Volume 5, Number 16                                                  March 20, 2002

The Farmer

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The Mathematics of an Undeclared War

by Dr. Ridgely Abdul Muímin Muhammad

"War" according to Websterís Dictionary means: 1. a state of usually open and declared armed hostile conflict between states or nations. 2. a state of hostility, conflict, or antagonism. Another definition of war comes from Carl Von Clausewitz, an eighteenth and nineteenth century Prussian soldier and writer in his book, "On War". He states, "War therefore is an act of violence intended to compel our opponent to fulfill our will." He further states, "As long as the enemy is not defeated, he may defeat me; then I shall be no longer my own master; he will dictate the law to me as I did to him." In other words, "war" is a violent imposition of ones will against another to make them be your slave or eliminate them if they will not.

The fact that Blacks were brought to America as slaves, and white Americans never intended for them to be other than slaves or second class citizens, is at the core of the dilemma of Black peopleís struggle and Black farmersí struggle in particular. Land ownership is a privilege and right of an American citizen. All wealth comes from the land. One must always stand on some land. If you own that land then you have the right to stand on it. If you do not own it, then you must ask permission.

Black people in America may have come out of slavery "broke", but their spirits were not broken. Although farm life was tough, they were used to hard labor and had many children to help with the work. By 1910 Blacks had accumulated 16 million acres of land with a population of about 10 million. This meant that we owned about 1.6 acres per person. This was in spite of the fact that Blacks were never given the proverbial "40 acres and a mule".

The US government reneged on its promise of land to the ex-slaves and later reneged on its promise to protect them after slavery. In 1877 the North removed its protective covering of troops from the South allowing the KKK and other killers to terrorize Black people.

How these Black people were able to accumulate such wealth and land under this type of open warfare and hostilities is something for historians and psychologists to study.

America had left her ex-slaves to fend for themselves out in the woods and these Blacks had done well. The statistics would prove that Blacks were on their way up out of slavery. However, starting in 1901 Americans began in earnest to stem this tide of Black economic development by increasing the level of state supported terrorism in terms of continued lynchings, race riots (whites on Blacks) and enactment of discriminatory laws.

Her tactics have been successful. Now Blacks own only an estimated 2.5 million acres of land, 55% of us now live in cities whereas over 90% of us used to live on farms at the turn of the century. We were lured to these cities by the prospects of a higher wage and better lifestyle. For a while it seemed that the cities offered both of these. But now there are more college age Black men in jail than in college. Black people receive 3/5ths the income of whites. The Black male homicide rate is almost 7 times the rate for white males. Although Blacks represent 13% of the American population they account for 30% of the AIDS cases in America. On average whites live 6 years longer than Blacks.

Now if we go back to the definition of "war" at the beginning of this article, then we see that "war is an act of violence intended to compel our opponent to fulfill our will." Whites have taken our land, put us in prison, inflicted us with new diseases and somehow managed to get us to kill each other.

Now how did they "somehow" get us to kill one another? Murder in the Black community is more often a result of rage. Now how do you enrage a whole people? Answer: Play an economic game with their lives. Put them under extreme economic stress. Call it, "low wage rage". Letís look at some examples.

Back in 1974 I was a young Black man with a wife and two small children. I was going to college. My wife wanted to stay home and raise our children. I worked at the hospital at night and went to school in the day. In 1974 the minimum wage was $2.00 per hour. Today the minimum wage is $5.15 per hour.

To get to work and move my family around I needed some transportation, so I bought a brand new Dodge Extended Cab pickup truck for about $3,200. I paid a down payment of $500 and financed the balance for 36 months paying $78 per month. Now, at $2.00 per hour for a 40 hour week my gross pay would have been $80. For the month my gross pay before taxes would be $320 per month. Now, if we subtract my automobile note from my gross wages, I would still have $242 to pay my rent, buy food and get some clothes for my family, not bad in 1974.

Today a new Dodge Extended Cab pickup truck costs about $25,000. If I put $500 down and got the balance financed over 36 months at 6% interest, I would pay $745 per month. Now if I received a minimum wage of $5.15 per hour, my monthly gross pay would be $824. After subtracting my automobile note, I would have $79 left over (if the IRS would look the other way). What in hell can a man with a wife and two children do with $79 to spend over a whole month?

But you might say, "you can get that vehicle financed for 60 months instead of 36 months." Okay, the payments would then be $474 per month, leaving a balance of $350 to pay rent, buy food and get some clothes for his family. Oh wow, now he has about $108 more per month than I did in 1974.

However, that Dodge truck lasted me for 13 years without me doing any major repairs on the engine, transmission or rear end. How many new vehicles today will even last 5 years without major repairs?

I rest my case, for now (smile).