The Rockford Study Group Presents:

1005 S. Court Street, Rockford, IL 61102

"Seek the Kingdom."
Delivered 1/16/2019

Sundays: General lecture 10:00AM
Mondays: FOI Class (Brothers only) 7:30 PM
Wednesdays: Evening lecture: 7:30PM 
Saturdays: MGT Class (Sisters only) 
UPDATE: Contact Sis Rahsheemah @ (779) 770-3817 for Women's class info.

For more information: Call (815) 742-6758

e-mail The Rockford Study Group: 

From The Final Call Newspaper

No Safe Black Space?

By Barrington M. Salmon Contributing Writer @bsalmondc

Hate targeted the Black community from the beginning to the end of 2018. Incidents continued to pop up around the United States with depressing regularity: Black folks being confronted and challenged by random White people acting out of the belief that they have the right to govern and monitor Black bodies.

At every turn, Black people were prevented from going about their business or engaging in normal behavior because some White person deemed their behavior criminal or dangerous.

Whites, primarily women, called cops on Black people of all ages including—a Black child selling bottled water in front of the apartment she lives in; Black people barbecuing in an Oakland, Calif., park; Black men trying to enter their apartments; a Black Harvard student sleeping in the common area of a dorm building; a Black teen riding in a car with his White grandmother; a Black man trying to cash a check from his employer; a Black male caregiver babysitting two White children; a Black woman canvassing a neighborhood while running for political office; and Black women golfing too slowly. And that’s just what was captured on cellphone videos.

Dr. Ramel Kweku Akyirefi Smith said unjust policing of Black bodies is one facet of a pervasive and persistent war being waged against Black people. He spoke of his anger and frustration he feels every time he hears or reads about the death of a Black man, woman or child at the hands of law enforcement. In too many cases, he said, the victims were minding their own business­— such as 12-year-old Tamir Rice, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin or 23-year-old Korryn Gaines.

“My thing is this, we’re at war and have to be ready,” said Dr. Smith, a Milwaukee-based psychologist and mental performance coach. “We have to be very vigilant and stay in a state of warfare. I remember Min. Farrakhan talking about being pulled over and the cop tried to bait him. He kept calm. But even if you act like he did, you could end up being shot, beaten or arrested. Cops act with impunity and have a certain amount of impunity.” He was referring to the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam.

White people have taken to governing the way Black people style their hair. School administrators have sent Black students’ home for sporting locs, twists, braids and Afros; employers have told workers that their Black-centric hairstyles are inappropriate in the workplace; the courts have sided with companies; and the military has flip-flopped several times recently about what it deems appropriate styling.

A recent incident thrusting this assault on Black existence to light created national outrage, inflamed passions across the United States and angered Dr. Smith and others because of the blatant nature of the racist act. On Dec 19, a White referee with a documented history of racist behavior, ordered Andrew Johnson, a Buena Regional High School wrestler, to cut his dreadlocks before competing or forfeit the match.

“This hit close to me because I wrestled in high school and what I saw pissed me off,” said Dr. Smith, a licensed therapist, author, educator and former consultant to the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks. “When you weigh in, they do everything, check everything. For the referee to wait and not forewarn him ... What really pissed me off is that coaches didn’t walk out. This was a way to say ‘Nigger this ain’t what we do. If you don’t assimilate to our ways, you can’t participate in our games.’ Now this young man has to live with this forever. This was trauma-induced despite him doing the right thing and is a microcosm of the racism we deal with on a daily basis,” he continued.

“The punishment for everyone involved has to be so harsh that they wouldn’t even think about doing this again.”

Philadelphia resident Kimberly Rollins expressed deep anger as well. She was so upset about what happened to the young wrestler that she took to Facebook Live to vent her frustration.

