Letters for the week of December 4-10, 2002 

Yusuf Bey invites reflections on racism, rape, leadership, taboos, Islam, and the complex history of East Bay racial politics.

Blood and guts
You guys have a lot of guts for printing Chris Thompson's insightful article about the Black Muslims and the Bey Family ("Blood & Money," November 13). Chris Thompson asks, "Why has it taken so long for all these allegations, the torture and rapes and beatings, to come before the public?" It's simple: Popular public opinion does not allow for an honest dialogue of the injustices and atrocities that are perpetuated by segments of the black community.

If it were a white group that was pushing this bastardized form of Islam, it would have been slammed a long time ago as racist fools. There would have been rioting in the streets, and Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson would be hosting rallies. But there is a high tolerance for African Americans who spew hatred and racism and participate in questionable actions, especially within the black community, and a reluctance on all our parts to confront them for fear of being branded "racist" or unfair. In the backlash of our horrendous past, we have let the pendulum swing too far the other way. People who commit crime and refuse to submit to the laws that are the glue of this civilization need to be punished thoroughly, regardless of race.

The outdated "white bad, black good" model Bey and his followers are using is contradicted by the egregious actions they have perpetuated on their own people. They have shown that when they get the chance to be "the man," they will resort to the exact same evil tactics they initially claimed to be raging against. This proves, once again, that oppression, lies, and violence are not exclusive to one skin tone.

The most pressing racial issue in this country is no longer simply white versus black, as important as that remains: it is black versus black. In this new century, equality will only be gained by honestly examining and addressing the true nature of our societal ills.
David Stebbins, Oakland

Breaking the silence on sexual assault
Kudos for an insightful, well-written, and extremely well-researched article on the Bey Klan. As a longtime Oakland resident, African-American woman, and community cultural worker, I commend you for illuminating the hypocrisy and cowardice of some of our local civic leaders in their dealings with Yusuf Bey and his cohorts. The allegations of pedophilia, sexual assault, rape, stalking, and harassment do not surprise me, nor I'm sure do they surprise black women who have suffered the same within our communities at the hands of black male perpetrators. Breaking the silence is considered the biggest taboo. Well, I'm here to tell you the emperor has no clothes, and it's about time he and his court jesters are seen for who they truly are.
Skye Ward, Oakland

Striking a blow against political correctness
I was fascinated by Chris Thompson's outstanding exposé of the Bey family and Oakland's corrupt Black Muslim community. The sad fact is that this sort of politically incorrect investigative journalism is all too rare in the Bay Area.

As Thompson correctly points out, the real tragedy of this case is not the criminality of the Bey family. While they are certainly racist, anti-Semitic, violent homophobes, in the vast majority of American communities such figures would be marginal characters at best. The real tragedy is that the East Bay political and journalistic establishment, doubtless to avoid being called racists, has consistently covered up the Bey family's crimes and granted them unearned legitimacy as community leaders.

The real victims of the Bey family are not just the young women and others who suffered directly from Yusuf Bey's crimes. The victims are moderate African-American political leaders who value substance over leftist cant that sells papers and riles up crowds. The victims are Oakland's taxpayers, stuck with the bills for the Beys' malfeasance. And the victims are anyone looking for a sane dialogue about the real problems facing the city of Oakland, problems that have been obscured by decades of factionalism, division, and identity politics. We deserve better than Yusuf Bey -- and the politicians and political culture that fostered him.
Jeremy Carl, Oakland

Striking a blow for political correctness
Chris Thompson's emotionally charged diatribe against Yusef Bey and his self-styled and trained, sacrilegious, hustling, gangster pimping, phony Muslim, hate-mongering, jack artists is worthy of reflection -- given the social, political, and economic landscape both before and during the enigmatic rise and fall of Mr. Bey.

