Over the past few years I have heard NGE brothers argue over the slogan "We are not Pro-Black or anti-white." As a 5%, I've heard the slogan before over the years but it never really caused any arguments as it apparently was understood in its proper context. Actually, Allah didn't say it too much different from the Honorable Elijah Muhammad when you really understand it. However, nowadays, it is almost as if Allah has been reduced to a slogan and the body of revelation (Lessons) and the proper understanding of this revelation are being pushed to the side.
The other day I was building with one of my brothers from Allah's Paradise (Asbury Park, NJ) and he mentioned that the Gods in Power Force (Plainfield, NJ, where I'm from) were always on that "Pro-Black" thing. I laughed! "Wasn't y'all too?" To my surprise he said they weren't; which could be true because knowledge was in Allah's Paradise before it got to Power Force. And we (the Power Force) got the message we were supposed to get, and Allah's Paradise probably got the message they were supposed to get.
When I came into the 5% Nation in the early 80s, I came into a state of mind of the 5% Nation that was unapologetically Black and Pro-Black. I mean, even Puerto Ricans was having a hard time. Especially then, because where I was at, the Puerto Ricans didn't fully assimilate yet. They were still riding in small cars with loud speakers pumping Spanish music and English was still a 2nd language to many of them. They weren't listening to Hip Hop like you see today. At that time, we had a little West Side story situation where Puerto Ricans were fighting the Brothers and the main ones fighting the Puerto Ricans was "the 5% Nation." Some of the vivid memories in my mind is seeing a Puerto Rican brother get hit dead in the face and head hitting the back of an open locker. It was nothing nice. The neighborhood moms warned us "watch out for the Puerto Ricans because they'll cut you!" And I hand it to them, they would stand up and fight although they were outnumbered.
Of course, this was in PLFD and we were a dominant Black city pretty much rooted in Black Power (like Newark). The sisters had on "New Edition" buttons and the Puerto Rican sisters had on "Menudo" buttons. Anyway, afterwards, the Puerto Ricans started getting down. The shades of Puerto Ricans became known as "Baby Cream." Laugh, if you want, I laugh about it now. The first ones I remember who got down were Self Born and Sindu (who were physical brothers). Sindu was one year older than me and was a young talented boxer and this beautiful magnificent talented brother later overdosed on drugs. He was the first God I personally knew who ODed but he wasn't the last (even one of our sisters ODed) (the death of our young and our people is another reason why we must fight drugs today). Self Born became a powerful God and even did a short stint in the Temple; and later we all succumbed to drugs in one form or another (every sect in Islam, basically all religions, drugs didn't discriminate). Either you did it or you sold it, or you did both. Some refrained from it altogether. They were the exception. I'm not stating any secrets as these are all a matter of public record that added to the perception and reality at the time.
Back to being Pro-Black, in fact, that's what attracted me to the 5% Nation of Islam. It was it's no nonsense style of militancy and its unapologetic stance for being Black. Some in the NGE teach that the white man is God. But I know that would have never attracted me to Islam at that time. It doesn’t attact me now. Nor would have the teaching “We aren’t Pro-Black or anti-white.” Because prior to the 5% I was part of a “social club” that was pro-Black at its core and one pastime was fighting Caucasians in neighboring towns. This wasn’t too long after the Atlanta Child Murders and whites were pretty bold. I won’t go into details, but a few battles went down. So when I heard the two main cardinal principles of the 5% Nation, I remember that struck me and all the other Gods… (1) "The Black Man is God!" and (2) "The White Man is the Devil!" That was it. That's all you had to say and the rest took care of itself. Many of us had just left the gang culture only a couple of years before the Gods started hitting real hard (from what I remember). And I don't want to take anything from many of these master teachers of Islam because we were taught plenty of other things of Islam that made us a proud people and we were being taught the right things according to our knowledge. But the majority of us were very young. We didn't have older Gods amongst us (except a couple that was in their low 20's). So the militant unity left over from the youth street organizations was still present and for a while it stayed with us but in '85 is when the crack hit and the wars began.
It was right around the time Farrakhan spoke at Madison Square Garden. We hated New York’s Mayor Ed Koch. To my cipher (Power Force), Mayor Koch was a Devil, and David Dinkins (who was the borough president of Manhattan) was an Uncle Tom. I think all of Black New York had to dislike them both, if not hate them. Plus this was just on the tail end of “a devil” named Bernard Geotz who had shot some young brothers on the subway. He claimed he thought they were going to rob him, so he shot them for preventive measures. Something like that. Then you had this vigilante group called the Guardian Angels. They were a motley crew of Black, white and Puerto Ricans who patrolled the streets of New York wearing green pants, a white t-shirt with a Guardian Angels emblem on it and they sported these red berets…and they were led by a “Devil.” So they were hated by both Black and I’m assuming by Hispanic youth, too. They were a very gaudy bunch and kind of looked like the Shabba Doo types from that movie Breakin’.
