FROM THE BOOK: THE SYLLABUS OF MALCOLM X, by Dr. Steven Nur Ahmed

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NUMBERS IN THE MIND’S EYE

The fabric of nature is sewn and held together by numbers.  At night and above the prison yard there must have been times when Malcolm viewed a clear sky revealing to him a majestic display of stars.  And now, and of all places in a prison without any haze to obstruct his view, he must have appreciated the dazzling colorful full spectrum splendor of star light.  He must have understood his infinitesimal smallness in relation to the universe.  How so much less time he had to live when compared to the burning stars and countless planets which litter the night sky.  And even how so much of the star light he saw was but the legacy of stars that had long burned out; yet, though burned out they had been stars which had burned so bright that billions of lights years away they would be known to conscious and sentient creatures to have once existed.

They each had their measured times, distances, velocities, amounts of heat disbursed into cold dark matter, lengths of cycles, and measurable mass. Finally, all of it is intellectually understandable and can be expressed logically in geometrical and numerical form as equations, inequalities, averages, ratios, and proportions on the canvas of the mind’s eye.  A legacy is but a snapshot of an immeasurably short moment.

Malcolm X did not want to die in prison and have his legacy etched as prison graffiti on prison walls. So, to avoid dying in prison and to become the master of his legacy he decided that from thence forward the steps he took would be increasingly measured steps not erratic ones.  He fathomed the meaning of the statement: “to measure is to know”.  While in Charlestown State Prison Malcolm followed the batting average of Jackie Robinson saying that: “…no game ended without my refiguring his average up through his last at bat…” He realized the necessity of arithmetic and its application to solve problems so that he could know where he stood in the moment.

The fact that Malcolm X could refigure Jackie Robinson’s batting average on a daily basis means that Malcolm X knew how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide. To calculate the average of a set of numbers requires the practical application of each arithmetic operation.  His ability to do so is a learned skill driven by the power of logical thinking. He could grasp the theoretical nature of the arithmetic operations and each operations relation to the other.  This leads to another question.

What did Malcolm really know as a result of ‘refiguring?’ Was it simply an average? Or is the implication more fundamental and having to do with the two arithmetical operations adding and subtracting as well as their two sub-alternate operations of multiplying and dividing? In order to get at the answer to that question, let’s go back to his walks around the yard.

Thousands of inmates walking the circuit of the yard for decades must have worn it into a deep trench. It is that beaten path on the yard which shapes their thoughts as the banks of a river give shape to a meandering stream of water. And like the banks of a stream of water it directs the flow of their thinking in relation to their mindscapes. As one walks that beaten path one’s thoughts and conversations pour forth and are molded by it as liquid poured into a mold. Therein some thoughts become heavy and sink while others become lighter and levitate. Such thoughts thus freed from the weight of stress fly free of gravity and then focused downward can see the never ending circle of the yard and the utter futility of those moving around and around it.  Naturally one so freed wants to know the circumference of the circle that held his body and mind and which like a boa constrictor with ever tightening grip around its victim slows the pulse of its victim until the victim dies.

The circumference of a circle, its area, its diameter, and Pi; all are needed to calculate. Those are all characteristics of the yard that one needs to know if one is to escape the never ending route and the deepening trench cut into the circuit of the yard which ties everyone together and which will eventually bury everyone on it.  Along with those figures are methods in the form of equations which are necessary to get precise answers as to why one is going in a circle.

Observing the circular path of the yard Malcolm X must have imagined its composition.  He must have figured out that by use of kite string and a mental compass he could by extending it from one point on the circle to its opposite side draw with a compass four intersecting curves and that by reversing the method he could do the same to the lateral sides of the circle thus drawing four other intersecting curves. And that then he could precisely connect the four intersecting points with straight lines through to the middle of the circle; that would give him the precise center of the circle.  He would have then seen that the radius = ½ D or the diameter divided by 2.

Assuming the yard is a circle, the circumference of the yard is a necessary figure to know. A perfect circle divided by two intersecting lines at its center and creating four quadrants would have been obvious once he imagined the diameter. But how could he measure the length of the diameter and circumference of the yard?  Perhaps he would have measured in feet since he was walking.  There are 5,280 feet in a mile. Assume the yard circuit is a mile. So, the length of the circumference of the yard equals 5,280 feet.  After that he would have needed the diameter.  Let’s say that Malcolm took a short cut by walking across the circuit of the yard instead of around it.  His walk would have described its diameter.  Let’s say that he figured the number of feet as he walked and concluded that it was 1,680.62 feet.  He now had two important figures: the circumference of a circle at 5,280 feet and the diameter at 1,680.62 feet.  Malcolm was now ready to figure something very big. He was about to discover Pi.