Ruffianism and vigilantism have been a part of Oakland's history for years. Police, politicians, and the media alike have a long record of treating community organizations with deference. The dominating force, the group most feared by the mainstream upon Bey's arrival to Oakland, undoubtedly was the Black Panther Party. The party's demand of "All Power to the People," a successful apparatus that fed, educated, clothed, housed, inspired, and "policed" Oakland's black community, helped them to become loved and respected. The Panthers coined the phrase "community-based policing" in their Ten Point Platform; they policed the police who were gunning down unarmed "suspects" or brutalizing scores of black men without provocation and with absolute impunity.

They also policed all shady characters (regardless of race or position of power) whom they felt preyed upon the black community with acts of violence, corruption, and deceit. A notable vigilante action taken by the Black Panther Party occurred when it stormed a session of the state legislature, armed with loaded shotguns, as the assembly considered the Panther bill introduced by William Ryan Rumford, a black Democrat from Berkeley. After that, Oakland's black community wouldn't "call the pigs." When there was trouble, they called Panther headquarters. The Panthers occupied and patrolled streets that the police wouldn't dare walk down in the black community (undoubtedly under strict orders of J. Edgar Hoover and his boys at the Counter Intelligence Program, or COINTELPRO). Yusef Bey's antics couldn't get off the ground with a wing and a prayer at that time.

The Nation of Islam's demands for strict adherence to highly disciplined models of dress and codes of behavior, coupled with their modes and means of administering justice upon those who violated their strict codes of conduct or dress, leave no reason to wonder why a character like Yusef Bey would split from that group. Not even capital punishment challenged the restraints of the NOI's administration of street justice, nor did the NOI hesitate to administer justice to nonmembers anytime the need arose.

It is unfortunate how easily the undercurrent of race baiting and a libelous assault on Al-Islam via an uninformed propagandistic campaign of disinformation can be read into this installment of the series. Anyone with an ounce of understanding about the beliefs, traditions, and practice of Al-Islam as it is practiced by over two billion people of all races, ethnicities, and national origins worldwide, knows that there is no such thing as a "Black Muslim." In the future, consult with authorities before assigning recognized status to a Branch Davidian-styled group such as the imposters and frauds at Your Black Muslim Bakery.
Name withheld by request

Yusuf Bey is a valuable leader
I caught Bey's show on Soul Beat, and a few things seem obvious. I cannot imagine a reality in which there is not a government COINTELPRO-style operation directed at Bey. He is an extremely uppity black man, and that has never been tolerated in this country. The most obvious examples are Malcolm X and Martin Luther King. The conservative forces in this country just captured the executive office by systematically denying blacks the vote in Florida, for god's sake. It is interesting that Thompson's attack has all the qualities of just such a government disinformation scheme. That does not mean that Bey is innocent, but it sure is interesting to note.

The black community has well-known problems, and the idea that whites will help blacks is pathetic. Whites are the direct cause of the problem, and it is not clear that they can even conceptualize what the problem is, much less the solution. Bey is speaking of things and doing things that must be done if the black community is to thrive. One thing he talked about in his show was flight of capital from the black community and his efforts to stop it with his business. This kind of talk is powerful on a grassroots level. And he talked about disinformation and invalidation from white culture. The most important topic was the lasting effects of slavery on black society. He spoke frankly and powerfully where others are silent. So he doesn't care for white people. This information does not horrify, or even surprise me. He is merely paying attention.

Thompson's problem is that he is politically correct. Political correctness is Christianity for atheists and has nothing to do with politics. Bey's rhetoric and tactics offend him. Having heard the words of Bey and the words of Thompson, I am more impressed with the words of Bey, notwithstanding that Bey considers me, a white man, his enemy. If it turns out that Bey is a child molester, it does not affect his other ideas. It would merely mean he has a particular sickness, and it would be a tragedy. Yusef Bey has unique qualities that make him a valuable leader. His fall would be nothing to celebrate.
Patrick Ridge, Oakland


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Anonymous and pseudonymous comments will be removed.

Latest in Letters

Most Popular Stories

Special Reports

The Beer Issue 2020

The Decade in Review

The events and trends that shaped the Teens.

Best of the East Bay


© 2020 Telegraph Media    All Rights Reserved
Powered by Foundation