“I was on Twitter, following my people and I saw a post from Shaun King. During the wrestling match, the ref said the young man had to cut off his locs,” said Ms. Rollins, owner and operator of Oxsun Salon and a beauty image consultant. “I was really pissed about what I saw. It resonated because they took something from him that he can’t get back. It felt like a whipping and rather than the whole team walk out, a White coach cut his hair and they talked about him being a team player. He cuts his hair, goes back into the match, wins the match,” said Ms. Rollins.

“(This) racism and this oppression that you continually perpetuate upon us is making me crazy,” Ms. Rollins said in the first of two Facebook postings about the issue. “When has hair ever murdered anyone? When has hair ever oppressed anyone? When has hair teargassed a women at the border? When did our hair become a physical threat to anyone? Not for one second can you justify this young man’s hair, having to cut his hair off. He wasn’t a team player, he was the sacrificial lamb. Who’s going to step up and when is this ref going to be fired?”

In the second posting, Ms. Rollins said she wanted to be proactive versus being reactive and asked anyone who might know Andrew Johnson to link them up.

“I will start his locs over for him,” she explained. “I don’t know if he has a stylist or loctition but in the event that he doesn’t, I’ll offer him a complimentary service to restart them. I support you, honor you and respect you as the wrestler and champion you really are.”

Andrew Johnson’s mother, Rosa Santiago-Johnson, said on Facebook that it was the hardest thing she’d ever seen, saying her son was “good now” but that his ordeal was “brutal emotionally and physically.”

Referee Andrew Maloney has been pulled from officiating any subsequent games while the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association investigates. Meanwhile, the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey weighed in, declaring in a tweet: “This is not about hair. This is about race. How many different ways will people try to exclude Black people from public life without having to declare their bigotry?”

Hate crimes escalate

“The economy is getting worse and people are looking for someone to blame,” Caleb Maupin, journalist and political analyst told The Final Call. “Tensions that have been long brewing below the surface are starting to erupt.” Those tensions erupted all across the country.

In a Phoenix, Arizona, high school play, three students walked down the middle of an assembly dressed as the KKK. “They were in hooded robes,” said a parent who wanted to remain anonymous. The audience was stunned.

At a Baraboo, Wisconsin, high school, 50 male students were photographed in a widely-shared social media image that appeared to show students giving the Nazi salute. A Black Baraboo student told reporters he’s worn headphones to drown out hearing the N-word at school.

Gregory Bush, a White man, is accused of fatally shooting Vickie Lee Jones and Maurice E. Stallard at a Kentucky supermarket after he had tried to enter the predominantly-Black First Baptist Church of Jeffersontown. Church members saw him outside aggressively trying to open the door. He drove away when he couldn’t get inside.

The list of hate incidents and crimes in America continued to grow. Hate crimes/incidents rose 17 percent in 2017, the third consecutive year of increases, according to the FBI Hate Crime Statistics released November 13. Blacks, again, top the list as nearly half of all race/ethnicity/ancestry motivated hate crimes.

“The increase in reported hate crimes is a chilling reminder that we must redouble our efforts to combat the rise in hate crimes and hate-inspired incidents across the country. We are especially concerned about hate incidents directed at African Americans and other racial minorities which reflects the toxic rhetoric and racially divisive policies that we too often see at the federal level,” explained the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law in a statement.

Ms. Rollins, Dr. Smith and many others blame the toxic racial environment on the occupant of the White House. Since he assumed office, President Donald Trump has pursued a strategy and policy of racial division, the scapegoating and demonization of Blacks, Latinos, immigrants and others, argue critics.

Mr. Trump has continued with a steady negative drumbeat, inciting fear in White people and warning that Whites will soon be overrun by the Black and Brown hordes. He called Black players in the National Football League “sons of bitches” for kneeling in protest against racial injustice, intolerance and police brutality. And he directed scorn and derision towards strong and powerful Black women, including U.S. Congresspersons Maxine Waters and Frederica Wilson; former Ambassador Susan Rice; sports journalist Jemele Hill; and White House reporters April Ryan, Yamiche Alcindor and Abby Phillip.

