The Jan. 10, 2000, edition of the Chicago Tribune newspaper
carried the headline, "We Die Lying to Ourselves." In its
own way, the Tribune is aware that individuals and groups of
individuals need to atone.
The caption under the headline reads, "The AIDS epidemic has
killed 13 million Africans. A widespread culture of shame and denial
spreads the disease. Villages of hopeless orphans are testaments to
this losing battle."
The fact of America’s existence is a source of salvation for
mankind. The American government gives its citizens the right to be
right and the right to correct themselves when they are wrong.
Atonement is a key ingredient in the American government process.
However, atonement cannot be a show, game, scheme or hustle. It must
be real. Atonement indeed begins pointing out the wrong.
When the wrong is pointed out in the self, other selves who have
the same problem—usually those in denial—try to suppress the truth
of their condition.
No Black man wants to acknowledge sexual addiction. In fact, a few
years ago no Black man wanted to acknowledge that the
disenfranchisement of Black people was due to the sins of the Black
man. I remember when I said that in 1963, I was severely criticized by
those who were pointing their fingers outward.
Let me quote the book, Once to Every Man and Nation, by
William Sloane Coffin, Jr.:
"According to Andrew Young and James Bevel, the principle
instructors, blacks alone were accountable for the rise of Southern
segregationist demagogues because blacks had failed to claim the right
to vote. It’s not the lawless but the listless who must be held
Based on this truth that Alabama youth accepted and acted on, in
less than nine months after the start of the Selma Right-to-Vote
Movement, Black Americans had acquired the right to vote.
When one atones and points out the wrong and acknowledges their
wrong, they acquire insight sufficient to solve their problems, and
they have the right to solve that problem under their own
However, if one waits and lets someone else identify the problem,
the person who identified it has the right to write the prescription.
This prescription may not have the compassion and healing agents
needed to be successful in the process of healing.
Not only are Africans dying while lying to themselves, but Black
Americans are also dying while lying to themselves. When the truth
about this lie is revealed, those who are not willing to face the
truth of their condition block the dissemination of that truth under
the pretense of saving someone from embarrassment, while running the
risk of allowing a whole race of people to die.
My prayer is that Black men will have the integrity to take down
all false fronts and all pretensions and deal honestly with what is
before them which destroys their families, children, community, and
their own lives.
Will we sit idly and deny our criminality while jails overflow with
Will we deny our sexual addiction and pretend that the problem is
racism when no man can accurately define man, marriage, home, family,
government, and business?
When the final chapters are written on the anomaly of slavery and
the death of millions of our people, it will be noted that those who
refused to atone and who refused to print the truth were indeed the
enemies of Black American people.
The call to atone was made by Allah (God), and his people must, and