Volume 6, Number 8 January 24, 2003
A Letter to Black Farmers
by Dr. Ridgely Abdul Mu’min Muhammad
On January 20, 2003 Gary Grant, President of the Black Farmers and Agriculturists Association, and myself were invited by the Pittsburgh, Pa chapter of the Black Radical Congress to speak at a Martin Luther King celebration event on the campus of the University of Pittsburgh. As a part of the presentations a brother read a letter by a well known activist who could not be there in person but wanted his thoughts conveyed to the Black farmers. The letter was so profound on different levels that we thought it news worthy to present part of it in The Farmer Newsletter.
I quote: "The Black farmers in America are in trouble. Decades of discriminatory treatment at the hands of the local and regional offices of the USDA, empty promises by politicians and courts, and repeated betrayals by those who are sworn to ‘protect’ their interests has left them holding the bag—and the bag is virtually empty."
After giving a very concise historical analysis of the problem including quotations from myself, Gary Grant, and former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, the writer does not just stop with identifying the problem but moves towards developing a strategy for the future by writing:
"As ghettoes continue to swell throughout America’s urban areas, the potential of Black farms cannot be underestimated as an important, natural resource that can positively impact on the daily lives and well-being of millions.
Often, those in the inner city must pay the most money for the least fresh, and least nutritious, of life-giving foods. An intelligent program of economic assessment and regional planning, which routes the produce from those farms to the neighborhoods where the goods may be best utilized, can heal two breaches—urban malnutrition and economic self-sustenance—at the same time.
To solve the Black farmer problem may mean, ultimately, to solve our own."
We hope to fulfill this brother’s desire for an "intelligent program of economic assessment and regional planning", at our "5th Annual Black Land Loss Summit." The full agenda can be viewed at http://www.MuhammadFarms.com/land_loss_summit.htm. However, much of our agenda will deal with hooking up the players in the economic system that can make our theme of "Controlling our destiny from the land to the man" a working plan and not just "a dream."
We know that if the writer of this letter could make our event, he would not formulate any excuses. However, the brother who wrote this profound letter has been in jail on death row since 1995. He is a political prisoner by the name of Mumia Abu-Jamal.
After this letter was read to the audience, I had to draw their attention to the irony of it all. Here we have a well referenced document with viable solutions from a brother whose body is locked behind bars. However, his mind is not in chains and he uses the Internet to keep up with what is going on in our backyards, while we play at being asleep. If this brother can find out what is going on from behind bars, then we can not accept the excuse of ignorance as to why we do not move on what we already know.
It is my opinion that we do not act on what we know because we want to play in "massa’s" filthy play pen a little while longer. We are playing with sure death. Just recently I read and heard in the major news media that the lawsuit against McDonalds was thrown out of court by the judge. The judge said that since it is a "well known" fact that there are major negative side effects from eating fast-foods all the time, anyone who does so is knowingly putting himself at risk and therefore does not deserve to sue.
This court ruling also reminds me of the "2002 Homeland Security Bill" which takes effect today, January 24th, and basically says that if you voluntarily take vaccines and you have been warned about possible negative side effects, you can not sue the pharmaceutical companies if you get sick or die. In other words, suicide by lethal injection and lethal consumption is legal. So, please "give us your fast-food money" before it kills you (smile).
But going back to Mumia, will we have to lock up the majority of Black people to slow them down enough and take them away from the TV long enough for them to seek the type of knowledge that could make their lives better? Will you be coming to the Black Land Loss Summit or will you stay locked up under mental "house arrest"?
Martin Luther King had a dream, but after reading many of his other speeches, I can truthfully say that he, unlike many of us, was not ASLEEP.
Visit us at www.MuhammadFarms.com and stay awake, please!
(Read Mumia' Letter at: Mumia's letter to Black Farmers