Mr. Trump’s eschewing of political correctness, politeness and civility has emboldened other Whites who have seized upon the opportunity to confront, question and challenge Black people in just about every social venue and call police “just because.”

Ms. Rollins, mother of a 12-year-old daughter, said Black Americans are under siege.

“A lot of this creation of unsafe spaces for Black people is Trump’s fault. White people were sitting at the gates of hell waiting for permission,” she said. “Whites and others have infiltrated our safe spaces. There is public support for this type of behavior and no repercussions for what they’re doing. Hate crimes rose under Obama and they’re through the roof now,” added Ms. Rollins.

“The perpetuation of the marketing of race and oppression continues. We’re not in control, never were. It’s crazy and it’s untenable. Something’s going to happen. I think the bubble will burst. A race war isn’t far-fetched. You can feel it in the air and it’s so sad. I’m leaving this country.”

Karen Fleshman, a San Francisco-based anti-racism educator and founder of Racy Conversations, echoed what experts, Black scholars, historians and others already know: that the phenomenon of White people and women calling the cops and asserting authority is nothing new.

“It was present during slavery, Jim Crow and what happened to Emmitt Till,” she told The Final Call. “The National Rifle Association has an ad with a White woman saying she’s unsafe and feels so secure now that her husband has a gun. This is a longstanding practice and way of behavior with White women. It stems from a deep dissatisfaction and anger of their role in society and they take it out on Black people.”

Ms. Fleshman, an attorney and activist, said blaming Black people makes no sense. White women should be taking out their anger and frustrations on the White men who are oppressing them but they don’t. Historically and now, most White women act against their own self-interest, siding most times with White men.

Ms. Fleshman, who is White, calls the targeting and criminalization of normal Black behavior “disturbing and sick.” She recently penned an “Open Letter to White Women” and released a video expressing her worry and concern.

“I’m profoundly disturbed but not surprised by the spate of White, college-educated women calling police on people of color for absurd reasons,” she said in the video. “… why are White women so miserable and angry White women? And why are we taking our anger and frustration out on people of color who have done nothing to harm us? Black women have been trying, telling us for centuries that you can’t end sexism without ending racism. It won’t work. White women, everybody hates us. And with the exception of White men, we’ve earned that hatred through our lack of self-awareness and empathy.”

The “mask of civility” of White people will continue to come off as they become more angry, Min. Farrakhan forewarned. “As Caucasians begin to feel ‘threatened,’ and their ‘security’ is compromised, ‘the mask of civility’ comes off—and then you see murder coming out of their hearts and their eyes,” warned Min. Farrakhan in part 27 of his lecture series, The Time and What Must Be Done.

“It is the same in France; it is the same in Belgium. It is the same in Norway and Sweden, and Finland, and Denmark. It is the same in Germany, and in Russia. All over our planet, the hatred of Black is manifesting,” said the Minister.

Dr. Smith observed that there’s nothing he’s seen and no current establishment institution that gives him any confidence that the conditions and circumstances confronting Black people will change. Consequently, Africans in America must be cautious, fight back and protect themselves and their families, he said.

“We have to somehow defend ourselves or we’re prey,” he said. “Power respects power. Maybe we need to speak their language. You don’t want to send people to a slaughter but they have to understand that if someone gets struck, there’s a vanguard. We have to be strategic,” said Dr. Smith.

“We’re not going to change what’s here,” he continued. “We need a new political party that breaks away from the Democrats and Republicans. It will take a new generation to rise up. We need a movement.” (Nisa Islam Muhammad and Final Call staff contributed to this report)

From The Final Call Newspaper

Turmoil in the White House, treachery in politics: A look back at the year 2018
By Askia Muhammad

WASHINGTON—Pure bedlam rules in the councils of U.S. power after two years of the Donald J. Trump presidency along with Republican control of both the Senate and the House of Representatives. Mr. Trump may have suffered the worst of it.

He’s insisting on shutting down the government if GOP majorities in the House and Senate do not fund his southern border wall.

