By Hakim Abdul-Ali
I’d like to address a subject that’s close to my heart and spirits. It’s about the subject of Afro-American unified brotherhood and its importance for all of us in this nation’s Black communities.
I’ve been moved to address this topic because I recently had a conversation with an intellectual acquaintance of mine, an ebony soul who also is very concerned about what’s been negatively happening in our Black community. As I continue on, I feel that I must state that my acquaintance is a committed Christian and I’m a Muslim.
This gentleman and I both began a unique conversation speaking to the issues of how can we help solve some of the seemingly perpetual problems and dastardly calamities affecting our ethnic unity. We both agreed that these points should be pressing concerns for all aware persons of color, regardless of religion, and especially in light of the current political agendas and social climates of today that prevails against our communities.
First, I have to openly admit that America’s general Black population, as it concerns the topic of togetherness, is as divided a community as the next ethnic group of diverse souls inhabiting the USA, a fact my acquaintance and I both readily agreed to. That fact is something we admitted has to be dealt with in approaching the brotherhood scenario.
We also recognized that if we, as a collective body, wish to offer solutions to this cause, we certainly must admit that many of us are also parts of the problem. To both of our credits though, my acquaintance and I have never allowed our individual different religious traditions and personnel philosophies to deter us from respecting each other’s views and opinions.
We respectfully refer to each other as “brother,” and we both admitted that the uncontrollable killings of Black youth across the nation, rampant drug usage and escalating family dissent, e.g., are particularly appalling and definitely sickening to our desired senses of ethnic ebony dignity and respect. Somehow, addressing those tragic aspects of Black negative disunity was just the tip of the iceberg that led to us dealing with the brotherhood issue.
As brothers in a mutual cause for believing in unity amongst Afrikan-Americans, we weren’t afraid to speak out on many of the contrary things that keep us away from being able to talk to each other without disrespect and hatred. I know that for some of us in our communities, coming together is very difficult because, frankly speaking, some of us don’t like to talk to or listen to one another in any shape or form.
When the ability to speak to and listen to one another with respect is missing in any realm, the greater impact of positive good communication will forever be lost. I hate to say this but those critical shortcomings in “hue-man” communicational skills are, sadly, very present in many segments of our communities to our own detriment.
Dealing with the stark realities of our difficulties and complexities in establishing unity among Black folk has always been a touchy issue for some of us in our communities to deal with. And until we face those realities fully, we will continually live in self-denials and distrust. It’s the truth, and I’m sorry to tell you also that, if you’re of color, sometimes, we are in many ways our own worst enemies. Many of our past elders told us numerous things that addressed our unity and brotherhood issues if we only would listen to and learn from their wisdom.
The legendary abolitionist Frederick Douglass said, “Remember that our cause is one and that we must help each other if we would succeed.” And the revered Christian civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. related, “We must all learn to live to together as brothers, or we will all perish together as fools.”
The powerful unity and cohesive camaraderie that is needed for Blacks everywhere to commit to brotherhood is without a doubt a much needed work in progress. My acquaintance and I agreed that we mustn’t hide the reality that we Blacks must face up to the actuality that we are, in many ways, prideful, but we are also are very much struggling and hurting communities in many scenarios.
Deep within our unique essence is a will to survive in the midst of continued local, state and national political disrespect and neglect on many fronts. In spite of the clarion call of making America great again, the perplexing question is does that really includes all of the nation’s people of color, including us, and in what degrees does that motto apply.
Brotherhood among today’s Afrikan-Americans and their communities is something that should require us all to want to achieve everything for the better good of our communities just like other ethnic groupings does for their respective communities. Today’s continuing agendas of obvious injustices towards Blacks, especially young Black males, must be addressed individually and collectively by every concerned Afro-American communities.
My respected Christian acquaintance and I mutually agreed as much that with so many brothers being incarcerated and with hidden racism rising among an expanding segment of bigoted America, as just a few of the ongoing affairs facing us, Afro-Americans need to develop mechanisms to connect to unified awareness. He said that in his Christian concept we needed to implement love and respect as a basis for unity to begin.
I offered that learning to love and respect one another shouldn’t be issues of envy, jealousy and contempt. Sometimes, when we occupy these demons of conflict, I further said we do ourselves irreparable damage in trying to establish brotherhood and communication among ourselves.
So, with all this being said, I believe that the unified dream of brotherhood among Afro-Americans and all Afrikan descended folk is not a far fetched concept in my heart and soul, nor was it in my acquaintance’s mind. No, we both believed that brotherhood for our communities through unity and respect is tantamount to our overall success. I strongly believe that authentic brotherhood and sisterhood between Afro-Americans requires that we sincerely wish for others what we wish for ourselves. W.E.B. DuBois, the great academic intellectual, said, “I believe that all men, black, brown and white, are brothers, varying through time and opportunity, in form and gift and feature, but differing in no essential particular, and alike in soul and the philosophy of infinite development.”
In closing, I’m reminded of a very personal hero of mine’s simple but ever-so-meaningful words. The legendary El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Malcolm X) said, “A man has to act like a brother before you call him a brother.” Please take that to heart and for today, that’s, “As I See It.”