In the last few chapters of El Hajj Malik Shabazz’s autobiography he made a statement about the Moorish Empire. Elijah Muhammad also made a statement about the Moors in the Theology of time.
“Now then, once you see that the condition that we’re in is directly related to our lack of knowledge concerning the history of the Black man, only then can you realize the importance of knowing something about the history of the Black man. The Black man’s history—when you refer to him as the Black man you go way back, but when you refer to him as a Negro, you can only go as far back as the Negro goes. And when you go beyond the shores of America you can’t find a Negro.”
“So if you go beyond the shores of America in history, looking for the history of the Black man, and you’re looking for him under the term Negro, you won’t find him. He doesn’t exist. So you end up thinking that you didn’t play any role in history. But if you want to take the time to do research for yourself, I think you’ll find that on the African continent there was always, prior to the discovery of America, there was always a higher level of history, rather a higher level of culture and civilization, than that which existed in Europe at the same time.At least five thousand years ago they had a Black civilization in the Middle East called the Sumerians.”
“Now when they show you pictures of the Sumerians they try and make you think that they were white people. But if you go and read some of the ancient manuscripts or even read between the lines of some of the current writers, you’ll find that the Sumerian civilization was a very dark-skinned civilization, and it existed prior even to the existence of the Babylonian empire, right in the same area where you find Iraq and the Tigris-Euphrates rivers there.”
“It was a black-skinned people who lived there, who had a high state of culture way back then.And at a time even beyond this there was a black-skinned people in India, who were Black, just as Black as you and I, called Dravidian’s. They inhabited the subcontinent of India even before the present people that you see living there today, and they had a high state of culture. The present people of India even looked upon them as gods; most of their statues, if you’ll notice, have pronounced African features.”
“You go right to India today—in their religion, which is called Buddhism, they give all their Buddhas the image of a Black man, with his lips and his nose, and even show his hair all curled up on his head; they didn’t curl it up, he was born that way. And these people lived in that area before the present people of India lived there.The Black man lived in the Middle East before the present people who are now living there. And he had a high culture and a high civilization, to say nothing about the oldest civilization of all that he had in Egypt along the banks of the Nile. And in Carthage in northwest Africa, another part of the continent, and at a later date in Mali and Ghana and Songhai and Moorish civilization—all of these civilizations existed on the African continent before America was discovered.”
“This is why you find many Italians dark—some of that Hannibal blood. No Italian will ever jump up in my face and start putting bad mouth on me, because I know his history. I tell him when you talk about me, you’re talking about your pappy, [Laughter] your father. He knows his history, he knows how he got that color.”
“Don’t you know that just a handful of Black American troops spent a couple of years in England during World War II and left more brown babies back there—just a handful of Black American soldiers in England and in Paris and in Germany messed up the whole country. Now what do you think ninety thousand Africans are going to do in Italy for twenty years? [Laughter] It’s good to know this because when you know it, you don’t have to get a club to fight the man—put truth on him. Even the Irish got a dose of your and my blood when the Spanish Armada was defeated off the coast of Ireland, I think around about the seventeenth or eighteenth century; I forget exactly, you can check it out. The Spanish in those days were dark. They were the remnants of the Moors, and they went ashore and settled down in Ireland and right to this very day you’ve got what’s known as the Black Irish. And it’s not an accident that they call them Black Irish. If you look at them, they’ve got dark hair, dark features, and they’ve got Spanish names—like Eamon De Valera, the president, and there used to be another one called Costello.”
“These names came from the Iberian Peninsula, which is the Spanish-Portuguese peninsula, and they came there through these seamen, who were dark in those days. Don’t let any Irishman jump up in your face and start telling you about you—why, he’s got some of your blood too. You’ve spread your blood everywhere. If you start to talk to any one of them, I don’t care where he is, if you know history, you can put him right in his place. In fact, he’ll stay in his place, if he knows that you know your history. West African cultures Also, at that same time or a little later was a civilization called the Moors. The Moors were also a dark-skinned people on the African continent, who had a highly developed civilization.”
“They were such magnificent warriors that they crossed the Straits of Gibraltar in, I think, the year 711, eighth century, conquered Portugal, what we today know as Portugal, Spain, and southern France, conquered it and ruled it for seven hundred years. And they admit that during this time Europe was in the Dark Ages, meaning darkness, ignorance. And it was the only light spot; the only light, the only light of learning, that existed on the European continent at that time were the universities that the Moors had erected in what we today know as Spain and Portugal.”