His cabinet has been decimated with departures—Defense Secretary, Chief of Staff, Attorney General, Interior Secretary. White House personnel have been coming and going around the West Wing as if it had a revolving door, and there are reports that many qualified candidates have declined offers to serve this president as replacements.

Despite widespread voter suppression efforts, the Trump Republican Party—now referred to by some observers as a Neo Confederate Party—suffered a repudiating defeat at the polls in November, receiving 3 million fewer votes than Democratic candidates, and losing 40 seats in the process, giving Democrats the House majority again.

In Michigan, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, among other places, Republicans voter suppression was widespread and they outright stole elections from Blacks and maneuvered the rules to cripple winning Democrats when they lost.

“For sure the losses of the governorships in Florida and Georgia, which many people invested lots of time, lots of energy” were big losses Dr. Clarence Lusane, chair of the Department of Political Science at Howard University told

The Final Call. “Those were devastating because in all fairness, in both of those instances, the Black candidate, should have won, (Stacey) Abrams and Andrew Gillum respectfully, in Georgia and in Florida.”

Despite the disappointment that came with emotional losses by Black candidates in the 2018

election cycle, there appears to be a strong will in many quarters for Black activists and experts to stay involved in electoral politics and to correct the inequities Whites have tried to build into the system to permanently disadvantage Black folks.

“And even when they’ve lost, it’s what happened in Michigan and in Wisconsin, North Carolina, Republicans have, going out the door, done everything they could to continue their harmful policies,” Dr. Lusane continued. “It has been a wrenching two years. But again, I think that the 2018 midterms demonstrated that people will not just sit on their hands but actually get out and be active.” Voter suppression was real and widespread. Even successful ballot initiatives were overturned by elected officials when they didn’t like the Election Day outcome, and schemes to block Black voters were common. As Blacks and other formerly disenfranchised people became more politically sophisticated, Republicans— concerned that they could no longer win free and fair elections—

began to cheat.

“Even in states that are not under the Voting Rights Act, from Indiana to Pennsylvania to other states, Republicans once in control understood that they could not win if you had everybody voting who could vote, and so voter suppression has been ongoing,” said Dr. Lusane. “Of course, when Trump came in, his antagonism to voting rights was taken to even another level.”

“(Republican legislatures) passed laws that made it so difficult to prove your identification. They passed laws cutting back on early voting. They passed laws restricting, you know, whether students could vote where they go to college and all of those restrictions, shape our democracy in a very detrimental way, especially to communities of color,” Kristine Lucius, executive vice president for policy and government affairs for the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, told this writer. “So that restoration to the Voting Rights Act will be an absolute top priority of the Leadership Conference in the broad civil rights coalition that we represent.”

“I think it’s a real slap in the face to the voters,” Elena Nuñez, director of State Operations and Ballot Measures Strategies at Common Cause, told this writer in an interview for “Monday Morning QB,” heard on WPFW- FM radio about the practice of nullification of voter initiatives by legislatures.

“Because again, voters used the ballot measure process to take action when their legislators will not, and so we see ballot measures as a way for the people to advance policies and ideas that aren’t being addressed, and for their elected officials to then turn around and disregard that or undermine it really sends a powerful signal that they don’t care what their voters are saying and they’re doing it because they think they can get away with it,” Ms. Nuñez continued.

What politicians from the president on down have fomented, is a hostile public discourse. “Oh, no doubt about it, Trump has been one of the worst presidents, for African Americans,” said Dr. Lusane. “He lies consistently. So if there was anybody unsure about what Trump’s agenda would be and how it would impact on African Americans, they’ll probably have to look at the last two years.

“It’s pretty clear that there are setbacks, but it’s not just Trump, it’s the Republican Party writ large that at the national level in Congress, but at the state level, what we’ve seen in Michigan and other states, where there have just been wholesale attacks on people’s voting rights on workers’ rights, on

the environment, on education, pretty much across the board,” Dr. Lusane continued.

