A Weekend of Fundraising, Fun and Culture
By Brother Cedric Muhammad
New Orleans, La – In an effort to help raise funds for the annual Saviors’ Day Drive, and expose the city of New Orleans to the wealth of talent that exists in the Nation of Islam, the Student Laborers of Muhammad Mosque #46 invited Brother Henrí Muhammad, violinist and owner of Muhammad’s School of Music to the city to help. “I’ve always had an admiration for Brother Henrí Muhammad as a Believer, as well as a musician. He’s comfortable in his own skin. Our brother is a lover of Allah, the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad and the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan. He uses his gift to serve our people and to educate them about the significant role Black people played in classical music. He does so beautifully with the Teachings of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad. Cities would greatly benefit from a visit from him,” stated Brother Willie Muhammad, Student Minister of Muhammad Mosque No. 46.
Brother Henrí’s visit began with an interview, as part of the Mosque No. 46 “I Have a Testimony” Series. The series provides visiting guests the opportunity to share how they came to Islam and talk about their personal testimony about the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan and their interaction with him directly. “Bro. Henri is an exceptionally gifted human being. He’s humble, yet confident. His life’s journey into the Nation of Islam is a true testament that Allah has His hands in our affairs. The most impactful part of his testimony to me was how The Hon. Min. Louis Farrakhan took him under his wing and became his personal teacher on the violin after the passing of his previous teacher, Mr. Charles Veal. Being around Bro. Henri, you can tell that he is a man that has been around The Minister. Min. Farrakhan’s personality shines forth in our brother. May Allah continue to bless Bro. Henri and his family in this Cultural Revolution,” stated Brother Lawrence Muhammad, owner of All Nations Design.
On Saturday, prior to the fundraiser Brother Henrí Muhammad, inspired by the words of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan regarding serving the sick and shut-in, spent time at a Senior Living Facility performing classical pieces for some of its residents and staff. The audience members were so excited about the performances they could not stop expressing words of support and calls for encores. It was a pleasure to witness Bro Henri’s well received performance at the nursing facility. The residents were incredibly appreciative of his dynamic performance. Their high level of engagement to the classical music was special to watch,” stated Sister Michelle Muhammad. Others were impacted by healing vibrations produced by the performance. “Brother Henri Muhammad’s performance was a beautiful showcase of the diverse skills and talents of black people. His knowledge of the instrument and his craft educated and inspired the audience. His passion and enthusiasm for music as a universal language was evident in his presence and connection with the believers and his storytelling. I am grateful to have had the 432 MHZ healing vibrations fill Mosque 46 on Saturday night,” stated attendee Gia Hamilton.
Later that night the Believers and community gathered to enjoy a night of fun, food and socializing, capped off by an outstanding musical performance by Brother Henri, who began the night by playing Ave’ Maria. “I really enjoyed my time with my extended family. I say that because I have many friends in the NOI. From the door it was a five (5) star experience. My name was in a list and I had seating arrangements. I Enjoyed the table conversations filled with a diversity of people. An elder who was also an opera singer (amongst many other things) shed tears at the serenade of our featured guest violinist. Her daughter kept the table laughing and educating me on life within the NOI. The two other couples and a baby added to the mix of our time well spent. The violinist, a professional and student of music not only performed with passion but took the time to enlighten and educate all curious minds. I rarely have an opportunity to attend or even have knowledge of events like this. I’m thankful for my friends in the NOI for making this event happen,” Michael “Sage” Pellet.
This was Brother Henri’s first visit to the city of New Orleans. “I am thankful to have been invited by Brother Student Minister Willie Muhammad and the Believers of Muhammad Mosque No. 46 in New Orleans, Louisiana to perform for their Saviours’ Day Gift 2020 Fundraiser. New Orleans is known for its music, art, cuisine, and rich ethnic culture, and Brother Student Minister Willie and his team took me all over the city, including Congo Square, the French Quarter, the Historic Lower Ninth Ward (which was devastated in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina), the home of music legend Fats Domino, and for the first time I had Beignets and Gumbo! I met so many wonderful Believers, young people; community members, Artists, and supporters. We had such a great time at the Mosque Fundraiser no one wanted to go home. It was a beautiful and fulfilling experience, and I look forward to returning again very soon,” stated Brother Henri Muhammad.
BY FINAL CALL NEWS
The Bitter Tears Of Angela Rye And Other Black Apologists
Analyst Angela Rye decided to wade in on the attacks on the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan and the continued targeting of the Nation of Islam minister by Jewish leaders, groups and organizations.
Through tears, she spoke of her “pain” over words allegedly spoken by Min. Farrakhan. He needs to just stop talking about Jews, she declared, during a May podcast with co-host Charlamagne Tha God. Yet, these Jewish forces have literally attacked or helped feed daily attacks in the media and elsewhere since February 2018. Not to mention their all-out assault on all things related to the Nation of Islam and the Minister since 1984. Ms. Rye argues the Minister should stop talking about Jewish people, “live above approach,” and “speak above reproach,” and apologize three times better than others.
Ms. Rye, you got it all wrong.
And, it’s doubtful that you would heed your own advice if you were engaged in a battle with those who support President Trump and right wing GOPers. You would stand in the place where you feel truth resides, do you think Min. Farrakhan would do less?
Ms. Rye declares the Minister should “not do things that are vilifiable.” Has any Black independent leader ever spoken in ways that satisfied Whites consumed with keeping Black folk in their place? Did it work for Barack Obama when he spoke about Trayvon Martin’s killing in 2012? Did it work for Dr. Martin Luther King speaking against the Vietnam War in 1967? Paul Robeson pointing out the failures of American democracy in the 1940s? W.E.B. DuBois who died in exile in Africa in 1963 after trying to make America truly great? Did it work for the Honorable Marcus Garvey, whose 20th century movement was infiltrated and broken by the federal government? Did it work for the Black Panther Party, SNCC or SCLC in the civil rights and Black Power eras?
No. Any word or thought that challenges White hegemony or authority becomes worthy of vilification in the eyes of the White power structure.
Ms. Rye expresses sentiments similar to racially apologetic columnists like Clarence Page and Dahleen Glanton of the Chicago Tribune and Mary Mitchell of the Chicago Sun Times. These Black writers for White-owned news outlets engage in a kind Farrakhan-splaining based on White misinterpretations of a Black man and to reassure Whites that things are fine with their obedient Negros. But it’s ridiculous and false to insist that with all the problems Blacks have, they revel in scapegoating Jews. Stop it. The problem is Jewish attacks on the preeminent spokesman for the pain of Black people and Jewish assaults on him, his work and anyone who dares come near him.
Throughout the podcast, Ms. Rye goes to bat for leading Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden, despite his past comments bashing busing to force integration, super predators, the 1994 Crime Bill and how he marveled at a “clean” Barack Obama at one point.
But Ms. Rye and others of her ilk want accommodation and capitulation. They want the absence of tension—not peace, which can only be present with the presence of justice. Peace comes with truth and justice, not easing the feelings of White and Jewish people, who are unfailing, brutal and unapologetic in their vicious attacks.
Ms. Rye says she agonizes over things the Minister said. But what did he actually say? In a message delivered last October at the Aretha Franklin Amphitheatre in Detroit, Min. Farrakhan said:
“Now White folk don’t like Farrakhan, some of them respect me. But those who have been our Deceivers, they can’t stand me. I’m not mad with you. In fact, you members of the Jewish Community that don’t like me: Thank you very much for putting my name all over the planet. Because of your fear of what we represent, I can go anywhere in the world and they’ve heard of Farrakhan. Thank you very much.
“I’m not mad at you. My teacher Elijah Muhammad taught me one day: There once was a donkey that fell in a ditch and everybody came along picked up a stone and threw it at the donkey. They threw so many stones that the ditch got filled up and the donkey walked up. So my teacher said, ‘brother remember every knock is a boost.’ When they talk about Farrakhan, call me a hater, call me an anti-Semite; stop it I’m anti-termite.
