In American society, there is a commonly held belief that learning the lessons of history will prevent past mistakes from repeating. Likewise, an adage that defines insanity as continuing a given behavior, while expecting an altogether different result, gives credence to those advocating alternative solutions beyond the narrative of outmoded ideas and obsolete action plans.

Seeming to rest upon the laurels of the 1950s and 60s, traditional civil rights leadership, in the name of access and inclusion, is today focusing more upon selling partisan loyalties than on promoting an unapologetic Black agenda. Within the context of America’s various Black communities, the common denominator of substandard education, high incarceration and high unemployment rates reveals not only the failure of “non-economic liberalism,” but also the failures of a movement that for too long has relied upon corporate patronage, political favoritism and the diluting of Black interests in order to secure acceptance and approval.

Furthermore, in this compromising of Black interests, as a means for admittance into the so-called mainstream establishment, Black America’s collective well being is unfortunately being harmed. By rewarding the few, at the expense of the many, and contingent upon a political climate that changes every four to eight years, the relevance of ideas, programs and solutions, accepted and rewarded by government and private philanthropy, is limited. Clearly requiring a new direction and perspective, the current civil rights paradigm, which demands jobs and justice over the ownership of producing land, a Black economic vision and the breaking of dependency, the aimlessness and complacency many Black communities are now experiencing will only continue.

For instance, when comparing the collective progress of relative newcomers to the United States, to that of the descendants of enslaved Africans, it goes without saying that within one or two generations, many immigrants are showing more economic productivity for themselves, their families and their communities than Black people, whose families have been in for America decades, if not centuries, longer. Although the hamstringing of Black progress through deception, terrorism and anti-Black legislation has been well documented over the last 400 years, the fact remains that 21st century obstacles to Black progress are more self-inflicted and psychological than they are of outright opposition.

Subsequently creating a so-called permanent underclass, devoid of hope and struggling to survive, the decimation of Black communities through disenfranchisement laws, associated with past felonies, and a poor public educational system, that fails to prepare Black youth for a global economy, the system, to which civil rights leadership has tied itself, is cruelly indifferent to the plight of the Black masses. While the rural and urban poor are under no illusions regarding the limitations inherent to such an arrangement, regardless of well meaning intentions, civil rights leadership must reassess their agendas, reflect upon proven and workable solutions and leave egos at the door.

Considering the “Economic Blueprint,” long advocated by the Nation of Islam, as one model for positive change, the issue of poverty and want could be addressed within a relatively short period of time. Incorporating a holistic approach, that starts with teaching Black people the knowledge of self, the importance of unity and the value of pooling resources, if accepted and adopted by 40 million Black people, harnessing only one percent of the $1.1 trillion Blacks spend annually could usher in a renaissance of Black thought, wealth and consciousness. Having an impact reaching far beyond the borders of the United States, once adopted, the “do-for-self” model would not only create a new era of prosperity for Black America, but it would also elevate American society in general.

By capturing only $100 billion dollars annually, urban factories could be repurchased, thousands of acres of farmland could be acquired, healthcare facilities and new schools could be built and the Black community could enter into international trade and commerce for the good our ourselves, our families and our people. Such a vision is not a pipedream; it was actually carried into practice and proven to be successful by the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and studied by both advocates and detractors alike.

Unity is the key to Black America’s survival, relevance and prosperity and our failure to “consider the time and what must be done” will lead to unfortunate loss. With the simple elimination of alcohol, tobacco and other unhealthy habits, we could free the dollars necessary to make such an endeavor possible. If we are to defeat the complacency that has so permeated Black America in this time of crisis, then it’s time to consider a program with a proven track record. Whether you are Muslim, Christian or Hebrew, if you are Black, we cannot escape the overall condition of our people and the time for action is now.

Brother William P. Muhammad is a graduate of the University of Texas at El Paso and an author. Post comments at