First he would have wanted to figure out what percent of the circumference of a circle the diameter is. It would have been a fraction of the circumference: 1680.62/5280 or approximately 32%. So, the decimal .3182 of any circumference is equivalent to its diameter.  Next, he would have noted that the ratio of the circumference of 5,280 feet to the diameter of 1680.62 equals 3.1416. Malcolm had found Pi: 3.1416. He would have simply divided the circumference of a circle by the diameter. Pi is constant. It is always the quotient of the circumference divided by the diameter expressed as a percent of the circumference.

In Egypt it was first calculated as the ratio of 256:81. Pi is the mathematical constant which opens the door to figuring out the circumference and area of any circle. It would help Malcolm understand his inner relation to all things. The core of the earth, planets, sun, other stars, the cells in his body and the magnetic fields which cut through their centers all spoke to him of his inner alignment with the universe. Do you see the patterns?  Malcolm couldn’t and you will not break free from the space which confines your body without first knowing the measurement of the space which occupies you. Yes, ‘the space which occupies you’ because the space which imprisons your thinking is proportional to the space which confines your body. Incarceration is a state of mind.  Malcolm X had crossed the yard; he had gotten off the beaten path.  He smiled. The sky was clear. Malcolm could now see forever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FROM THE BOOK: THE SYLLABUS OF MALCOLM X, by Dr. Steven Nur Ahmed

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Visions in the Darkness of the Hole

At Concord State Prison, Malcolm had what is called an epiphany. An epiphany is a moment of deep insight.  While at Concord State Prison he suddenly realized that he lacked basic academic skills in arts, letters, and science.  While looking at a letter he had written to one of his brothers he decided to compare it to an earlier one he had written and concluded that the latest letter was even more poorly written than the first letter. Malcolm had a sudden realization of truth; he needed to start the learning process. He had accepted the advice from ‘Bimbi’ (Friend), but only Malcolm could go within himself and begin the hard work of self discovery.

The kind of self-criticism which Malcolm experienced is an indicator of personal growth.  He wasn’t fearful of accepting his defects whatever they were and they were many.  It was as though Malcolm stood outside himself and looked at what he saw objectively.  With no denial response, he recognized where he needed to begin work on himself to improve himself.  That is where real lasting change begins. It begins within yourself.

Maybe for a moment Malcolm felt sad. Maybe he even felt depressed because of what he saw. What he saw in himself was a socially disabled person who was unable to live a meaningful life.  What he saw was Malcolm Little, a convict, a loser; dependent upon the state as a criminal for his food, clothing, and shelter. If you’re in prison, then right now you are a loser, too, and if you don’t change you’ll remain a loser; you’ll be dependent for the rest of your life. But despite your present conditions you can become a winner. You can become socially able to be a meaningful contributor to your family and your neighborhood.

If you’ve ever lost any contest be it a track race; a competition for a job; a competition for another person’s love; a contest with yourself to learn a skill; then you know what losing feels like. Nobody feels good after having lost a contest. Loosing is painful; in the extreme it could even result in death. But at the moment you’re feeling the pain of loss you’ve got to also feel something else; you’ve got to feel the urge to live. That urge must be greater than the impulsive fear to quit. Either you’ll never try again by wandering into a crowd never to be heard from again or you’ll find the start line and get on the mark so that you can contest again.

What is it that makes some people seemingly oblivious to the pain of loss and who despite their losses and the pains associated with loss they try and try and try again and again?  Whereas others peel over due to the pain of loss then wander into a crowd and disappear?  The answer is that the one who gets back to the start line has both love and mental calm. That one perceives correctly that one loss does not equal a lost life. Conversely, the quitter is overwhelmed by the anxieties caused by past pains he or she has experienced and looses the enthusiasm and motivation to try and try again.  They perceive their loss as total and conclusive; they run away from the field of contest in fear.

Enthusiasm, motivation, and fearlessness are the forces which drive one’s sentiment for self dignity and the will to succeed. That self dignity makes him or her act in ways which serve their best interests. One who fears will never dare to fight and one who lacks enthusiasm and motivation will lack passion for the fight.  Malcolm had enthusiasm, motivation, and fearlessness but they had been misdirected through his role as ‘Detroit Red’.  As though in a stage play, he was neither the writer of his script nor the director of his actions, but he thought he was. He thought wrong. He was making decisions but he wasn’t making good decisions.  As a consequence of thinking poorly and making poor decisions, Malcolm deteriorated both psychologically and physically. He put himself in the gutters of inner city drama and quagmires. Once there, he could not get himself out.  Malcolm was human waste.  Eventually, he was flushed out of the gutter and into the prison system.

