Professor Earle C. Mitchell III: How we view Min. Farrakhan and his message

 

Prof. Earle C. Mitchell (Photo SOurce: Earle C. Mitchell)

Prof. Earle C. Mitchell (Photo courtesy of Earle C. Mitchell)

Lincoln College of Technology professor Earle C. Mitchell is a highly respected Black intellectual  as well as a mentor and scholar of African and African American studies. Mitchell is the author  of  Egyptian Origins of Washington, D.C.  He holds a bachelor’s from Morehouse College, and his master’s in African-American studies from Clark Atlanta University. Rolling out requested his responses  to a series of questions about Min. Louis Farrakhan and his message and rally of Justice or Else, which will occur on 10-10-15.

The Hon. Min. Louis Farrakhan (Photo Credit: Facebook-Min. Louis Farrakhan

The Hon. Min. Louis Farrakhan (Photo Credit: Facebook-Min. Louis Farrakhan

Is Min Louis Farrakhan by using the Koran and the Bible in his sermons an enemy of the Christian gospel?

In my opinion, Minister Farrakhan is not an enemy to the Christian gospel because he uses the Koran and Bible in his sermons. This question in many instances is a red herring, particularly for those who do not study religion. While Christianity and Islam may differ in perceived cultural usage, they both agree on the existence of Jesus Christ. However, they differ in the manner in which Jesus Christ existed. Specifically, Christians see Jesus as the Son of God, whereas Muslims see Jesus as major prophet but not the Son of God. The manner in which the Koran pays respects to Jesus, and how the Bible extends Jesus to the world is in no way contradictory. Just because Minister Farrakhan uses both books in his sermons does not mean he is an enemy to the Christian gospel. To my knowledge Minister Farrakhan has never disparaged the Bible out right, nor discounted the idea of Jesus Christ. It can be assumed that because he has taken a “pro-black” stance on domestic and international issues that his words would be used against him. Speaking truth to power has never been an easy thing for people of African descent in America to do. In addition, considering that the Nation of Islam has always been a whipping post for the media, you can see why a question like this would be asked in 2015.

Is there room for his message in the Black church?

Definitely, there is room for Minister Farrakhan’s message in the Black Church. Seemingly, many African-Americans, and others, get confused about the role of culture and religion in the African-American community. Depending upon on how you were raised, you may not have tolerance for other religions and the people that practice those religions. While this is not a mindset to have, many do embrace such a mindset. Much of this divide can be traced back to slavery and the manner in which people of African descent where told to believe. Islam and Christianity have been a part of the African Diaspora for several centuries. However, the manner in which those religions intersect in America, especially post September 11, 2001, is more contentious. When you add “Black” to Islam and the perceived “militant” stance associated with it, there is the potential for many to miss the message based upon unsubstantiated cultural bias (by both blacks and whites). This was witnessed in the 1950’s when Elijah Muhammad was gaining ground with the Nation of Islam, and its rise in the 1960’s with Malcolm X being its mouthpiece.  Further, the inability for many to be stuck in a non-inclusive manner of thinking disallows a coherent message to be heard; no matter the messenger or religion. Therefore, there is room for Minister Farrakhan’s message in the Black Church. However, this can only happen if those who are Christian can be open to his cultural message. As an aside to the answering of this question, the understanding of the fluidity of culture must be understood. African-Americans are NOT a monolithic group. We believe in different gods, and practice different religions. However, at the core of the African in America and the Diaspora, is a cultural unity that ought to bind beyond the religions they practice and the gods they believe in. This is seen in West Africa were you have Muslims, who are African, that continue their cultural practices based upon the groups they come from. So whether you are Mandika, Fulani, etc. you still maintain a cultural identity that predates your religious affiliation to Islam. This is part and parcel to the experience of the African on the continent of Africa. This idea of cultural fluidity ought to work in America, where Minister Farrakhan who is a Muslim can talk to the “Black Church” because of the cultural connections these religious groups share. However, the reality is the cultural fluidity of many African-Americans has been curtailed because of the experience of living in the United States.

Why do you think there is a perception that the Black church is afraid of his message?

In a very real sense the perception that the Black Church is afraid of Farrakhan’s message can be traced back to the same things that were said about Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam. The media has created an Us (Christians) verses Them (Muslims) type of situation. This can be seen in 1959 when Mike Wallace and Louis Lomax produced the documentary entitled: ‘The Hate That Hate Produced’(https://archive.org/details/PBSTheHateThatHateProduced).  While the documentary was supposed to be a tool to show how hate in America produced the “militancy” in the Black community, it also scared Whites and Blacks alike. In addition, the documentary seemingly tried to push the buttons of those who supported the Nation of Islam and tried to get the interviewees to say something controversial. This type of feeling, exposed in the documentary, still resonates within the African-American community today. The controlling of who African-Americans embrace as leader, religious or otherwise, has always been subject to those not within their community. As such, real or imagined, there will be those that perceive the Black Church as afraid of Minister Farrakhan’s message. The perception that the Black Church is afraid of Farrakhan’s message will only change when there is a true level of cultural unity that moves beyond religious doctrine in the African-American community.

