Barbados' Nation Newspaper Interview with the Honorable Minister Louis FarrakhanBy the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan | Last updated: Dec 11, 2012 - 12:06:16 AM
[Editor’s note: The following article contains edited excerpts from an interview conducted by Gercine Carter of Barbados’ Nation Newspaper with the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan on Wednesday, November 28, 2012.]
In The Name of Allah, The Beneficent, The Merciful.
Interviewer Gercine Carter for Barbados’ Nation Newspaper (NATION NEWS): I’m going to begin by asking you: “What’s the purpose of this visit to The Caribbean?”
The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan (HMLF): As I’m approaching 80 years of age, and not knowing how much time is in front of me, because of my Caribbean roots and all that the Caribbean has given to my life, I felt it absolutely necessary that I come one more time to leave something that may possibly live after I am gone.
That “something” being what young people and those who are responsible for the future of these Caribbean nations could look at, listen to and piece apart to see if there is guidance for the future of not only Barbados, but the Caribbean as a region.
NATION NEWS: Yours has been “A Voice for The Upliftment of The Black Man” for decades. What is your message in this regard to the Caribbean, on this what you think may be your “farewell visit”?
HMLF: I see the Caribbean being “marginalized.” I see the strength of the Caribbean economically being weakened for it is the nations of the Caribbean that literally gave more in terms of contributions to the British economy that built Great Britain than any other of the possessions Britain had in the world.
It is the West Indies that was rich in sugar cane and bananas, in nutmeg and spices—all the things that the West Indies produced for Britain or, for Portugal, Spain or France. But now that we are becoming independent, these industries that once made money for others are no longer making money for us. And as the Caribbean is such a magnificently beautiful area, everyone in the world who talks about “paradise” wants to come here! And the closest they can get to “paradise” in the Western Hemisphere is the beautiful sun, sand and sea of the Caribbean.
Today, however, with the University of The West Indies educational system in 18 English-speaking countries and territories, as well as other related institutions of learning throughout the whole of the Caribbean, the questions that we must answer are “What are we learning?” and “Where do we go after we learn?”
Out of those who receive a tertiary education, 85-86 percent leave the Caribbean after they graduate, taking the richness of their learning to the United States, the United Kingdom and other parts of the world. But there is no appropriate industry developing in the Caribbean that would make use of the skills that they learn in college and so the Caribbean, now, is more “service-oriented.” The “service-oriented” industry is fine; however, if we don’t have industry beyond “tourism,” or if we are not in the business of supplying what tourists come to the West Indies to have, then we as a people go down economically while those who own the hotels and the things that cater to the tourists become wealthy.
We are finding that foreigners own some of the best land in the West Indies, because they buy up what we once had. Why is that? Yes, they are helping us to build airports and seaports, and establish electricity in needed places, but the burden of debt sometimes is so great from our entering into contractual business arrangements with them. Since there has been a downturn in tourism since 2008, if we don’t have some other back up for our foreign exchange, then we begin to slow down in the service that we give to those who depend on us.
I am afraid that if we continue on this path, the West Indies will be, again, a place where the masses of Black people will be servants of others and not masters of our own destiny.
With regard to my coming back to the Caribbean “one more time,” it’s not that I have a “death wish” of any kind. But, you never know what tomorrow brings; and this is why the scripture teaches us that when you say “I’ll see you tomorrow,” you should always say, “God Willing.” This is because we don’t know tomorrow, and we must act today like today is the last day, and do everything we can.
I am grateful to God, because the cancer I suffered from almost killed me. But evidently, God had some more work for me to do, and He won’t call me in until I’m finished.
I have roots in The Caribbean: My mother was from St. Kitts, my grandmother from Nevis, my father from Jamaica, and my stepfather from Barbados. Having grown up in Boston, Massachusetts, in a West Indian community, attending St. Cyprian Episcopalian Church, and having a musical background in “Calypso,” the Caribbean is so close to my heart.
My father was a follower of the Honorable Marcus Garvey, while my mother was on the fringe of the movement. And even though I was not reared by my father, my mother taught me as a child these nationalistic principles that Mr. Garvey taught. My uncle was also a follower of Mr. Garvey, and he also shared those principles with me. So I don’t think I would be who I am, what I am, where I am, if the Caribbean did not have that kind of powerful influence in my life.
We would not be who we are in America if it were not for the great scholars of the Caribbean that came and nurtured us. So now we want to “return the favor” by coming back to the Caribbean that gave us so much, and leave something of value.
I want to see this region rise and become the great power that its potential denotes.
NATION NEWS: Has anything changed in Louis Farrakhan of the ’60s, and the Minister Farrakhan of 2012?
HMLF: Well, all of us grow; all of us evolve. I could never say that I am “completely” the same as what I was when I first started on this Journey, but my basic Teaching has never changed: I’m consistent in my love of Black people, and I am consistent in my desire to see Black people free and really “independent.” But yes, there’s also “growth” in another way, because whereas I was so nationalistic in the ’60s with my focus being “Black, Black, Black, and more Black,” as one matures you realize there are more people in the world than just us.