“Unfortunately, I don’t think everyone’s against hate,” said Ms. Lucius. “Unfortunately, I think some people are running and many elected officials are fomenting hate and divisiveness in our communities.

“Certainly the president has done his share of fomenting hate when it comes to offering comfort to White supremacists marching in Charlottesville, but also in scapegoating immigrant populations and individuals who are different.

“Although hate crime sounds like something that should be easy enough to do, what we need in the hate crime space is frankly elected leaders and people with great position the power to stop scapegoating marginalized communities.”

There are some hopeful signs and positive goals, Ms. Lucius continued. “One thing that the incoming House can do in this space, even though House of Representatives doesn’t have a vote in the confirmation process, they can really do a huge service to shine a light on the extreme record of these nominees.”

“But we should also keep in mind the victories that happened around the country, from the Muslim sisters who were elected to the Black women who ran for the first time in a number of states who were elected. And now we have a Congressional Black Caucus that will be over 50 people,” Dr. Lusane pointed out.

“And with the Democrats taking control of Congress, it also means that you will have African American members who will be chairing critical committees. That will be important that the Black community take the energy that was put into the 2018 midterm elections. There was a tremendous amount of that now focused on holding accountable the people who were elected to represent the Black community and other communities both in Congress but also state and local levels.

“So I am hopeful that there is a growing, progressive, energetic, a Black movement that will hold policymakers accountable and then we can begin to push back on some of the setbacks that we’ve had in the last number of years,” Dr. Lusane said.

From The Final Call Newspaper

Peace in the hood & goodwill toward one another needed

By Charlene Muhammad

Instead of spending money and enriching others, Min. Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam are promoting acts of kindness that will increase peace, love and unity in Black neighborhoods.

Christmas is supposed to be about Jesus, joy, love and happiness, yet a mythical Santa and price-gouging merchants have taken Christ out of Christmas.

The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam has called for a revolution in thinking and action this year to put Christ back into Christ-Mass.

Service and unity are important and build positive relationships.

“This Christmas let’s make it a real mass for Christ,” stated Minister Farrakhan during a recent address at Mosque Maryam in Chicago. “Christ is not interested in you going in the store and making the already rich rich, putting yourself in debt for another year to give out gifts. Come on! Jesus didn’t ask you to do that,” Minister Farrakhan said.

Examine the 10th Chapter of Jeremiah in the Bible, he said Nov. 18 in a major address. Going out in the forest, cutting down a tree, taking it home, decking it with silver and gold is what heathens do, Minister Farrakhan observed, referring to the verses in Jeremiah and their warning against following the way of the heathen.

Human connections and acts of kindness can increase peace in the ‘hood.

Leave the tree, the lights, and the mythical Santa alone, and don’t ever again spend money on children and give the credit to a mythical Caucasian, making them think they’ve got to look to White people to get things that parents purchased through sweat and hard work, he said.

The Minister offered an alternative approach and activity taken from the Holy Quran’s 107th Chapter titled, “Acts of Kindness.”

A kind word and a good deed can make a difference, said activists and advocates.

“It doesn’t cost money to be kind,” he stated. A smile and kind word to one’s neighbor would be the best gift,” he said.

“But this Christmas, let love break out in the ghetto. They won’t even know what happened the next day when they see a measure of peace.”

Proof peace is possible can be found in the historic Million Man March, said Min. Farrakhan. Peace reigned that Monday, Oct. 16, 1995, as nearly two million men gathered in Washington, D.C., at the Minister’s call, and not one arrest or crime was reported.

For those with money to spend, find a Black business, spend with their own, and keep the money circulating in their neighborhood, said Min. Farrakhan.

Abdul Sharrieff Muhammad feels the theme and the work for Xmas 2018 goes back to Minister Farrakhan’s guidance and instructions during the 20th Anniversary of the Million Man March in 2015. The anniversary’s theme was “Justice or Else!”.