Now, in prison, the moniker of ‘Detroit Red’ was snatched from him. With no direction, the bare naked truth stared back at him off of his cell wall. What he saw was ‘nothing’ reflected back.  He was now to play the role of convict. Instead of being known by a street moniker he would be just another number.  But his inherent fearlessness and passion spewed upward to reinvigorate his sentiment for self dignity. This time, however, he would write his own script and he would direct his actions in ways to serve his best interests. That new role for Malcolm was the role of student and his script would now be written by his own hand.

ARE YOU IN THE HOLE?

Your lives are analogous to the life of Malcolm.  Many of you reading this book have a street moniker or a nick name. It is supposed to characterize your strengths and that your game in ‘the life’ is tight. It is supposed to get respect for you.  But in reality the moniker you have is an oxymoron.  An oxymoron is a self contradictory word. Think about it.  Your moniker doesn’t characterize your true self because you don’t know your true self.  You haven’t begun to develop that which is your true self.  How can a ‘street’ name characterize your strengths as a man or woman? How can it typify your potentials as a human being?  The fact is that it can’t.

You have been acting on a very narrow stage designed by powerful institutions and people who have corralled you into limited psychological, social, and economic spaces.  All that has been made available to you are contrary and contradictory roles which ‘misfit’ you into those limited social and economic spaces.  Those conditions are meant to stunt your inner and outer growth and cause you to feel pain and maybe escape that pain through the use of narcotics, cocaine, or alcohol.

On the famous temple of Luxor in Ipet Resyt, in the country of Kemet, on the continent of Africa (Thebes, presently called Egypt) 1400 years before the birth of Jesus and a thousand years before the rise of Greek philosophy there is written in hieroglyphics: ‘Man Know thyself.’ In order for you to know yourself you must have a master teacher who turns you within and then triggers the process of learning.  True knowledge begins with an inner vision of one’s self. No human being can trigger the inner awakening to such kind of Supernatural knowledge.  Only the master teacher who is a Supernatural being can do it. That entity does it by syncing the student’s mind with the Supernatural Mind.  Was Malcolm’s mind put in synchronicity with the Supernatural Mind?

Malcolm states that he had a vision in prison. He states that when he was in ‘the hole’( solitary confinement) he would picture himself talking to large crowds. He called them pre-visions.  The Master Teacher begins the learning process of the student with inner visions.   It was a vision of the mind’s eye which Malcolm had.  Malcolm’s mind’s eye was opened by the master teacher to his true supernatural nature and thus to the truth. Malcolm thus began his long life process of unfolding his predetermined destiny into space and time by hard intellectual and physical work.  From that point onward, every word he spoke and his every act in relation to others would be a pouring forth of what was designed in the Supernatural to be acted out in a natural context.

THE MASTER TEACHER

Different cultures have had different names for the master teacher.  In Kemet, the master teacher was called Ptah. It was Ptah who opened the mind’s eye of Im-ho-Tep (2650-2600 B.C.) to mathematics, engineering and medicine. In ancient Greece, the same master teacher was called Daemon; that one was the informer of the philosopher, Socrates.  Also, the Greek noun ‘Paraclete’ is the Informing Mind, the ‘mind’ that was in the mind of Jesus of Nazareth as it was said: “Let this mind be in you that was also in Christ, Jesus.” For the Prophet Muhammad Ibn Abdullah that one is called Jabril who ordered him to ‘Read’.

But the name of the Master Teacher in whatever language spoken is not important beyond what is needed to communicate the ideas to others.  Rather what is important is that the very same Informing Mind is active today in the unified human mindscape to inform you, too. For, as the natural worlds of space and time in uncountable dimensions are held in sync by the laws of physics and chemistry, so it is that The One Mindscape is held in sync with all minds by the Laws of Thought.  This is reducible to two simple premises: 1) That Mind is Truth and 2) Participation in Truth is Mindfulness.

The process of learning the truth is both exciting and frustrating. Learning the truth is frustrating because one must work against the gravity of one’s own ignorance multiplied by the ignorance of all those around you who reject the truth. That is like a heavy weight pressing against one’s body, mind, and soul. It was frustrating for Malcolm.  He says that he could not express himself clearly even though on the ‘streets’ he was articulate in slang.  But now, in prison, he realized he was inarticulate and dysfunctional when it came to communicating his ideas in a formal manner.  He was surrounded by those who spoke illogically and in slang.

