The Meaning Of Leadership: Part 2
Imam W. Deen Muhammad
With the Name Allah (In the Name of God), the Gracious, the Compassionate. As-Salaam-Alaikum
(Editor's note: Following are excerpts from Imam Wallace Deen Muhammad's masjid lecture in Miami, Fla., Oct. 20 1979. - Continued from last week.)
You know I have stopped seeing racism as a problem in America. Racism was once a problem in America. The problem for us now is over-sensitivity to what has been. We lose all of our energy counting the miseries of yesterday instead of using those energies to do something constructive today.
Opportunity is here that wasn't here yesterday. This is a better day than yesterday. We have government today committed to stand up for the rights of every citizen. There was a time, just a little while back. when government all over these United States was not committed to stand up for the rights of every human being, every human citizen.
You would go to the courts and find some of the biggest devils in the courts. That time has changed. I'm not asking America to make every Caucasian man like me or make every Caucasian man and woman stop harboring hatred or prejudice against me because of my color or my ethnic identity. No. I'm not asking for that. That's u stupid thing to ask for. All I ask is that the government doesn't use its resources and its great power to help that racist deny me my rights as a citizen. That's all I ask.
In my own house there're people who don't treat me like I want them to treat me all the time. On my block there're people who don't treat me nice all the time. I don't have to go to the Caucasian people to single out people whom I can't get along with. There are people all around me I can't get along with all the time, and there are those in my own family who have prejudices I wish they could get rid of.
What kind of foolish idea do we have in our mind that America, in order for it to be right, has to be free of prejudices? Do you think there's any country you can go into and not experience some hatred, some hostility, some prejudices? No indeed.
We are responsible for some of the prejudice ourselves. When we have the opportunity to do things for ourselves, to make a better world for ourselves and we go out talking hatred and preaching black supremacy — take up the racist philosophy and teach that Caucasian people are inferior and Bilalians (blacks) are superior; we're some kind of God and they are the devils — we are contributing to it.
When we stay at home lazy, using prejudice as an excuse for our laziness, not trying to succeed in life, blaming the world, blaming the Caucasians for all our troubles, we are contributing to it.
When we use the little money we get from our earnings or from welfare to make ourselves look like some delicate peacock, dressed up in clothes that we can't afford, we are helping to produce those prejudices that are in people against us.
When we go out and prey on each other, prey on the weak in our own community — black on black crime - knock down an old lady and snatch her purse, beat and kill a man for five dollars, rape a poor innocent woman — we are producing that image that's in the minds of those people that we call prejudiced.
I'm not saying all of us fall in that category, but many of us do. So let us first check ourselves. Let us work on ourselves and see if we can produce an image of ourself that we can live with.