Saturday, March 24, 2018

Unpacking The Attacks On Minister Farrakhan and His Nation of Islam

In my last article about Shootin Ya Shot I elaborated on how challenging it can be sometimes be to translate real-time customs into a virtual reality. Some of those challenges are not just technological, but they are also generational. The appropriation of the English vocabulary and social media slang is largely the part of a Millennial Generation who have developed their own standard of normalcy in how they communicate and interact with each other and other generations. In many ways, their standard is vastly different than past generations. As a youth advocate for for over two decades I have seen the best and the worst of this standard. 

I lay this as the groundwork because it is important to understand the lens in which many view Minister Farrakhan today is within a social media Millennial context. Within that context and from that perspective, there is a difference between the critiques and criticisms of him. A critique is an impartial assessment or analysis of something while a criticism is not impartial and expresses a sense of disapproval based upon perceived faults of mistakes. Considering this, while some critiques may be fair about Minister Farrakhan's Nation of Islam's today, some of the criticisms may not be. Additionally, some critiques may be inaccurate while some criticisms may be fair. Unfortunately, that consideration of a critique, or a criticism, is not something one should expect in a Believer or Follower of any leader. In their eyes, that person is beyond critique or criticism and that, in part, is what maintains their hierarchical structure. This is also what enables people, the vast majority, to be easily led. Now lets get into unpacking these attacks on Minister Farrakhan.

In a recent series of Youtube videos, Vloggers Young Pharaoh and Sara Suten Seti have openly critiqued and criticized Minister Farrakhan, his Nation of Islam, The Honorable Elijah Muhammad, Master Fard Muhammad and other elements associated with that religion. While some of things I saw and heard were inaccurate and unfair in terms of criticism, some things that I saw were a fair critique. One of the things I must add to this is that their content, whether a critique or criticism, is often explicit, vulgar, belligerent and out right disrespectful in its delivery. This provocative "Keeping it 100" Reality TV way of delivering content is a not only a part of the Young Pharaoh and Sara Suten Seti brand, but it also reflects a standard of normalcy of how many Millennials communicate and interact with each other, and other generations, today. For example, it was and is rare for members in my generation to curse in front of elders. Nowadays it's not rare to see youth in the present generation "cuss" elders out. In my generation we said how "cold" or "cold blooded" something was to define how cool it was. In this generation it's the total opposite: "that's hot!" or "🔥🔥🔥" In my generation AFTER someone shared something we didn't agree with our response was "I'm not hearing that." In this generation? "I'M NOT EVEN TRYING to hear that" Meaning, before you even share it, I'm not listening. In my generation within the secular world people had a safe space to critique and criticize something. In the present generation people are immediately labeled a hater if they don't like or disagree with some person, place or thing. This is the medium through which the public is viewing these series of videos about Minister Farrakhan, his Nation of Islam, The Honorable Elijah Muhammad, Master Fard Muhammad and other elements associated with that religion. As someone who comes from a "don't curse around your elders" generation, there was a lot I had to filter to even consider what these series of videos proposed. While I will say unequivocally that Young Pharaoh and Sara Suten Seti were out of line in their explicit, vulgar, belligerent and out right disrespectful way of delivering their information, I will also say that some of their points about feeling disrespected as non-Muslim Black Nationalists are valid. 

One of the main issues I wanted to bring some clarity to that I think got lost in their vulgar translation were the points of hypocrisy concerning Followers. In terms of hypocrisy, this is not something exclusive to Minister Farrakhan's organization. Every person and people are subject to this critique. The challenge is who is willing to do it? In a religious hierarchy, that is unlikely to happen. It is unlikely to happen among its members and it is especially unlikely concerning their leader. This has always been problematic because every hierarchy has something shady about it by the nature of its structure. Whenever you have one person at the top, that no one can overshadow, everyone below them operate in the shade. It doesn't mean that everyone below them are shady, it means that this structure and environment encourages shady dealings and in today's lingo, opportunities for people to "throw shade." Think about that for a moment.