As head of the 10,000 Fearless Headquarters of the South and student minister at the Nation of Islam’s Southern regional headquarters in Atlanta, Mr. Muhammad pointed out how the Minister called for Blacks to make their communities safe and decent places to live three years ago. That was an act of kindness in itself, he said.

In Atlanta and other parts of the country, services and food are needed not trinkets and pricey gifts. Giving the gift of service is needed this year to put Christ into Christmas, said activists and advocates.

“The scriptures say when was I hungry and you fed me not? When was I in prison and you didn’t visit me? All that is what the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan wants us to do in an act of kindness,” said Mr. Muhammad.

The 10,000 Fearless Headquarters has been providing clothes, food and meeting people’s needs since 2015. “It’s freezing,” said Mr. Muhammad. “Our people are asking for food. It gives you life to help our people, and it’s an act of kindness.”

Since 2015, the Nation of Islam has called for a holiday spending boycott and “Up With Jesus, Down With Satan” to promote greater spirituality and rejection of materialism and crass consumption.

Tuesdays and Thursdays are the main days for feeding people, but it’s really a 24-hour job, he told The Final Call. “Somebody could come at that door and knock, and they’re hungry, and to see Brother Barry go in there and get on that stove and cook and feed them, when he doesn’t have to do that! He’s been doing that ever since we’ve been over here,” Minister Muhammad shared.

“I’ve seen him go and make sandwiches, when we don’t have no food, when food is short over here. I’ve seen him go in there and make a sandwich for a family that have come here late at night and ask, saying we don’t have nothing to eat,” he recalled.

Chicago Muslims feed the needy throughout the year and were encouraged to make an extra show of charity to reflect the life and mission of Jesus the Messiah.

He expressed gratitude for those who have donated clothes and shoes for the 10,000 Fearless to give away every day. “What we sometimes as a people will have in our closets, just sitting there collecting dust, it would be an act of kindness if they gave it to us and we could give it to the people because the people could use it,” Minister Muhammad said.

People are very appreciative of the food, clothing, and coats, he said. Sometimes people that live under bridges knock on the 10,000 Fearless office because it’s cold and they have nowhere to go.

“Brother Barry didn’t even know them. He allowed them to come in this house and spend the night. An act of kindness,” said Mr. Muhammad.

Carmella Muhammad, in Chicago, interacts with a young woman in a Windy City neighborhood.

Black Lives Matter in Los Angeles started an annual campaign called Black Xmas in 2014 in partnership with the Nation of Islam.

“Minister Farrakhan was calling on folks not to spend their dollars with the White corporations that keep us oppressed, and so we partnered with the Nation and helped to amplify that call,” said Dr. Melina Abdullah of Black Lives Matter Los Angeles chapter and chair of the Pan African Studies Department at California State University Los Angeles.

Every year BLMLA has from White corporations that benefit from and contribute to Black oppression and even Black deaths, she said.

Recently, they focused on the link between White capitalism and state-sanctioned violence in their campaign. For instance, the 2014 murder of John Crawford in a Beaver Creek, Ohio, Walmart, after an employee called the police when he was simply looking at merchandise, she noted.

“What we think about during the holidays is how corporations and capitalism try to drive us to spend our money with them even though they don’t value our lives, and so we say we have power and we have the power to withhold our dollars from those corporations and use our dollars for things that actually build strong, Black communities,” said Dr. Abdullah.

Black Lives Matter Los Angeles encourages people not to spend on things they don’t need. Instead of buying grandmother who is a music lover another sweater, donate that money to places like the Fernando Pullum Community Arts Center in Leimert Park, that teaches Black children to play music for free, Dr. Abdullah recommended.

Donate to organizations that support loved ones in prison and if they do need to buy something, then buy Black, she said.

“Every day we have been profiling a Black-owned business that contributes to our community like Simply Wholesome, who hires not just young people, but also Black ex-offenders, who come out and can’t get jobs,” Dr. Abdullah explained. Black Lives Matter Los Angeles wants people to employ “Buying Black” all year long, not just in the 30-40 day holiday season.

