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Let’s be clear, you can be a (secular) Black leader and hold religious beLIEfs and values. Take Garvey for example; he was a Christian, but he did not lead as a Christian, his personal religion was not the foundation or even guide for his leadership. Garvey even appointed an atheist (Carlos Cooks) as his predecessor after being exiled from the US cuz it was about the mission, not the religion.
Obama is a religious man, but a secular leader. Kwame Nkrumah was a religious man (a fucking Roman Catholic!), but he was a secular leader. Dr. Ben was a spiritual man but he was a secular scholar. See what I’m getting at? We need a strict separation of Church and Struggle; just like our oppressors were smart enough to separate Church and State. Like I said on the show; “when you allow the religions to take over you end up in the Dark Ages.”
Theocracy is the worst possible form of government, worse than even totalitarian dictatorships. The same holds true for movements and protracted struggles. If we don’t get the delusion and dysfunction that religion breeds outta our struggles we will not win.
I have worked with hundreds of believers, hundreds upon hundreds, and I’ve followed leaders who’ve had religious convictions; but I’ve never, nor would I ever follow a religious leader.
A Religious Leader is a leader who’s religion is the basis of their leadership, they work to bring their followers under their dogma, they use their crazy ass holy books as guidance for their political and economic actions, they think that their fictional gods intervene on their behalf and the behalf of their followers. Religious Leaders are only qualified to lead religions, not political, economic, or military struggles.
MX did put Islam above Black people, that’s why the NOI refused to work with other organizations, they refused to participate in the larger Civil Rights or Black Liberation Struggle. They taught that coming to Islam through the teachings of the Most Honorable Elijah Mohammad and Master Farad Muhammad was the only salvation for Black people. I’ve read MX’s earliest writings and listened to his earliest public speeches; it was all about Islam, not about Pan-African unity; that was not until we elevated above and beyond NOI teachings of that ear.
I would have never followed Malcolm X when he was leading the NOI, or the Harlem Mosque, never. When Malcolm was a religious leader he did continue to learn above and beyond the limitations of his religion; the great Dr. John Henrik Clarke was a personal tutor of MX. So MX eventually elevated his analysis and stratagem.
I would have followed MX when he was leading the OAU (Organization of Afro-American Unity), cuz then he has realized, as I have, that Religious Leaders are not worthy to be political leaders, that religion was disruptive to the Black Liberation Struggle. MX told us that when it’s time to handle the Liberation Work that we needed to “leave our religion up in the closet.” MX evolved from a religious leader into a secular leader and he even articulated the folly of leading people under religious leadership in a interview just prior to his assassination (by religious followers).
We need secular leadership, we need to relegate religious leaders to their churches, mosque, and temples and let them deal with the spiritual health of their flocks and leave the larger struggle those who are more capable.
Those who enslaved and colonized us started the sick tradition of fusing Black political and religious leadership into one; we need to break the cycle, it’s political chitterlings and it’s making us all politically sick and lethargic.