“I don’t know anything about hating anyone because of their religious preference. But just like they called our ancestors in the 1930s ‘voodoo people,’ they figure ‘anti-Semite’ would be a good thing to put on us. Farrakhan hates Jews. Stop it. You cannot find one Jew that one who follows me has plucked one hair from his head. You haven’t found us defiling a synagogue. Our Qur’an teaches us if we see something like that stop it. They call me anti-Semitic. No, you are anti-Black. Now I’m talking to the anti-Black White folk. Why do you lay around Black people like the 10 Percent in our Lessons? You know we’re a talented people, so you lay right around us, ‘I’ll be your manager.’ … How did they get to own everything that we have created? It’s because they’re Master Deceivers and they hate the fact that we are strong enough to say it. Now when a liar has gotten ahold of you, the liar is afraid of anybody who knows the truth and will tell it. So, they don’t want you near Farrakhan.”
Ms. Rye also expresses pain as a Christian because the Minister said the historical Jesus did not die on a cross, and gave his life for his mission and controversy with the Jews in his day.
There are well established arguments that the historical Jesus never died on a cross. Had Ms. Rye never heard this before? “Jesus did not die on cross, says scholar,” reads the headline for a June 2010 article in the UK-based Telegraph newspaper. It quotes committed Christian and theologian Gunnar Samuelsson, who said “the Bible has been misinterpreted as there are no explicit references to the use of nails or to crucifixion—only that Jesus bore a ‘staurus’ towards Calvary which is not necessarily a cross but can also mean a ‘pole.’ ”
“The problem is descriptions of crucifixions are remarkably absent in the antique literature. The sources where you would expect to find support for the established understanding of the event really don’t say anything,” adds Mr. Samuelsson, who studied the original texts.
“The ancient Greek, Latin and Hebrew literature from Homer to the first century AD describe an arsenal of suspension punishments but none mention ‘crosses’ or ‘crucifixion,’ ” the article continues. “Any evidence that Jesus was left to die after being nailed to a cross is strikingly sparse—both in the ancient pre-Christian and extra-Biblical literature as well as The Bible.”
Mr. Samuelsson adds: “If you are looking for texts that depict the act of nailing persons to a cross you will not find any beside the Gospels.”
As far as her concern about the Minister’s words about the historical Jesus coming too early “to end the civilization of the Jews,” Ms. Rye simply needs to read her bible. Or is the Bible anti-Semitic? The controversy and the death plot against Jesus are tied to the powerful Jews of his day and the Roman authorities. If they were plotting against the prophet of God, should their evil way of life be allowed to exist, would God Himself allow one He sent into the world to save to simply be destroyed without consequence? Consider John 8:37, as Jesus says to the Jews, “I know you are Abraham’s descendants, but you are trying to kill Me because My word has no place within you.”
1 John 3:12 warns the Jewish leaders, “Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he slay him? Because his own deeds were evil, while those of his brother were righteous.”
And John 8:39, “Abraham is our father,” they replied. “If you were children of Abraham,” said Jesus, “you would do the works of Abraham. 40 But now you are trying to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham never did such a thing. 41 You are doing the works of your father.”
In John 8:44-45, Jesus says, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not.”
Jesus was speaking to Jewish authorities that sought to persecute and kill him, according to the Bible.
Perhaps Ms. Rye should share advice with Jewish leaders advice that she says her mother taught her about “perspective taking.” Look at things from a Black point of view—which they have never done.
Lastly Ms. Rye seems unable to uncouple the interests of Jewish people from Black people. Our interests are not joined at the hip, consider Israeli mistreatment of Africans. Consider Jewish involvement in the transatlantic slave trade and opposition to affirmative action. Consider Jewish patrols that brutalize Black people who get too close to Jewish neighborhoods. Consider Jewish determination to destroy Black folk, or even a White Catholic priest, for standing near Farrakhan and understand we must depend on ourselves.
Ms. Rye urges Min. Farrakhan to hearken back to the Million Man March but Jewish powers opposed the march in 1995 and it followed Jews pushing Min. Farrakhan out of the 1994 commemoration of the 1963 March on Washington. Jewish groups tried to derail Rev. Jesse Jackson’s game changing and historic presidential run in 1984, which led to conflict with Min. Farrakhan who defended the civil rights leader from Jewish attacks.
There would not have been a Million Man March, if these “powerful” Jewish forces had their way. History is important Ms. Rye, and we should not ignore or rewrite it.
You don’t have to defend Min. Farrakhan or stand up for him Ms. Rye. Let those of us who are eager to defend him, and the interests of our people do so. We are the same people most likely to defend you when the enemy comes for you.
Somebody taught you to hate me: Supporters pack Catholic church to hear Farrakhan respond to Facebook ban
BY JAMES G. MUHAMMAD CONTRIBUTING EDITOR @JGM3000
CHICAGO—A rousing crowd in a packed St. Sabina Catholic church greeted the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan and church pastor Fr. Michael Pfleger as they walked arm-in-arm into the sanctuary during an event held for the Minister to respond to being banned from Facebook and Instgram.
The media giant cancelled the Minister’s account and those of others they described as “dangerous” individuals who deliver “hate speech” in violation of the platform’s policies.
Fr. Pfleger, a White Catholic priest, offered the Minister his church May 9 to respond to the ban, setting himself up for days of condemnation, personal threats and hateful speech as a result.
To the White people who think I am a hater, “You’ve never had a conversation with me but somebody made you to hate me,” Min. Farrakhan said during an hour long message. “But after you get acquainted with me, the hate began to be diminished and you began listening. After you began listening, your hate began to turn to love,” he said.
The 86-year-old Minister said his critique of Jewish actions—specifically his public exposure of writings in the Jewish Babylonian Talmud that declares that Jesus is in hell boiling in excrement and describes Mother Mary as a prostitute – has fueled the anger of powerful members of the Jewish community.
“The enemy is so hateful of me,” he said. “You make me the litmus test for any Black person who wants to rise in America.”
As an example, the Minister said Barack Obama would never have been elected president if a photo of him and the former Illinois senator had been released to the public.
“Poor Barack. We (Nation of Islam) helped him to win in Illinois,” he said. “I’m a hated man today, you can’t even have a picture with me. That kind of hatred is insanity.”
He also criticized the hypocrisy of those who condemned Fr. Pfleger for inviting him, but would those critics condemn the late Cardinal Francis George who dined with the Minister at his home and took a photo with him, he asked? Would they condemn the late Cardinal Joseph Bernadine or former Mayor Richard M. Daley, both of whom met with him?
Reaction to the Facebook ban was swift as Blacks and others who support the beloved Minister flooded the platform with his picture and his words. The audience was asked to stream the event on Facebook Live during the event.
With the image of a Black Jesus painted in the church looking down upon him, the Minister said when Jesus walked the earth he was hated without a cause. What have I done that you hate me like that, he asked?
The answer, perhaps, is rooted in his stance in defense of Rev. Jesse L. Jackson during his run for president in 1983. During that time, members of the Jewish community held demonstrations outside Rev. Jackson’s campaign events chanting “Ruin, Jesse, Ruin” and sending death threats to the prominent leader.
Min. Farrakhan advised Jewish leaders to sit down with Rev. Jackson to discuss differences, adding, “If you harm this brother, I warn you in the name of Allah, this will be the last one that you harm.”
From that time to the present, media and Jewish leadership have dogged Min. Farrakhan with the label of “anti-Semite” and continue to pressure prominent officials from associating with him.
Enemy tries to tarnish Farrakhan
In 1985 a Black Chicago bank was pressured to refuse deposit of a $5 million loan to Min. Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam from Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi for economic development.
In 1993, Jewish leaders pressured Black leaders to disinvite Min. Farrakhan from speaking at the 30th Anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In 1995, some of those same Black leaders spoke at the Million Man March.
In 1994, after Nation of Islam male members known as the “Dopebusters” disarmed a drug dealer and cleaned up several Washington, D.C., projects, Jewish influence caused the government to cancel a contract with a security firm established by members of the Nation of Islam.