“In November people were talking about the importance of the vote, right. If you spend your dollar, that’s a vote … . If you spend your dollars instead with a Queen Aminah, you’re voting for her! You’re saying we want your business to do well. We are voting for these kinds of businesses to grow and prosper in our community and then in turn benefit our community,” Dr. Abdullah said.

“Queen Aminah” is Aminah Muhammad of Muhammad Mosque No. 27. For years, she has not only provided clothing, jewelry, and cultural art to her community from Inglewood to Los Angeles to Leimert Park, but she, husband Larry Muhammad, and their family hold annual food giveaways.

It’s very important that the community that buys from you and supports your business that we give back. You can’t just sit in your store and your business and look at all of the hunger and the mental illness and the problems that’s going on in the community and not try to do something about it,” she said.

Making a change is what drives Sudan Muhammad and her family to go into women’s shelters and provide meals to those suffering in her Washington, D.C., community.

In Atlanta, Muslims and Christians joined forces to work to improve living conditions in a suffering Black neighborhood.

Their most consistent acts of kindness over the years have been providing homemade meals, she said. It’s not just those that are homeless and living on the streets, but mothers whose gas is turned off, with no way to prepare decent meals for their children. Some don’t have the luxury of scrambling eggs for their children or fixing hot cereal, she said.

“In the name of Allah, this year alone, I know that we’ve cooked for thousands of people in my little, teeny, tiny kitchen. Thousands,” she said.

This act of kindness comes at a time when people are being kicked off food stamps and food bank and charity cupboards are bare, added Sudan Muhammad. But, she said, Allah (God) blesses her with organic food from many sources as well as feminine products for women’s shelters.

“I had my children with me and we were serving, and one sister was in an abandoned car. The windows were knocked out in the back. She was pregnant with twins in a car, freezing to death, and the only thing I could give her was some blankets and I took the coat off my back and gave it to her,” Sudan Muhammad told The Final Call.

Serving people at the grassroots level shows how much people really need help, said Pastor Ja’Mail Johnson of the Word Church in Houston, Texas.

Many became familiar with him, wife Natasha, and their congregation during Hurricane Harvey, which pummeled Texas in August 2017. The church provided help to those devastated by the flood.

Instead of going into debt, how about opening your heart and showing compassion for others, advocates said. Houston community groups worked together and donated items after devastating storms and floods.

“Churches have a responsibility to their communities, whether it’s during the holidays, or natural disasters or not, he stressed.

Through their Fulfillment Project’s Kicks for Kids, the couple has consistently distributed shoes to elementary students, provided meals through a community food pantry, provided disaster relief aid, offered social and physical activity programs for seniors, and provided shelter and other services for battered women.

“A lot of people during this time of the year, they feel that burden to give, or, then others, depending on your tax bracket, may feel the need for the tax break, so you give and you’re wanting a donation receipt, but I will say this, there are a lot of entities, more of your larger entities: Of that dollar that you’re giving, probably only five to 10 percent is going to get to that person that’s in need,” Pastor Johnson stated. That won’t buy a stick of bubble gum in this inflated market, he said.

In Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Chicago and other cities, those committed to doing good say a great need exists and they could use helping filling that need.

“When you give to a smaller non-profit or a smaller grassroots effort, I really believe that you are touching the heart of that person, because those are the people that’s on the front lines,” Pastor Johnson said. “It never fails. When I’m in the trenches we really don’t have a lot of big entities there. They come out when there are national disasters, when the television cameras are there, when you can get a sound bite. But it’s a lot of people that are hurting and there would be no news coverage there to really capture the pain that they’re going through,” he said.

So he often struggles between disasters to get people to understand and help meet real needs regularly. “I don’t want to have to go through it and lose everything just for you to come and give me a sandwich and some Cheetos and tell me to have a blessed day,” he said.