As part of my resolution to commit myself to 99 Acts of Revolution (big & small) in 2012, I attended the recent appearance of Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam at Fountain St Church in Grand Rapids MI on March 1st, 2012. I never knew much about N.O.I. except what the news shows us… which is far from reality.
When MLive/Grand Rapids Press announced the upcoming date the usual wave of rednecks and conservative douche bags bombarded the comments section with all of the predictable racist vitriol and hypocritical stupidity that they could possibly cram into their ad hominem attacks and badly reiterated Fox News talking points.
After the last decade of conservatives in the government and media waging war on people of color, people from different religions, people from poor countries, and everyone else not perfectly “white and right” in the eyes of the Conservative American God, many people are starting to tune out all of the propaganda and see for themselves what is really happening out there in the real world. This is a large part of why I chose to attend the event. I figured that if the government, the conservatives, religious hypocrites, and racists don’t like it…then it can’t be all that bad.
After several local community activists and student leaders addressed the audience of over 1,000 people, Minister Farrakhan spoke for over an hour on duty, responsibility, and self-sufficiency.
When Farrakhan spoke of duty, he told us how all the creatures in nature follow what is right, what is natural for them to do. The all have an instinctual need to protect and provide for themselves and their own kind first and foremost. All creatures have a duty to provide for themselves, to respect what is in their nature, and to use that to live the best that they can. Man is no different. He has a duty to provide for himself and his family, not to rely on others for this. He has a duty to look out for his family and community to make sure that nobody is left behind or needing to be taken care of.
Responsibility to conduct our lives in a proper manner, to respect ourselves and our families, to live a clean life in a physical and spiritual sense is also a fundamental value we must recognize as well. Farrakhan talked about how we have responsibilities to our communities to set each other up for success, to build strong bonds, and to help each other help themselves so as not to be reliant on others unnecessarily.
Farrakhan then turned to the values of self-sufficiency, and how it is important that we break the chains in our minds. self-sufficiency means that when our young people come out of colleges and universities, that the education they received will provide them opportunities to provide for themselves. They should come out of the schools “looking to create jobs” rather than to “find jobs”. Farrakhan told the audience “The education system in America is training you to be subservient”. He told us how the universities are training us to be obedient and uncritical in our thinking, to be prepared to work in jobs that the corporations have provided us, but not educating us to be able to be strong and provide for ourselves.
Farrakhan then tied all of it together by illustrating how the colonialism and slavery that founded the United States, and impacted countries all over the globe, have consequences that are still reverberating in our culture today. He spoke of how slavery on the plantations ( and post-slavery sharecropping) has so deeply affected the African American community, that even today, farming is detested or avoided by the African American community. “How many of you students here tonight are studying agriculture?” Farrakhan asked. Not one person in an audience of over 1,000 people raised their hand. “When I was a young boy, cancer was strictly a caucasian disease. Now, today it is one of the leading causes of death in the African American community”.
And he is right. In every neighborhood that is predominately populated by minorities and/or poor people, in every city across the US, you will find very limited food choices. Fast food, liquor stores, gas stations…. but no grocery stores, no farmer’s markets, no real access to real food. Just chemicals ingredients, fat, and low quality sugars. The results of colonialism, racism, and corporatism in our society has helped set up minorities in this country to fail to provide the basic needs of healthy living for themselves. The education system is not doing much to elevate the fortunate people that graduate from college to achieve a significantly better living condition. Instead they are trained to remain in the same endless cycles of dependency that they have always known.
And it isn’t just the minority communities, and the poor in general that are caught u in this. As the wealth gap expands, and as the educational achievement gap widens, more and more Americans are getting pulled into the downward spiral. We are ALL becoming part of this system of being programmed in schools to be subservient workers. We are all being shown the tv and movie programming to make us think that we can be a part of the upper class elite if only we just work a little bit harder. The conservatives and religious right endlessly spew the lie that it is this minority over here, or that “liberal” special interest over there that is threatening your only shot at the American Dream. The media continues to spread the propaganda that America needs less government to interfere with our lives, but what they really mean is that corporate America needs less government to interfere with their manipulating the system and trampling on the rights of the citizens in the name of more and more profits.
Minister Farrakhan tied together all of his points about duty, responsibility, and self-sufficiency and counter-illustrated them by discussing some of the many ways that our popular culture, corporations, and government are working to circumvent our potential to achieve what is right for each individual. Our duties and responsibilities to ourselves and our communities are being circumvented in the name of profits for others, at our expense. Because we depend upon those who profit from our inability to be self-sufficient, we will suffer until we break this chain of dependency.
“The light in Western civilization is going out because time and the wickedness of the leaders has created a situation that they do not have the wisdom to solve.” Farrakhan said. “Do you love this country? If you love it, you have to do your part to save it from its fall.”