As a somewhat skeptical attendee at the “Justice or Else” rally commemorating the 20th anniversary of the 1995 Million Man March, I hoped that at least one of the scheduled speakers would provide concrete guidance on critical issues of confrontation with the police; the use of economics as a weapon in the ongoing campaign for equal rights, equal justice and equal opportunity; and the never-ending psychological attacks on the minds of Black folks.
Several speakers touched on these issues, but not one gave them the attention they so desperately require.
Cops and youth
It would have been helpful if someone with deep expertise had provided young Black folks, especially Black teenagers and young adults, with concrete advice on what to do when confronted by police.
Another issue included in the rhetoric of several speakers –but not emphasized by any of the ones I heard – was the most effective ways we can use our individual and group economic resources as a forceful weapon in this money-driven society.
If the people in Ferguson had gone to the White store owners in that city and demanded that they do something about the killing of Michael Brown or lose them as customers, there would have been no need to demonstrate and chant XXX slogans.
With Black folks reportedly making up 65 percent of Ferguson’s population, those White storeowners would have dealt with that situation swiftly and decisively. Those interested only in their profits would have thrown that police officer under the bus.
In significant instances, our support determines whether business operates in the red or black.
That’s a weapon for promoting and defending our interests. It’s too bad this was not clearly delivered to those gathered on the Mall.
Finally, I wish at least one speaker had outlined in some detail how movies, television, school textbooks, newspapers, magazines, song lyrics, the Internet, etc. are used as instruments for psychological attacks on our minds by the proponents of White supremacy.
While at the event, I came across an article in the March 18, 2014 issue of the Final Call newspaper that was worth reading to the thousands of attendees. Columnist Tingba Muhammad, with passion and talent, explained the pivotal role that Hollywood has played in this psychological warfare.
Warfare is exactly what it is. In movie after movie, people of color – especially Black folks – are depicted as inferior to Whites in all human endeavors
Laughed at Africans
In a segregated movie theater in Tuskegee, Ala., I, along with dozens of other Black youngsters ages 7-14, would cheer enthusiastically as Tarzan the White man and his chimpanzee beat up on African warriors. We ridiculed and laughed at African people in those and many other movies and television programs.
The only national leaders that I am aware of who consistently and forcefully warned us about that kind of psychological warfare were Brother Malcolm X and Dr. C. DeLores Tucker. One rarely hears any of today’s “national leaders” deal with this critical subject.
Here are some other impressions about the rally:
•Anesthesiologist Dr. Keith Hunter: “The march had great energy and assembled many different ages and peoples. I especially appreciate the call for unity with First Peoples and Latino folks as our collective oppression should not be confused if the violations seem to be purposely presented as separate and apart. I appreciate the call for frugality during holidays as withdrawal of our dollars from this time of the year can cause financial pain to evil business people. I appreciate the call for 10,000 fearless men to stand between our people and lawless police. I felt that young people might have benefitted from some more concrete suggestions in addition to the character and morality upliftment that we definitely need.”
•Howard University Professor Josh Myers: “The beauty of the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March was the different voices that participated. The turnout represented a range of different representations of the Black community. The takeaway of the march for me was that we should use these moments of convening to learn from each other’s struggles and fortify ourselves in the face of the various issues we continue to face. We might better forge ahead when we know that there are others committed to the same kinds of struggle that we are. So the opportunity to convene was a crucial component of the march. Also, I am most excited about the economic boycott that has been planned as one of many action items. It is an action that even those may disagree with each other can participate in collectively. As such, it is a start to build an operational unity out of the diverse tapestry of Black struggle that was represented at the march.”
•Composer, producer, director Chapman Roberts: “As I strolled through the Washington Mall with the intention of basking in the sun on the stairs of the National Gallery with the large overflow crowd, I was at first subliminally cognizant of that slightly uneasy “something is missing” feeling.
Suddenly it kicked in that it was the proverbial “first time” thrill accompanied by the adrenalin rush only a new adventure can induce. With that, I noticed the marked absence of old tension which had been replaced by a sense of the bucolic, in fact Peace. In that state of epiphany, I contentedly embraced the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March as a sign that finally all of we many thousands had voluntarily come together seemingly of one mind, purpose and spirit and in that sense truly overcome. And I was glad.”
•Anthony Dennison: “The march was all-inclusive of the entire African-American community as opposed to the last march 20 years ago that excluded women. This event let the nation see that African-Americans are serious about issues facing our community such as police brutality. Minister Farrakhan squandered his chance to say something meaningful when the world was watching him. The rally…titled ‘Justice or Else,’ never defined the meaning of else!”
Min. Louis Farrakhan reportedly described the rally as “the beginning of a movement.” Let’s hope that’s the case.
A. Peter Bailey, whose latest book is Witnessing Brother Malcolm X, the Master Teacher,” can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.