“Some of us could not come out tonight because they did not wish to be censured by those who presently have power to censure,” the Minister said. “But that power is gradually being taken from you, and I am so grateful to God that He made me an instrument to bring that end to your wicked system of injustice.”
Min. Farrakhan explained that after the prophets died, Satan entered their communities and divided the followers. God’s coming is after the workings of Satan and many of us don’t know that we’re followers of Satan thinking we’re following Jesus Christ, he said.
“You can have a church on every corner, but don’t fight Satan. Satan has won against all the prophets of God,” he said to clergy. “Discipleship will cost. Are you really willing to pay the price?”
A Facebook statement said the process “for evaluating potential violators” of Facebook policies “is extensive and it is what led us to our decision” to ban Min. Farrakhan. A spokesperson told CNN such factors include “whether the person or organization has ever called for violence against individuals based on race, ethnicity, or national origin; whether the person has been identified with a hateful ideology; whether they use hate speech or slurs” in their social media profiles.
Facebook also banned broadcaster Alex Jones and his Infowars page, right-wing media personalities Laura Loomer, Milo Yiannopoulos, and Paul Joseph Watson among others.
“I am really dangerous,” Min. Farrakhan said to a standing ovation. “I’m not dangerous on my own. God, the Lord of the Worlds, made me dangerous to Satan and his world.
“If you study your scripture and study my work, you will find there’s not another human being on this earth that speaks like Farrakhan, that challenges like Farrakhan, that has the wisdom of Farrakhan, even to the pope of Rome and all those you think as wise,” he said.
“That day, what day? Judgement cannot come unless there is a falling away first and the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition,” he continued.
In opening remarks, Student Min. Ishmael Muhammad said Fr. Pfleger has always answered the call of justice and been on the right side of history.
Knowing that his brother is innocent of those charges, Fr. Pfleger saw this as another effort to silence those who would dare speak truth to power, Min. Ishmael Muhammad said. Even though Fr. Pfleger is now being attacked, we remind him that no weapon formed against the righteous will prosper in the time of God, he said.
Referring to the cell phone as the modern day “picket sign,” Min. Ishmael encouraged the audience to text “#wearefarrakhan” to 990-00 to register support for Min. Farrakhan and to be kept updated on the campaign.
Min. Farrakhan teaches us to pool our resources in a collective manner and to do something for ourselves, the student minister said. He leads us to establish an independent school system and make our communities a decent and safe place to live, he said.
“By calling the Minister dangerous you want him to be hated by those who love, respect and admire him. And for us to distance ourselves from him. For which one of his works do you stone him,” he asked?
Farrakhan did not neglect the people of Flint; Farrakhan did not lie to the American people about weapons of mass destruction that caused thousands of lives to be lost on the battlefield, Min. Ishmael Muhammad charged.
“The truth of the matter is, you are the real clear and present danger to the suffering masses. You lie, you steal and you murder the innocent,” Min. Ishmael Muhammad said. “You charge the innocent with what you really are.
“We are here tonight because we have benefitted from his teachings and the example of righteous character. We love Min. Farrakhan and we will not let you tell us who we should listen to. Your day of being ‘Massa’ is over!”
Hypocrisy of Facebook
This is the same Facebook that has been live streaming shootings, attempted rapes, White supremacists, racial name calling and countless other racist and dangerous acts, Fr. Pfleger told the audience.
“It is dangerous to me when we begin to stop free speech and seek to silence prophetic voices. There are many who say they do not like Min. Farrakhan because all they have heard is various sound bites. Perhaps that is why Facebook wanted to ban him, to keep people from hearing his entire message and the truth that he seeks to teach us,” the Catholic priest explained.
Citing the work of cleaning up Black men and saving lives, Fr. Pfleger added: “Min. Farrakhan has been a bold voice against injustice done against Black people in this country and his voice deserves and needs to be heard.”
Fr. Pfleger said he has been cursed at, received hateful Facebook postings, had to cancel a fundraiser, had financial support withdrawn, called an “n-lover” and a traitor to White people since inviting Min. Farrakhan.
He said St. Sabina historically has invited imams, rabbis, prophetic preachers, civil rights leaders, and icons to speak and “live the faith we say we profess.”
“It is interesting to me that those who accuse (Min. Farrakhan) of hate have been so hateful this past week. Oh, the hypocrisy,” he said.
Sitting on a step outside the church waiting for the line to diminish, Suave Griffin, 17, said he came to hear the message because Min. Farrakhan has been “like a wise grandfather and teacher” to him.
Aliyah Redmon, 22, said she disagrees with the ban. “Black people are the strongest and most resilient people on earth. Why is our unity such a threat? Anyone preaching unity and love and taking a radical stance against oppression is bound to be silenced.
“I have been waiting for him (Farrakhan) to disappoint me a little but he still hasn’t said anything to let me down. If you can go 86 years of life without being fake says a lot about him. I can listen to him for two hours and say ‘wow’. It’s like music. I can’t sit that long and listen to my mom without dozing,” the high school student said with a laugh.
“Everything I have heard from Farrakhan has been truth backed up by facts. Nothing he says has been biased. He is strong with his words and he knows what needs to be done as far as us being unified,” she said.
Lamar Johnson, 29, directs the Violence Prevention program at St. Sabina Church. He said no other Black leader has done to reform Black men over the last 60 years than Min. Farrakhan. Banning the Minister shows the hypocrisy of White privilege, he said.
“To say that what the Minister has said is hate speech when no other demographic of people in America has experienced hate more than Black people. A statement on social media is never equated to the systemic and literal oppression Blacks have experienced for centuries. We have been at the front end of receiving hate. I love the Minister and the things he’s been doing,” he said.
“This is much ado about nothing. Those of us who have been in the presence of Bro. Farrakhan for now 40 years, we’ve seen this movie before. In the ‘90s when they were repudiating him, Black United Communities put him in our Hall of Fame,” said longtime activist Eddie Read.
Min. Farrakhan is a truth teller, he said noting the absence of established Black leadership that normally draw media attention. They’ll come running to the Minister when they need his aide, but they won’t stand with him in the time of challenge when others are beating on him, he said. I say that Fr. Pfleger is a Black man trapped in a White man’s body, he commented.
“Hands off Farrakhan,” added activist Zakiyyah Muhammad. “Anybody who comes after Min. Farrakhan is an enemy of mine. He’s been a leader, teacher and healer to millions of people. The enemy hates him because he’s revealing their hatred for Black people.”
“I came to support a man I know that has benefited our community. He’s the one who shows us our value and uplifted many of our brothers broken down by the injustice of the criminal justice system,” said State Senator Jacqueline Collins (D-16), a member of St. Sabina. “He knows his people; he loves his people. I came to shine the light of love back on him.”
CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE VIDEO.
BY BRYAN 18X CRAWFORD | CONTRIBUTING WRITER | @MRCRAW4D | LAST UPDATED: APR 9, 2019 – 9:02:37 AM
The life, death and legacy of Nipsey Hussle not only deeply touched those who live in his Crenshaw community and the Greater Los Angeles area, but people across the country and around the world were mourning the 33-year-old man whose work in the streets and the suites was inspirational, and rooted in a commitment to build and help his people make progress.
Ermias Joseph Asghedom was seemingly born to be a bridge that connected people to worlds that seemed distant and in some cases, carried warning signs that read, “Do Not Cross.” The distance might have been as far away as the Horn of Africa or as close as blocks that surrounded the house where he grew up.
Born in 1985 to a Black mother from South Central Los Angeles, and a Black father from Eritrea, a country situated on the Red Sea in East Africa, Nipsey carried the DNA of a revolutionary, in his genes. His father, Dawit Asghedom, fled his home country in the midst of war where the combatants’ faces all looked the same, and landed in the U.S. where he would become politically active. In 1975, Dawit was photographed in New York City holding a sign that read, “Down With Apartheid and Imperialism.”
A decade later, his second and youngest son would be born in a place fighting a similar war in which the combatants’ faces, once again, all looked the same, and the son would embody a fearless spirit opposed to oppressive forces in South Central Los Angeles.
