What’s up family?
This past Saturday, October 10, 2015, was an interesting day for two reasons. The first was the fact that this was the day that I had originally planned to have a wedding several months prior…but it didn’t really work out that way. I’m already married… It’s amazing…the older I get, the more I discover as much as you can plan for life, life has plans of it’s own. I must correct myself. I would be remiss to assume that I am not a part of a greater plan orchestrated and ordained by God. I still would like to have a formal and spiritual ceremony at some point… I just am more pressed to commit my marriage, opposed to a wedding, to His hands.
But the purpose of today’s edition is about another happening… and be warned… I’ll be talking heavy talk today, fam. that is none other than the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March better known as “Justice Or Else!” I can remember back in 1995 when my father and his friend made the journey to the Washington Mall. It was an awe inspiring event back then, an event that drew Black men from all corners of the country to descend on one spot in unified solidarity. It was epic. Being a bit too young to make that sojourn with him, I just marveled at the stories he told and the pictures he took. Back then, that event did something especial for my identity as a young Black male. It mattered to me.
This time around, however, I was not able to to attend and I am rather happy I didn’t. This sentiment doesn’t express an anti-Black agenda…quite the contraire. It is very much pro-Black. But I believe in any situation where advancement is the end goal, true progress can’t be made until there is independence in thought. If there is no independence in thought, you can proceed under the guise of the independence of your will, but in fact, you can easily become the agents to execute someone else’s agenda.
So before I share my skepticisms and dissatisfactions, let me first speak of the positives. I can respect Min. Louis Farrakhan in being able to arouse a sense of urgency in the hearts and minds of so many. He provokes some to action and others to caution. But to be able to sway the mind of a man either way, as to force them to have an opinion on not only the man, but his message, that’s a remarkable feat. It’s especially remarkable given that he is 82 years of age. I didn’t watch the entire 7 hours of video footage. You can feel free to do so below:
If you want to fast forward to the speech, go to 3:37:09 spot. This is actually where
Rev. Jamal Bryant, of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) reformation.
While I did watch bits and pieces, I was more interested in what he had to say. I watched this sharp-minded octogenarian stand flat-footed for over two hours declaring his truth…much of which was done extemporaneously. I was jotting down several quotes that rang true with me…some of which even provoked laughter…not out of mockery but genuine humor. His brutally candid presentation reminds me so much of Bishop Samuel L. Green, Jr…. if it was in his heart and mind to say it, he said it. Here are some quotes that I really appreciated:
- “There are some elders that are not worthy to pass on the legacy of their cowardice to our young people.”
- “The womb is the workshop of God.”
- “If this is a day, and we go back to doing what we were doing before we got here, then this is all vanity. This is vanity. But vanity is the work of someone who’s wrapped up in himself. We have no time for vain expression.”
- “Those whom the world honors are those who live for others and in their death, they are never dead. There’s always someone coming up to refer to their greatness because they lived for others and their living was not in vain.”
- “What are you? If I ask you to tell me your nationality, you’ll point some little spot on the earth that you think defines who you are. That’s limited. ‘I’m from Georgia.’ Good for you. Or I’m from Mississippi, or I’m from Alabama…but I’m from NEW YORK! Right, right….but that does not define who you are! You are defined by the nature in which you are created. And if your nature is the same nature of God, no landmass can define you! If you understand your nature, you will understand the unlimited possibilities of the human being.”
- “They are only great in your eyes because you haven’t focused your eyes on the greatness of yourself.”
- “You talk about passing the torch? You’ve got to be careful that there’s some light on the stick that you’ve got in your hand. “
- “You’ll never find me, or us, condemning you for what has become of us in our sojourn.”
- [On Nation of Islam Women…this actually made me chuckle! He has a great sense of humor in all sincerity.] “They know how to cook. They are food scientists. And let me tell you sisters, a woman that is beautiful and can’t cook is a killer in the kitchen. And I don’t think you would be wise marrying a killer and she kills you in the kitchen with a whole bunch of greasy food.”
