Malcolm X Statue2

After his spiritual awakening, Malcolm X struggled to get the message of justice to descendants of slaves in the United States. The facts he laid out about their lives were clear and incontrovertible. Descendants of slaves have been treated unjustly by both federal and state institutions from the inception of the United States Government.

Institutionalized social injustice is easy to identify. It is usually articulated in written form. It is when the law intentionally legitimates the practice of economic or educational discrimination against a class of people based upon one or more identifying characteristics like race, religion, national origin, or gender.

The legal remedy for institutionalized social injustice is addressed through the judicial system which includes the national Congress. A court may have state or federal jurisdiction whereas Congress and the Supreme Court have both state and federal jurisdiction under the Constitution. However, if either one or both judicial systems are corrupt then government is urged by a democratic process of voting to change the law but if it does not heed that urge then that government is brought down by political revolution.

The goal of both the democratic process and political revolution is to repeal discriminatory laws. If government responds in favor of justice for all its citizens then discriminatory laws are repealed. Those laws are then replaced by laws which prohibit economic and educational discrimination on the bases of race, religion, national origin, or gender.

Malcolm X addressed another kind of justice, too. He addressed the issue of moral justice. The origin of moral justice may or may not overlap with institutional justice.

Moral justice may be related to institutionalized injustice but moral injustice may also exist when there are no institutional issues at all. Put another way, governmental laws may not discriminate against a class of people based on class, race, national origin, or gender. Nevertheless, one or more groups may find that they are consistently on the short end of the stick when it comes to the distribution of goods in society. Or an individual or group may be singled out for ridicule and physical mistreatment but not as a result of government action.

Again the judicial system may afford any person a legal procedure by means of which he or she can bring a claim against a person in a civil court for a tortuous act committed against him or her. The court then can apply the law in its effort to restore a person or group to a condition of wholeness. But what if a person or group commits a wrongful act against herself or itself? What kind of justice applies in that situation?

That question should lead us to wonder whether there is a broader form of justice at work than what we normally think of. We should wonder whether it is true in our personal lives that our every act and thought trigger effects which come back to us multiplied hundreds of times and which either benefit us or harm us materially, emotionally, and spiritually.  

Many kinds of social problems which are faced by descendants of slaves cannot be addressed by judicial institutions because they are problems which arise from individual and family sentiment. Sentiment in turn is the product of collective fears and attractions and so the choices made within families and the community by individuals is more or less a mirror image of collective sentiments.

What is good for us has value for us in the short and long run. It is what benefits both an individual and his or her family and community. The three dimensions of our lives make up our moral world, a world which is held together by collective sentiments.

What drives collective sentiment and thus individual choices within a family and/or community is fear or attraction. Fear or attraction in relation to others around us and the conscientious application of the cost/benefit ratio in all decision making opportunities we are presented with.

Making choices is an opportunity for each of us to grow because choices present us with a challenge. We either lash out irrationally and retard our growth or are attracted to others and make stronger ties with those in social relation to us.

We make choices understanding that each choice causes some beneficial and some harmful side effects. There is no perfect decision. But there are good ones which add value to our lives.  In the short and/or long run we individually and collectively benefit more than we are harmed.   

In our personal lives, much of what we suffer is the effect of poor decision making within the context of our individual, family, and community relations. That kind of self inflicted harm cannot be remedied in any court of law because the judicial system has a limit to its reach. Beyond that limit it is superseded by a broader system of justice.

There is yet another scale of balance. It is set within each of us, our families, and in our communities. It is precise in its measurements of our actions and the benefit or harms which result from them.  It is indifferent to whether we benefit or are harmed. It is a measure of justice which seesaws up and down on the right pan in opposite relation to the up and down movement on the left pan. It is a scale which is tilted by our actions as well as by our inactions. Descendants of slaves should be very concerned about what harmful acts are being weighed against them today.

Intra-racial murder and disease are the leading causes of death among descendants of slaves in the United States, today. Those facts mean that our individual, family, and community sentiments and the actions which arise from them are more harmful than beneficial to us in the scale of justice. The growth or retardation challenge is tilted against growth and in favor of retardation for descendants of slave.  That is a social fact.

We are now faced with too many children of descendants of slaves who are generally untrained and increasingly irrational in their behavior. That is so because their sentiments have become hateful and their fears are directed toward one another. Yet those sentiments are shaped by the sentiments of the adults who raise them. Negative sentiments are like a contagious disease which is passed over from one generation to the next. Thus, over time we as a community describe in our moral motion a downward spiral with no end in sight.

Is this justice too impersonal, too indifferent to what we have suffered here in the United States that it would allow us to collapse? The answer is yes, it would because we are held solely responsible for our actions under its jurisdiction.  

Even though it seems unfair and cruel on the surface; we are therefore getting what we deserve. By the strict law of necessity, we are getting what we deserve even though many of our youth were in part made to be the monsters they have become not by choice but by conditioned reflex. Nevertheless, it is solely our actions which are counted in our scale of balance.


The wheels of justice turn mechanically throughout the entire universe. Unseen, like the inner gears of a clock, a scale of balance inheres in all things and tips the scales on both the left and the right sides. Thus justice is indifferent to whether or not we understood what we did at the time we committed an act or whether we meant to do a particular act. It simply measures the weight of every act both beneficial and harmful. Both intelligent and ignorant creatures and non-living things are held to the same standard of proportionate justice.

A seagull dives to catch a fish in a lake but it misjudges the depth of the lake. It breaks its neck and dies. Justice has exacted a cost proportionate to the misjudgment and circumstances of the seagull.