The name Ermias is Hebrew and when translated means “Sent by God.” A cursory look at Nipsey Hussle’s life, his works and response from the Black community and Black world in the aftermath of his death seems to bear witness to the meaning of his name.
Nipsey was born and raised in Crenshaw which is controlled by the Rollin 60s Neighborhood Crips; a community that is basically bordered on all sides by rival factions of the Bloods street gang. He joined the group. However, despite being affiliated with the Rollin 60s, unlike most members of Los Angeles street gangs, Nipsey was able to move, relate and associate seamlessly with those who were, by street code, the opposition, with essentially no beef—something unheard of in a city where having the wrong color rag (bandana) could lead to dire, and sometimes fatal consequences. He collaborated with artists in “rival” gangs and in media interviews talked about how he and others in Los Angeles built intentional relationships across gang color lines to keep conflicts out of the music and provide an example of how to enjoy mutual respect and mutual success. Those relationships went beyond Los Angeles and spread to other parts of the country as he toured to pursue his music and business ventures.
“If he met you, you were his people. That’s how he made you feel, and we don’t have a lot of people in this rap game who are like that. That’s why nobody is saying anything bad about Nipsey,” Terrance Randolph, a Chicago-based social media brand manager and influencer, known in the hip hop music industry as Hustle Simmons, told The Final Call. “I don’t know what purpose God had for his life, but he must’ve lived it out.”
By the time Nipsey Hussle was 14, by his own accounts, he had left home and begun taking care of himself, hustling on the streets of Crenshaw to survive. By the time his rap career had begun to take off and people started to recognize his name, acknowledge his talent and respect his art, Nipsey made sure to let everyone know, as the lyrics of one his songs go, he was a man with a different thought process, personal blueprint and unlike the usual “rap n****s” in the game.
“[We had a] real war in the streets. It was heavy. We were knee-deep into something real and it was about surviving and defending our opportunities,” Nipsey said in a 2018 interview with Mass Appeal. “I’m conscious that there’s an intentional pushback against people that look like me. I’m supposed to be in jail or dead. There’s a whole prison complex [that exists.] Then, you think about as an artist, there’s a business model that exists in the music industry that prevents you from having ownership; that prevents you from being a partner in the lions’ share of the profits. … When I said I was the Tupac of my generation, Pac was intelligent, but in our culture—street culture, especially in his generation—intelligence is viewed as weakness. So, how do you get the people affected by what we’re really trying to solve, involved?”
For Nipsey, the answer was being an example of what Black ownership meant and looked like, which in itself, was a game changer, especially for those from his community. With family and partners, he purchased the strip mall where he once sold CDs out of a car trunk, opened businesses, advocated for children and created a shared work space for techies in the hood.
According to media reports, there were over 101 million live streams in the two days after Nipsey’s March 31 passing. Streaming and purchasing the music benefitted, was encouraged because of the income directly benefits his estate. Victory Lap, his latest album, sold 64,000 copies the week of April 1. Other popular songs that were streamed included: Racks in the Middle featuring Roddy Rich and Hit-Boy (11.8 million); Dedication featuring Kendrick Lamar (9.6 million); Double Up featuring Belly and Dom Kennedy (8.5 million), Last Time That I Checc’d featuring YG (7.1 million) and Hussle & Motivate (2.9 million.)
The proud West Coast rapper began his career in the mixtape circuit, selling his albums from the trunk of his car in Crenshaw. They were a success and helped him create a buzz and gain respect from rap purists and his peers. In 2010, he placed on hip-hop magazine XXL’s “Freshman Class of 2010”—a coveted list for up-and-coming hip-hop acts—alongside J. Cole, Big Sean, Wiz Khalifa and others.
Jay-Z even bought 100 copies of Hussle’s “Crenshaw” for $100 each in 2013, and sent him a $10,000 check.
Nipsey, once signed to Sony’s Epic Records, hit a new peak with “Victory Lap,” his critically acclaimed major-label debut album on Atlantic Records that made several best-of lists last year, from Billboard magazine to Complex.
At this year’s Grammy Awards, “Victory Lap” was one of five nominees for best rap album in a year that saw hip hop dominate the pop charts and streaming services, and debates ensued about which rap albums would get nominated since a number of top stars released projects, including Drake, Eminem, Kanye West, Nas, J. Cole, Nicki Minaj, Lil Wayne, Migos and DJ Khaled. Cardi B’s “Invasion of Privacy” won the honor in February, while the other nominees alongside Nipsey were Travis Scott, Pusha T and Mac Miller.
Touching South Central, America and the world
With his passing, his revolutionary and inspirational spirit traveled beyond the borders of the Crenshaw district, Greater Los Angeles, and touched Black communities throughout the U.S., and as far away as Africa and Canada.
“We have to move and act as a fraternal organization, as businessmen, and people that care about our communities and make an actual investment like Nipsey did,” said rapper Killer Mike at a Nipsey Hussle memorial vigil held in Atlanta just days after his death.
Killer Mike added, “We have a choice. We don’t have to be nobody’s savages. We don’t have to be their examples of the wrong way [to go]. We gotta be no thugs that’s been thrown away. That rag that’s over your forehead or [hanging] out of your left pocket, is better served wiping the sweat off your head for the work you’re doing on behalf of your community in a way that does not murder other Africans.”
“A sucker took out a king. … A real king to this era,” said Harlem-based rapper Dave East for an impromptu memorial gathering he organized to commemorate the life of Nipsey Hussle. “I was a kid when Big and Pac died, so I couldn’t feel that. I feel this. … Don’t let his name die.”
Other vigils were held in Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis, Birmingham, Philadelphia, Milwaukee, San Diego and as far away as Vancouver, Canada,
In Houston, more than 1,000 people gathered in the Midtown section of the city, at the behest of Houston-based rapper Trae The Truth, all clad in Blue, to release balloons in honor of the slain star.
“Some people loved him for the person he was, some people loved him for his music. But regardless, people loved him as a partner, as a brother, as a father. Anything he was, he gave it his all and it was genuine. And these days, you don’t find too many genuine people,” Trae The Truth told NBC News affiliate KPRC in Houston.
T.I., another Atlanta-based rapper, took to his Instagram Live account to talk about Nipsey and take questions from his fans. Nipsey, who had a reputation in the hip-hop community for being both studious, and an avid reader, was known to gift books to people. When asked what book Nipsey gave him to read, T.I. answered, “Message to the Blackman by Elijah Muhammad.” Nipsey’s respect for the Nation of Islam isn’t something that was widely known publicly, but he never shied away from it. He, along with his friends, once famously threw rocks at the Los Angeles Police Department in defense of Student Minister Tony Muhammad of Mosque No. 27, who showed up after a young man was killed in Nipsey’s Crenshaw neighborhood.
“I remember some years back, one of our close friends from our area got killed and [Min. Tony Muhammad] came on 10th Avenue,” Nipsey Hussle explained in video posted on Min. Tony Muhammad’s personal Instagram page. “The police had put a cover on the young man’s face, and the cover was going up and down. There was people who knew the young dude telling the [paramedics] that he was still breathing, that he was still alive. But they just sat there and let him expire on the scene. But Tony Muhammad showed up and represented our community and he stood up. But he ended up having an altercation with the LAPD, but people in our area and myself specifically, always respected him for that.”
Said Min. Tony Muhammad in the caption for his video post, “I will never forget our Brother, a Giant ‘Nipsey Hussle’, he stood up for me years ago when we had an altercation with the LAPD in his Hood! Now I will continue my work of bringing an end to the killings of each other, in his name.”
While the impact of his death hit hardest here at home, it also resonated and affected those of Eritrean descent who live here in America and Africans on the continent.
Kenyan rapper Khaligraph Jones went online and uploaded a freestyle video devoted to Nipsey Hussle.
In Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, candles were lit during a memorial service for the beloved artist. “With poems and speeches, Ethiopians have held an emotional farewell for murdered rapper Nipsey Hussle, whose roots in neighbouring Eritrea won him admirers in both countries,” AFP reported April 7.