Anyway, I remember a few days later, the Gods in my neighborhood we all watched the Farrakhan speech together again on Gil Noble "Like it Is." It probably was that Sunday because when Farrakhan spoke at the Garden it was on a school night. So I think we watched it again on Sunday. We were all hyped as hell. I remember my older Brother Jamil Ali Quan Allah disrupting our small celebration after the lecture... "There was one thing about his build that was not right and exact!" We all looked at Jamil like "what the hell was wrong about anything he said?" Jamil said, "He referred to himself as a BOY, a boy is one "born into the cipher without knowing why." I mean Jamil had a point, but he shouldn't have interrupted our love/hate fest (depending on your perspective). But everybody agreed with him. But then again "the Nation of Islam is all wise and does everything right and exact" so based on that maybe he was in his right.
But Farrakhan had a made a point at the Garden that I never heard before. He called out to "his brothers and sisters of the 5% Nation" and there was a mighty roar in the Garden. Farrakhan was like the character Cyrus in the warrior movie and the Gods looked like we were "The Riffs." Young, ready and able soldiers with a great degree of intelligence and dedication. Anyhow, the Minister told us to notice our lessons, and he started to break down the 14th, 15th and 16th degree…"Notice in these lessons that it doesn't mention anything about color..." And I didn't have the lesson or know it to dispute it otherwise; I wasn't on that lesson yet. But right off the bat, from the affirmations coming from all the other Gods who knew the degree; obviously what the Minister said was true. Not that he was suspect to be questioned in the first place. This was just natural for Gods to seek perfection. To be honest, I didn't give it much thought...the Minister was just sciencing up the Lesson as far as I knew and he had this imposing presence that gave him the heir of some kind of king or wise ruler or a general. He was surrounded by some MGT sisters dressed in all white with red trimmings on their uniforms and Farrakhan had on a black slender tailor cut suit with a red bowtie and was wearing some round spectacles that sat on his glowing face and his waves (on his head) were shining like all the other Muslims we knew. And to fill the Madison Square Garden plus the Felt Forum across the street was a miracle and was "unheard of." Because that was the first time I think Farrakhan spoke in a large coliseum in New York since the "2nd resurrection." Not only Farrakhan, but any Black leader period. Besides that, Mayor Ed Koch and David Dinkins and any other politician or uncle tom was on the news blasting away against Farrakhan calling him "divisive, an anti-semite and a hate teacher.." This really attracted me and probably every Black person that heard it. They were even calling him a "Black Hitler." Min. Akbar Muhammad who was one of his spokespersons at the time defended Farrakhan on the news against the Hitler remark. And when Farrakhan got the chance to address it at the Garden he "hit it out the park." But regardless of what he said, he did somewhat resemble a Black version of Hitler only as it related to the type of organizing skills and the specific message he had for a specific people and overflowing crowd of thousands of Black people. BUT....another thing he said during the speech when he referred to himself as "this little BOY"...he added "And this little Black boy...is your last chance too Jews!" The roof damn near came off the building. BUT...this was another hint…that this message of ours was for more than just the Black Man but he even extended word to “the Jews.”
But anyway, back in those days, I don't think I ever recall a time where I met an apologetic Five Percenter when it came to "being down for the Black Nation." I'm probably doing a bad job in describing how thick the atmosphere was with those two principles: The Black Man is God and the white man is the Devil. It was ingrained in the culture to the point where one would "grab the mic" and before reciting his rhyme would say "One for the Bass, Two for the Treble, the Black Man is God, and the white man is the devil!" It's like that y'all, like that y'all, you don't stop, keep on. It was like that. And this was totally acceptable and appropriate behavior for the cipher. And at the time, it was music to my young ears. The teachings (or so I thought) of the 5% Nation was (to be proverbial) our "religion." Although we dared not say that, we taught as we were told "this is a culture." Meaning it was just as essential to you as breathing. If the 5% Nation was a religion, it was more validated and authenticated as any religion there ever could have been. No question. This was it. When you walked down the hallway and asked somebody was they righteous…that meant were you a 5% and/or Muslim. But it really meant if you were a 5% the majority of the time.
