Farrakhan's cry may be our last chance at responding to the inevitable
Special to AmNews | , Jehron Muhammad | 11/1/2012, 11:50 a.m.
One of the principle impediments is the inability of leadership to bridge the gaps that have developed between their peers and the divide between leaders and their followers.
Farrakhan, in the must-read book "Closing the Gap," shows how fissures develop between progressive leadership and those they represent. He explains that sometimes when a personal need is met, "They [followers] claim him as their leader," but "as the leader evolves more and more, if they do not grow with him, a gap develops." Meaning, in part, that support for new initiatives diminishes.
The same can be said concerning the leader's ties to his or her base of support. Historically, as many Black leaders' popularity increases, their connection to the needs of their constituent's decreases. Likewise, as their relationships with those in the past they were critical of increases, addressing the needs of their community becomes co-opted for approaches that takes into account the newfound support they receive from those in the past they were in opposition to.
So in this election season, supporting the president because the "alternatives" are unsupportable is becoming the mantra. No insight is being given to the fact that even if the president's defeated jobs bill had passed, the majority of the jobs, as Farrakhan has pointed out, would have gone to whites who are unemployed and underemployed.
On the side of criticizing the president's unwillingness or inability to address the plight of poor Blacks, no viable alternatives are given. No national leader but Farrakhan has raised the possibility of pulling economic and political resources as the basis for the creation of an African-American economy, as other ethnic groups historically have done. This is the way toward creating full employment for the inordinate number of unemployed Blacks. Farrakhan has repeatedly stressed not "begging" the government for jobs that don't exist.
Bringing that point home, Algernon Austin, director of the Race, Ethnicity and the Economy Program at the Economic Policy Institute, said, "Black unemployment has been roughly double that of whites since the government started tracking the figures in 1972."
Even when Blacks have received jobs, their unemployment rates continue to increase. In August of 2011, though Blacks received 155,000 jobs, their unemployment rate continued to increase because that number wasn't enough to "make up" for all the African-Americans looking for work. In addition, Black men have fared far worse than Black women with their joblessness at a staggering 19.1 percent, compared to 14.5 percent for Black women.
Job creation in the African-American community "is just not happening," said Austin, "especially at the rate ... to bring ... reductions to the unemployment rate."
During his Oct. 16, 2011, "Separate But Equal" message, Farrakhan explained that African-Americans are the only group in the U.S. trying to force themselves on others. This was part two of a speech delivered in Philadelphia. It was the beginning of a series of lectures focusing on the importance of African-Americans achieving economic parity with other groups, culminating in a speech about economic development for Black America that the minister plans on delivering in February of 2013 at the NOI's annual Saviours' Day Convention.
During his speech, delivered at Mosque Maryum, the NOI's international headquarters in Chicago, he challenged Blacks by showing how other ethnic groups, including the Chinese, Irish, Greeks, Italians, Koreans and Jews, "all have enclaves where they live together and provide goods and services to one another and outsiders."
He explained that just like Blacks, "all these groups initially faced persecution when they arrived in America, but they built up strength and carved out their own communities and are [now] respected."
"Where there is no vision," according to Proverbs 29:18, "the people perish."
Blaine, who is also a community activist, writes, "Leadership devoid of values is unsustainable, and vision leads directly to values. When there is no vision--no guiding moral compass that steers both public and private life--the people throw off restraint and invariably resort to lawlessness."
Farrakhan has repeatedly warned that the mass demonstrations and revolutions that are occurring across the globe would soon enter America. His cry may be our last chance at responding to the inevitable.
Jehron Muhammad, who writes from Philadelphia, can be reached at Jehronn@msn.com.