Now, in one review I read, they described his speech as a “word cloud” as he talked about so many topics. (I guess every one of my blog entries are “word clouds!” It was my college advisor that dubbed me as “loquacious,” LOL!) I digress… It wasn’t an old man rambling about nothing…every word was pointed. It was reminiscent, at least in my view, to the Book of Deuteronomy, which was Moses’ last opportunity to remind the Israelites of their history, the law, and make provisions for their future in the Promised Land before he would be offered up in death. Min. Farrakhan talked about everything from the economy, politics, abortion, the treatment of women, marriage, the President,… For the better portion of the hour, the “Or Else” proved to be elusive…but he brought his point home. He had a lot of good things to say, quite a bit of meat…but there were some things that I wasn’t exactly in favor of…quite a bit of bones. But I will say that out of all that he expressed in his monsoon of verbiage was this directive: “If you don’t believe me, look it up.” He said something to this effect several times throughout his speech. It is for that fact alone that I can appreciate Min. Louis Farrakhan. I know how committed he is to the cause of ending Black suffering. But the fact that he challenges people to fact check the words that he said, versus commanding people to take his word for it, is a good thing. And I took him up on his imperative. I found quotes of Abraham Lincoln. I saw the original seal of the nation that was designed by Dr. Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams. I was able to find information on how the area of the current National Mall served as trading posts for the slave trade. I genuinely love how he is careful to get quotes correct… I also like how he undoubtedly calls people on the carpet for misquoting him, and brings the true context of his own words. It was moving that he is fearless in addressing adversity that looms over his past. In a very matter of fact way he addressed, with great sincerity the topic of Malcolm X’s death. He didn’t shy away from the differences he had with Malcolm, but he called into question entities that most certainly bear great truths to his slaying, that being the government, and demanded they reveal it. Even in death, he is a staunch supporter of both his teacher, Elijah Muhammad, and his children. The bold audacity to stand on the steps of the U.S. Capitol and proclaim facts that we know to be true, that that house was built with blood and sweat of Blacks, and that that house is filled with hypocrisy and corruption. He boldly spoke against power by surmising a nation guilty of human rights crimes has no stone to cast at another nation for their own immoral contrivances. Being true to the facts is one thing that Louis Farrakhan does best and for that I have much appreciation. However that’s not enough…one must be true to truth. When Min. Farrakhan delves into the realm of spiritual truth I part ways with Min. Farrakhan… It’s too much to respond to in one blog post, so this entry is “Part One: The Spiritual Shortcomings of the Justice Or Else! March”
The “Danger” of Louis Farrakhan
My great grandmother always taught me when you meet somebody, don’t show all your teeth at once. That is a tenet that I strive to embrace more and more as I get older. It basically says give individuals time to earn your confidence, but more importantly, give yourself time to decide whether to give it. This is the problem that I see with the Minister’s message: the easiest thing to do is to unite people on a feeling and a commonality. When you can strike an emotional chord with somebody, and you are able to establish a commonality with said individual, you are able to persuade them to do as you will. This is the art of the sale:
- Create similitude with you and the prospect (also known as making a friend so that they trust what you say)
- Identify a problem
- Evoke emotion about the problem
- Help them see how the problem was not fixed but could have been
- Hold them accountable for not fixing the problem
- Evoke more emotion on how the problem is affecting them
- Offer a solution, give you access to the solution
- Persuade you buy into it
- Make you feel good about taking the solution that they give.
These are the steps of the timeshare sale. But the craftiness of the timeshare sale is this: if you stay in an emotional realm, a lot of logical fact can slip right by you…this is purposely done. Things can be “almost said” but not said…but it sounds close enough and you buy into something that might not altogether be what it purports. It’s dangerous.
And to that point, I don’t view Min. Farrakahn or his message as being dangerous. What is dangerous, however, are minds that aren’t sharp enough to read between the lines. And in the spirit, rather than the letter, of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s words, if you don’t know what you’re standing for, and why you are standing for it, it will be easy to be deceived to fall for anything else.