In my high school, we had cartoons floating around that demonstrated (the white man was the devil). Some of them were from Old Muhammad Speaks Newspapers, others even from the Final Call. In any sense, they were clever cartoons and many were drawn by NOI cartoonist Eugene Majied (if I remember correctly) and it was a couple of other cartoonist names I don't remember at this moment. We even had our own talented artists that drew cartoons to illustrate the dastardly deeds of "the devils." I remember Logical passed me his drawing in Mr. Windham's class and it was a picture of a white devil with an Uncle Sam hat and he had a tail! His face almost looked like a gargoyle. He had that President Bush type face. Then you also had regal pictures or drawings of the Black Man being very industrious which again came from the same newspapers or artists (except the ones drawn by Gods in class or lunch). It's strange, but I never recall seeing any cartoons of the Father Allah. You had little ones depicting the Messenger but I never saw one of the Father until a little later I saw a drawing of the bust of his head but it was very life-like. Not many images were made of the Father like that, that I can recall.
The first time I recall ever realizing that a God had sympathy for a devil was ironically in the middle of almost beating one to death. The Gods travelled to a club in a nearby town that had a "mixed" crowd. Of course, seeing a speckle of whites delighted us because we knew we had a target. (Just remember, Atlanta Child Murders and you can choose damn near any incident in New York where Black Men were killed by whites). So we had plenty of reason. I still remember the white boy jumping on the hood of a slowly moving car then he jumped on the roof of it before slipping to his certain doom and the Gods from Power Force (PLFD) and a couple of Gods from "Now Born" (New Brunswick) "started serving him justice."
Anyhow, there is a God from Power Force (I won't cite his name) because I don’t know if he would be peace with it. He's over 300 lbs today even today so you can imagine what his big form looked like to 15 and 16 year olds, as he was probably 20 or 21 at the time and he was a solid 300 then. Anyway "The BIG GOD" started throwing Gods off the white boy and he pushed me too. He was enraged about what we were doing (and it was quite a few of us). But nobody in their right mind was going to challenge the Big God, and now that I think about it, he was the only one in his right mind that night. Because we were probably close to killing this "devil" and if that would have happened, we all were sure to go to jail and spend a long time there. A few of my peers are still locked up for other situations. So judging upon them, I know what would have waited for all of us who if not for the intervention of our brother, could have easily had the same fate. One of our brothers was actually sent to prison for murdering "a devil" and it doesn't seem like he is ever going to get out. We're talking over 24 years ago. At the same time, some devils caught one of ours, and murdered him with a baseball bat. So trust me, it went both ways. This was war and a fight for survival.
Oh, before I go, let me add this. Would you believe at first got to my high school that we had a “devil” for a Principal? Over an all Black school? That wasn’t going to fly! And the Gods had literally taken over in numbers as far as popularity at PLFD High. So the “devil” resigned. And they made a big deal about it and shipped us in a new Principal Dr. Stanley Mayo from Boys & Girls High School in Brooklyn (Medina). He was selected because of his experience in dealing with the 5% Nation at that high school. And Mr. Mayo was mad cool! He allowed some students to create a graffiti mural in the cafeteria that read “Success.” He then allowed for the hanging of famous Black portraits all over the high school. Right outside his office in the hallway was the giant picture of Malcolm X with his hand and finger pointing at his temple and there showed off his beautiful Star and Crescent ring. The Gods loved that. Plus, he did away with the official ban that Gods could not wear their crowns. He damn near became an honorary God for that (although this rule didn’t stick). Then our Principal had an assembly meeting with all of the students in the auditorium. And he heard everybody’s concerns. I comically remember the God Born (who previously was a Jehovah Witness) had stood up during the assembly and criticized the security and police that patrolled our school…he said “some devils came down…but the Gods took care of it!” He was serious, yet he was comical with it at the same time. After the assembly, Detective Buffalo said to some of us standing there, “Take that A from Allah, and make into an A in English. Take that A from Allah and make it an A in Science. Take that A from Allah and make it into an A in Mathematics.”
So the young Gods had a pretty good support staff, and probably that’s what we needed. I heard the Minister say one of the most important things is “Right Guidance.”
As I grew older, I grew to understand the concept of “Devil vs Satan.” And I matured a lot.
And I understand that the foundation is the same. I understand that you are to go through different systems while remaining the same.
It is wise to understand the proper context of “We are not Pro-Black or anti-white.”
That was said in 1968. We shouldn’t have to defend ourselves on this point. The Hon. Elijah Muhammad or Min. Farrakhan never held their tongues and they aren’t forced to come out and make this statement because their history or ways and actions have shown and proven they were righteous. It’s best to let our actions speak for themselves. That’s what counts.