opinions & views

Justice or Else: Sharing the Pain

by Sabirah Muhammad

The spirit and work of Dr. Martin Luther King loomed large over the 20th anniversary commemoration of the Million Man March.  In fact, the Honorable Louis Farrakhan had pledged to continue along the precise trajectory that Dr. King was traveling at the time of his murder, by using the powerful tactic of economic withdrawal.  The first activity to be employed in this strategy – is canceling Christmas.  

We remember how the dollar was weaponized during the glorious demonstration of “made up minds” called the Montgomery Bus Boycott.  We remember that on the day before his assassination, Dr. King was calling for a boycott of Coca Cola, and Sealtest Milk, and Wonder Bread in response those companies’ unfair hiring practices.  And we remember that just last year, during massive upheavals following the murder of Michael Brown, many on social media were pushing for a boycott of the Christmas buying season.  We do know that those who participated had an impact, through general reports of slumping sales. But while the impact of black buying habits is closely tracked, every effort is made to keep the news of our success a secret from us.  No matter.  We’ll hear about it soon, as the massive economic boycott of this year’s Christmas hits with resounding fury, and sparks a resurgence of the effort to build a black economy.  

That too, is what Dr. King was talking about on April 3, 1968.  He called on the community to withdraw our money from wherever it was, and to put it in black banks.  He said that we should place our business with black insurance companies and “strengthen black institutions.”  Referring to the beleaguered sanitation workers on whose behalf he had come to town he said:  “only the garbage men have been feeling the pain.  Now we must redistribute the pain.”As Black folk in America continue to suffer the pain of oppression in every area of our lives, we are quickly moving to the brink.  As Eric Garner is set upon by a roving pack of beasts in blue and choked to death on camera, and Malissa Williams and Timothy Russell die in a hail of 137 bullets fired by 13 police officers, and 12 year old Tamir Rice is shot on sight… As judges and juries continue to protect the murderers of our people in these and countless heinous crimes, we are fast approaching the breaking point, where the pain of prolonged injustice produces the insanity of wanton backlash.  And make no mistake about it – even the fratricidal killing that plagues inner-city hotbeds is state sponsored – and state-sanctioned.  Stop tolerating those who hurl the fallacy of “black on black crime” at our children, whose positive self-image and natural, divine development are retarded from birth, and who are deliberately locked in debilitating need to produce the desperate and violent behaviors we’re witnessing. When we utter the phrase “Justice, or Else,” it’s not just cowardice that drives some among us to posit the question: “Or else what?”  We saw those military tanks and rocket launchers trained on our unarmed, peaceful protestors in St. Louis, Missouri. We heard the policeman in Tulsa say “F” your breath” to a black man as he lay dying.  We know that when Sandra Bland cried out that the arresting officer had hurt her by slamming her head into the ground, his response was:  “good.”  We remember the bombs dropped on the home of John Africa in Philadelphia… killing men, women and children.  We know that those who traded in the white robes of the klan for the black robes of judges - and that the police, who began as organized bands of slave catchers – lust for our blood today as they always have.

But Dr. King was right about something else.  “We don’t need Molotov cocktails,” he said.  Indeed.  Why not leverage the power of unity, before insanity sets in?  Let’s cancel Christmas.  Let’s start with an effective blow to the economy, to share the sensation of economic sanctions…like the ones that Black folk have experienced since we set foot upon the shores of America.  This would be a bold first move, one that hopefully, will spark the energy needed to continue on, building a black economy to finance our own freedom. 

For those who still feel powerless, and at the mercy of the deadliest and biggest arsenal of killing machines in the world, reflect on this:  How did a hurricane… whose very nature is chaotic, instantly changeable, erratic and unpredictable whirlwind fury… skip all over North Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia, and only ravage South Carolina? South Carolina, where a cop was caught on camera, firing bullets into Walter Scott… where Dylan Roof walked into the Mother Emmanuel Church and slaughtered 9 Black people.  But black folk were affected too, you say.  Need we mention again – that Mother Emmanuel is the church family that turned in Denmark Vesey, refusing to be free? It’s the same family that today, refused to allow Minister Farrakhan to come as he builds momentum for the 20th anniversary march.  Moreover, all of the black churches in the area refused him access.  We serve a god who knows how to make a point. By the way, how does one shoot or bomb a hurricane?

For those who can’t quite grasp the idea of a divine hit on a specific target… just grip tightly the idea of unity.  Let’s agree that black folk have soaked this land with enough of our blood.  For the sake of our lives, for the sake of the peace, hold onto the love inherent in the gift of giving, which is a gift within itself.  But instead of Christmas draining us, let the lack of it drain this unjustnation.  Remember the reason for the season...but kick Santa to the curb!