Min. Farrakhan is unapologetically Muslim. This is his personal conviction and to know in which you believe without doubt is the mark of an honorable person. I don’t have anything against him possessing the faith that he has. My problem, however, is with the collusive adjoining to members of the Christian faith on the grounds of the commonality of the Black struggle, but deceptively making mockery of their faith. On the platform, there was a Hammond organ, gospel tunes flowing, and the presence and participation of the Christian clergy. There was even a Christian minister to give the benediction. The thing that stood out the most to me, as often does with Minister Farrakhan, is the fact that he quotes the scriptures of the Judeo-Christian faith with gold-plated tongue accuracy… Gold plated because it isn’t authentic, but selectively chosen, and contorted, to communicate his point rather than in the light of the truth that is scripture. When he took the dias he paid respect to the patriarchs of Israel, for providing the Old Testament. He paid honor to Jesus and the Gospel writers as well as the authors of the New Testament. Then he paid homage to the Prophet Mohammad that gave way to the last revelation of God. But this last revelation, in effect, rejects the first by not accepting Jesus Christ as God’s begotten Son and savior of the world. That’s monumental! How can Christians, especially members of the clergy, walk hand in hand with a message that rejects what they hold true? How could Christian leaders allow him to declare from their pulpits? Take a listen for yourself…this clip was provided by Jesus-Is-Savior.com. He was invited to speak at a church in Chicago…
Clip of Louis Farrakhan’s “Fabric of Faith”
Presented from Jesus-is-Savior.com
Getting back to “Justice Or Else,” in comments he made about abortion, while expressing being against it, he said that to abort a child we could be aborting the “next Jesus.” Later on in his speech, he referred to Jesus as “a savior.” These comments, as small as they seem, are purposely issued to reduce Jesus Christ as less than the Son of God. Then to draw the similitude with Christians by professing how he was once baptized as a Christian to serve a “White Jesus” but left for something better… it is leading people to believe that their Christian faith is inferior and a better than exists. What does the proportion of religious superiority have to do with “Justice Or Else?” What does the showcase of those beautiful, tasteful, and moderately adorned women, or “food scientists” have to do with “Justice Or Else?” What does the establishment of the Nation of Islam have to do with “Justice Or Else?”
To quote scriptures, being the Word of God, but then reject Christ as the WORD MADE FLESH, as revealed by the same sacred text you quote (John 1), it truly deceitful. While there were rich historical nuggets dropped by Min. Farrakhan that broadened my view of things within a historical context, it was more than a “word cloud;” his speech was a sincere attempt to obfuscate his agenda to Christian listeners where he would say enough to make Christians “feel good” such as making Christmas about Christ, but still saying the disruptive things in a manner that they would be dismissed and overlooked. Think back to the clip of his speech, “The Fabric of Faith.” Attempting to blend the faiths in one and listening to the emotional response of this Christian congregation is disheartening because they don’t see the wool being pulled over their eyes. Even in his introduction, issued by the NOI’s “second in command,” Minister Ishmael Muhammad, he said that Farrakhan is a “representative of Christ.” How can this truly be?
Wrapping this first part up, when I consider the spiritual shortcomings of the march, my greatest dissatisfaction rests not with Louis Farrakhan but with every Christian that wholeheartedly gives their allegiance to his cause, especially members of the Christian clergy. To me, it shows a gross lack of spiritual vigilance, the desire to be included with a movement, while being accepted, regardless to the infractions rendered to the faith they are charged to uphold. We are too easily impressed when subtle commonalities that are tossed our way, but that’s the craft of a deception.
