Louis Farrakhan
Louis Farrakhan (Shevry Lassiter/The Washington Informer)

Funny thing about the chasm between the perceptions of reality as seen by Black people and by White people: the chasm itself has entirely different meanings in the two separate views. Whites take it for granted that Black folks identify with their every ambition and can’t imagine that Blacks could entertain a single ambition Whites had not previously cosigned.

Black people pay the price for this myopia, in the form of diluted dreams as they continually bend over backwards to “fit in” to the Caucasian-defined norm.

At each stage of the identity challenges of the 20th century for example, Whites were shocked to learn that their millions and millions of non-White neighbors no longer wanted to be “colored,” then “negro,” then “Negro” with an upper-case N, then Afro-American, then Black and African-American. Surprise, surprise.

The election of the potty-mouthed Donald J. Trump as president has unleashed a torrent of apparently repressed White hate-mongering, and a rise in racism, neo-Nazism, and the “alt-right” phenomenon. In Fairfax, Virginia, a White family was murdered recently by their teenage daughter’s boyfriend. Neighbors apparently thought it was nothing alarming when they noticed the 17-year-old suspect cut swastikas into the grass with a lawn mower.

These new outbreaks of hatred and violence by White race-haters are unapologetically on the rise, while at the same time Black folks are nervously trying to appear more “diverse,” even at the expense of well-meaning Black ambition — all of this so as to not appear “hostile” or “militant” in the view of Whites.

A classic example of White overreaching is approaching. Whites like it that their former slaves are still woefully behind the rest of the population in every category — wealth, health, education, employment, life expectancy, infant mortality, you name it. They would just as soon see Black folks wallowing in the pit, rather than rising and prospering. For example, successful black communities in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Rosewood, Florida, were torched and destroyed in the early 1900s, because their White neighbors could not countenance Black success in their midst.

In their downward spiral, Blacks meet no resistance. But you let a Black group start an upward course, and they will encounter resentment and resistance at every step of their progress.

Abolitionist Frederick Douglass told us of this phenomenon in a speech on Sept. 25, 1883: “If he comes in ignorance, rags and wretchedness he conforms to the popular belief of his character, and in that character he is welcome; but if he shall come as a gentleman, a scholar and a statesman, he is hailed as a contradiction to the national faith concerning his race, and his coming is resented as impudence.”

Such a scholar, statesman, role model and leader is Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan. Recently, the Minister’s granddaughter graduated with a degree in education from Grambling State University.

The proud grandpop (he even has nearly a dozen great-grandchildren) attended the graduation. While he was there, Monroe, Louisiana, Mayor Jamie Mayo welcomed the distinguished guest by presenting him a key to the city.

Now everyone knows there are no locks which a key to a city will operate. Such a presentation is just a gesture of welcome to an honored visitor.

But no. Because the city showed Farrakhan the respect he deserves as he works to rebuild the work of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad’s Nation of Islam — the most successful movement to reform and rehabilitate downtrodden Black men and women in the history of this country — the haters of the rise of Black people stormed to the front.

The Southern Poverty Law Center wrongly labeled the Minister a racist and the Nation of Islam a hate group. Unfair!

Yes, Farrakhan is known for unbending demands for a separate Black state, and for reparations to the descendants of slaves. I agree with him.

Now, this militant advocate, who for 62 years has dedicated his life to teaching the Black victims of this country’s 450-year shame how to escape the grasp of their tormentors, has been accused by the wrongdoers of committing the crime. Shameful.

Too often, we fear that militant Black demands for true equality, for “some of this earth to call our own,” will rock the boat of creeping “diversity,” “inclusion” and “multiculturalism,” that promises only snail’s-pace, token Black progress, and then at the price of sublimating Black ambition on the altar of “coalition building.”

I’ve known Louis Farrakhan, from afar and up close, for 45 years. I know for certain, he is not a race hater. He is not a hate teacher. Those who would condemn him would do better to go somewhere and haunt a house instead. Hands off Farrakhan!

Askia Muhammad

WPFW News Director Askia Muhammad is also a poet, and a photojournalist. He is Senior Editor for The Final Call newspaper and he writes a weekly column in The Washington Informer.

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