“ ‘When we heard there’s an Eritrean rapper out there, we were fans before we heard his music,’ ” said Ambaye Michael Tesfay, who eulogized Nipsey at the event held in a darkened parking lot. “ ‘He was an icon for us,’ ” AFP said. Despite conflict between Eritrea and Ethiopia before a peace pact last year, Ethiopians shared their pride about Nipsey’s music and impact. “‘We’re all one people,’ ” Nemany Hailemelekot, who organized the gathering that drew hundreds of people, told AFP.
Eritreans paid their respects to Nipsey Hussle with many offering their feelings via social media. Journalist Billion Temesghen tweeted April 1: “Ermias Asghedom AKA Nipsey Husle was an Eritrean rap star, a preformance phenomenon, who had just returned home. In my pleasant talk with him I was delighted to learn of the Eritrean & African pride he carried deep inside him. He is a legend. compassionate compatriot. We miss him.”
“#NipseyHussle stood for #Eritrea when he was alive & he is still standing from heaven. His life is reinvegorating Eritrean youth to follow his footseps to stand for country &people despite all enmity thrown at them. Nipsy is rendering all anti-Eritrea campaigns mute. Rest in P,” tweeted Amanuel Biedemariam, who often writes for an Eritrean website.
Nipsey’s two visits to his father’s native homeland, once as an 18-year-old young man still trying to figure out who he was and his place in the world, and the second time as a recording star had a profound effect on him.
On his last visit to Eritrea in 2018, Nipsey was treated as a dignitary who seemed to understand who he was and what he represented, while being fully aware that he was both a voice and example for two distinct peoples with a long history of fighting against injustice and oppression, not just one.
When asked by Eritrean journalist Billion Temesghen to describe in his own words what hip-hop is, Nipsey Hussle’s answer was both deep, and profound.
“[Hip-hop is] a form of expression for young people who have so much to be told. It is a vocabulary, it is an art and it is a culture that originally was only of young people in America but now has gone global. The neighborhoods from where Hip Hop came out had unique environments and situations that made people search for a real and efficient form of expression. From police brutality to gang cultures, the riots, racial discrimination and more unique events that urged the growth of Hip Hop in terms of music and Hip Hop in terms of culture and identity.”
He added, “The story of Hip Hop is similar to that of Jazz. Music in America was an expression of our struggles; being black in America. And I, as an Eritrean American, I feel connected to this aspect of the African American history. My father is from Eritrea and we have always been in touch with our Eritrean ancestry and culture thanks to him. However, we still grew up in South Central LA all of our lives. So our exposure was to the culture of Los Angeles, which was gang culture. I was born in 1985 and grew up in the 90s. … All of the social issues that took place back then happened in our backyard.”
When asked what it meant to have roots and ties to a place that has experienced its own share of violent struggle in the fight for independence, Nipsey’s answer poignantly encapsulated the parallels of life growing up in South Central Los Angeles, where the expectation for Black men is a life that leads to death, not one that can garner the love, respect and admiration of millions all around the globe.
“I am proud of being Eritrean. The history of our country, our struggle and the underdog story, the resilience of the people and our integrity is something that I feel pride in being attached to,” he said.
“He embodied Pan Africanism. He was a bridge between the two worlds of East Africa and the hood, which is really important,” former professor and Los Angeles native Kwame Zulu-Shabazz told The Final Call. “So, he was hood but also very Pan African, and he was proud of it. That’s something that we need more of, too. Part of the reason that we’re lost in the U.S. is because we’ve been disconnected from our roots, and brothers like that can help us reconnect and affirm that Africa is a positive place, and that there are positive things going on in Africa that can make us proud of our heritage as African people.”
His family and close friends, while understandably still mourning and trying to make sense of his tragic death, seem to all take some solace in reminiscing on the good things he did for himself and his family, but also the positive impact he made in the lives of others.
“He recognized at an early age his own capability. His own potential. He has always known,” Nipsey’s mother, Angelique Smith, said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. “I would like for him to be remembered as a humble, spirited, respectful man who had, since his childhood, an extraordinary and unlimited intellectual capacity.”
Said his brother, Samiel “Blacc Sam” Asghedom in the same LA Times piece, “There’s a lot of politics within the area that we grew up in, but he stayed the course and showed what he was about. He made something work in an area that was run-down, that people were scared to come to, and he turned it into a landmark.”
Lauren London, mother of Nipsey’s two-year-old son Kross, told the newspaper that her fiancée, “was a protector and wanted us to be our best at all times. He was a truth seeker and truth speaker. I’m going to keep my head high and always represent for my king to the fullest.”
Dawit Asghedom remembered his son this way.
“It was like he was sent by God to give some love to bring us together because that’s what his lyrics were saying, always,” the elder Asghedom said, adding, “He’s not shy to tell the truth even though it might not look good. He wasn’t scared of anything. [God] sent him to send a message. It looks like, ‘Your time is up because you have completed what I sent you to do.’ We all have a plan, but God has his own plan. So he had completed what he needed to be doing and he did it early so [God] probably wanted to take him early too.”
From buying up the block, to creating businesses that employed Black people, aimed to educate them, and give them a space to be creative and help develop and realize their dreams, Nipsey Hussle was a man of the people because he was a man who saw what their needs were and took it upon himself to do what he could to help provide opportunities and a platform for others, because at one point in his life, he was looking for someone to give him the same opportunities and guidance. His death has seemed to galvanize the Black community, and this was evidenced by the recent gang truce that happened in the wake of his death. Over the April 7 weekend, hundreds of Crips, Bloods, and members of L.A.’s various Hispanic gangs, all marched through South Central together, gathering in front of Nipsey’s Marathon clothing store and standing in solidarity with one another as brothers and sisters in the same struggle, committed to carrying on the legacy of independence and ownership, which was Nipsey’s messaging in the final stages of his young life.
“My recent music is about the reality of the business; the challenges of working for your own business and how to be a Black young successful entrepreneur,” he told Ms. Temesghen. “I want my music to be an inspiration of individual growth in the economic sector. That is the path I took as I grew up and I want to put it in music. My life is different from when I first came out as a teenager with expressions from the teenage perspective of young men in the streets. Now, as I grew older and became successful in music and business my perspective changed accordingly. And so my art evolved with it.”
Ms. Temesghen explained to Nipsey in their interview that Eritreans had translated his name in their native Semitic language of Tigrigna, to “Nebsi,” which means “self,” and in Eritrean slang terminology, loosely means “homie,” giving his name dual-meaning in the country among Eritrean people: “Self Hustle,” or the “Hustle of Homie.” Ironically, this dual meaning of Nipsey’s stage name in Eritrea, fits perfectly with who he was back in America: a self-hustling homie whose fearlessness motivated and inspired others to follow his lead and do the same.
At Final Call press time, a memorial service was planned for April 11 at the Staples Center in Los Angles, which holds 21,000 people. It was expected to be full.
(Final Call staff and the Associated Press contributed to this report.)
On Sunday, November 11 2018, the New Orleans representative of The Hon. Minister Louis Farrakhan, Student Minister Willie Muhammad delivered a very clear and lucid message in defense of Minister Farrakhan and The Nation of Islam. This message comes amid the backdrop of lies and deceit circulating in the “media” regarding Minister Farrakhan’s recent trip to Iran. It has been falsely reported that Minister Farrakhan led a chant of “Death to America” while in the Islamic country. This is being done to destroy the character of a man that has done nothing but good. They would like to get the people to no longer support Min. Farrakhan and The Nation of Islam, but their plans will not work.
Min. Farrakhan responded with a statement: “I never led a chant calling for the death of America. To say otherwise is a blatant falsehood and an attempt to paint me as an enemy in a very dangerous time as tension rises between America and Iran and nations around the earth reject unjust sanctions and heavy-handed U.S. foreign policy.”
The Honorable Minister Farrakhan also held a press conference in Iran to address the issue. You can watch it below.
