The history of our people having the religion of al-Islam in America as our religious and ethnic identity is directly connected to American history and the construct of the idea of America. The idea of America has conflicts and tension built into it. It has contradictions and hypocrisy built into it. It has beauty and ugliness built into it. It has truth and lies built into it. Juneteenth is a recognition of this tension that has made the American people. It is also the environment that produced tension in us to find an alternate idea to describe and qualify the yearning in our human souls for a destiny better than the one America was feeding us.
We haven't respected our own place in America as we should as Muslim-African-Americans. It is certainly my responsibility to address this as a leader of our People and our Islamic tradition. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad and his son, Imam W. Deen Mohammed were giants in America, whether traditional story-tellers or history writers will be truthful about it or not. Imam W. Deen Mohammed coined the term 'African-American'. He used it flawlessly and eloquently. When black people in America could not seize upon a comfortable vision or comfortable language for a destiny in America after the Civil Rights Era, it was our Muslim-African-American thinking that distinguished the direction we should go. I know that the historians want to ignore it, even African-American historians. When Imam Mohammed was sensitizing us to the importance of honor in our ethnic-identity language and he was insisting that we recognize the pliability in the American construct to discover our unique place and establish ourselves in that place, he became the foremost and most eloquent spokesman for the concept latent in the Juneteenth observance.
The Juneteenth observance says two things: One, freedom. The other, hypocrisy. Born from this tension is the African-American soul and yearning in that soul to define what human life is, and what human community or human society is supposed to be according to what G'd has revealed upon the human nature and in His Guidance. The African-American people did not have language for this, the language of all of its combinations until Imam W. Deen Mohammed referred to us as Bilalians. I know that there are many who will read this and they will not quite understand it. They won't quite understand the connections I am making.
The term Bilalian is the purest term, purer than African-American. But in the land of this tension of freedom and hypocrisy -America, purity is not valued as it should be. There is no doubt that the Founders saw the human destiny correctly. But, they lied on that destiny by justifying slavery. And when President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, it took two years before slaves in Texas and other places even knew what it was and more time to understand what it meant for the Nation. So, we are acknowledging that tension. But, as Muslims we cannot digest it. We cannot feed on hypocrisy, not if we are conscious, and not if we are free. We cannot choose to eat any other meat but that which has been prepared under G'd's Permission. If we eat other than that it must be that we were compelled by circumstances. A free people make their own circumstances. So, we choose to honor the purity. And the purity is to come to our destiny as a human soul through the tension that was created for our African-American selves.