“These were African universities that they set up in that area. And they ruled throughout that area, up to a place known as Tours, where they were stopped by a Frenchman known in history as Charles Martel, or Charles the Hammer. He stopped the invasion of the Africans, and these were Africans. They try to confuse you and me by calling them Moors, so that you and I won’t know what they were. But when you go home, look in the dictionary. Look up the word M-o-o-r; it will tell you that Moor means black. Well, if Negro means black and Moor means black, then they’re talking about the same people all the time. But they don’t want you and me to know that we were warriors, that we conquered, that we had armies. They want you and me to think that we were always nonviolent, and passive, and peaceful, and forgiving. Sure, we forgave our enemies in those days—after we killed them, we forgave them. [Laughter and applause]”
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WASHINGTON — Politicians have a habit of burying important information. There are bills with titles that say nothing about what they will actually do, and as comedian Jon Stewart noted in his swan song on “The Daily Show,” politicians have mastered the art of hiding bad things under “mountains of bullshit.” But sometimes they bury some positive developments. Stuffed into a House energy bill passed last week was an amendment banning the terms “Oriental” and “Negro” from federal law and replacing them with “Asian-American” and “African-American.” The legislation, sponsored by Reps. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.) and Ed Royce (R-Calif.), was passed unanimously by a voice vote. It removes these terms from the last two places in the federal code where they are still used. Last updated in the 1970s, the sections refer to minority groups using now antiquated and offensive terms.
The new legislation has ramifications for other minority groups as well. The parts of the federal code to which the amendment pertain are dedicated to defining minority groups for federal agencies’ purposes. In addition to “Negro” and “Oriental,” the two sections of federal law use “Puerto Rican” and “Spanish-speaking,” which were both catch-all labels for Hispanic or Latino individuals, before the latter terms came into wide use. It also uses “Eskimo” to refer to the native people of Alaska, who prefer the terms “Inuit” or the even broader term “Alaska native”; and “Indian” to refer to Native Americans.
The amendment will replace these old terms as well. The changes are not about being politically correct.
As Meng, the first Asian-American from New York elected to Congress, noted last week when speaking about the amendment on the House floor, the terms are ones that “many in the community would find offensive.” “I would not want either of my children to be referred to as ‘Oriental’ by their teacher at school,” she said. “I hope we can all agree that the term ‘Oriental’ no longer deserves a place in federal law.”
Scholars note that both “Negro” and “Oriental” have historically been thorny subjects for the groups that they describe. The terms can reinforce stereotypes, and were developed and imposed by white people, not always embraced by the very people they were used to describe. For Asian-Americans, calling them “Oriental” also connotes a sense of exoticism and otherness. Paul Ong, a professor at the University of California-Los Angeles who studies Asian-Americans, explained that using the term “Oriental” is “indicative of old stereotypes.”
“Just like ‘Negro,’ it’s a historical term that people got used to,” Ong told The Huffington Post. “There’s a whole generation that grew up with the term.” Both terms gradually stopped being used, particularly after the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s. But older generations may still use them without understanding why they are offensive.
“There’s a degree of ignorance,” Ong said. “I think there are still those negative terms and connotations that reflect old prejudices and biases. Asians have stereotypes projected toward them.”
Some government agencies still held onto the terms, even as they fell out of common usage. For example, the U.S. Census only officially stopped using the term “Negro” in 2013, though it had been using “black” and “African-American” alongside it.
Ong thinks that the speed of updating the terms can depend on the purpose of the federal agencies. “Some agencies deal with developing programs for ethnic groups, so they collect data for those groups,” he said.
“For those agencies whose jobs is to collect accurate information, I don’t see that problem. The problem is with other agencies that only occasionally deal with these issues in a very pro forma way [to] talk about diversity. They don’t have the insights to understand that these terms are offensive and haven’t necessarily had to deal with the sensitivities of the terms.”
State governments have also been slow to change. Meng previously spearheaded a similar law when she served in the New York State Assembly.
That law, passed in 2009, eliminated the use of “Oriental” in New York state documents. The state of Washington banned the term in 2002.