But, I have to be concerned about us first—and that should not minimize my concern for others who suffer throughout the world.
After The Million Man March, which was an event that only God could have inspired me to call, and only God could have touched the hearts of nearly two million Black men to answer that call, I decided that I had to go throughout the world to represent Black men in America not as the savage killers, robbers, dope dealers, gang bangers and hustlers that Hollywood was causing the world to see of us in movies like Colors, New Jack City and Menace II Society. This is because once the world saw us portrayed in this manner, if the U.S. government felt we were their Achilles Heel and moved to do harm to us in a major way, there would be no outcry in the world. So after the Million Man March, where these Black men stood shoulder-to-shoulder for 14 hours on The National Mall and there was no crime, no fighting, and no violence, we hoped that if we could do that for one day, we could do it for a week, we could do it for a month, and we could do it for a lifetime! … All of this was positive. But I’m sad to say that there are those who benefit from our ignorance and our disunity.
The thought that nearly two million Black men answered The Call of a Muslim caused some of my Christian Family to say, “This should never happen again!” Some White Christians and some Black Christians took to the airwaves calling me the anti-Christ and all these kinds of names. This was a pushback against the good that had come from the Million Man March.
During our travels afterward, we visited 36 countries wherein I was treated as a head of state. And when Black people, and Asians, Africans and Arabs throughout the world saw the Unity of what they saw at the Million Man March, when we visited their countries they looked at us as the possible political force that could help change some foreign policies of our government that ill-affect the Caribbean, Central and South America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
And so it was very positive around the world, but we have strong opposition—as we have it here, in the Caribbean. We do not realize how much our unity seems to threaten those who take advantage of our disunity.
This morning I had a meeting with a very prominent banker, and we talked about privatizing because I was concerned about the West Indies losing some of the national wealth of the countries to private interests. He gave me insight in this way: “Well, (privatizing) is not necessarily ‘bad,’ because if outside interests build the airport, build the harbor, they own a certain part of that; and then the government, instead of building their own airport, building their own harbor, can use what money is available to increase the standard of living of their people.” The brother also said to me: “You know the devil is always in the details … and we creamed [messed up] in the process.”
The problem is many times when we sit across the table from wise business people that have money, we are not their equal. So if we are not skillful enough to look at the details of contractual arrangement, the smart crooked deceiver can run away with the wealth of our nations. And this is why many of our smaller nations who are not as equipped in experience and in the powers of negotiating the best possible contracts for our nation get hurt; and, we are losing.
So our message to the Caribbean is Barbados is beautiful, but she can’t stand alone. St. Kitts & Nevis is beautiful, but with only 50,000 people, you can’t stand alone.
NATION NEWS: So the message is unity?
HMLF: The Message is The Unity of The Whole Caribbean. Not just the nations of The Caribbean, but a political union where instead of this being a “nation,” it becomes a state in a federated union of all of the Caribbean—which then gives all our students a place to go to practice what they learn!
We can develop the raw materials under our feet! Our unity will give us the power to make the Caribbean the base for regional power.
And when you think not just of those islands in the Caribbean that are kissed by the Caribbean … You look at Guyana, you look at Suriname, you look at Venezuela, you look at Columbia; then you go across and you look at Panama, Costa Rica, Belize, Honduras, Guatemala: Black people are all in these areas, but they speak Spanish. So now we have a duty to learn Spanish, because the Children of Africa are in places that they only speak Spanish. There are also French-speaking Blacks from Africa, so we don’t want to leave Haiti, or the Dominican Republic out! And we have 80 million Sons and Daughters of Africa in Brazil where they speak Portuguese. They’re not foreign to us because we speak English—they are ours! Our children have to be multilingual so we can unite the Caribbean.
But our disunity sentences us to economic weakness; and in some cases, economic death.
NATION NEWS: My final question, what’s next for Minister Farrakhan?
HMLF: Well, until God calls me in, I want to work as hard as I can to reach youth, because after The Million Man March they stopped me, and those who are with me, from going into Black colleges, universities, talking to our young people.
The reason I’m in these colleges and universities now is because I won’t take any money; we, out of our own pocket, pay to go into these institutions of learning. On this trip through the Caribbean, nobody has given us a dime.
Out of the charity that the people give me, I say: “I must spend it to get a Message to the people of the Caribbean, to the youth in our colleges, so that The Future will be better than The Past.” Whether I live to see it or not, it’s irrelevant! I must do my part, as those before me did their part; and I am standing on their shoulders.
And I hope that there will be young people, and I know we’ve produced a lot, that will stand on my shoulders, and go beyond.
NATION NEWS: Thank you so much.
HMLF: Thank you. God bless you, and bless your newspaper; and bless Barbados in this 46th year of Independence.