With all do respect to the President of the United States, but I feel it was a spiritual travesty on the part of the AME Church to give the sacred pulpit to a person, not of the cloth, to deliver a eulogy for a preacher that fought to uphold the Christian faith. The President gave a soul stirring speech and led the congregation in “Amazing Grace.” After bellowing out the first measure of notes, the entire dais of clergy was all teeth standing in support and the arena was engulfed in emotional response. Next that Hammond B3 organ backed him as he “tuned up,” in “Black church” sermon style, and declared how each of the deceased found “that grace.” Was it emotionally moving? Yes. But was that the President’s place to be the eulogist of a fallen preacher of the Gospel? I don’t think so. The same day, he flew from South Carolina back to a White House illuminated in the colors of the LBGT rainbow. This is not me posing being for or against a lifestyle, but holding clergy accountable for protecting what they say they believe! IT’s mockery in it’s most blatantly subtle form. In other words… “You’ve been had. You’ve been took. You’ve been hoodwinked. Bamboozled.”
Louis Farrakhan can cleverly quote scriptures, have Gospel music at the rally, and even have clergy take part in offering prayers at the event, and Christians are all teeth because they were included and made to feel a part. But at the same event, subtle mockery can be made about the Christ you say you serve and appears to as a minister of the Christian faith, you just accept it? Why be impressed when people sing hymns and Christian songs? Was there not one that is now fallen that was in charge of sacred music? Why be impressed when people quote scriptures? Was there not one that quoted scriptures in an attempt to tempt Jesus in the wilderness? Marvel not at this type of stuff fam! The only thing that could come to mind while watching this speech, or even that eulogy, was:
“And now I make one more appeal, my dear brothers and sisters. Watch out for people who cause divisions and upset people’s faith by teaching things contrary to what you have been taught. Stay away from them. Such people are not serving Christ our Lord; they are serving their own personal interests. By smooth talk and glowing words they deceive innocent people” (Romans 16:17-18, NLT).
That is part one of my observances of the spiritual shortcomings of the rally: Christians must awaken and be more spiritually keen and vigilant and see things for what they truly are rather than what they present themselves to be. If you are of a faith, be unapologetically in support, as well as defense, of that faith. I am unapologetically Christian and I am charged to vigilantly contend for that faith. There can be no “ecumenical” unity with those that are not of the faith. After all, “Can two walk together, except they be agreed” (Amos 3:3, KJV)? From a spiritual perspective, Saturday’s march was more so a clarion call for Christians to arise from their spiritual slumber that is causing them to drift toward the “REM” of apostasy than a call for racial progress. This was more than a call for “Justice Or Else” but it was a religious rally aimed at the will of one man to establish a nation for Blacks that is void of the faith many Blacks hold to be true. If Christians wish to align themselves with movements in the civic activism, political activism, community activism, economic regeneration, or any other facet of the world around them…fine. But they shouldn’t jump at the opportunity to do that at the risk of the repudiation of their faith. This is not the profession of ill-will toward Min. Farrakhan or the President. I love them as my brothers in the struggle of being Black in these United States of America. But there has to be a hierarchy to your beliefs…what means most to you? Your race or your faith? If we know that life is a temporary entity, being sparked and punctuated in fleeting time, should a temporary existence trump that which is to be eternal? That isn’t a question that can be answered for you by another…that is a question that must emanate from the inner resources of your own spiritual being. But I do posit this simple truth: when you arrive at your answer, let your answer be your answer. If you aren’t standing surefooted on an answer, you can be given the truth that another wishes for you to have that you didn’t wish to have for yourself. Know who you are and what were created to be. But I implore you…don’t flash a smile to quickly at what is presented to you until you give yourself the opportunity to see how that presentation measures up to the answer of the inner resources of your soul. Know that deception doesn’t come labeled as such. It is subtle. It is wrapped up in familiar sayings and songs. It is aimed at evoking the impulse of emotion, while concealing the truth. It is a bunch of “almost” sayings, “didn’t really” do’s, and “it’s not that bad’s.” Be vigilant. Make sure that you don’t become the agent of another’s will…not even your own… But be an agent of the will that is the truth of your soul. For me, that’s Christ then the struggles of being Black…know your truth.