Volume 9, Number 4                                              June 6, 2006

The Farmer


Does Truth Still Matter?

by Dr. Ridgely Abdul Muímin Muhammad

You learn a lot about the mental condition of Black people by approaching them with the Final Call Newspaper. Recently I have run into a rash of similar attitudes centered around "truth". Specifically, when I asked some young Black men if they would like a copy of the Final Call Newspaper, they threw "Jesus" up in my face. One said, "You need to know Jesus?" another said "I donít need that paper because I got Jesus."

Then after a brief debate on scripture and history one of the men said, "Well, truth donít matter" and another one said, "Whatís truth got to do with it?" Of course these statements threw me for a loop and made me wonder if it is worth trying to teach our people. I had to look up the words "truth" and "matter". According to the dictionary "truth" means "the state of being the case: FACT" or "the body of real things, events, and facts: Actuality." "Matter" means "to be of importance." So in other words they were saying that fact or actuality has no importance to them. How could that be unless: one, their physical existence was based on a false reality or they did not care about living anymore?

What is the false reality under which these young men were living? Could their statements be a profound commentary on the state of the American culture?

If their parents were farmers and involved in the Pigford v. Glickman class action lawsuit, then they may have reason to say "truth donít matter". This lawsuit was established to redress the wrongs done by the US Department of Agriculture against Black farmers.

To begin, the Black farmers did not go to court to get $50,000. They initially went to court to stop the foreclosures on about 3,000 farmers. The "Consent Decree" brokered by the farmersí lawyer, a former Justice Department lawyer, was not in the best interest of the farmers and the farmers knew and protested the fact. However, "truth" did not matter to Judge Friedman and he signed this "Consent Decree" which the farmers did not consent to.

The result of this non-farmer-consented "Consent Decree" is that many non-farmers got paid $50,000 and the very farmers whose lands were under the threat of foreclosure had their claims denied. Even today this "Consent Decree" is vaunted as being the largest civil rights suit ever although 40 percent of the claimants were denied and ten of thousands did not hear about the lawsuit until too late.

The Black farmers have been protesting and going to jail in protest but the major news networks have refused to cover the story. On April 26, 2006 the farmers went back to DC behind the old mule "Struggle" and held a rally which again was not covered by the media. On this occasion the farmers were seeking a remedy through the Legislative branch of government since "truth" did not seem to matter to the Executive or Judicial branches.

After the rally some of us met with Representative Cynthia McKinney concerning proposed legislation that would stop foreclosures on the Black farmers in the Pigford case and remove the debt that was illegally forced upon their land by the USDA. The USDA by allowing debt developed through fraudulent and discriminatory means has made land which should be an asset into a liability for the farmer and his family. Now the government is taking these assets by fraud and is acting like it canít see. Again "truth" does not seem to matter to the American government.

Rep. McKinney showed us a proposed bill that she was trying to introduce on the floor of the House. However, to introduce a bill you must have a co-sponsor, so we asked her if someone from the Congressional Black Caucus would be willing to be a co-sponsor. She said something to the effect that having a CBC member as a co-sponsor would not help. Now that was interesting, because then it would seem that she had to get a "white" co-sponsor if her bill was to have any chance of passing. This seems like a "plantation" where the Blacks had power over other Blacks but had to go to "massa" to make any major decisions that would affect the plantation operation.

If a Black congress person has to always get a white congressperson to be a co-sponsor, then what is the value of the Congressional Black Caucus and what is the use of sending more Black representatives to DC if all they can do is beg white folk? Access to power is not power.

Of course these young men that told me that "truth donít matter" probably do not know very much about the Black farmersí lawsuit, but I am sure they know something about the chances of a young Black man getting justice in the criminal justice system in Americus, GA or America in general. I have been to court in Terrell county Georgia and witnessed cases where "truth" did not matter and the white folk did what they pleased in spite of evidence to the contrary.

So these young men live in a country where "truth" does not seem to matter. So what matters? In America money and power seem to trump "truth" all day long. The "law" is used to trap the weak, but is not equally applied to the rich and powerful.

If these young Black men are not living their lives based on "truth" then how are they surviving physically or do they even want to live? How were they getting their food? They could not have been farmers, because as a farmer you must know as much about the truth and reality as possible because one serious mistake and you can go starving. So were they eating at McDonalds or Burger King? Have they not seen "Super Size Me" which exposed the hazards of fast food?

Even if they were surviving off of junk food, how did they get the money to pay for that stuff? Were they pimping, selling drugs, gambling or working on a job where doing things correctly did not "matter"? It is possible that success at pimping, selling drugs or gambling may depend more on deceit and tricknology than "truth", so their attitude of denigrating "truth" may be a part of their profession.

Soon after these incidents I read an article by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan called "Breaking our covenant with Death." In this article he states "We have already made an agreement with hell and that is why hell is in our lives. We have made an agreement with death and that is why death is in our communities."

So "truth" still matters, but a young Black manís life in America may matter no more. Truth only has value to those who wish to live and are willing to do what truth dictates in a particular matter. Jesus is quoted as saying, "And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free." He did not say "set" you free, for that would imply that your freedom was dependent on someone granting you freedom. He said "make" because you have to do something yourself. However, if you are afraid to act on the "truth", then for a short while truth may not matter. But in the universe of reality "Truth" will have the last word.

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