But learning is also exciting. Despite all the many adversities he faced, Malcolm began to structure his thinking, writing, and speaking skills. He began with the letter ‘A’ and by the time he had finished his study of the dictionary at the last word ‘zygote’ of the letter ‘Z’ he had achieved a milestone in his quest to learn the skills necessary to become a social contributor and icon for his community.  You can do it, too. Wherever you are get a dictionary. Start copying it by hand on tablet paper.  You’ve got to start now!  Open your mind to the Master Teacher.

 

 

IT’S THEIR DEMEANOR, STUPID, by Dr. Steven Nur Ahmed

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I was born in Oakland, CA. Except for a year in Chicago, Illinois, and a year in Mississippi where I did not attend school, I went to schools in Oakland.
Like many baby boomers, sometimes I become nostalgic and I yearn to see old neighborhoods which remind me of early life experiences and childhood friends. So, one morning I decided to spent a morning driving around Oakland. My parents graduated from McClymonds High School in the 1940s, so I started there in West Oakland.

I drove through many of my old neighborhoods. I saw the places where my family had lived. I drove from 12th and Peralta in west Oakland; around down town, around Lake Merritt to Durant street in East Oakland and then into Sobrante Park below what was once called East 14th street but which is now called International Blvd. That area has long been referred to by many as the flats.

In so many ways Oakland is not the same city. But I understand that cities change. I understand that the character of a city is not itched in stone. I understand that cities are driven like individuals to adapt to new ways of doing things; of new ways of making a living which makes it able to get at the things it needs to thrive.

As I drove it was impossible for me not to compare and contrast the many aspects of old neighborhoods and the people who live in them now with those who lived in my youth.

Poor money circulation, like poor blood circulation in the body will cause body parts to rot and die, causes neighborhoods to rot and die. Gradually, my nostalgia gave way to a deep sadness. I saw that a once bustling industrial hub in West Oakland and running from Fruitvale Avenue to 105th avenue and some parts of Brookville Village through San Leandro Blvd. was gone. I reminisced on the many entry level industrial jobs which were available for me my relatives and friends when we graduated from high school and which gave to us employment without a degree and which trained us on the job.

I also noticed hundreds of empty dilapidated small business spaces along a once thriving international Blvd. extending through East Oakland past Havenscourt Blvd. to 105th avenue.

I realized that today those job opportunities no longer exist for thousands of Oakland citizens living along the old industrial hub of the city. I understand that those industries are never coming back. I understand that there is a different kind of poverty in Oakland now than what was there when I was a child. It is a kind of permanent material poverty for too large a percentage of the population. It is a kind of poverty without hope.

I can reflect back now and understand that the economic decline of Oakland began in the 1950s. That its decline was in part a racist reaction to the mass migration of African Americans into the city at about that time. Most African Americans lived in the auditorium projects which occupied the land upon which now sits Jack London Square and the immediately surrounding area west of the 880 freeway.

I learned that 100,000 Caucasians fled the city out of fear of African Americans within 10 years and that gradually, over the next 20 years, the large industries followed them. From West Oakland to Durant Street at the old General Motors plant in East Oakland, both of those groups took money with them causing the city tax revenue stream to evaporate.

Eventually by the mid 1990s, thousands of government jobs had been lost because the Army and Naval bases closed and so the two largest employers of women and African American women in particular were gone, too.

That meant even less revenue for the City of Oakland because besides the incomes lost by families, small businesses were unable to survive with such a massive loss of surplus cash flow in the city. I went to the East-Mont Mall on 73rd avenue and Bancroft.

I was at the mall when it opened in 1970. At that time it had upper scale small retailers and major retailers. But today it is like a marker showing how low the money tide has fallen. It is a dead mall. Like a pool with no water in it, the stains of higher water levels forever etched on its sides are symbols of better times in the past.

Oakland Unified Schools District and Oakland Parks and Recreation suffered economic setbacks, too. For as long as I attended schools OUSD and OPR worked in conjunction to provide after school and summer on campus recreational activities for children in the neighborhoods. That included summer camp. By the mid 70s the schools started to show signs of infrastructural decay and slowly Oakland could no longer afford to hire college students who served as the after school recreational directors. The losers were the children.

Though the economy was shrinking the populations was remaining constant. The demand for jobs and for opportunities was not shrinking with the industrial base of the city and the city tax revenue. People were operating on what Oakland was and not what it was becoming.

As I drove, my attention then changed to the demeanor of the people. A people’s demeanor is in many ways an expression of culture in the broadest sense of the word. I understand cultures change. They usually change in relation to religious novations and/or technological development. But neither of these aspects of culture had met those two conditions.

