By Hakum Abdul-Ali
Brother El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, commonly known as Malcolm X, once said, “When ‘I’ is replaced by ‘we’ even illness becomes wellness.” Upon reflecting upon this quotation from this conscious giant’s mindset based on his teachings from the Islamic and African worlds’ perspectives, I thought about the concept of unity in the world-at-large.
That ubiquitous concept seems to be a utopian dream for all suffering and oppressed “hue-mans” in the universe and, in particular, it is definitely a much ballyhooed dream and hyped desired fantasy for most of today’s Afrikan and eastern-minded populace and, maybe, even for some westernized indoctrinated oppressed folk to consider. Like the today’s title indicates, these are my “Thoughts About Unity’s Appeals.”
In my thoughts, I always had an intrinsic vision-like state of thinking where the attraction on being unified among certain folk should and was an easy task, but was I ever wrong in that assumption. In so many discouraging norms, the appeal of unity seems, at times, more like a fallacious fairytale existing in so many unproductive nuances and arenas throughout today’s pseudo-political multifaceted facades with numerous complex bigoted interactions hovering everywhere.
Being politically and ethnically divided appears to be cause celebs among many “hue-mans” in many globally diverse cultures and nations, including among the world’s still scattered colonized folk, who are forever seeking to be free apparently by wishing on a star. In spite of their despondent aspirations and vanishing dreams to be free, being liberated from oppression requires work, blood, sweat and tears.
Unity, to some, is more than a catchword for liberation, and some folk don’t quite understand that while living in and under an enslaved comatose mentality, which is of their own choosing. Do you get what I just said, or are you really taking the time to slowly look at yourself, without prejudice?
My views on the unity dilemma among all oppressed and subjugated folk of color, especially the habitually agonized American Blacks and the escalating persecuted Muslim masses everywhere, encompasses that “we” look at those elements of what keeps us from coming together, at whatever cost, in the first place. Yes, I already know that it’s a rather painful discussion about what ails us all, but, if “we” don’t do something now, then when?
As you think about unity’s appeals, and in the spirit of that thought, I’m going to throw some shade on the aspect of unity’s appeals by mentioning some of the wisdom that I’ve gained in addressing this issue from some eminent Afrikan-American thinkers and leaders of the past. I believe that it doesn’t matter who you are, or what you call yourself, there’s still much to be gained by checking out what these brilliant minds had to offer on the appeals of unity.
In reading the words and thoughts of these noble heroes and sheroes, please note that you don’t have to be a person of color, a Muslim, a Christian, a Rastafarian, a Jew, or whatever you, respectfully, believe in to be able to realize that unity is something we all should be embracing. We have nothing to lose by digesting what follows, but we have much to gain because if unity’s appeals touches and activates your heart, mind and soul, enough to make this place called earth a better place for one and all to live in peace, harmony and unity, then it was worth me writing this article.
Now, I begin with a very wise lady who left an imprint on the minds of millions of folk of color and others, and her name was Maya Angelou. The acclaimed poet and novelist said, “While I know myself as a creation of God, I am also obligated to realize and remember that everyone else and everything else are also God’s creation.”
Please think about that statement by Ms. Angelou because that’s a key to understanding who you really are as a “hue-man,” a point today’s political racists, yesterday’s “his-storical” enslavers and yesteryears’ colonizers clearly never considered back then, and some still don’t until this very day. Like I said before, these are my “Thoughts About Unity’s Appeals.”
Continuing, nationalist leader Marcus Garvey related, in no uncertain terms about unity, that, “The thing to do is to get organized. Keep separated and you will be exploited, you will be robbed, (and) you will be killed. Get organized and you will compel the world to respect you.” Mr. Garvey spoke volumes when he uttered those thoughts about unity.
The wife of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Coretta Scott King, who was also a gallant civil rights activist, once offered “Whites are beginning to realize that the entire culture is at stake if Blacks and other minorities are not educated and included in this country’s business community. It is all tied together: if Blacks fail, the whole culture will fail.”
Listen to what Ralph Ellison, scholar, novelist and the author of “Invisible Man,” had to say about the appeal of unity. He said,”It is not culture which binds the people who are of partially African origin now scattered throughout the world, but an identity of passions. We share a hatred for the alienation forced upon us by Europeans during the process of colonization and empire, and we are bound more by our common suffering than by our pigmentation.”
You might be rightfully asking how could I even address this heady issue of unity without referencing the legendary freedom fighter Frederick Douglass. Well, Mr. Douglass, the acclaimed abolitionist, orator and autobiographer poignantly said, “Remember that our cause is one and that we must help each other if we would succeed.”
That was a brief and powerful statement by one of my most celebrated African-American heroes, but did you take the time to understand what wisdom lay in his prolific oratory. I hope that you did (and do) because time is running out on all of us, including on and for many of this nation’s young Black men, who could be potentially labeled, “To be young, gifted and dead.” Think Chicago, Ferguson or, e.g., your city, etc., if you dare.
Oh, by the way, I borrowed that last apt description of “To be young, gifted and dead” from an article of the same name from a sister named Dr. Julianne Malveaux, whose writings I respect very much. You should read it and see if it gets you to see why “we” must do something now, but it begins with “I,” meaning you.
And, in conclusion, my thoughts lead back to Brother Malcolm X, who said, “I lay awake amid (my) sleeping Muslim brothers and I learned that pilgrims from every land—every color and class and rank—all snored in the same language.”
Being proud of who are doesn’t mean that you have to deny others their rights as “hue-mans.” Appeal to justice for all.
Unity in having respect for all, including yourself is what I’m appealing to you and others to politely comprehend. As citizens of this potentially great land, please know that “Together we stand and divided we fall.” For today and always, that’s, “As I See It.”