Cleric speaks of racial struggle
Imam Siraj Wahhaj said during a speech Monday that though blacks have come out of slavery, they are still struggling to get ahead
The UH Muslim Students Association hosted the event, titled “The Black American Struggle: The Past, the Present and the Future.”
Wahhaj, a spiritual leader from New York, said blacks have been making great strides since the 1960s.
“Now over 80 percent of the NBA basketball players are black, and 69 percent in the NFL,” Wahhaj said. “I mentioned about 42 African-Americans in Congress. We have a black President. … Everywhere in every part of the system of this country, we have African-American experts.”
Wahhaj said though there are black leaders, they are still a minority.
“On the one hand, we have the Kobe Bryants and the LeBron Jameses, politicians and all those successful people,” he said. “But the masses of black people haven’t enjoyed that success.”
Wahhaj said the lack of success is due to the decreased value of family and marriage these days. He also said 59 percent of black children lived with both parents in 1970, but only 39 percent in 2007. Now, 69 percent of black children are born out of wedlock.
Wahhaj believes the plight of African-Americans today is largely self-inflicted.
“Which is worse,” he said, “Imposed slavery … or self-inflicted slavery?”
He said blacks paid a price for their freedom, but they are presently shackled by their inactivity.
“Martin Luther King Jr. gave his life for the cause. Malcolm X gave his life for the cause,” he said. “You want to talk about all those heroes amongst the African-Americans, but we don’t want to advocate our own responsibility.”
He said the future of blacks lies solely in their hands.
“What price do we pay to save the African Americans from this self inflicted pain?” Wahhaj said. “What will be the future of African-Americans in America? What are you going to do about it?”