Is Christianity the only religion that produces safe Black leaders for Black America?

The question must first answer what does the word “safe” actually means. Does safe mean not speaking truth to power? Does it mean only those who are Christian can bring the evangelist (good message) word to the masses. Does safe mean that only Christianity can bring the “true” word to and from those of African descent — the answer to this is no. There is no one type of person, religion or message that ought to be able to bring a good message to the African-American community. Therefore, Christianity is not the only religion that can produce a “safe” Black leader. To even think in this manner is quite detrimental to the evolution of the African-American in America.

Many say the message of Dr. King countered the message of Min. Malcolm X, what is your opinion?

The answer to this question is a bit more nuanced than most would care to give credit. There has always been this pitting against of African-American leaders against one another (Dubois vs. Garvey, King vs. Malcolm X, Newton vs. Karenga, etc.). In the 20th century the pitting of African-American leaders against one another seemed to be literary and newspaper sport. To write about the differences of approach, method, effectiveness, etc. in regard to where the community ought to go took away from the main issues affecting African-Americans.  Dr. King and Malcolm X were saying the same thing from two different religious platforms. Again, as mentioned before, the cloud of religion got in the way of the cultural message (unity) that was taking place. Further, the look and feel of both Dr. King and Malcolm X were picked apart: Dr. King was educated/Malcolm X went in prison, King was Christian/Malcolm was Muslim, King was accommodating/Malcolm was militant, etc. Dr. King sought more of a coalition toward the creation of opportunities for African-Americans. However, initially, Malcolm X did not embrace a coalition stance for the freedom of African-Americans. Yet, after Malcolm X took his Hajj and saw the varying hues and colors of Muslims he was truly changed. In that moment Dr. King and Malcolm X were approaching a cultural nexus where their respective groups could have intersected. Malcolm X was expanding in his openness to engage outside of the African-American community, and Dr. King was embracing his authentic Blackness, hence his “Yes, I’m Black and proud, I’m Black and beautiful” comment from one of his latter speeches (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Suw_CQ3zfTY).  Therefore,  Dr. King’s message did not counter that of Malcolm X’s, as Malcolm X’s did not counter Dr. King’s message. As expressed earlier, these men were coming from two different religious platforms, but their cultural unity was the undergirding force that moved them in the direction to assist their community.

What national Black leader is a counter to the message of Farrakhan? Do we face a united message?

There does not seem to be a Black leader in the U.S. that is countering the message of Minister Farrakhan. If there were such a leader, the question would have to be why? This is said because with the death of so many unarmed African-Americans over the last several years, how could there really be any counter message? At this point, it has to be understood that Black Lives Matter! The fact that we have to even proclaim that in 2015 is problematic. Lastly, our message better be or get united. If it is not, we will continue to see the madness that has plagued us since being brought to these shores.

"Mo Betta" Maurice "Mo" Barnes is a graduate of Morehouse College and Political Scientist based in Atlanta. Mo is also a Blues musician.

Comments

  • GregAbdul
    October 1, 2015

    Why lie? i must keep asking. Farrakhan is NOT a Muslim. Why pretend he is? Can you cite me any Rabbis or real Muslims or anyone from any other faith demanding that Christians give us their pulpit? Farrakhan is a Negro Nazi using Islam to legitimize hate that is clearly un-American and rejected by the vast majority of people black and white of of every color. When rolllingout and others try to praise Minister Negro Hitler, what you are really doing is making it okay for him to pimp someone else’s children. You know better. Your child better not come home talking that white-man-is-the-devil nonsense, but since he’s out their tricking somebody else’s child, then you don’t care and Farrakhan becomes a cheap way low cost way to sound radical. People, black people who are serious about black unity fight for the Obama Coalition. Please stop this. Farrkhan is exploiting young black men especially. You know it’s not right. I say over and over. It’s right…but you are NOT in the Nation of Islam? You know it’s wrong for you and anyone you care about, but it’s cute when some other person’s black child is tricked. This kind of thinking shows why there are Carsons and Thomases and NO black unity.

  • GregAbdul
    October 1, 2015

    PS….mr. barnes this is pseudo intellectualism. the counter to Minister Negro Hitler is Barack Obama.

