VITAL SIGNSrnM E D I ArnThe Truth About thernMilHon Man Marchrnby Marc MotanornCi It’s time for the government to payrnus reparations for the 500 yearsrnof slavery that they put on us,” declaredrna marcher in the Million Man Marchrnin Washington, D.C., on October 16. Irnattended the march on assignmentrnfor Rush Limbaugh, The Television Show.rnMy coverage of the march aired on Mr.rnLimbaugh’s nationally syndicated programrnon October 18. The focus of myrncoverage was exclusively on the marchersrnwho came from all across the UnitedrnStates. The interviews that I conductedrnwith the marchers revealed a MillionrnMan March that was far different fromrnthe one portrayed by the mainstreamrnmedia.rnThe press coverage of the MillionrnMan March was highly selective, portrayingrnthe marchers as a unified group,rnwithout controversy. The national newsrnreports focused on superficial feel-goodrnsentiments about why the marchers attended.rnAs in the past, the mainstreamrnmedia failed to delve into any of the issuesrnsurrounding the march.rnWhile the participants were generallyrnfriendly and dedicated to the concept ofrnthe march, several divisive issues boiledrnbeneath the surface. The responses werernfar from unifying. Many of the participantsrnexpressed hostility to white people,rnif not downright hatred. A sample of therncomments: “We don’t listen to whiternpeople no more”; “Shame on you WhiternAmerica, Shame on you”; “Whites,rnif you are willing to apologize, we arernwilling to forgive.” I was referred to atrnone point during an interview as “yournpeople.”rnI was refused literature from one manrnpassing out “Afrikan Liberation” tractsrnbecause I was white. When I asked forrnhis leaflet he looked at me and said,rn”You’re not African,” and turned hisrnback. I found one of his leaflets on thernground; it was a call to “National Liberation.”rnIt stated, “black people could neverrnbe free in Amerikkka [sic]—our staternof neo-slavery . . . our liberation is tied tornAmcrikkka’s destruction.”rnOther marchers displayed this samernattitude. A group of men marched underrnan upside down American flag. Arnsticker being distributed at the marchrnread, “100 Million Africans died forrnAmerica’s sins.” One man railed againstrnwhat he termed “the RepublicanrnFuhrmanistic attitude” that prevailed inrnAmerica. Another man expressed hisrndistrust of police officers by explainingrnhow we have traded “white sheets forrnblue uniforms.”rnThe mainstream press referred to thern”controversial” Nation of Islam withoutrnfully examining its charter beliefs. Thernliterature distributed at the Million ManrnMarch provided the details. The FinalrnCall is the bimonthly publication of thernNation of Islam. In every issue, the backrnpage is a reprint of their platformrnentided, “What the Muslims Want.” Itrnstates in part: “We want our people inrnAmerica whose parents or grandparentsrnwere descendants from slaves to be allowedrnto establish a separate state or territoryrnof tlieir own. . . . We believe thatrnour former slave masters are obligated tornprovide such land . . . and that our formerrnslave masters are obligated to maintainrnand supply our needs… for the nextrn20 to 25 vears—until we are able to producernand supply our own needs. . . . Werndo not believe that after 400 years of freernor nearly free labor, sweat and blood,rnwhich has helped America become richrnand powerful, that so many thousands ofrnBlack people should subsist on relief,rncharity or live in poor houses.” The platformrnalso states, “We believe that intcrnrarriagernor race mixing should be prohibited.”rnEven though the marchers I spokernwith did not mention the establishmentrnof a separate nation, many of themrnagreed with the sentiments expressed inrnthe Nation of Islam platform. One manrnproclaimed, “We desere reparations…rnwe were enslaved and beat down for overrn439 years in this country, a lot of manrnhours, a lot of free labor. That’s how thisrncountry got so rich and powerful so fast,rnthey had no overhead. Me and rnv ancestorsrnand the seed that come after mernare owed something.” Another manrnstated, “How can we forget the pastrnwhen the past continues to haunt us today?rnHow can you tell me to forget thernpast when you continue to afflict withrnthe same thing that we have been afflictedrnwith for 400 years?” Another marcherrnagreed, commenting that nothing hasrnchanged since the days of slavery. Hernstated, “You take us from my native land,rnyou put us in shacks behind your bigrnmansions . . . and today you take bigrnbuildings and put us in projects.”rnOne man explained why many of thernmarchers believe the odds are stackedrnagainst them in America today. “Yourndon’t want to give us no jobs. You don’trnwant to give us no way to take care of ourselves.rnBut you want to give us drugs andrnguns and then you want to arrest us andrnput us in jail for it.”rnSuccessful blacks in America were explainedrnaway as either flukes or traitorsrnfor turning on their fellow blacks. Onernman used the following analogy to illustraternhow some blacks can become successful:rn”It’s like if I step on an antrnmound, the masses are going to be at myrnfeet and only so many are going to get uprnaround my neck and I’ll knock those offrnas thev come: O.J., Tyson, I’ll flick themrnoff.” Another man lamented, “What’srnwrong with most of the black men whorndo make it? They become sellouts.rnThev become what we call house niggers.rnThey’re just ‘yes’ men, not for thernpeople.”rnRace-mixing comments and signsrnwere in evidence. One T-shirt had a picturernof O.J. Simpson on it with thernwords, “Take it from me, leave themrnwhite bitches alone.” One man explainedrnthat interracial marriage wasrnharmful, because “that which you seekrnoutside the community, weakens therncommunity.” He urged black men andrnwomen to “marry people that look likernour mothers and look like our fathers.”rnAnother theme that prevailed wasrnblack economic separatism. There wasrnresentment toward Asian-Americans forrnthe perception that they profit unfairlyrnfrom businesses in black neighborhoods.rnIn addition, one man deplored thatrnblacks are “totally dependent on thernwhite community,” saying “blacks haverngot to hand another black dollar to anotherrnblack hand.”rn46/CHRONICLESrnrnrn