Student Min. Willie Muhammad, seeing what the enemy intended to do, made it a point to deliver a very clear and methodical message in defense of The Minister using scripture and Min. Farrakhan’s own words from video clips countering the charges by ADL and other Jewish organizations that Minister Farrakhan is anti-Semitic and other false charges.
You can view the playlist of the video clips that Min. Willie used at Muhammad Mosque #46 YouTube channel by clicking the link here.
Doing for Self: Designing My Way into the Future
By Rhodesia Muhammad
“You can’t give a person too long of a runway because if you give them too long they will never take off!”
“My business started out of necessity.” said Lawrence Muhammad. “One day I was at work and the entire business closed down and people were scrambling and asking… what are you going to do? And I said, I’m going to do graphic design.”
That was the beginning of Bro. Lawrence’s web and graphic design company. The self-taught graphic designer said he didn’t let a lack of finances stop him from creating a business for himself.
“All I had was a laptop,” said Bro. Lawrence, “when a Christian friend of mine, who’s a computer tech, asked me to come over to his church. He knew what my goals were, he saw my vision, and he downloaded that program on my thumb drive.”
“The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan put out a meme once that said, ‘it’s time now that we must do for ourselves. We should be creating businesses for ourselves’. I knew then, it was my time. There’s nothing more gratifying than putting what’s in your mind out into the world and have people like it,” Bro. Lawrence stated. “I went to school for computer science, so people were already asking me to do small graphic projects.”
He said if it weren’t for the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan promoting Muslim and Christian unity, his business wouldn’t have begun when it did because he didn’t have $2,000 to purchase the creative graphic software he needed at the time.
“All I had was a laptop,” said Bro. Lawrence, “when a Christian friend of mine, who’s a computer tech, asked me to come over to his church. He knew what my goals were, he saw my vision, and he downloaded that program on my thumb drive.”
He began making flyers for his local Student Minister, Willie Muhammad, of Muhammad Mosque No. 46 in New Orleans and the Regional Student Minister, Dr. Abdul Haleem Muhammad, of the Nation of Islam in Houston, Texas. Then, people started inquiring about the flyers and who was designing them. Now, people from all over the Nation are patronizing his business, All Nation Designs. He also designed the website for Mosque No. 46 in New Orleans (www.noineworleans.com).
“It’s truly a blessing to have our brother back in the city,” said Student Minister Willie Muhammad. “His flyers have helped garner more attention and interest in our Sunday lecture topics and other events. Bro. Lawrence created many of the flyers posted on social media promoting lectures by other student ministers, Brother Dr. Wesley Muhammad, Brother Demetric Muhammad, Brother Kenneth Muhammad, Brother Akbar Muhammad and a host of others.”
Regional Student Minister Dr. Abdul Haleem Muhammad says he stands by Bro. Lawrence’s work.
“I chose his business because I saw the work he had done for others,” Dr. Haleem affirmed. “I’ve known Bro. Lawrence for a long time, so I was excited to support his business. I chose his work because all I have to do is send him a text with a few words from the concepts that I’m thinking about and he turns out a work of art every time.”
“I first learned about All Nation Designs from my trip to New Orleans back in February of this year,” said Student Minister Carlos Muhammad from Baltimore, Maryland. “Student Min. Willie said that I should contact Bro. Lawrence to start doing my flyers for my travels around the country as well as the mosque. I contacted him and he responded immediately. I gave him the info for one of our mosque meetings and he gave me a beautiful flyer. That began our relationship. I enjoy looking at the creative work he does. One of the amazing points of his design is that he always manages to capture my persona,” Bro. Carlos raved. “If I were you, I would hit him up at All Nation Designs and start letting him do your flyers or covers.”
Student Minister Ali Muhammad from St. Petersburg, Florida agrees and says Bro. Lawrence is a natural at his craft of designing.
“Regardless of the topic of design, not just my designs but others,” Bro. Ali Muhammad added, “he seems to have the ability to capture the essence of the subject and interpret it spot on what the artwork and design should be…period.”
Bro. Lawrence said his biggest accomplishment was being asked to design a flyer for the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan’s May 27, 2018 speaking engagement titled, “Farrakhan Speaks”.
“I will continue to do for self,” Bro. Lawrence stated adamantly, “because of the freedom it brings and the satisfaction of being able to chart my own course. If I want a raise my income, I just go out and get more clients,” he avowed. “I would encourage us all to start doing something for ourselves. To do this, your income is based on your personal effort. So, you can’t be a lazy person and work for yourself. However, to work for yourself is the most rewarding feeling in the world.”
To find out more about Lawrence Muhammad’s designs, go to Instagram: @All.Nation.Designs or Facebook: All Nation Designs
Doing for Self: We are what we’re looking for!
By Rhodesia Muhammad
Doing for self was always in his DNA. Student First Officer, Patrick 2X of Muhammad’s Mosque No. 46 of the Nation of Islam in New Orleans said he filled out his first application to work when he was nine years old for his father’s janitorial company and said that was the last time he filled out a job application.
“One thing I first observed about my father was he was always someone who did for himself. He never waited for somebody to do something for him,” said Bro. Patrick 2X. “When I came up, my father was a business owner. I never saw him trying to get a job. So, that left me with no desire to be a worker in the sense of expecting somebody to give me a check on Friday. I’ve never had a job like that. Because of him, I always had the mindset that if anything was going to happen with my finances, it would be me making it happen,” he charged.
In 2015, after listening to the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan’s message at the 20th Anniversary of the Million Man March, Bro. Patrick 2X knew he had to make a move immediately.
“Going into our community and making it a decent and safe place to live was like a direct command to me from the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan,” he affirmed. “I already had the idea to renovate blighted properties, so I decided I would start with the dilapidated properties right next door to our mosque,” he added.
Bro. Patrick 2X was 12 years old when he learned how to do carpentry work from a contractor who was building a house for his father. He said he always loved seeing things come together, so he followed in his father footsteps and started his own business called Supreme Developers. It encompassed new construction, renovation, janitorial services, labor support services, industrial services, and maintenance.
“I guess all of us to a certain degree have this problem where we look for other people to do things. That is the mindset of a slave,” he asserted. “At a certain point, it dawned on me that I’m the person that I’m looking for to do this.”
He also wanted to get into Real Estate, so in 2001, Bro. Patrick2X and his wife Keione X got married and purchased their first home. When they moved out, they decided to renovate and rent it out. It became their first rental property. A few years later, they did the same thing with the next home they bought. Soon, they were buying properties, fixing them up, and selling them. Eventually, they started Supreme Investment Group to separate the Real Estate side from the service side of their business.
“It pained me to see other areas in the city growing and blossoming after Hurricane Katrina and see our areas not flourishing. I felt like the areas where Black people lived was being neglected. I guess all of us to a certain degree have this problem where we look for other people to do things. That is the mindset of a slave,” he asserted. “At a certain point, it dawned on me that I’m the person that I’m looking for to do this.”
Initially, he said he reached out to make it a group effort, but people didn’t see the vision the way he saw it. So, instead of letting that hinder him he decided to move forward in hopes everyone else would catch on and follow.
“But as far as developing and renovating property in our own community and taking blighted property and transforming it into something nice, I told myself I will take the lead on this. And that’s what I did,” he said proudly. “I started with the properties directly next to the mosque. Those properties had been through so many hands and they had become deplorable. I purchased them for more than what they were worth because I felt like we had to have them.”
We put a lot of money into them like it was in one of those upscale communities uptown, he said. We took those houses down to nothing because they had termite damage and water damage and we brought it all the way back.
Now, in 2018, they have nine units next to the mosque. It’s two duplexes and a five plex. With the purchase of those units, Bro. Patrick 2X says, it comprises a whole square block. So now, the Muslims own a whole square block in the community. A square block is from street to street. The Nation of Islam flag can be seen flying on one of the properties in the community.
Four Believers in the NOI are living in four of the units and three people from the community are occupying the other three units. Two units were turned into commercial units, one is a management office and the other unit is occupied by a sister from the community who just opened a beauty salon. Some of the units are handicap accessible.
