WASHINGTON, D.C. – Black consumers must aggressively assert their $1.3 trillion in annual buying power – even to the point of boycotts, if necessary – if they’re going to force a positive change to poor social conditions in much of urban America, Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan told a group of black publishers recently.
Farrakhan said black Americans have all the economic power they need to improve negative conditions in black America – if they would only blend their resources and fight in unison.
“If we put 10 percent of that $1.3 trillion in our own banks – which is $100 billion, $300 million – we could build institutions with that money – build our own hospitals, build our own factories and support our black colleges,” he said. “We can use that money more wisely.”
“Nothing else has worked; why not put our hearts and minds together to work an economic program that will give us jobs, that will give us production, give us trade and commerce,” he said. “The world is in front of us if we’d just get out of our own way.”
Speaking to more than 50 black publishers and editors in a telephone conference call last week, Farrakhan also called on black consumers to boycott Christmas sales this upcoming holiday season and use that money to invest in businesses, programs and strategies that will improve the black condition.
“We’re asking this year that on the day after Thanksgiving, which is called Black Friday, we withdraw our dollars from America; that we withdraw our dollars in boycott not only of black Friday, but boycott the mockery of Jesus Christ.
“Each year, you spend your money foolishly giving gifts to friends and family – which is good, but it’s not good for you, because at the end of your buying spree, you now have a year to come out of debt,” he said of consumers. “And as Santa Claus comes down saying ‘ho-ho-ho’, the business community is going to the bank saying, ‘ha-ha-ha.’ And we go to the poor house, wondering how we’re going to pay the bills.
“We need to look at how we spend our money and how many industries benefit from how we spend our money,” he added. “This Christmas, we will keep our money in our pockets [and] find a better way to invest our dollars than the foolishness in the name of Jesus Christ and the drinking to everyone’s health until we have none ourselves.”
Farrakhan led the 50-minute conference call to update publishers about the Oct. 10 “Justice or Else” rally in Washington, D.C., intended to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March and to petition government to invest in justice for black people.
More than a million black men attended the Million Man March in 1995, Nation of Islam officials said, all of whom pledged to recommit to their families and wives, stop engaging in violence and become active in civic and political causes to improve conditions in black America. Some critics, however, contend that the march spawned little long-lasting change and was more about spectacle than substance.
Acknowledging that the post-march black community did not become as strong as it might have, Farrakhan said the upcoming march has a dual purpose: While black people must appeal to the government for legal and civic redress, he said, they also must take control of their own communities and stop blaming white America exclusively for all the socio-economic problems facing many urban communities in the U.S.
“We cannot go to Washington and appeal to our government to intercede for justice… and leave our community in shambles with us killing one another,” he said. “We as men and women must take responsibility for our community and work together to rid our community of the fratricidal conflict” that is destroying much of black America.
“As we go toward our government to demand justice for the judicial killings of our people, we must demand justice for those in our own communities who have lost their loved ones because of gang violence,” he added.
Unlike the Million Man March, which focused on empowering men of color, the clarion call for “Justice or Else” is meant to address the struggle for justice among all disenfranchised people in America, Farrakhan said.
“Even though our struggles may be different, justice is what we seek for all,” he said. “This is the beginning of that real intense struggle to get justice from our government and justice in our communities by stopping the killings, the raping, the robbing and the criminal activity that has been forced upon us” due to disinvestment in poor and urban communities.
Farrakhan also praised the black press for fulfilling its historic role of empowering black people with constructive news and information and for providing a counter narrative to the negative, superficial or stereotypical images of black people frequently portrayed in the mainstream news media.
“We have entered a time of trouble like there never was… And in this time of trouble, when our people are being assaulted from within and without, there is nothing and no one more important than the black press and the black media,” Farrakhan told the publishers.
“For if our story cannot be told by you, we as a people are more than lost.”