March 19, 1993
The Real Purpose: Faith in One's Own Abilities
Imam W. Deen Mohammad
Among the great men who had a positive influence on us and led us forward into our excellence was W.E.B. DuBois. He is the one who really conceived the idea for the N.A.A.C.P. He was an educator, a philosopher, and a great intellect. DuBois pointed to the problem of race and said that it would be the issue to address in the Twentieth Century. We can't say that America is geared up now to support racism. It is not. If you say that, you are fooling yourself.
Maybe some elements or some private interest groups are and maybe there is a prevailing tendency in the business establishment. And I am not sure of that. But I do know that racism is not something openly expressed and worked for. The majority opinion of the American people is against it. And the majority of the American people are not Black; they are White or some other color. We are not the majority here, we are the minority.
Racism ignores positive change because African American people on the one side are still in the process of establishing their identity from our beginning in "protoplasm." Some are striking out in the dark. We have this new sense of our identity and of our power and of our manhood, but we are in "sperm." It takes a flesh and blood man with a symmetry that will uphold him of strong bones to deal with these problems.
We find those who don't have that strong structure and symmetry trying to address the problems of the world from a mental situation of sperm or protoplasm. Because of that they are asking for big things while showing themselves unprepared even for small things. We have as a need in our soul the need to be compensated in full. That is a need that is driving us.
Am I talking about reparation, that America owes us something for working us as their slaves and not paying us? I think that idea was just to get attention to something else we need to be compensated for. I don't think our men of great minds had a belief that the White man would go back and look at every pay day for every day we worked as slaves on the plantation and figure up how much we have coming to us. The "mule" and the "forty acres" was symbolic.
They were saying, we think your brain is a mule brain, and we are going to give you the freedom to have your mule brain. And also, we are going to give you "40 acres" to work and to cultivate. The "40 acres" was symbolic too. That was saying, we are going to give you no more than your potential. We will let you go free with original potential. So go with your mule sense and your 40 acres of God-given freedom.
That cruel world was arrogant and had become drunk upon the wine of their own greatness. Frederick Douglass was certainly no mule, and he certainly already had gotten more than a mule and 40 acres while he was yet a slave. Neither our soul nor world community conscience can have relief until our denied humanity gets full compensation from the world and from us. I think the world has gone a long ways in granting us that compensation.
We have equal opportunity in America and great men in politics, the armed forces, etc. And when I say men I mean women too, I'm not excluding women. We have great persons in education. You cannot ignore this progress for us and for America's democracy. The world has gone a long ways toward compensating us for its insult and injury to our humanity. But I see us being more negative than we are positive in our own treatment of our humanity. And I don't want to show you all the ugliness, but T will give you just one example.
I was getting ready to return the rented car to Hertz Rental, and I stopped to fill it with gas to avoid their high prices. I was in Little Rock, and it will take a long time for me to get Chicago out of my genes. But I didn't think anybody could give a warm friendly completely innocent greeting to another one and not get a return or at least some acknowledgement that you greeted them. And this was an African American man who looked as advanced as I was and dressed like me or better. He looked as intelligent and as mentally alert as I.I said, "How do you do?" And he looked at me as if to say, "What is wrong with your mind?"
A White man was down on the far pump. He heard me and looked at me and said, "How do you do?" I don't have to talk about black-on-black crime and how we don't support each other in business. I have given you one example of what is going on, when I told you what happened at that gas pump.
Just think and suppose I went into amnesia. And I woke up changed and was no longer an African American. Now I am Asian or something else. And I remember that experience but not my own identity. I would say, "The Blacks are racists. There is no hope for them. They are hypocrites." I would have been turned off to any respect for African American people. I would have stopped seeing the White man as a racist by himself, and I would start seeing Blacks as racists with White people. If he had treated me that way and I was another color, I would have called him a racist. Isn't that what we do? That is our first impulse. Now it is much worse for one of your own kind to treat you that way.
Today the worst treatment doesn't come from outside, it comes form inside. W.E.B. DuBois left us with something. He said progress for us African Americans in the future depends on how much willingness we have to promote independent thinking on the part of our children or our people. He put it this way: "The measure of progress depends on the measure of our willingness to teach our children to think."
He was a philosopher, and I know he didn't mean just to think. Because you can "think" and destroy your health. You can think and make yourself physically sick from just thinking about a certain thing too long. You will need a physical doctor. When a philosopher says "think," he is talking in the tradition of human excellence. He means to think as an intellect or as a rational person seeking to make improvements.
The great idea of freedom is not the idea most have now of freedom. Today freedom means that everybody is free to do their own thing. If you want to walk backwards, then walk backwards! You have your rights too. What are you laughing at him for? Don't bother him for walking backwards. If he wants to walk all the way to the store five blocks away backwards, leave him alone. If it were possible for us to be birds and fly, many would be landing backwards. Some of us would manage it.
The Nation of Islam had in its purpose more than confrontations with White people. That was a necessity. White people had us segregated and in a bad situation when the Nation of Islam was formed and for most of the lifetime of the Nation of Islam.
The real purpose was to connect again our life forces with original nature and an appreciation for original excellence. It was so we could have a good situation for advancing our excellence and for competing in a world of enlightened individuals from different races. That was the purpose for the existence of the Nation of Islam. The real purpose was to give us enough faith in our own original creation to have us think for ourselves and think independently.
A slave needs to be taught to appreciate what God created him to be. And he needs to be taught to have faith in what God created him to be and to pursue the excellence that is inherent. Though Fard came with his different methodology and terminology, that was the purpose. Though the Honorable Elijah Muhammad struggled with the 'X' that Fard left on him, that was the purpose.
I know I can lead us to a healthy purpose for our people. I can't bring it about. God will bring it about. But I can be a factor for bringing us into a healthy situation for our soul, for our spirit, and we will have a sense of unity, a sense of destiny.
It is coming and many of those who are with me already have it. They are not down hearted. They don't look into the future and see nothing but darkness and trouble. They see light and opportunity and are determined to get what human excellence deserves.