An exhausted mother falls asleep. She rolls over onto her newborn infant and smothers it to death. The mother’s intent is irrelevant. Justice will hear no plea for pity from her. No deal can be made with her that will circumvent the dispassionate movement of justice. Her baby is dead and will remain dead forever. Justice has exacted the proportionate costs for both the infant’s suffocation and the mother’s negligence under the circumstances.

One group does not hunt in season and that group starves to death while another group hunts in season and lives. Justice is indifferent to both the pleasurable and the painful consequences which one may gain or suffer. Justice has proportioned merit on the basis of their action and inaction.

One group learns the sentiments of fear, anger, jealousy, hate, and envy toward its family members and others in its community. They kill and steal from each other. That community dies even though they were forced to live impoverished lives in a ghetto because living in a ghetto does not make one act ghetto. Ghetto behavior is a mirror of one’s sentiments.

Another group learns sentiments of attraction and caring for one another and they survive and thrive even though they put the other group in the ghetto subjecting them to abject poverty. Committing wrong on an outside group does not make one act wrong to those in their own group. Their moral world may not collapse if it is held together by strong positive sentiment.

But justice is paradoxical in nature. The paradox is that while it is indifferent to all outcomes it simultaneously demands that you love one another to avoid harm. Love for self, family, and community therefore is the key to your individual, family, and community survival under the rule of proportionate justice.







murder victim

Throughout the United States citizens in large and small cities have been grappling with the problem of ‘black on black’ homicide and violent assaults.  Political conservatives (Republicans) have argued for more police force presence and for increased incarceration while political liberals (Democrats) have argued for stricter gun laws and that education and jobs for the underclass of African American youth be instituted.


Both the conservative and liberal views ignore the fundamental problem faced by all African Americans. That is because their thinking is tied to erroneous ideological assumptions. Their assumptions actually support interests contrary to the interests of the African American community.


Need I even mention the left’s arguments?  They are entirely out of sync with the present problems faced by the African American community today. In fact, who are they? Where are they? Since the demise of labor unions they have become a joke. The left has forgotten Marx’s practicality: “The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways: the point, however, is to change it.”[1]  They are glued daily to ‘Democracy  Now’ where they participate ‘virtual’ revolution like children with joy sticks. Well, look behind you; the plutocrats are standing over you with baseball bats.


The problem is not ideological. The problem in the Black community is a practical cultural one. Practical culture is related to the central or core values which when internalized by a people influence their behavior.  It has nothing to do with moral ideology but rather with behaviors that work to serve the best interests of a group in the short and long term.


No one on the right or on the left has been or is willing to address the issue of practical culture. So neither the conservative or liberal proposals will engender solutions to the violent crime problem in African American neighborhoods.  And it is evident that African Americans as a whole can’t.


What both sides can and have been doing is generating short term economic and political profit or put another way ‘pimpin the problem’ for both partisan and private interests.  That is the ball game they play at the expense of many people who fret for a change for the better in the African American community.  Their pimpin of the problem must stop!



The ‘Black on Black’ homicide and general violent crime rate is positively correlated with the total fertility rate of African American women 15 to 45, inclusive.   The African American total fertility rate now is 1.9 and the trend, starting in 1970, is that it will continue to decrease due to cultural momentum.[2]  Therefore, ‘Black on Black homicide will drastically decrease within 5 and 10 years or by 2023.  Its that simple.


For example, in the city Oakland California the year with the lowest homicide rate over the last forty-four (44) years is 60 in 1999.  Prior to that year, the lowest homicide rate was 66, in 1970.  At no time has the homicide rate in Oakland gone below 60 in 44 years. It has gone as high as 165 in one year.


The average number of homicides in Oakland per year is 109 within a 44 year period beginning in 1969.  Over that same time span the first wave of people born between 1946 and 1964 reached their 15th birthday in 1961 thereafter and for 19 years the number of those aged between 15 and 24 increased until 1979.  In 1988, the last wave of that baby boom generation born in 1964 reached the age of 24.


The United States Bureau of the Census demonstrates that between 1960 and 1975 there was a 25% increase in the population of African Americans aged 15 to 24.  This was the result of a total fertility rate of between 6 to 4.5 babies per African American female with an age range of 15 to 45 years of age between 1946 and 1960. 


You can see the crime rate and the prison incarceration rate of persons coming out of Oakland California start to increase during that very same time period beginning in 1972. It was the result of a conservative political argument called ‘get tough on crime’.


In 1972, the California Department of Rehabilitation started to modify its prisons’ infrastructures for more maximum security inmates. This process began at a time when the politicians in Sacramento had done their math and knew the demographic changes that were coming.  After all, they had blown open the social dike in urban areas that caused the flood of violence.


Evidence in support of my hypothesis is a fact reported in the Contra Costa Times: “…demographic forces reshaping the nation’s inner cities are having a profound effect on Oakland’s schools, particularly those in West Oakland.  Since 2000, the combined enrollment of public, noncharter schools in the area has plunged by more than 60 percent.” The article goes on to state that declines of African American school age children up to 20% have occurred in other cities as well.[3]


Therefore, even if general socio-economic conditions for African Americans remain what they are now or even worsen over the next ten (10) years, I predict that within five (5) to ten (10) years the ‘Black on Black’ homicide rate will drastically decline because of a precipitous decline in the African American total fertility rate and the consequent reduction in persons between the ages 15 to 24, inclusive.  Its too bad that the majority of African Americans are not interested in changing their culture because even though the homicide and violent crime rate will drop on a broader scale it portends an omega moment for African Americans.

[1] Karl Marx, The German Ideology

[2] Definition: Cultural momentum means the collective sentiment of a group and is characterized by measurable group behavior in relation to one or more values by time.

[3] Katy Murphy, Noticeable decline in school-age children in West Oakland, Contra Costa Times, 02/12/2012

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

ec sagging pants

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.

gay men at morehouse ec

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.