In Oakland, religious institutions are set within the same 3000 year old paradigms. African Americans are still trying to make themselves into Jews or some form of Roman Christian or going back to ancient Egypt or some other brand of Middle Eastern or Asian dogma. They do not have the foresight to see that they are running head long into profound and mind altering scientific discoveries as well as a new spiritual paradigm which have already started to change the general mindscape of humanity to newer and higher levels of consciousness. They are on the losing end of the stick and there is no way to help them out of their self imposed crypt.

Also, as I stated above, industries have left the city, so no industrial innovations have taken the place of the old ones. So, I mused: what has caused a change in the demeanor of the people?

I narrowed it down to several factors. I identified drugs, media, and state prison. I identified drugs because I remember Oakland before cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine use had been popularized. That was prior to 1966.
Slowly, I saw the use of those three drugs spread to youthful segments of the population which were not part of the criminal ‘fast life’, especially women. They were promoted as recreational drugs.

I noticed that the increase in the use of those drugs opened up a multimillion dollar pipeline flowing out of neighborhoods all over the city. Addiction to those drugs and the further economic impoverishment of families marked a significant change in the demeanor of the people. Generally, people started to look ragged and unclean in their personal appearance. Even more, they seemed not to care. Then I noticed a sharp increase in the incarceration rate and prison construction in California.

The war on drugs was rebooted under the Nixon administration in 1970. It was associated with the prison construction boom in California and the arrest and incarceration rates of large numbers of people in Oakland for mostly petty drug offences. The war on drugs also increased the number of people who chose careers in corrections as correctional officers as well as it resulting in a state private contract boom which awarded billions of state tax dollars to private corporations to build, maintain, and supply state prisons. Oakland’s minority populations were hit the hardest by the war on drugs. Their arrest and incarceration numbers increased year by year as the feedback loop between Oakland and the state prison system became stronger and stronger.

So I did find that industrial innovation was driving cultural change. But it wasn’t making the kind of useful products one normally thinks of; products which grow wealth in a community. It was the prison industry. It was making people into useless entities as it took them in for its raw material by the hundreds of thousands as though Oakland was a colonial plantation or as a parasitical leech sucks the blood out of a weakened helpless creature. Its effect would be and is a total change in the demeanor of the people reflecting prison life but now rooted in neighborhoods.

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This I noticed is most reflected in the young men. Their pants pulled down low under the buttocks; their unkempt appearance; their low education level; their imprecise speech patterns; and, their unemployment because of having a felony record or just simply not wanting to work at a low paying job is just the surface of a deeply rooted prison ethos that now plagues the city of Oakland. It is a moral disaster zone.

As I drove around with my window down I could hear music blasting from cars to my left and right. I reflected on two stations which from the 1940s up to the 1980s thrived in Oakland. KDIA and KSOL radio stations played to a base of African American listeners. Blues, jazz, and soul music was what I heard. On Sundays, I’d hear programs which aimed at enriching the listeners with news, philosophy, history, art, religion, and an opportunity to call in and express public opinion.

That has all changed now. Those stations are off the air. There are no African American radio stations, but there is a media which promotes a kind of music which does generate for it billions of dollars in profits each year although none of that money finds its way back into Oakland communities. Additionally, the music is generally negative for the sake of being negative. The lyrics include words such as nigger, bitch, etc. Children know the lyrics by memory. Parents play it in the home and sing along with their children. It is a comprehensive media brainwashing tactic which has brought about such a change in the psychological demeanor of the people that it is now impossible to reverse it.

The Hip-hop/Rap media growth is directly correlated with increase in cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine use, the rise of the prison industrial complex and their combined effect upon the psychological demeanor of the people. I finally thought, wow, yet another way to siphon money from poor people and to keep them physically weak and psychologically down at the same time. It is the physical control of the mind by drugs plus by sound plus by words plus by isolation plus by time.

In fact when I think about it it’s as though whole neighborhoods have been converted from rational people to a complex of instinctual impulses triggered on queue by all the stimuli set up around them; sound, sugar, salt, fat, denigrating words, self loathing styles, etc, like Ivan Pavlov’s famous dog experiment was able to trigger the dog’s brain to foam at the mouth by the sound of a bell.

I realized then that the most pressing issue in Oakland is no longer ‘civil rights’ it’s ‘clearing the mind’ because if you ‘clear the mind’ civil rights will follow.

I decided to stop my tour of Oakland. I had had enough. Honestly, it was making me sick. Maybe I’ll do another tour some other day when I’m feeling better and nostalgic again.