Facebook Punishes Minister Farrakhan With Slave Code Laws

By Demetric Muhammad –Guest Columnist– @brotherdemetric | Last updated: Jul 9, 2019 - 12:11:37 PM

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“[Lord], Shall the throne of iniquity have fellowship with you, which frames mischief by a law”?
Psalms 94:20 American King James Version 

“[God], Will destructive national leaders, who plan wicked things through misuse of the Law, be allied with you”? Psalms 94:20 International Standard Version 

Students of Black History are well aware that since the beginning of Black Life in America there has existed a separate set of harsh laws and rules established for the purpose of keeping Black people in a state of perpetual slavery. Commonly referred to as the Slave Codes and later on as Black Codes, these “special” laws and regulations were extraordinarily punitive and restrictive.  Yet, they were the rules that our enslaved fore parents were forced to live under. Knowing what we know now about the phenomenon known as “epigenetics,” where the traumatic effects of negative environments are passed from one generation to the next on a cellular level, we understand how the Black community’s experience under such a harsh judicial system has naturally created ambivalence and an overall tension-laden bad relationship between Black folk and the American justice system.

I once read an article written by the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad called “Separation or Death” that was published within the legendary Negro-Press publication The Los Angeles Herald Dispatch. He referenced a book called The American Slave Code written by William Goodell.  The words of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad are as follows: 

“According to the American Slave Code of Law, by William Goodell—page 304, under the above title, the Negroes may be used as breeders, prostitutes, concubines, pimps, tapsters, attendants at the gaming table and as subjects of medical and surgical experiments for the benefit of science.” 

The quote attributed to Mr. Goodell’s book describes the purpose for the slave codes. These laws were designed to ensure that Black people would never be able to have a purpose or function outside those most degrading roles. These degrading and inferior roles within American society are the only ones approved for Black people to function as. In other words, if a Black person desires or tries to be anything other than these degrading characters they are acting outside the law. It was the perspective of the White ruling class then and today, that for a Black person to be someone who is a responsible husband, wife, father, businessman, businesswoman, scholar, artist, scientist or anything of this sort, it is to commit an illegal act. To pursue roles of human dignity and nobility would make the offending Black person an outlaw. The American Slave Codes essentially outlawed universally accepted practices of righteous conduct!

I respectfully submit that an understanding of the American Slave Code is extremely important to understand the nefarious origins of the social media ban that Facebook/Instagram have executed to punish the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan.

If we were living in the 1700s or the 1800s, Minister Farrakhan would be considered a rabble-rouser, an abolitionist preacher. His preaching would be both feared and hated by the plantation owners and the White ruling class of slave holders. And the social media ban would be executed in compliance with the legal prohibitions or laws against slaves preaching and the laws against abolitionist speech.  

Yes, there were actual laws against any slave vocally expressing or writing their disagreement with being a slave! It was the view of the slave holders that “Blacks are our slaves, and they better not even utter a mumbling word that they are unhappy in being our slaves!”

Mr. Goodell gives us examples of the laws against abolitionist speech and publications:

“In Louisiana If any person shall use any language from the BAR, BENCH, STAGE, PULPIT, or in any OTHER place, or hold any CONVERSATION having a TENDENCY to promote discontent among free colored people, or insubordination among slaves, he may be imprisoned at hard labor not less than three nor more than twenty-one years; or he may suffer death, at the discretion of the Court. … In North Carolina, ‘for publishing or circulating any pamphlet or paper having an evident tendency to excite slaves or free persons of color to insurrection or resistance,’ the law provides imprisonment not less than one year, and standing in the pillory and whipping, at the discretion of the Court, for the first offense, and DEATH for the second. In Georgia, the same without any reservation. In Virginia, the first offense is punished with thirty-nine lashes, and the second with death. Mr. Preston, Senator in Congress, declared, in his place in that body, that any person uttering abolition sentiments at the South would be hanged.” The American Slave Code pages 384-386.

