Towards Economic Dignity: Part 2
Imam W. Deen Muhammad
(Editor's note: Following are excerpts from Imam Wallace Deen Muhammad's address at a Testimonial Dinner presented in his honor in the Regency Ballroom of the Hyatt Regency Chicago, Sept. 15, 1979 — continued from last week.)
The Honorable Elijah Muhammad imagined great things happening in America among our people and that's what we want to get back to. I believe we can enter a program of collective buying — goods from American manufacturers and from abroad if necessary — and use our consumer power, our buying power, to improve our conditions and offset inflation in Bilalian communities.
Now I'm a big talker and a big dreamer. Some say I have too much faith in people, but I don't think so. With the high ideals we have, American society should be the ideal society. The reason it can't be that is because we don't have enough faith in the individual — I mean faith in the individual without academic dignity.
If the man has no more than the will to live and the will to be good, we should respect that and cultivate the best in that person. That's the way you improve the quality of life, by improving the quality of human minds. The only way we are going to do that is to respect the fact that there is value in every human being and in every human mind — that every human mind has the same richness, the same potential. All we have to do is find a way to reach it.
Once you believe in yourself and believe in a cause, you can do wonders. It's a simple matter of working together as a community and practicing the disciplines of communal living as a phase — a temporary phase. If we can follow this for two years or 10 years, once we see we can phase that out and establish individual businessmen in our community, there will be no more communalism. We will return to the American way without any questions.
I think we have to separate temporarily from the American way and buy collectively and use our spending money, our spending power, to enrich our community and offset inflation.
Inflation is taking too much away, there is not enough anywhere to make life comfortable for us. I have people telling me, "Brother Imam, we are tired of it.''
I tell them "I am tired of it too."
"What can we do about it?"
We can buy collectively. We can get together and buy collectively!
In March of next year, we will buy suits. We will buy them all together and the women will buy dresses. Next, we will buy shoes. Next, we will buy appliances. Next, we will buy homes, and we will buy together until we can have the kind of American life we want.
I have gained great insight and encouragement from talking to people in the State Department, from Mr. Harold Jones of OMB I here in Chicago, and from many others in and out of government. I do know that it is time in America, if not for political revolution, it is definitely time for an economic revolution in the way we think in the ghetto, the way we behave with our money.
Dear people, we have to come out of this. There are no jobs to bring us out of it. There are no gifts coming to bring us out of it. The only way I know for us to come out of it is to go back to the program of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and use our collective power -our collective bargaining power.
We don't have much, but we do buy. Let's use that buying power to get some economic dignity in America and in time we will have the American way in the ghetto!