Since writing I wrote “Fight White Supremacists: People of Color Must Unite” on August 27, I have been bombarded by readers with opposing opinions. Many news readers gorge themselves on media messages that fit their pre-existing views, rather than graze on different perspectives. I think it’s imperative that people read substantial works from differing viewpoints; I don’t see how you can arrive at a real conclusion or conviction otherwise. Respondents remain anonymous as I believe that they felt free to express their “true” attitudes about the up and coming Justice Or Else campaign:
Nellie of Arizona writes: "This whole subject is so dangerous—to ALL people—that I wouldn't touch it for anything under the sun. What Farrakhan wants is complete anarchy in the country and blood in the streets.
Some have compared Farrakhan’s rants to that of Hitler: It's like listening to Hitler in his hatred for the Jewish people and others in Europe prior to and during the Second World War. Hate breeds hate, violence breeds more violence, destruction only leads to more destruction—whether it is towns or cities or cars or shops or people’s lives. His brand of hate and violence will lead to the destruction of the whole of American society, and could - if left unchecked - lead to the destruction of the country itself."
James from Florida: "He and the others who preach violence and bloodshed have never learned the most precious lesson Abraham Lincoln tried to instill in the people of his day - the charity he wanted for ALL of the people of the country, the total lack of malice he spoke of for those who sought to destroy the country he loved so much. Maybe James doesn’t know that on December 26, 1862, the Great Emancipator, Lincoln, ordered thirty-eight Santee Sioux Indians to be executed, the largest mass execution in American History."
“Education and not the promotion of violence is the only way to teach the masses,” says Mary from Florida. She continues, “Yes, it is tragic when lives are taken in violence - no matter the color of those lives. Yes, it is tragic when homes are taken from those who have no means to pay for them. Yes, it is tragic when disease affects those who have no means to pay for medical care or treatment. Yes, it is tragic when families are torn apart in violence or financial ruin or simple neglect. The cure for all of the ill in this world is EDUCATION - as you and I know very well. In climbing the ladder of education we can each serve our nation and all of its peoples by lifting them up WITH US - not by tearing down that nation and its peoples in the violence and death."
Rose from Rhode Island writes: "I am white. My ancestry is almost completely white Northern European, and some - a few - of my ancestors in the American South owned slaves of color. Not my parents, nor my grandparents, and nor my great-grandparents. But some of those ancestors farther back did own people and carried them in their estate records as property, bequeathing those same people to their heirs along with their homes, their land, their livestock, and their person possessions. But that hasn't happened since 1865—150 years and six generations ago. In this country, we no longer have slavery based on color - only economic slavery based on unequal pay and unequal job offers - not unequal opportunity but unequal education OF PEOPLE'S OWN CHOICES. The opportunities are available for those who choose to avail themselves of them."
Allan, who lives in New Hampshire, says: "We do not need to preach hate, violence, murder, and blood in the streets. Jesus Christ, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, and others only spoke of kindness, charity, goodness, forgiveness and love for ALL mankind—ALL. Their teachings were not limited to one race or segment of society. Those teachings encompassed everyone in the world: black, white, brown, red, yellow, or any and all combinations and permutations of those colors—the colors of the HUMAN RACE."
John, an Ohio native, living and working in Thailand comments: "Let’s put things into context during the time of the Founding Fathers, who were not wrong in their goals. Because of societal norms and conventions, they were only able to lay the foundation necessary for the future generations to correct and complete the work they began. Understanding and growth took time to achieve the level of societal acceptance we have now. More understanding and more growth and more education are needed to reach the goal of actual, total, equality that those same men knew was the God-given right of ALL people who would live and love and marry and beget children in this sacred land of Turtle Island."
He adds: "Yes, the Founding Fathers spoke of the equality of all men, even while they enslaved the people of color and confiscated the lands of the Native peoples of the Western Hemisphere. But, in the grand scheme of the world, that seeming hypocrisy was the choice they had to make to establish this country in the first place. They all knew that the inconsistencies in the original documents could and would be corrected once the country had the freedom to determine its own destiny. We had to be free from the European communities, to be free from their concepts of aristocracy, hierarchy, society and social norms, and the inherited hatreds of those from different backgrounds or religions or cultures or ways of life. ONLY with that initial freedom could we develop the national identity we now call “American”- whether that nationality is anchored in descendants of the Native Peoples, the African peoples, the Latino peoples, the Asian peoples, or the European peoples who all arrived on this great Island in their own times."
Nellie returns to the conversation by saying: What is actually needed in any of the communities Farrakhan and others term “underprivileged”—the free education of ALL peoples, the complete acceptance of ALL peoples as equal before the law, the sacred nature of ALL peoples’ lives, the inclusion of ALL peoples in a society where we have open access to schools and universities, libraries, museums, fine arts, concerts of the world's music and dance, the cultural knowledge of the world, and the cultural freedoms of that world."
Julianne Jennings (Nottoway) is an anthropologist.