  • Ronricusmcgullicutty
    October 1, 2015

    Greetings Mr GregAbdul, “Farrakhan is not a Muslim” as if you are an authority on what a Muslim is. Minister Farrakhan doesn’t need the pulpit of others. He has his own in Chicago. By the way it’s paid for and debt free, no funds received from a robust 501c3. No other Christian preacher can claim that. He reaches out to other faiths because that’s what “real Muslims” do. Minister Farrakhan yes that’s how you should refer to him. Well yes you say he “trick” our young men. Yes he tricked me into being responsible for my children, to show love to my community, he tricked me into gaining discipline in my life, he tricked me not to sell drugs, kill my brothers, not to create debt,to be civilized, to be strong! Some characteristics that a lot in our community can’t claim. So he can “exploit” me with those skills anyday. But the Catholic Church has mass rapings and child molestations that they have admitted to and you have the boldness to attach the word exploit to Minister Farrakhans name. “Hitler” wow as if Minister Farrakhan has hurt one Jew.. If anything he has taught young men such as myself to restrain from violence and also how to calmly and factually tear apart propaganda such as your comments on this board. 10-10-15 justice or else.

    • GregAbdul
      October 1, 2015

      I give you credit for not being a black hypocrite, but you are not a true Muslim. it takes very rudimentary study to tell what a Muslim is. Mr. Ron, have you actually studied Islam? If i say the sky is blue….Do I need to be an astrophysicist for my words to be true? Minister Negro Hitler won’t be invited to any black churches in the future is my educated guess. So all ten of you can sit and let him teach you how to be nazis. I refer to him as Minister Negro Hitler. As soon as he drops the Negro Nazi act, I will refer to him as whatever he embraces. But his life has been full of falsities so I don’t think at this stage he will let go….an old dog usually does old tricks. Did he trick you into believing that the white man is the devil? That would mean you are NOT a Muslim. You can tell me you are a saint, but if your creed is hate, no matter your accomplishments, you are a broken person and Minister Negro Hitler is taking advantage of your broken state. Please leave the Negro Nazi movement. I know it’s tough being a young black man in America, but the Negro Nazi movement is not the answer. Be a real Muslim or go to church. Young man, please try to be rational…a hate cult can never be the God given true answer.

      • Simple
        October 2, 2015

        Spoken like a true devil, keep it up Satan your day is on the horizon.

        • GregAbdul
          October 2, 2015

          you honor me with your threat. You threatened Malcolm. He would not shut up and play along with Negro Nazis…and the goons you imitate killed him under Farrakhan’s orders. So thanks for telling me my day will come. My day and my fate belong to Allah, not to black slime who lie on my faith. All praise be to Allah. Glory to Him who is far above any fault, who never was so low that He was in the form of a man. There is NO messenger or Prophet after Muhammad ibn Abdullah..no matter how much the liars hate the truth. Minister Negro Hitler is NOT a Muslim and no one is going to that joke of a march you stage out of jealousy because we remember Brother Malcolm 50 years after your Negro Nazi brothers shot him. Quit being haters. True Islam was the winner long before Elijah invented the Negro Nazi movement. Everyone knows you are a cult built on hate and you are only really only a cheap way to sound radical in the black community. I ain’t no joke and I do not play along with Negro Nazis….I ain’t letting Negro Hitler pimp use me to keep blacks ignorant. We will NEVER forget Brother Malcolm and his courage. We have already forgotten you…and you ain’t even dead yet.

          peace and blessings be upon the messenger of Allah.

    • Simple
      October 2, 2015

      Good response brother, this dude Greg Abdul is obviously blinded by the “label” based religious thinking that dominates this world and doesn’t have the knowledge to look from basis of principles. We both know that 10/10/15 is about to be something special, if you are going I’ll be there with you brother.

  • Mr M
    October 3, 2015

    Let the professional Mischief-Makers & Provocateurs do what they do.

    10.10.15 Justice…or Else!

    DO YOUR PART.

    Go to: https://justiceorelse.com/donate?id=478&n=Darrel

    10.10.15 Justice…or Else!

  • JohnnyAngel Advocacy Group
    October 7, 2015

    Two voices come to mind that are thinking more clearly on black lives for living truthfully for God and man. Thomas Sowell and Jesse Peterson ! Let’s not forget TD Jakes ! This apologist for Farrakhan’s ideas is as rational as Islam itself !

  • britishrosee
    August 30, 2017

    farakan is a revolutionist , he wants to bring in light what religion really personifys in the light of racism , racism is a choice , made by a creed of people . im surprised farakhan reads the bible at all he doent believe in any religion. and view nation of islum as a movement.
    like the panther movement. he dont want to be deminished by whites . and all muslims are not a part of his church . some so called musluim have no idea about what farakhan stands for , he preach about slavery of the mind and divison among races , martin luther talked about freedom and peace .and reistance ., non violence was martin luther king core messasage ,but who could ever afford that , the muslims dont worry about the police and judges . cause they stick together thats why its call nation of islum cause its a movement instead . there are too many religions for us all to believe jesus died on the cross for our sins . . god is the creator why not focus on him . why not please god . is god a man or spirit is the question? no one has ever seen god so why is he called a HE? he could be a thng , or a woman ? we just dont know till we meet him . and that could 800 billion years from now , when we all are forgotten . we come to earth to die. and what lives on is what people remember and whne those people die no one cares about you . in heaven there are no celebrities , kings , president , law makers its just spirits if your a good spirit you will be there tooo

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