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Talking Drum

Justice Or Else

African Flags MMM

People from across the US gathered in for the Justice or Else march, various groups brought social and political messages. Photos by Obari Cartman.

Inspired and led by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, more than a million Blackmen gathered in Washington, D.C. on October 10, 2015 “to declare their right to justice to atone for their failure as men and to accept responsibility as the family head”, as articulated by the Nation of Islam. The theme for this 20th anniversary reunion of the original Million Man March on the nation’s capital was “Justice or Else”.

Many say it was one of the most historic organizing and mobilizing events in the history of Black people in the United States. But what were its objectives, what did it produce, what are the organizational products, and how are the people closer to their goal of justice?

Looking back in time, the Million Man March follows a long history of civil rights activism in the United States. During the 1960’s and 70’s the civil rights movement was in full mobilization with protests, boycotts, and sit­ins of all kinds designed to strike back at the system of white supremacy that institutionalized the marginalization and dehumanization of black people throughout its territories.

Black inhabitants were made legal second class citizens that did not have access to the liberties espoused by the society’s founding moral codes: “liberty and justice for all”. Given this country’s history of enslavement and genocide, it’s clear these ideals have not benefited humanity. A post slavery America was very much a continuation of Roman civilization, built for the perceived advantages of an elite ruling class who would conquer people throughout the world. In contrast to a traditional African system of governance whereby the leaders served the interests of the people, here the interests and ambitions of the leaders was to serve themselves.

Their system of governance is characterised by the people serving their king, and ready to sacrifice and kill for their interest. These interests are the conquest of land, material wealth, and the subjugation of all peoples. America was part and parcel of a society forged on the ethics of barbarism and conquest. It was designed with the further destruction of traditional civilization in mind and was not likely to change its intention without resistance or corrective force. The civil rights movement would grow as part of a global resistance to the unjust system through protests and rebellion the world over.

Farrakhan speaks Justice or Else

Louis Farrakhan speaks at the Justice or Else March

One of the characteristics of the civil rights movement, as with the series of Million Man Marches, is the charismatic smooth talking preacher at the podium. They typically have the oratory gift of gab that could move the emotions of any crowd no matter how forwards or backwards their platform actually is. They excel at emotional manipulation and arousing the passions of the crowd, which triggers the mass movement into action.

The problem with appealing to the emotions is that emotions are temporary and not sustainable for long periods of time. Emotions are known to negatively impact our decision making process. They compel us to act without clarity of mind. Likewise, a movement based on the emotions is often temporary and not sustainable for the long haul. People make decisions that are questioned once they return to a level state of mind.

Protests were often started based on a response to random acts of injustice that would arouse the passions of the masses. But the emotions would eventually cool down with the passing of time as would the movement. If looked at critically one could see the “so called” random acts of injustice that flare up the emotions of the masses, are quite regular and systematic.

This year’s 20th anniversary of the Million Man March had the theme of Justice or Else. The organizers, led by Farrakhan, gave the impression that the systematic and institutionalized racism had the option to change its course. This was in spite of acknowledging the fact that “America has no future for you or me”, in the words of Farrakhan. He implied that if we assemble at the nation’s capital to show unity as leaders of the black family, and warned America of its impending judgement by God, our goal of justice can be achieved. This is inspite of having a clear analysis of America’s record of injustice throughout time, as he skillfully articulates at every opportunity. Farrakhan stated “America is under Divine judgement and they have a chance to stop or delay the judgement”.

MMM mall

Photo by Obari Cartman.

During the closing remarks Farrakhan outlined prescriptive solutions for those in attendance and viewing from home. He stated we would “sit with the police department to expose the rogue policemen” in their system. To help with this effort a call was made for 10,000 fearless men to stand between the guns directed at black people by both the rogue cops and wicked black people of the inner cities. The March also called for black people to have their own ministry of defense (police) as well as a ministry of justice (courts).

This was proposed so that we could resolve our own conflicts and solve our own problems in the inner cities. Because it was clear to all that the criminal justice system needs reform. Farrakhan further called for African Americans to boycott Christmas season, saying it’s been transformed into a crass commercial holiday that benefits “white business”. We think they have taken advantage of us and our consumer dollars by commercializing the respect and honor of Jesus, and making it a bonanza for white business”, said Farrakhan.

The decision to boycott was designed to inflict maximum economic pain on America, forcing business owners to pressure the government to respond to our demands for justice. So instead of spending money to buy gifts, he suggested that we teach about Jesus and show love, forgiveness and focus on family. The speakers also called for preachers to take the lead in using non‐violence and redirecting it to black people, requesting that those preachers come home and teach love for one another instead of trying to teach white people to love. Lastly, they called for takeover the educational system based on the poisonous doctrine of white supremacy designed to make you a willing tool or slave of your oppressor.

On first approach these seem like sensible solutions to the problems faced by a marginalized people in need of justice. They provide a strategic plan for addressing the need for justice that birthed the civil movement, the Million Man March movement, and others like it such as the Black Lives Matter movement. The question that remains to be answered is, will these current movements lead to a different result than the movements of the 1960s. Until now, the goal of justice has remained elusive. Justice was defined by the Farrakhan as “the greatest principle of fair dealing or distinguishing between what is right and wrong”. However the process of establishing justice, fair dealing, or distinguishing between what is right and wrong is based on a people’s cultural values.

Whose values are we using to define justice and the solutions to our problems? Have these values served us well in the past? Without values, how will we spread love in our communities? How will 10,000 fearless vigilante men be able to cooperate and avoid turning into effectively another gang? How will we educate our children not to join the next generation of slaves? Any religion that was introduced to destroy a culture or civilization cannot claim the banner of love. For example, when Christianity and Islam were brought to the shores of Africa in the name of peace and love, its followers proceeded to kill and enslave millions. How effectively will a people unite and bring a positive change guided by the doctrines that enslaved their Ancestors?

What’s missing from these solutions are traditional culture and values. We can view the Million Man March reunion as resistance to an unjust system, and part of the global struggle of people to regain their dignity, in the upward climb of our civilizations’ recovery.

Time will tell whether the goals presented at this march will bring us closer to the goal of justice. The general principle to redirect our efforts to internal transformation instead of forcing changes on the world externally is a good start. The missing piece is the cultural principles to guide us in our movement. The principles of nonviolence, love and self improvement are cornerstone values of a legacy dating back to the original code of human behavior. It’s time for humanity to change its direction.

May the Ancestors and Gods show us favor.

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