In the modern era, the spirit of these laws can be found within the regular attempts to silence Minister Farrakhan and keep him from speaking out against how Black people are still treated as slaves throughout all of America’s institutions. He was censured by the U.S. Senate in 1984 for defending Rev. Jesse L. Jackson. He was banned from speaking on college campuses in 1992 as a result of the work of the Anti-Defamation League of B’Nai B’rith. And now Facebook/Instagram have banned him for life from their social media platforms.

As Mr. Goodell makes it clear, one of the foundational stones of the “peculiar institution” of American slavery was the suppression of the speech of slaves. He describes how it was written into law that no slave could even provide testimony in a court of law against the crimes committed against him by his master or any other White person. According to Goodell: 

“Slavery is upheld by suppressing the testimony of its victims. Allow slaves to testify, and the hitherto unimagined secrets … would explode like an earthquake. Universal humanity would unite in one general crusade, and break down its whole fabric.”

According to Fredrick Douglass, slaves learned the hard way not to speak against their masters.  He writes of when a slave master questioned his slave: “Well, boy, whom do you belong to?” “To Colonel Lloyd,” replied the slave. “Well, does the colonel treat you well?” “No, sir,” was the ready reply. “What, does he work you too hard?” “Yes, sir.”  The colonel, after ascertaining where the slave belonged, rode on; the man also went on about his business, not dreaming that he had been conversing with his master. He thought, said, and heard nothing more of the matter, until two or three weeks afterwards. The poor man was then informed by his overseer that, for having found fault with his master, he was now to be sold to a Georgia trader. He was immediately chained and cuffed; and thus, without a moment’s warning, he was snatched away, and forever sundered, from his family and friends, by a hand more unrelenting than death. This is the penalty of telling the truth, of telling the simple truth, in answer to a series of plain questions. It is partly in consequence of such facts, that slaves, when inquired of as to their condition and the character of their masters; almost universally say they are contented, and that their masters are kind. The slaveholders have been known to send in spies among their slaves, to ascertain their views and feelings in regard to their condition. The frequency of this has had the effect to establish among the slaves the maxim, that a still tongue makes a wise head. They suppress the truth rather than take the consequences of telling it….” The Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass

The suppression of the speech of Black people that began with the slave codes has indeed taught many in the Black community that there is a great price to be paid for telling the truth. According to Harper’s Bazaar writer Rachel Elizabeth Cargle this phenomenon continues up to the present day and time. Her article entitled “When White People Are Uncomfortable, Black People Are Silenced,” states: 

“Silencing happens when, for white people, hearing the truth is too much; when the truth hangs so painfully heavy on their shoulders that they’d rather get rid of the weight, than actually face the issue head on. But why would something as virtuous as truth be a burden for some? Because when the truth is held up, it reflects the false securities that our society rests on: the elitism, the capitalism, the racism, the ableism, the sexism, the homo/transphobia, the xenophobia, the anti-blackness. And the people who benefit from those systems have a hard time letting go of their privilege within those realms. To escape these truths, silencing has very often been the answer.”

Minister Farrakhan is unafraid to speak the truth. He is for all of us, a great gift from Allah (God). As Professor Geneva Smitherman has said of him: 

“Quiet as it’s kept, Farrakhan is respected by millions of African Americans, on all socio-economic levels, for his courage in standing up to an oppressive system and his penchant for calling white folk out. Truly ‘unbought and unbossed,’ he often says the things that many Blacks feel but don’t have the freedom to express.” Million Man March by Haki Madhubuti, page 104.

The time is now for us to unite and campaign against the ban against Minister Farrakhan, so that all who are courageous enough to be un-muzzled and un-muted may be forever free to speak truth to power on behalf of all who suffer under modern forms of slavery and oppression.

Read more from Demetric Muhammad at Follow @brotherdemetric on Twitter.