Leader of Nation of Islam, David Muhammad, expressed his dismay of institutionalized racism in his new book, Black Studies – The Black Mind Revolution.
Muhammad is a Trinidadian international lecturer and broadcaster for Black Agenda Project; a national organization whose aim is to educate African peoples throughout the diaspora. Although Muhammad wrote Black Studies last year, he said he has plans to launch the book in the United States before 2017. The book highlights the social progression and hardships of black people.
Its a massive void based on omission of relevant information for African students, exclaimed Muhammad. There are so many missing educational programmes.
Muhammad attributed the obstacles to African peoples mental freedom throughout the diaspora to censorship by the government.
He said, The void of education is in the hands of people in power. If they do not provide our African people with knowledge, we would remain ignorant.
Although Trinidad and Tobago gained its independence over half a century ago, Muhammad believes Afro-Trinidadians were not far removed from prejudices from other ethnicities in order to maintain social strata.
Because of Trinidads unique history with having a multiethnic society, racism has a norm with society, said Muhammad. Historically, African people in Trinidad have been subjected to being the victim of all forms of racism, he said.
English major at University of West Indies, Jillene Gordon, 20, believes racism is prevalent in Trinidad today.
Although [Trinidad] is a melting pot of religions, cultures, and races, many people still acknowledge differences by race. People tend to associate political views as a reflection of ones race. It may be a subconscious thing, but its prevalent. It leaves me wondering if divide and rule [theory] will ever be left in the past, said Gordon.
Black Studies not only illustrates the effects of shackle slavery, but it also explores the psychological effects internalized racism has caused. The book also goes in depth with vernacular associated with black people and the history preceding it.
He surmised that media is often used as an integral part in the process to disenfranchise blacks.
Rio Claro resident, Keston Paul, 24, believes racism is disguised in Trinidadian media outlets.
Politics is mostly divided by race, said Paul. Media hides it by trying to make jokes about race. Some people dont notice it, but its very obvious there are racial tensions. [Education on black achievement] is quite limited, too. We learn more East Indian heritage.
Even though the book primarily focuses on the social-economic agenda in the Caribbean and Africa, it discusses intra-racism within the black community in America, too.
Muhammad adds, Media perpetuates negative imagery for black youth followed by stereotyping and profiling. Black youth see themselves negatively and other ethnic groups also begin to stereotype [blacks].
There is a growing concern in communities across Trinidad for the escalation in profiling of black Muslims.
In a survey of 15 university students, nearly 40% believed that black Muslims are subjected to profiling solely based on their race. The latter believe they are profiled because of their religion.
I am Muslim, Muhammad remarked. Islam is a religion of peace, freedom, justice, and equality. Muslims have a keen sense of justice and they dont just stand up for [justice], they fight for it. The religion is used as a label for any crime committed by a person who follows the religion, but no other religion is labeled with a crime. For that reason, you find Muslims in a confrontational condition with society.
Lorraine Trimm, a 5th grade teacher at Roberto Clemente Public School in Brooklyn, said she advises parents to teach their children about institutionalized racism on television programs.
In St. Lucia and the Caribbean on a whole, its obvious that children start mentally putting themselves into social classes based on whos family has a better job, said Trimm Usually its the lighter skinned people. But its in America, too. Its in the cartoons. They make fun of Muslims and blacks the most.
While the book covers the negative social affects multiple forms of racism have on blacks and other ethnic groups, it is juxtaposed with the vast accomplishments of black people worldwide. Muhammad said if black youth are provided with a stable household, they will most likely be able to withstand the subservient stereotypes. He also said black political activists like Marcus Garvey would be proud of the rapid social and political progression of the black community throughout the diaspora.
Former Rio Claro native who now resides in New York City, Brenton Edwards, 22, believes the social perception is a pillar upholding institutional racism.
Edwards said, When I moved to America, I realized Trinidad was not a racist [country]. I witnessed racial conduct in Trinidad, but its more prejudicial. The United States is racist. A book on black achievement and addressing the psychological effects of slavery will show black people where they came from and non-blacks can be educated on [the struggle blacks] went through.
Muhammad believes all creeds and ages can benefit from his book, despite its complex context.
Traditional racism is not used, but institutional racism is very much present, said Muhammad. The book is for everyone. It covers a vast majority of tertiary-level sociology courses, but everyone can learn from it.