Don't Fear Pursuit Of Big Business Ventures: Part 2
Emam Wallace D. Muhammad
(Editor's note: This is the second part of an edited transcript of Emam Wallace D. Muhammad's address to members of the National Newspaper Publisher's Association Mid-winter Workshop, Ian. 13, 1978, in Miami, Fla. The conclusion will appear in the next edition of Bilalian News.)
I hope to be in some degree instrumental in bringing business into the United States primarily for bettering the economic conditions in the Bilalian community, but with the intention of giving some life to the economy in our community for all to share regardless to what their ethnic identity might be.
We are in a position to do that because as you know Arabs are a very rich people. They have recently come into a whole lot of money. And if we don't present them with some real sound, intelligent proposals I think the people from Switzerland, the people from England, the people from Europe and people from other parts of the world are going to beat us —well, they are going to beat us. I hate to put it that way, but they are just going to get there before we do. What I want to say is they are going to beat us to the purse.
And they have a big purse — they've got a big pocketbook. I don't think we should go as beggars. We don't have to go as beggars. We have businesses run by us in America, big businesses some of them. I'm not comparing them with Standard Oil and Sears.
They have big businesses and some of them really have —truly have good size businesses. And they are managing them very well. They are very successful. We can go in joint ventures with these people. And that's what we've been discussing — with Arab "businessmen. With Muslims. They are Muslims.
I'm sure if there were a Christian community needing help and there were a Christian nation that had recently come into great wealth, I'm sure the Christians would be interested in knowing how good the hearts of the Christian community is because they are Christian brother and sisters.
Where Is Brothers' Heart
Well, naturally, Muslims feel the same way. We are Muslims and we would like to know how sound, how good is the heart of our Arab brothers and sisters who've come into all this money. And they are doing business with other people; what about doing business with us? Why don't they go into joint business with us?
Kosher for Jews is the salt, etc.— the draining of blood, the salt and the Rabbi.
We have already started producing Halal chickens. And the Arab people, they use a lot of chicken that comes from Europe. Most of it comes from Europe. Maybe they get some chickens from the states but to my knowledge they don't—but I'm not certain of that. But I know they get a lot of chicken from Europe, and we are in a position to supply them with Halal chicken.
And there are many Arabs and Bilalian Muslims in America who also would welcome Halal chicken. So this is one thing we can go in together.
There is oil you know. But I don't know how fast we can move in that area. You are aware as I am that when Bilalians talk about going into something like oil they really start things to shaking, and I’m talking about the system now. It's okay if the system is a partner with you.
We have one Bilalian who has been getting so much support from the government that he's almost like a silent partner. And I understand that he's a big oil man. But I don't know if we could form such a relationship with the government to get support from them.
I don't know if they would give us the same kind of support. We would welcome it. I would like the idea very much. In fact, I would feel more comfortable knowing the government or some part of the American society was going with us into a business like that.
We want it but I don't know whether we could get it or not. But we do want it.
The oil business is a big business, and you know we need oil. We are going to be getting oil. And the Arabs have oil. The Emirates oil. Saudi Arabia has oil. They have plenty oil and you are getting a lot of that oil. How come some of that oil can't come through Bilalian business people of America? How come we can't. This would be money.
So, I find that really the biggest problem we have is fear. And I think a president said something like that. The biggest problem is fear, itself, I think he said.
The Biggest Problem
Well, I think in our community the biggest problem is fear. When I discuss, even in my own circle—I'm talking about Muslim circle, the World Community of Al-lslam — discuss going into things like this, the members of the staff—most of them get nervous.
Why are you shaking? Aren't there Caucasians in business like this? Do they have a different passport than we have? Is their birthright here different than ours, is their citizenship different? Why do you shake? They are not shaking They're doing big business.
You see? So, we have a problem. We do have a problem. But we can overcome this by coming together. If we come together and talk about these problems we can overcome them.
There many things we are planning to go into in the area of business —as joint ventures outside of America. Not just with the Arabs, we are going to do some business in Canada and different other places.
As you know, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad was the one who got us started. In fact, I think you should set a day aside just to honor the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. I'm not talking about Muslims: Bilalians ought to have a day to honor the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, because that man, he had the courage to talk big and then back it up with action.
He imported thousands and thousands, hundreds of thousands of pounds of fish into our community that helped many people to earn a dollar. From Peru —Peru, at that time wasn't; and I don't think right now the relations between our country and Peru is not that good because the society there seems to be a little shaky.
So, that was the kind of country we were dealing with. The country was shaking—kind of shaky. Most of the South American countries as you know, they are more shaky than the United States of America.
I'm talking about the governments. They're always up and down, you know. You get a good man in power and the next day you go to see him and they've got another man sitting there.
So we can do something about the situation, the economic situation in the Bilalian community. But we're going to need your help. We're going to need the help of the Bilalian press. We're going to need the help of our community leaders —that is, moral support. We're going to need their encouragement.
And we're going to need the support of the Caucasian business enterprise —big business, big Caucasian business. We're going to need their support. Without their support we can't do anything.
But I'm not ready to fight. Before I'll fight in America I'll find me another country to live in. The only one I'm going to fight in America is an individual I will not participate in a race war, or in a political war in America. I'd rather live somewhere else.
Some people might say, "Well, you should stay here and die here." America should be the most intelligent nation on earth. And if America is not intelligent enough in 1978 to let me live here as any other citizen, not seeing me as black or any other color, then I'm ready to leave.
If it comes to the point where we have to go to jail, demonstrate, get locked up—I'm not going through that foolishness. I didn't then and I'm not going through it now.
At that time it wasn't foolishness, pardon me I don't consider it foolishness at that time because at that time the mind of the American people was so jelled in the old ignorance that our ancestors passed down to all of us, that really somebody had to break the ice. Somebody had to open up things and it - took demonstrations, it took the loud fiery voice of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and Malcolm X preaching—it took all of that to just shock the conscience of the people to see what the realities really were and how serious they were.
But now I don't think there's a need for that. We are an intelligent nation and we see realities as they are now. So, there's no need for any hostility or any hatred or violence to come about. I believe we can accomplish all of these things very peacefully.
I believe that we can get involved in big business, because that's the only way it's going to come. There not enough jobs here. The American economy, as you know —I don't have to tell you anything —the American economy, in the state that it's in right now, it can only provide so much.
And we find American businessmen, they are going outside of America. America itself, our government, is going outside of America. I heard that even a member of the Carter family went over there. I believe it was a member of the Carter family. No, it was a member of the Cabinet went over there. I think he got into some big business while he
was over there in Arabia.
Outside Business A Must
So, the business is outside of America. We have to bring business into America and do everything we can to stimulate the economy that we have. But we are going to have to go outside of America. If there is anything out there to get in terms of business and dollars, we're going to have to go outside of America and bring that into America.
To me, I don't feel that we should ignore that area, even if the American economy should suddenly get a boost in jobs out there. Even if the steel mills started moving-industry would start moving again and jobs would be available—I don't think the leadership of Bilalian people should be satisfied not being involved in big business just as other ethnic groups are involved.
The Irish, Italians, all of these people, they're involved in the big business. They go abroad. Are we domesticated to the extent that we have kind of a slave fear of leaving the homeland? Do we think that freedom in America is not also freedom to go outside of America? I'm talking to you like this because I have experienced some real problems in dealing with individual Bilalian businessmen. They are afraid to do the things, to take advantage of the opportunities, the freedom that is accorded to all American citizens. We are afraid to take advantage of that, to step into those areas without somebody saying it's okay first.