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Only a tiny percentage of the country’s estimated 30 million Black folk are members of the Nation of Islam. However it is a religion that has thrived in our community for nearly 80 years. In that time, the Nation has given us two of the most profound lead

While both men have instilled pride in generations of countless Black folk, apparently Farrakhan also instills fear or a great deal of apprehension in those who don’t look like us.

If it isn’t fear why else would two Black presidential candidates, Rev. Jesse Jackson in 1988 and U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) today be prodded by white politicians and news commentators to “repudiate” Farrakhan? “Repudiate” is far from a common, everyday word but it has surprisingly been evoked in the same context exactly 20 years apart and in the same circumstances û a Black man seeking to occupy the Oval Office.

Most recently, Obama was asked to repudiate Farrakhan because of a statement Farrakhan made about Jews and the Jewish religion two decades ago. To very few – if anyone’s – surprise Obama deftly explained that there are statements the Nation of Islam leader has made with which he, Obama, disagrees with but that there was no reason to thrash the man for them.

Tim Russert, a law school graduate turned television commentator/interviewer, has interrogated heads of state and hundreds of prestigious people and generally comes off as exceptionally knowledgeable and unbiased. But his questioning of Obama about distancing himself from Farrakhan stunk of race politics, something the senator has refused to engage in during the 14 months of the campaign.

For too many white journalists and folk who have no appreciation for the kinship of Black folk, regardless of how disparate our views may be from time to time, they truly seem to believe they can get an “ah ha” moment by attempting to drive a wedge between us.

No principled Black person, such as Obama, is going to allow the blatant ignorance of others to create discord in our community û especially not now. Not now when we are closer than we have ever been in the history of this country to doing something many thought they wouldn’t live to see or that America would not tolerate û electing a Black man president.

______ Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.  

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