D.C. invasion by Black folks: the medium was the message


MellaneoussquareAfter initially saying I wasn’t going to go to Washington D.C., I changed my mind.

Glad I did. Black people are beautiful! I’m not implying on any level that other folks aren’t. The human race is beautiful. Just think how beautiful it would be without all the injustice, oppression and exploitation.

Thousands gathered to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
Thousands gathered to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

Seeing that many Black folks in one place was good for the soul! That, alone, was reason to be there. When you are Black in America it’s hard to just “be.” And here we all were just being — just being alive, just being positive, just being hopeful, just being ourselves!

I had good reason not to go. After all, I went to the original Million Man March in ’95. “I don’t want to go,” I said, because I didn’t want to participate in something without clear goals and strategy. I needed more than “justice or else.” I wasn’t as interested in marching in Washington as I was in marching on Washington and making demands.

And the Nation of Islam’s lack of class perspective has always left their analysis incomplete. If we got rid of White supremacy tomorrow, the Black capitalists and their cronies would be sure to keep poor Black folks in their place at the bottom. Just ask the South Africans.

Without a doubt, it is probably easier than it has ever been to criticize peoples’ efforts to make a dent in the hell that Black folks are catching, than it is to roll up ones’ sleeves and actually do something about it. And I was reminded that Brother Farrakahn sure is not like our would-be Brother Barack Obama.

Farrakahn and the Nation have consistently stood with Black folks in moments of crisis, unlike Obama who even when he appears to say things on behalf of Black folks, hedges his bets and has to mix in some brow beating and victim blaming. Moreover, we could all learn from the Nation’s “do for self” creed, and we should all model the self-discipline they exhibit. There is something to be said for being respectful, avoiding foul language and watching ones’ behavior.

Ironically, it is this discipline, independence, self-reliance, and personal morality that makes the Nation of Islam and Farrakahn, despite all his flaws, the only organization that could rally that many Black folks in one place. Farrakahn, as is his style, had an interesting two-hour speech. Space won’t permit a real critique, but he covered a lot of ground and touched on most of the pressing issues of the day.

However, for whatever reason, he felt the need to clear up his role in the Nation of Islam’s effort to dispose of Malcolm X. I think he should let it go. Truth is, most of Black America has never seemed to hold that against him, but I suspect it has hindered the Nation just a bit. He, like the other leaders of the Nation of Islam, was complicit by encouraging and nurturing the environment that allowed the U.S. government to rid themselves of their number-one nemesis at the time.

During the march, the minister really built up and praised women — especially Black women. And then he messed it up by saying they ought to dress a certain way and be able to cook. He didn’t go further, but the truth is he is no worse than many Black church leaders who still relegate women to the back of the church, so to speak.

He made an attempt to acknowledge that it’s not his place to judge the LGBQT community. And he is no worse than Black and White church leaders who struggle with the idea of homosexuality as another way some of God’s human creations live. The Pope doesn’t fare much better.

To the organizers’ credit, they acknowledged many of the folks that are doing the work on the ground, allowing reps from Black Lives Matter to speak, as well as Trayvon’s mother Sybrina Fulton, and Michael Brown, Jr.’s father, Mike Brown Sr.

They let Rev. Jeremiah Wright say a few words and extended the podium to Christian ministers, a female Palestinian rights activist, and Native American activists. So the truth is, Black folks need to organize more than ever and the “Justice or Else” rally is a stark reminder that justice does not exist for Black folks in the U.S. or why would we need to gather?

If racism wasn’t a problem, the racists wouldn’t have to bother criticizing Farrakhan because there would have been no need for the nation to exist.

Justice then peace.


Mel Reeves welcomes reader response to mellaneous19@yahoo.com.