3.02.2010

an uneasy love

i listened to the entire saviour's day address on sunday...

i've seen minister farrakhan speak in person, and i have long respected his views and insights on social issues, not to mention his unwavering wisdom in presenting a united front in the face of all the things black folks face in this country.  he is gifted orator, respected leader and elder.

where we disagree: the undercurrent of percieved "jewish world rule", religious dogma, views on women, the perpetuation of compulsory heterosexuality and gender "norms"--honestly, possibly more than we agree on.  i also recognize that he is a manifesation of several ways in which black male hegemony can force sistas into several corners at once.

and, of course, there's all that business with brother malcolm.  

on sunday--more than ever--i found myself having to separate the wheat from the chaff; the message was unclear, and that disturbed me a bit.

full disclosure: i completely acknowledge that part of the reason for the lack of clarity could be my never having been affiliated with the nation.  some of it wasn't for me--i get that.

even so, i wondered how damaging and dangerous certain implications can be when many who are hanging on your every word don't have the tools to make those subtle distinctions, no matter how much critical thinking you teach at the mosque.

in my humble opinion, min. farrakhan--like the rest of us--holds a piece of the truth. i certainly do not deny the existence of spiritual vision, clairvoyance and the like.  all that still didn't stop me from feeling, at a gut level, that his deep allegiance to the problematic lineage of the NOI and its leaders skews the ways that truth is expressed.

in other words, it's possible that some of the leaps he has to take to make things fit within the islamic--such as it is--framework wind up feeling like half-truths.

i see the same thing with christians squeezing in holistic attitudes about, say, sex or liberal social policies. yes, it's there if you dig long and hard enough, or if you prioritize the words and deeds of yeshua above all else. but outside of that is a whole tome based on spiritual superiority and other oppressive power structures/hierarchies, the absolute authority of men/masculinity, the evil inherent in human beings, etc and so on.

the foundation matters.  if you're going to use the master's tools, you can only shift the paradigm so far. 

that said, i will always keep my eyes and ears open for an opportunity to hear the minister speak, and i'm sure i will still tend to agree with him when he says things like (and i paraphrase), "we like you, obama, but if you keep beating their drums of war, we won't follow."

but i have to trust my intuition, and lots of bells and whistles were going off sunday afternoon.  

by the time he closed--"right on!" moments aside--i couldn't shake the feeling that the line between respected leader and cult of personality-leader was being danced upon.  or crossed. 

only time will tell.

3 comments:

Julian Real said...

I wonder what he says to Black Jews.

Surely we can find better leaders than someone who is so thoroughly anti-Semitic, invisibilising of Black Jews, heterosexist, and misogynistic.

sugar sista said...

if i've heard correctly, from the NOI's standpoint, the issue is not judaism itself, but the "stealing" of judaism from its original african adherents. there are several black liberation theologies that consider the "real" jews/children of israel to be black africans (e.g. the eastern african falashas). european jews are considered "culture vultures" who stole the african culture and religion after being "civilized".

not saying it's correct. just saying that's where they're coming from.

i also cannot say that i find farrakhan outwardly "misogynistic". yes, he feels that women should play particular roles, but he does not hate us. i think the islamic lens--like that of most western/abramaic (sp) traditions--prevents him from seeing women in a complete light.

i'm not sure which "we" you're speaking of, but i cannot deny the impact that min. farrakhan and the nation of islam have had on the black communities of america. they've saved lives, period.

obviously i don't agree with everything they do, say, or believe. but they've gone where a lot of "better" organizations with better leaders could not go and they've reached the people. they deserve respect for that.

nehanda said...

sweet pea,
listening to this during my lunch break.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=59223213350926692#