Educational Conference Address: Part 1
Imam W. D. Muhammad
With the Name Allah (In the Name of God), the Gracious, the Compassionate. As-Salaam-Alaikum
Dr Shabazz and the others who have helped him to begin to create a Bilalian University, your effort must receive whatever support is needed from us. In fact the idea, I believe is a key that will open many doors. When a Bilalian University is formed, we will begin to move into that area of leadership that will result in all of the other of our critical problems being solved I'm one that believes truly that education is the answer. When people have problems living with each other, problems living with themselves, problems of sustaining themselves —progressing their society—it is because of need for education. There is the absence of knowledge, an absence of education that they need to pull themselves out of the predicament.
Now, it is my hope that we assume responsibility for directing the learning of the people —for all mis-educated people. I don't think that we should feel that this is an unreasonable task The present system of education as you know has many, many serious problems. The Sun Times paper, I believe, just a couple of days ago carried the caption saying: "Things are improving at the reading level." How widely this is to be applied, I don't know. We don't know if that's just a few selected schools, a few isolated schools or the overall picture. I haven't seen any big change in the children, so I don't believe it speaks for the overall picture.
Whenever the people get restless, those politicians who appear unaware of the time bomb component in this generation of uneventful performance by our system begin feeding the people things to quiet them. They know one of the things that are alarming many parents is the fact that we send our children to public schools, and they come out with high school diplomas and can't read. I don't believe that the report should be really taken as news of solutions. The problem is still there. And the problem is not just teaching children to read, the problem is correcting the minds of adults in the faculty and in the administration.
If you've got adults teaching children who have serious dullness of spirit and drive, and have problems that are characteristic of those our youngsters are troubled by, you are going to keep striking out. A real problem is many of our teachers in the public schools are not going there to teach children. They are going there to earn enough money to splurge on Friday night and Saturday night.
They themselves are teen-minded finger poppers. They don't know how to manage their affairs; they don't know how to manage their life. So they themselves have to really be redeemed before they can be really productive as teachers.
And I believe that the only ones who are in the position, have the germ of faith and inspiration to redeem the faculty, the administration and the system are right here in this community among the Bilalians who have been working with the problems for a long time, and understand it and really are brave enough to do something about it. It's the people who have been apart from the problem —they are the ones who can do something about the problem. Those people who have been a part of the problems, they are not the ones that's going to solve the problems. It's those people who have felt the problem the most but have been the farthest from direct involvement in it who can become innovative enough to change the uneventful drag on life of the system. So we are a people who have been kept out on the outside. We've been the farthest from involvement in it. We are not crippled by guilt complexes. We don't have a real share in the creation of the system.
The few outstanding educators of the Bilalian people that we can point to don't represent a real influence in the forming and the directing of the educational process. So we don't share the guilt. But those Caucasians and others who've really been a part of creating, designing, directing — they often feel guilty. Guilt is one of the things that act negatively on them. The other thing is pride.
Many hate to admit their superstars have become history. Many hate to admit that many of their cherished ideas are real problems. They don't want to say that "We planned, we studied, and we protected these problem-breeding ideas. Now they are useless, worthless." A lot of personal feelings are involved. They'll see what they should do, but they won't do it. They will reject something that is personally affecting them in a bad way, but they will protect all the rest of the crap that's affecting all of us in a bad way. This is because those people have been so involved in creating this thing that there's blind sentimental attachment to it—and pride!
Democracy! Don't tamper with that word. And a lot of other precious concepts they don't want to tamper with They don't want to make repairs on idealistically cherished terms. "This term is sacred, you're not supposed to alter anything." But for the sake of progressing the society, saving society from a lot of unnecessary misery they should see the human mind —the need to advance the intelligence of the society as being more sacred than those old ideas and concepts that we've been trained to protect. I'm not suggesting that we put aside democratic concepts or cherished concepts of democracy. I'm only suggesting that we question everything The most "sacred" things, we should question them And we are not going to get a loud applause from those people who have long been over the direction of our education system It will have to come from people who don't see old America as their personal and private pet.. Now, maybe you're tied into the problem. Because sometimes we get tied in before we can even do anything. But I hope you're not that tied in. I know many of us are not. I for one am not. I don't owe anything to anybody but Allah and goodness Outside of God and goodness, I don't feel I'm indebted to anybody or anything.
I would like to see Bilalian people not speaking into the problem as an outside U.S. citizen, but speaking inside from within as an inside U.S. citizen possessing all the rights, the responsibilities, and the privileges accorded any and all citizens of our nation. Most of us .who are on the case have been lead blindly by the habit (slave) of speaking to America as disfranchised persons. The long march has brought us constitutionally into the duties and blessings of this land. The circumstances affecting our lives as members in this nation are no longer a question for the court The American ownership papers we Bilalians have are in no wise different from the ownership title of citizenship held by any other racial member of our nation. The lonely marchers song must give way to the ownership song. Once I identify with America in terms of ownership, then I don't approach the problem with the eye of an embittered or hurt person on the outside. I approach the problem with a courageous and healthy mind, with the strength of my intelligence and of owner sentiments and responsibility Now I know we have not been responsible, but if the problem is on us, we should accept responsibility. You see the point and its strategy? It is real, correct, innocent, but powerful.
Whatever this life has done to us to make us feel disenchanted, disappointed or whatever, we should face it and face it with the feeling and feel that this is "my" life, these are "my" problems; they were left with us from our ancestors and by Caucasian ancestors. We have great brains among the Bilalian people, who are able to help those people who form the system and preserve the system, and go home and rest peacefully tonight. Sometimes they are faced with a problem that won't allow them to get any sleep. They talk to a learned Bilalian woman or Bilalian man and go home and rest well. From that Bilalian woman or man. they got the answer to the problem they were faced with Now this happens all the time We are making contributions but we are not affecting the form and design of the system And that's what we should do. We should begin to live from within, speak from within, identify from within. Accept responsibility for the whole life we call the American life: For its educational process, for the system and processes, for the method of doing things—don't just accept it because so and so and so wrote it, and he was Dr. So and So and So. He was a baby too once, and he couldn't talk. He couldn't do anything. He wet his diapers and he boo-booed on himself. He was just like you, and maybe he was just lucky to get a concept out of the air of somebody else and whip it together, and at that time it was the concept that the market was open to.
Don't give these people superhuman credit; don't image them to be giants taller than what they are. They are fallible humans. If they were super beings over us the world would not be in the mess it's in. Everybody today has an opportunity—everybody with a good brilliant mind—everybody has an opportunity to get in on the ground floor of American life, as they say in industry. This is a new world we are trying to make. The system realizes it's facing problems of such a critical' nature they are forced to re-evaluate the whole life, the whole thing. You would be surprised of what goes on behind closed doors in secrecy before it reaches us. I guarantee you that there are leaders in our government who are making more serious talk than what I'm making right now. They might be moving backwards and forward between the alternatives, but those alternatives if we knew them might frighten us out of our shoes. Most of the people never know what's happening until it happens. If we can contribute, if we can come up with answers, those people who are desperate and underestimate our intelligence to the point that they are afraid to even speak any sense openly to us—those people could be convinced, by an effort on our part that there is a way to save America and the American life without losing America and the American idealistic values.