imagine that someone as influential as he clearly is, would not use his power in a vengeful manner, so generally, their fears are all primarily rooted in their attempt to avoid collectively reaping what they have sown. Farrakhan’s reality is a difficult one for them to comprehend. As far as their three major fears, they are: 1. He is not controlled by them, therefore he can say and do what he pleases. The enemy always fears that which he cannot control, which is why they desire to control everything, including the forces of nature. The Minister operates by revelation, therefore, the enemies of the righteous are unable to calculate his moves, and subsequently, unable to prevent them. 2. Minister Farrakhan is highly influential, and now his influence is growing beyond just Black people, spreading and finding root in oppressed populations all over the world. There are also growing numbers of Whites who are finding themselves in alignment with what he is teaching. 3. He has created ideological progeny.
3). DM: The Final Call Newspaper is based in Chicago where the Black on Black violence is becoming a part of the city’s brand. What role does the Black media play in the stoppage of violence in the Black community throughout the country?
AM: Yes, in fact, Chicago is now referred to by many young people as “Chiraq” in other words, comparing it to a war zone in Iraq, and strangely, it is said with a morbid sense of pride. Black media plays an important part. Many of the most popular “urban” radio stations (not necessarily owned by Blacks) play songs that glorify self-destructive lifestyles, or are filled with gossip and irresponsible exploits which young impressionable youth try to emulate. Nationwide, many of the Black talk radio stations have not kept up with the modern times, and are having trouble attracting listeners. Some Black newspapers are having the same problem attracting readers for the same reason. In order to be influential in stopping something – like violence – you must have an expansive reach, otherwise, you end up ‘preaching to the choir’ or, as if in an echo chamber and ultimately short on results. Many influential White media death talkers use the airwaves to spew hate, falsehoods and unfounded assertions, and the Black media has not been as effective as it should be or could be in countering that. Additionally, the Black media has to do a much better job in publicizing and supporting those individuals and organizations within the Black community who are working to stop the crime and violence through programming, forums and outreach. A multifaceted issue that needs to be addressed fully.
4).DM: Let’s talk about the Farrakhan Social Media Townhall that you’ll be moderating on Sept. 26th. How critical is this online event and why should young people be encouraged to participate?
AM: Online is a reality. Most communication is online. Information is being spread at a faster pace. So much information is available, there is no longer an excuse to be ignorant or unaware of current events or global realities. Just look at the numbers: 750 million people on Facebook, 100 million on Twitter, 230 million tweets are sent per day. Anyone who ignores that impact does so at their own peril. Anyone, and everyone who is interested in having a role in shaping the future should be interested in this Social Media Townhall meeting featuring Minister Farrakhan. I know it doesn’t seem like it now, but decisions being made at this critical time will directly affect the future of young people.
5). DM: As a young Black male, how has Minister Farrakhan impacted your life personally?
AM: Wow. I could write an entire book on this topic, and perhaps I should. He is the greatest example of a leader, a father, a brother that anyone could ask for. His guidance and instruction to me over the years, has helped me in all ways and in all areas of my life. His wise manner in leading and handling people is something that quite frankly at times appears to be supernatural. His representation of truth, his analysis of historical events, current events and prophecy have heavily shaped my worldview. There is just so much I can say on that, as I have followed him as my leader for the entirety of my adult life.
6). DM: What should people expect from the #AskFarrakhan Social Media Townhall that they may not be able to experience elsewhere online?
AM: I think the fact that it is featuring Minister Farrakhan makes it an incredible event. I just ask people to think about prominent religious, political and historical figures they’ve read about, admire, and would have liked to ask questions of, and then consider the fact that they have the opportunity to question one right now in the present that is amongst us.
7). DM: This #AskFarrakhan Townhall is unprecedented. To say the least, it could be considered history in the making. Let me ask you a practical question; are you nervous?
AM: No, I’m not really nervous, but that might be because it still hasn’t really hit home that I am going to be doing this on the 26th. I am really excited though, and I feel blessed to have the opportunity to participate in such an event. I think I have the easiest job, which is to present the questions to the Minister so he can masterfully do what he does best as an instrument and the channel for the delivery of God’s word and active will.
8). DM: If a single mother who is having trouble with her child were to ask you for 3 reasons she should encourage her child to participate in the #AskFarrakhan Townhall, what would those reasons be?
AM: I would start by telling her ‘You are not alone, none of us can do it alone, and raising a child is not easy.’ One of the best things a parent can do is to ensure that a child has the knowledge of self. True understanding of the knowledge of self is the stable datum that will act as a corrective measure when a child is behaving in a “troubling” manner. It is often the case with children that you can say something a thousand times, but sometimes, it takes someone else, an outside person, to say it in a certain way before the guidance will register.
9). DM: Aside from your duties as the Asst. Editor of the Final Call Newspaper, what future projects are on the horizon for Brother Ashahed Muhammad?
AM: I have two book projects that I am working on, and one book proposal connected to a possible deal from a publishing company that may be announced soon, so stay tuned!
DM: Thank you Brother Ashahed. We appreciate what you do every day to contribute to the upliftment of our people and we look forward the Sept. 26th #AskFarrakhan Townhall.