Anyway, here are some of those points of hypocrisy concerning Followers, in particular, whom Young Pharaoh and Sara Suten Seti critiqued and criticized: 

*In the above video, when Minister Farrakhan openly said he was a hypocrite for denouncing Master Farad Muhammad and The Honorable Elijah Muhammad after being in the NOI [Nation of Islam] for 20 years, his Followers sympathized. Minutes later when he said, "kill every hypocrite in sight!" his Followers cheered. A am unsure if Minister Farrakhan was suggesting that he was the exception or that his Followers should have dealt with him accordingly when he was a hypocrite. Some Followers are quick to call people hypocrites and completely cut them off for even questioning something Minister Farrakhan says and does. If Minister Farrakhan "came back from a mental death", as our 13th degree in the 1-40s [Lost-Found Lesson #2] states, then surely other brothers/sisters who also strayed and are straying away from civilization should be given the same consideration and patience Bro. Jabril showed Minister Farrkhan.

*When Minister Farrakhan charged Warith Deen Mohammed of deviating from The Teachings and destroying his father's legacy by taking the Nation in an Orthodox Islamic direction, his Followers echoed those sentiments. Years later when Min. Farrakhan started taking his Followers in a similar direction of Warith Deen Mohammed by changing Ramadan from December, appointing a National Imam, restricting publishing of the Supreme Wisdom book, participating in Salaat and other Orthodox Islamic customs, Followers went along with it.
*When Minister Farrakhan silenced and distanced himself and his Nation from Khalid Abdul Muhammad for remarks about Zionists during his November 29th, 1993 Kean College Lecture, his Followers agreed. When Minister Farrakhan has been and is recently being criticized for similar remarks about Zionists, his Followers defend him without ever exonerating Khalid.

In reading this article, some Followers would argue that this is not hypocritical, they are only doing what a Believer should do. The problem with that is the fact that many of these Followers don't extend the same consideration and understanding to non-Muslims that they extend to each other and their leader. That is one thing about El Hajj Malik Shabazz [Malcolm X.] that was never up for debate or an issue. His love for our people, regardless of their religion or station in life, was pure and you always got a sense that he was for black people. He was a black man first and represented himself that way. When Khalid Abdul Muhammad was here, you got the same sense from him; he was a black man first and represented himself that way. With many other leaders, past and present, their allegiance to their people first, not their religious community, organization or political party, is often debatable. While some would say that this doesn't apply to Minister Farrakhan, his Nation's public partnership with the Church of Scientology and investment in Dianetics technology has raised many eyebrows among black folks. While I have studied Dianetics and see some value in it, I like many others, would have liked to see a public partnership and investment with our own groups such as the New Nation of Islam, the United Nation of Islam, the UNIA, the Moorish Science Temple, The Potter's House, African Hebrew Israelites, the Ausar Auset Society, the Five Percent Nation or others. For Minister Farrakhan to not publicly align his Nation with any of these groups, that in my assessment have much more value than Dianetics, is the reasoning behind the critique and criticism he has received about his Church of Scientology initiative. To many of us, it felt and feels like a slap in the face to emphasize the importance and champion the work of L Ron Hubbard without ever creating an initiative that emphasizes the importance and champions the work of  Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Ben-Ami, Father Allah, Queen Afua, Ra Un Nefer Amen, Marimba Ani and countless others.

In closing, the series of Young Pharaoh and Sara Suten Seti videos critiquing and criticizing Minister Farrakhan, his Nation of Islam, The Honorable Elijah Muhammad, Master Fard Muhammad and other elements associated with that religion culminated with the above dialogue between Young Pharaoh and NOI Followers Ben X., Rizza Islam and Student Minister Willie Muhammad. Although there is more work to be done it terms of communication and responsibility, it was excellent to see the steps taken to strive to work some things out. I don't think that this will be the last spat, especially seeing that this sense of combativeness has become the hallmark of the Conscious Community and the Young Pharaoh and Sara Suten Seti brand, but at least we will have this video as reference material to better address potential conflicts among ourselves in the future.

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