Dear Brothers and Sisters,
On Sunday, June 10th, I celebrated my 72nd birthday. Given the circumstances of my imprisonment, some may wonder that I use the word "celebrate". However, since we are here on earth to gain experience, we should celebrate the gaining of another year of experience regardless of the nature of that experience. We are here to learn the nature of both good and evil.
This June is also the 49th celebration of the month I graduated from college, BA in hand and aspirations in my heart to help bring justice to this country. Since experience is transformed into knowledge only through reflection and evaluation, I have used the last fifteen months to evaluate my experience during my forty nine years of what I view as hand to hand combat in the war for justice, fought in the trenches of the American battlefield.
I will acknowledged that some of the more blatant discriminatory practices have been ended and that many of the segregative barriers in this country have been torn down. Nevertheless, the level of fear, antagonism, distrust, and disrespect among the American people is at a higher level, I believe, than it was in the 60s. Clearly, this atmosphere has a toxic effect on the growth of justice. Justice needs appreciation, respect, and trust of our fellow human beings to flourish.
The clearest demonstration of the absence of justice is the prosecutorial terrorism and the legal injustices parading as laws, particularly the drug laws, that have led to the quintupling (500% plus)of incarceration in this country during the last forty years. In 1975, there were 400,000 people of all races in the jails and prisons of this country. Today, there are 2.3 million and over 1.3 million of them are black. This country has the distinction of having the highest rate of incarceration of its residents as well as the highest rate of the incarceration of people of color in the world.
Economic exploitation is alive, doing well, and growing. In fact, despite the Occupy movement, at times exploitation seems to be celebrated. "Dallas" has returned to the TV screens as the flag ship of America's fascination and glorification of obscene wealth and the pursuit thereof. Ironically, the Tea Party seems to mirror the mindset of the rich while proclaiming the support of the middle class. There are more African-Americans participating in this feeding frenzy and many at a higher level than our ancestors could ever have imagined. Yet, as a people, we are poorer in almost every respect than we were before the integrative process began in the 60s.
The most troubling and heart rendering aspect of this evaluation is that my generation of African-Americans has led the betrayal of the faith of our ancestors that their endurance of the chain, the whip, the lash, the humiliation, and human degradation would lead to a future where their descendents would lead the nation in the pursuit of freedom, justice, equality, and prosperity. They paid for that faith with their blood. Yet, we have betrayed them. We have sold our birthright for a mess of trinkets and bling-bling.
Yes, those are hard words but these are hard times. Hard times require tough mindedness not the sugar coating of the truth. Our youth are killing each other in the streets. As adults, we are killing ourselves with food, alcohol, drugs, sex, and the pursuit of money and the American dream. Yes, we are no different than the rest of the American people but that is my point. Our ancestors expected better of us. They expected that their amazing display of courage, faith, and endurance would lead to try to be more than pathetic imitations of a people who for over four hundred years have been trying to destroy us.
I know my brothers and sisters who are in their sixties, seventies, and eighties are bristling at my accusation that we have led the betrayal of our ancestors' faith. I can understand their resentment. Didn't we lead the struggle to integrate America, they say? Didn't our generation make tremendous sacrifices for freedom? Didn't some of us, in fact, pay for our right to be free from segregation and oppression with our lives? My answers---yes, yes, and yes. Then why label us as betrayers?
We have betrayed the faith and the historic struggle of our ancestors by becoming distracted from our mission by the pursuit of individual wealth and personal glory. Our ancestors had been oppressed and brutalized as a people. Our progress had been built on the collective sacrifices of our people. The foundation of their faith was that we would free ourselves not as individuals but as a people. Yet, we allowed ourselves to become stuck in the cotton candy of the American dream of individual wealth and achievement.
The fight to break down the barriers enabled us to fight from the inside rather than the outside of the American culture. Once on the inside we could begin to administer the antidote that could bring the insanity to an end. Being on the inside would enable us to build an economy on principles that could bring prosperity to all rather than the few. On the inside, we could develop ourselves to reflect the African understanding that inside every human heart is the spark of divinity and divine creativity. From inside the walls, we could lead America to build the democracy that Jefferson and the Founding Fathers had the power to proclaim but not the heart build.
