Volume 8, Number 15                                              October 10, 2005

The Farmer


"Let us deal wisely with them"

by Dr. Ridgely Abdul Muímin Muhammad


This is not about Bill Bennettís comments on how to reduce the crime rate by aborting Black babies. Thatís just the refurbishing of an old tactic used by the "Pharaoh" of the Bible (Exodus 1:10). It seems that finally the devil is "showing his teeth".

This is not about Hurricane Katrina, "Bushís Monica".  However, the lack of response by the federal government to the needs of poor Black people in New Orleans could be compared to her lack of response to the cries of Black farmers for years.  The government did not respond in a timely manner and now the government is trying to hide what the government did or did not do.  The behavior of the government can not be understood as long as we are in denial about her ultimate motives of keeping Black people as second class citizens or more specifically, landless and powerless human fuel for her economic engine.  Bill Bennettís "teeth" seem sharper and more focused, but the governmentís denial of land to a whole people is just as deadly, but more subtle.

We urge you to support the "Black Farmers Judicial Equity Act of 2005" and "Endangered Black Farmer Act of 2005".  We need land. Many of the victims of Katrina did not leave, because they had nowhere to go.  Many are now "refugees" in strange parts of the country where they have no land, family or opportunities for employment.  Many may wind up in jail without anyone knowing their whereabouts.

Items in these proposed Congressional bills point to the fact that the settlement of the lawsuit known as Pigford v. Glickman as written by Al Pires was defective in some very crucial issues. In particular, each Black farmer was required to supply a "similarly situated white farmer" who had received loans from the FSA (formerly FmHA) office in the same county and the same year the Black farmer was denied. However, the Black farmer was not afforded the opportunity of discovery by which he could see the USDA files on the white farmer, thereby leaving him to guess what the white farmer received in loan dollars.

This little maneuver by the Black farmersí lawyer, Justice Department lawyers, USDA and the Federal Judge allowed a major loop hole through which the USDA could pick and choose which Black farmer would be accepted or denied acceptance into the Pigford Class. This was a crucial issue because most of the farmers, or would be farmers, who were accepted (13,000) were not presently farming nor did they owe money to the USDA. The 3,000 farmers that were in jeopardy of foreclosure by the USDA were among the 8,000 who were denied and are now still in jeopardy of loosing their land.

This proposed legislation developed by a consortium of lawyers and Black farm organizations comes after a long battle of the Black farmers spearheaded by the Black Farmers & Agriculturalists Association (BFAA) led by Gary Grant to get justice for Black farmers and save their land from being taken by the USDA and its white friends in the Black Belt. The Black farmers first went to the USDA to receive justice using the "administrative" procedure set up by the USDA to handle discrimination complaints. Not receiving a remedy there, they decided to unite under a class action lawsuit.

The "Farmer Newsletter" at www.MuhammadFarms.com has documented this struggle since 1998 and even compiled this struggle in a video documentary entitled, "Snake in the Reparations Grass." This documentary shows how the farmers were lied to by their lawyers from the very beginning. It shows how they organized to fight the Consent Decree at the so-called "Fairness Hearing" in March 1999, where they specifically complained about that "similarly situated white farmer" provision. It shows how they went to jail while protesting the Consent Decree in front of the USDA headquarters in Washington, D.C. Each time the farmers went to jail there was no press coverage even though all of the major networks were informed ahead of time about the demonstrations and the willingness of the farmers to go to jail.

The strategy of the government and the media was to wait the farmers out while giving the public the appearance that the farmers were content with that $50,000. Fortunately, although many of the farmers fell by the wayside and the unity of the Black farm organizations were broken, for a moment, a few of the core activists such as Gary Grant, President of BFAA, kept the struggle alive and focused on the government.

This author, a student of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and the Honorable Louis Farrakhan, knew what to expect of this government. Even though I constantly warned the Black farmers against the schemes of this government, many of them turned a deaf ear and thereby allowed the government to sow seeds of division in the movement.

Black people and in particular Black leadership refuse to accept that white people conspire against Black people all the time. In fact white people conspire against other whites all the time. What would you call the government giving Katrina evacuees $25 on a debit card while telling the public that they got $2,000? What would you call the government increasing "petty cash" expenditures for contractors cleaning up behind Katrina from $2,500 to $250,000? What would you call the American government giving Israel an additional $2.2 billion to pay Jewish settlers $250,000 each to leave illegal settlements in Gaza?

I would advise everyone who considers themselves a part of the movement to take up journalism as a hobby or at least keep a diary. Writing the "Farmer Newsletter" has allowed me to keep up with the events as they unfolded. I had to refer to my notes or articles many times to straighten out those who would try to revise history right in my face.

I am glad that I have in my notes the statement that Attorney Stephon Bowens gave in reference to the written statement of Alexander Pires, the Pigford v. Glickman lead attorney for the farmers. Mr. Pires, a "former" Justice Department lawyer, wrote Federal Judge Paul Friedman that "it would not be in the interest of the government to change the Consent Decree as recommended by the Black farmers." Now when Judge Paul Friedman is nominated for a higher position in the Judicial System, maybe I will come forward and show that he did not fulfill his duty as a judge to ensure that the Black farmers had adequate and ethical legal representation. I thought that the lawyer for the Black farmers was supposed to be working for them instead of their opponent, the USDA.

So the Black farmers did not get justice from the Executive Branch. They did not get justice from the Judicial Branch. Now let us see what the Legislative Branch will do with the "Black Farmers Judicial Equity Act of 2005" and the "Endangered Black Farmer Act of 2005". One thing is certain. If the public does not cry out, the Congress will not act and the mass media will find some bazaar or trivial tidbit to pursue. Therefore BFAA and Muhammad Farms are proud sponsors of the Millions More Movement. We hope to see you in DC on October 15, 2005 so that you can sign our petitions to congress to support these two vital pieces of legislation.

(Drafts of the proposed bills can be viewed at www.MuhammadFarms.com and www.bfaa-us.org)

Books and lectures by Dr. Ridgely A. Mu'min