Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Why the Black Community Needs an EGO HOSPITAL

By: Deric Muhammad

This Opinion Editorial Appeared in a recent edition of the African American News and Issues.

There is a very powerful Bible scripture that says, “He who exalts himself will be humbled; yet he who humbles himself, God shall exalt.” It is an awesome formula for success that, too often, escapes the Black community and its leadership.
When God created man the first thing that he gave him was power. He gave him power over the fish of the sea, the fowl of the air and every creeping thing that crawled. At an appointed time, the agents of Satan stripped man of that power, emptying him of his sense of dignity, self respect and self worth. Three hundred years of slavery took an axe to the Black man’s ego.
Most of our egos are so bruised that we delight in making others appear insignificant so that we might bolster our own significance in the eyes of others. This is the nature of what is called gossip. Young people call it “hating.” When you feel that you have to marginalize others in order to lionize yourself you may very well be sick with “ego pneumonia”.
The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan states in his book A Torchlight for America, “When the desire for self-interest becomes excessive, the first casualty is truth. When a man is ego-sick it is difficult for him to make sound decisions that are in the best interest of the masses. This is because he is more concerned about how he is perceived by the people than he is about the condition of the people.
As young Black males many of us were told that we wouldn’t amount to much. Some may have been bullied, buck-toothed or ashamed of our dark skin.
Unfortunately, once we were older and given some form of authority we abused that authority. We talk down to others in order to assuage the ego that was bruised by the bully. We seek material things that feed the ego and make us feel that we are better than our fellow brother or sister. Some of us even strike our women in an effort to feed that damnable ego.
I was recently involved in a slight controversy involving Houston Mayor Bill White. Mayor White, who is also campaigning for a U.S. Senate seat, released an advertisement that offended many in the Black community. The ad, which appeared in a local Black newspaper, depicted the mayor as “the hope” in the middle of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Barack Obama.
It was an obvious fumble in judgment. However, I was always taught that if you make a mistake in private you should be corrected in private. But, if you make the mistake in public, and your mistake has already influenced the public, you should be respectfully corrected in the public. This is exactly what we attempted to do.
Most Black people who saw the ad agreed it was inappropriate. Some whites didn’t like it. The mayor even apologized. However, many opined that there were “bigger causes to champion, than an ad.” But, it was never about the advertisement. It was about the high level of disregard for Black people and their so-called leaders. This is what creates the climate that produces such disrespect and confusion.
Black people have no shortage of issues. Each organization must serve our community as “organs” serve the human body. Not all organs serve the same function. But if every organ is on its job the result is health, strength and a possible long life. Unity is the key. But unity is difficult when our egos get involved.
Frankly, unity is even more difficult when money is involved. I later realized that some may not have wanted us to voice our concerns about the mayor’s “mess-up”, because they are on the mayor’s Christmas list or awaiting some type of funding for a program, CDC, project, etc. “We don’t want to offend the mayor if he’s about to put some gas in the Cadillac, now do we?” I think this kind of slave mentality should be put on the list of “bigger issues.”
Another “bigger issue” that should be placed on the list is the hustling that goes on in the name of activism. Let’s call a meeting to discuss THESE issues. I wonder if anyone would show.
It is okay for Black leaders to secure funding for their projects, but not at the cost of truth. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad said that we must speak the truth regardless of circumstances. This means that even if we have to challenge our greed and our egos, we must go down in history as men of character and consequence. We must readopt the slogan “no sell out.”
I agree there are more important issues in the Black community, such as violence, joblessness, HIV/AIDS, etc. I was not trying to place the mayor’s blunder at the top of that list. I was merely trying to defend the legacy to two of our greatest leaders and protect our people from political deception in the process. However, those Black leaders who acknowledge that there are more important causes to champion must do more than talk if we are to solve these problems.
If, in 2009, the community does not see you addressing these most important issues then it will be clear that it was just another egotistical analysis. Since you have already displayed your expertise in prioritizing Black folks’ problems, you should now use that expertise to chart a course of action and execute. If you don’t plan to do that, don’t talk down to the woman or man who is trying to do her or his part.
Maybe someone should go to the mayor and secure some funding for a state of the art Ego Hospital in the Black community. Then again some of us might be too egotistical to go to it.

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