Yet, once the walls came down, we forgot the purpose of our ancestors' struggle; we forgot our history; we forgot that we were on the inside to restore sanity not betray our ancestor's faith for a few trinkets of bling-bling. We forgot that the war for freedom, justice, equality, and prosperity had to be continuously fought until there was freedom, justice, equality, and prosperity for all. Our desires blinded us to the reality of our mission and we all are paying the price for our blindness, especially our children.
We are witnessing the destruction not only of ourselves but also of America. The cancer is rooted in the collective blindness of the American people as a whole. The question is what do we do? Islam, Christianity, and,in fact, every religion gives us the answer. A fundamental teaching of them all is that as long as there is breath in the human body, it is not too late to acknowledge the one true faith--Faith in the Oneness of All. It was our ancestor's faith in the restoration of that Oneness here in the wilderness of north America that inspired their historic quest.
What do we do, you ask? First, we must develop within ourselves faith in the Oneness of All. You can not expect others to do what you have not done for yourself. We have to purify ourselves of the toxicity that has us divided from ourselves. As African-Americans, we have to learn to love ourselves. In our veins flow the blood of all the races of the earth. If we can not love ourselves, who can we love? Second, we have to acknowledge that in the Oneness of All there is no gender. Our belief in Oneness requires that we fight the ignorance that pits male against female--female against male; the ignorance that breaks our families apart.
Perhaps our biggest challenge is to break down the barriers that separate us in our worship of the One True God. We must never forget that it was an Ethiopian Christian King who saved Islam in 615 A.D. After listening to a former African slave who became a follower of the Prophet Muhammad, Bilal, describe Allah, the Muslim's God, the king granted sanctuary to Bilal and the other Muslims who had fled to Ethiopia to escape persecution by the Meccan merchants. In rejecting the merchants' request for Bilal and the others, he said to the Meccans that while he was their trading partner, he worshiped the same God that Prophet Muhammad and his followers worshipped and would not betray his God.
My question to Christians, especially African-American Christians, is that if an Ethiopian Christian King in 615 A.D. less than six hundred years after the life of Jesus the Christ could accept that Allah was just a different name for the God that he worshipped, why can't Christians 2000 years later accept that reality. The 5000 years of research by the esoteric scientists who founded all the religions have shown that the many religions provide different paths to the One God whom they all worship. It is time for us to study and understand the truth of esoteric science.
We have an on going responsibility to fight against the challenges to the Oneness of All within as well as outside our communities. It is hypocritical to challenge others who deny the Oneness of humanity while colluding with the presence, practice, and growth of that denial within our own communities. We owe it to our ancestors to continually fight against those forces that would separate one group of the human family from the whole of humanity. Our ancestors had faith that we could complete the mission. We have to restore their faith in us by renewing the struggle for Oneness.
Finally, we have to acknowledge that the majority of us are trapped in concrete and steel cages called cities. Some of us prosper within these cages but the reality for the majority of us is that they serve as cages of containment. Throughout this country we need to build 21st century Freedom Villages within the hinterlands of these concrete and steel jungles where our people live. These Villages need to serve as lifelines for those trapped and dying in the cities.
These Freedom Villages will serve as lifelines by providing space for "pioneers" to recreate themselves by creating new communities where food can be grown, products developed, an economy nurtured, and models of a new way of life can be provided not only for themselves but also for those who can not escape the cities. It is time that we break the chain of dependence. It is time that we demonstrate the reality that it was our ancestors' sweat, blood, and tears that laid the foundation for the wealth of the American South. It's time that we restore our dignity by doing for self and others rather than waiting on justice from a government and business elite that feeds itself while the people of this country starve.
Marcus Garvey came to America in 1915 and challenged us to fulfill our destiny when he said, "Up You Mighty Race, You Can Accomplish What You Will". It is time that we recognize our responsibility to lead not only ourselves but the whole human race in demonstrating the ability of the human race to "Accomplish What We Will" through the manifestation of our true nature, the spark of divinity and divine creativity that resides in each and every human heart. It's Time. We owe it to our ancestors and our future generations. A luta continua. The struggle must continue until the new race, the superior human race, brings heaven to the earth through the manifestation of our collective divinity.
Happy Father's Day and A Happy Belated Mother's Day To All!
Peace and Love,