“I made sure the houses were very affordable. I actually brought the prices down so that believers or anyone in our community could afford it. I fix it up to the max. Sometimes I go over budget in fixing up the properties because I wouldn’t put someone in a property I wouldn’t live in myself,” he admitted. “I also wanted to put more money into the homes because what I found was that when property and neighborhoods look deplorable, crime exist more. So, the more we beautify the neighborhood, the less crime we’ll have and the less traffic.”
“To be successful in this business, you can’t be a slumlord,” he stated adamantly. “Those type of landlords always have something breaking, or have mold, or mildew smells and they’re looking for quick money. When you don’t put a lot into the property, what you give out is what you attract. So now, you have this property that’s not up to par and the tenants that are looking at the property are not up to par.”
“The buildings were dilapidated and pretty much in need of demolition,” said Jason Muhammad, Student Captain of Mosque No. 46. “They were an eyesore and a danger to the youth in the community because of the unstable structure and potential for injury for anyone entering. Bro. Patrick gutted these buildings to the studs and revitalized what was once a nuisance to the neighborhood, into a safe place for individuals to live and an income producing property for his business and the city’s tax infrastructure.”
“In the future, I see Black people as a unit,” Bro. Patrick 2X stated, “taking over our portion of the city and establishing our own government inside of the city separate of the present establishment that is not beneficial to our condition as black people. I see us not talking about changing it, but buying up a major portion of it, particularly the area we’re being pushed and forced to, which is known as New Orleans east, the area that’s considered the poor part of the city,” he declared.
Student Minister Willie Muhammad of Muhammad Mosque No.46 says Bro. Patrick 2X is an inspiration to him and others in and outside the mosque.
“He’s committed to his family and the Mission. One of the things I admire about him,” says Student Min.Willie, “is that he did not have to be prompted to use his knowledge of housing rehabilitation to help execute what the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan has expressed to see. I know the Minister would be proud.”
But for anyone, Bro. Patrick 2X says, who desires to do for self has to re-educate themselves to not think like slaves. We can’t have the mindset that the only way we’re going to make it is if someone’s providing for us, when God already gave us everything that we need to provide for ourselves.
“We are what we’re looking for,” he reiterated. “We’re the ones that got to get it done. Nobody’s stopping us from creating our own business. We have this thought that someone else is going to do it for us and in the NOI we know this as the spook God theory. Why didn’t somebody do something is the mindset we were raised under as slaves because we didn’t have to provide these services for ourselves. The slave masters provided it. And unfortunately, we still have that mindset today. We have to do this for ourselves,” he concluded.
BY BARRINGTON M. SALMON -CONTRIBUTING WRITER
Most American cities and counties routinely buy bonds to cover the millions of dollars needed for settlements and judgement costs after police killings and police misconduct. But in a twist that reflects the type of rapacious capitalism that now occurs regularly in this country, bankers and investors have been profiting from police violence.
A report released last month by the Action Center on Race & the Economy (ACRE) Institute found that a number of cities and counties paid out $1.87 billion for what activists describe as police brutality bonds, and corporate titans like Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Goldman Sachs made more than $1 billion in profits for investors who buy these bonds.
ACRE is a social justice organization that has been fighting for structural change by directly confronting the financial elite they hold responsible for pillaging communities of color, devastating working class communities, and bringing harm to the environment. Activists say extensive research reveals that Wall Street investors have been profiting handsomely from police violence.
“Some of our nation’s largest corporate entities have made $1 billion in profits off of police violence,” said Maurice BP-Weeks, an ACRE co-executive director. “While we fight to hold violent officers and police departments accountable to our communities, we must also work to hold banks and investors accountable for their role in perpetuating and profiting from our existing system.”
Activists with ACRE are incensed, arguing that it is unconscionable that police violence and misconduct is wreaking havoc in communities of color and to add insult to injury, families are usually not fairly compensated, cities are straddled with debt and taxpayers are left holding the bag. Meanwhile, banks and investors enjoy the ill-gained profits. Mr. BP-Weeks’ colleague, Saqib Bhatti, agreed.
“Victims and their families deserve to be compensated. The payments they receive are a paltry sum for the harm they suffer at the hands of killer cops,” said Mr. Bhatti, co-executive director of ACRE and director of the ReFund America Project. “However, it’s unconscionable that banks like Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Goldman Sachs get a cut when a crooked cop kills an innocent Black person.”
ACRE activists said they call the bonds “police brutality bonds,” because they “quite literally allow banks and wealthy investors to profit from police violence. This is a transfer of wealth from communities—especially over-policed communities of color—to Wall Street and wealthy investors. Companies profiting from police brutality bonds include well known institutions, as well as smaller regional banks and other firms.”
The report released in June, studied the use of police brutality bonds in 12 cities and counties, ranging from mega municipalities like Los Angeles to smaller cities like Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. It includes five in-depth case studies of Chicago, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Cleveland, and Lake County, Indiana.
Researchers found that the targeted cities borrowed $879 million in bonds to cover police-related settlements and judgements which does not include the additional cost of interest paid to investors. Chicago is a perfect illustration of the problem.
Since 2004, city officials have spent more than $800 million on police-related settlements and judgements. Between 2010 and 2016, the city spent $360 million. During this same period, the city used $484.3 million in bond proceeds to pay for settlements and judgements.
ACRE researchers estimate that since 2010, big banks and law firms have made approximately $7.1 million in fees for underwriting the bonds authorized to pay for Chicago’s lawsuits. They also estimate that money borrowed by city officials will cost taxpayers more than $1 billion in interest that the city will pay investors over the life of these bonds.
Research from ACRE and elsewhere shows that the costs of police brutality, police-related killings and misconduct are rising and have not served as a deterrent because only a fraction of police officers or departments are ever held liable for their egregious or murderous behavior.
ACRE activists said that at the root of borrowing for police-related settlements and judgements is a one-two punch of inadequate revenues to cover a city’s expenses, and the escalating costs of police violence. In some of the cases, research showed that there were one or two particularly large settlements that caused a fiscal emergency for the city, they said. In other instances, cities are habitually relying on borrowing to pay settlement and judgement costs that predictably exceed the city’s dedicated funding year after year. In some cases, the borrowing happened in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, when many cities struggled with greatly diminished revenues.
In addition to the public bearing the cost of police misbehavior, Chicago’s police misconduct settlements takes away money from public education, health care, money that could be used to strengthen communities, particularly Black neighborhoods which have suffered significant disinvestment under Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration.
As the researchers note: In 2012, Chicago closed half of its mental health clinics, including four of the eight clinics on the city’s heavily Black South Side. Disinvestment from mental health services pushed more people into the criminal justice system and resulted in more contact between police and mentally ill people, sometimes with disastrous consequences. Similarly, they added, disinvestment in public education contributes to the ‘school to prison pipeline,’ resulting in more people getting caught up in the criminal justice system.
Another way Black people are affected is because disproportionate numbers of them are killed by the police and stopped and searched in higher numbers.
Again, Chicago. The Police Accountability Task Force, which was created after Laquan McDonald was shot 17 times by a police officer, found that 74 percent of those injured or killed by Chicago police shootings were Black men and that police disproportionately used Tasers against Black people. The taskforce report also found that CPD’s own data gives validity to the widely held belief the police have no regard for the sanctity of life when it comes to people of color.
“There is deep and long-simmering anger not just about McDonald, but the deaths of others at the hands of the police, including Rekia Boyd, Ronald Johnson and, more recently, Quintonio LeGrier, Betty Jones and Philip Coleman,” the taskforce report authors said. “The deaths of numerous men and women of color whose lives came to an end solely because of an encounter with CPD became an important rallying cry. That outrage exposed deep and long-standing fault lines between Black and Latino communities on the one hand and the police on the other arising from police shootings to be sure, but also about daily, pervasive transgressions that prevent people of all ages, races, ethnicities and gender across Chicago from having basic freedom of movement in their own neighborhoods.”
