Let's Lift Our Heads Up: Part 5
Imam Warith Deen Muhammad
With the Name Allah, the Gracious, the Compassionate.
On Feb. 24, 1980t Imam Warith Deen Muhammad, leader of the World Community of Al-Islam in the West, delivered a stirring address on the subject of the African-American "Identity Crisis" in a nationwide, live radio broadcast. Speaking from Masjid Elijah Muhammad in Chicago, where more than 6,000 Muslims gathered for the address, Imam Muhammad urged African-Americans (Bilalians) to "lift our heads up" and put faith in God.
Following the Imam's hour-long broadcast directed to the general public, the members of the WCIW conducted an extended meeting on Community matters via telephonic connections with scores of masjid communities around the country.
According to the WCIW Council of Imams, this February meeting ends a near 50-year tradition of the Community in conducting a special February observance or convention during the last week in the month.
Following is an abbreviated text of Imam Muhammad's historic address. Continued from the last four weeks:
Dear beloved Brothers and Sisters, we have to Understand this the problem is information; that's the most serious problem -right information. If there is somebody in an inferior position and he really deserves more, and he can't make it, that person needs right information. If there is someone responsible for holding him down, the one holding him down needs right information.
We have common enemies. Black, white, yellow, red, brown — all colors have a common enemy. That enemy is the one that feeds all of us color consciousness; feeds all of us racism, to keep all of us divided one against the other so he, by himself, can rule all of us.
Mister, I don't buy that stuff about a spook, a demon ruling the world and setting races against each other. This demon I'm talking about buys his suits where you buy your suits, eats the same food you eat, even drinks sometimes and gets high. He never lets it become a habit though — he can't afford it. He has to run your life.
I'm talking about those who create and orchestrate racism in the world while they stay out of sight pitting whites against blacks, blacks against whites, and races against races.
At certain times in the history of man, we have proven facts that they shift the whole climate and put black supremacy in fashion. Then at later periods in the history of humanity we have proof that they'll shift the whole climate and put white supremacy in fashion.
The Earth is too small for that kind of foolishness. When the Earth was not yet populated as it is now and not yet connected with strong and fast lines of communications, a sneaking wretch like that had a place to hide. The world is too small today — the word goes around the world too fast for us to tolerate the presence of a devil human being who manipulates and exploits racism to keep himself in a position of eternal power.
Dear beloved people, my radio time is running out and my spirit is just building up. Now in wrapping this up let me point to some kind of humorous peculiarity comical peculiarity.
In our search for identity, for a comfortable mind, for a comfortable identity, some of us reach out in the dark and grab anything that's not ourselves because we figure that nothing can be worse than we are. "Anything I grab that's other than myself in going to dignify me a little bit more."
Some of us reach out and get an artist tam and we wear our artist tam; we get a smock and we wear our artist smock. Others go to the surplus store and get an old soldier uniform; others go to the costume shop and get a desert garb. Some will take their regular dress and make a uniform out of it.
I remember when I was a boy I used to see some of our men folk wearing pop bottle tops around their hats; it was the closest thing that they could get to a five-star general's decoration.
The Nation of Islam has come through this experience as students studying the problem, although most of us were not aware of it. We had our uniform, our FOI suit, and we really understood what it meant to be in a new dress. We felt so free, so independent, so powerful, and our identity didn't weigh any more than that FOI suit.
The sisters were the other military unit called MGT - they had their MGT suit. For most of us that identity, that sense of newness, that sense of superiority weighed no more than the clothes we were wearing. These are the facts!
I remember one day in Chicago at the dinner table of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, one of the sisters of the MGT. who also was a worker there in the secretary staff of the! Honorable Elijah Muhammad, was talking about the discomfort that the MGT hat was bringing to her and she asked if they could design a different hat that would be more comfortable?
The Honorable Elijah Muhammad shook his head. I said to myself, wonder why that man didn't tell that sister that she could design a hat that would be more comfortable on their heads? And it wasn't until here recently in my leadership that I understood that — maybe] two and one-half years ago, not too recently.
The man was so hurt seeing his people so ignorant that he actually wanted to hurt them to get them out of their ignorance. I guess he said maybe if that hat chokes your brains out you'll stop putting so much importance on that uniform.
(To be continued)