City officials have bought $709.3 million in police brutality bonds and taxpayers have been forced to pay a total of $1.71 billion.
Cleveland is another city with a rogue police department that operated under a consent decree in 2004 and again in 2015. A Cleveland Plain Dealer investigation reviewed 70 lawsuits filed against the police in the previous decade that had resulted in taxpayer-funded payouts. The claims against the department align with Department of Justice findings that included allegations of excessive force, wrongful arrests and needless escalation of violence. Between 2008-2017, the city has paid $12.9 million in police brutality bonds at a total cost to taxpayers of $20 million.
The activists and researchers slammed one particularly corrosive element of capitalism that has become so commonplace.
“This wealth transfer is a feature of a financialized economy, in which the financial sector—or Wall Street—finds a way to extract profit from every facet of our lives,” the report’s researchers explained. “This process is known as financialization—the expansive control of the financial sector over our economy, our political system, and our lives. Financialization manifests itself as banks, hedge funds, private equity firms, and other financial institutions finding ways to profit from every possible aspect of our lives and using debt and wealth extraction as key ways in which to do so.”
Economist Mike Konczal at the Roosevelt Institute writes, “At its core, financialization is about reworking the real economy, the government and ourselves to serve financial needs. Financialization works to concentrate wealth and power at the very top of a racialized social and economic hierarchy. Wealth extraction in a financialized economy is not color blind, but targets communities of color in particular. ACRE activists are clear about what their long-term goals are.
“We need to dismantle this system of policing and build a justice system that prioritizes the needs and well-being of all people,” they said. “But until then, we will continue the work of fighting to hold violent officers and police departments accountable to Black and Brown communities and to curb abusive policing.
“We must also work to hold banks and investors accountable for their role in perpetuating and profiting from our existing system. Police violence should never be a source of profit for banks or investors, or a reason we do not have the resources we need to invest in the infrastructure and services that make our communities safer and more livable,” they said.
They offer several key recommendations, including that if cities must borrow money for settlements and judgements, banks and investors should not be allowed to profit from that. Banks who hope to do business with a city—such as by providing bond underwriting services, or other financial services—should be required to provide no-fee, interest-free loans when that city needs to borrow money to meet police-related settlement or judgement costs. Banks who refuse to do so should be barred from doing business with the city.
Police officers must be forced to take out individual liability insurance policies to cover the costs of settlements and judgements caused by their misconduct, said researchers.
“Officers whose behavior results in multiple misconduct claims will see their insurance premiums rise, creating a strong financial incentive for them to change their behavior. If they do not and the claims continue to rack up, they will eventually be uninsurable and therefore unemployable,” they said.
“It is an emergency. Until we radically transform America’s policing system, we need interim fixes that create incentives for abusive officers to change their behavior and force cities to remove officers who won’t change from their police departments. Requiring officers to carry individual liability insurance would force the hands of police officers and police departments alike, without draining money from public budgets.”
During their research, ACRE researchers said, there was, in most cases, a striking lack of transparency and disclosure around cities’ reliance on borrowing.
“And in every case study, there is a lack of full, accessible accounting of the costs. Most cities in our sample were unable, or unwilling, to provide a full accounting of how much they are spending on borrowing for settlements and judgements,” they said.
Therefore, governmental bodies at the local, state, and federal levels must account for and provide full transparency about which officers are behaving in ways that lead to settlements and judgements, how they are or are not being held accountable, who is paying for their misconduct and how, and who is profiting from these payments.
“There cannot be true accountability without transparency,” they said. “Cities must make data regarding claims against officers or the police department easily accessible to anyone who wants to see it by putting that data on a public website. They also must do a full accounting of the costs of settlements and judgements, including borrowing-related costs such as issuance fees and interest.”
How I moved mountains with the right pair of sneakers
By Rhodesia Muhammad – Contributing writer @rhodesiamuhamma
A made up mind cannot be defeated, said Jamil Muhammad, the 17-year-old owner of “Heat on Feet Footwear”, Fort Worth’s first sneakers and apparel consignment store that just opened in Texas on June 23, 2018.
Bro. Jamil was only 13 when he began entertaining the thought of selling his own shoes. He admitted he grew up wanting Michael Jordan’s famous tennis shoes but had to save up to buy them. That’s when the idea of buying used sneakers and refurbishing them came to light.
He bought a pair of used Jordans for $60. Then he customized them by cleaning the shoes, re-painting them, and re-selling them for $120. The original cost of the shoes was $200.
“That became my business,” he said. “I would buy people’s used or beat up shoes, or the Jordans they didn’t want anymore, and I would sell it for a quick profit. I would clean them up, re-paint the shoes, and re-glue it if the sole was separated from the shoe. I would remove scuffs, giving them a different canvas and a different look and then I would re-sell them for a higher price than what I paid for them. Buy low and sell high was my motto,” Bro. Jamil added.
Over the next couple of years, he slowed down on renewing sneakers because he said he really wanted to be a reseller, so he began attending shoe expos.
I saw that Jordans, Adidas, and Nike was making a lot of money, so I just said…I can do this on my own. Instead of buying shoes from the store, he said he started buying different shoes off people.
“When I turned 15,” he continued, “I built my on-line website and created my on-line marketing. I was doing a lot of local deals, meeting up with people at my Dad’s car dealership. From there, I decided I was going to invest all my time doing what I had to do to make my business successful. That included saving enough money to buy more shoes to keep inventory.”
Just a year later, he went to Kixpo, known as one of the best sneaker and streetwear expos in the world.
“I brought three pairs of refurbished, customized sneakers with me and in the first 20 minutes of the show, I sold them all. So, I went home with six more pairs of sneakers I bought from the expo and sold them at a higher cost. After reselling those shoes so quickly, I used local on-line markets to purchase more sneakers. I no longer fixed up shoes, I just bought and resold them.”
Bro. Jamil started an Instagram page to promote his business and joined local Facebook groups for shoes.
By the time he turned 17, he had the epiphany to open his own shop.
“I just thought, I will open my own sneaker shop. I said to myself I can do this. I really feel like I’m ready to do this. Then, I put in the work,” he affirmed.
With help from his father, he found a spot for his store and began remodeling. Bro. Jamil said they had gotten far in the process, but they had difficulty putting up a wall that brought their progress to a halt. This led him back to buying and selling shoes on-line.
Bro. Jamil said whenever he hit a rough patch, he would think about the words of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan…“If only you had the faith of a mustard seed, you could move mountains”.
“Although a lot of money was spent on remodeling and I didn’t have the necessary requirements to open my store, I continued selling shoes and stocking up on inventory. Six months later, me and my brother established that we would just get this store running,” he professed. “We ended up cleaning out the building we used for storage purposes. We started putting up the wall again and continued the remodeling process. We painted the walls, we stained the floors, we bought materials to get the store where it needed to be because I always wanted to have the best and most talked about store. So, I just kept working on it.”
Even after setting the date for the grand opening, Bro. Jamil said he had to push the date back because he needed more inventory, but he was not discouraged.
“It’s a blessing. All praise is due to Allah,” he said enthused. “Opening your own business is a process, a journey. It’s a gift. First, you must speak it into existence and then you work. And through it all, the struggles and the ups and downs, you still go because your best outcome is success. It’s not failure.”
Now, when a customer walks through the doors of Heat on Feet Footwear, they can see an array of exclusive sneakers that aren’t sold in popular shoe stores like Footlocker, including Jordans, Nike, Supreme, Adidas, Yeezy tennis, along with vintage clothing and accessories.
Bro. Jamil says he buys his shoes on consignment, both new and used and sells them. People can also bring in their shoes and sell them in his store.
Finally, after four years in the making, on Saturday, June 23, 2018, Bro. Jamil had his grand opening.
“Here’s what I have to say to anyone wanting to start their own business,” he advised. “Prayer was most important to me. Having faith was second and third was putting in the work. There were times when I didn’t get the results I wanted, and I felt I wasn’t making progress, but I never stopped working because I knew I was going to be on top,” he concluded.