A former black militant shares how he rediscovered America -- and himself.
Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Charles Patrick, a former black militant who rediscovered America and, in so doing, discovered himself. He is now a motivational speaker and is writing his memoir, From Left 2 Right: My Journey from Farrakhan to Limbaugh. Visit his site at charlesrpatrick.com.
FP: Charles Patrick, welcome to Frontpage Interview.
Let’s start with how you became a militant and what inspired you to do so.
Patrick: Thanks Jamie.
Becoming a militant was never an aspiration in my life. No one in my family or extended family had ever been involved with a militant organization. It started for me in school where my first tint of frustration started. I was born with a severe stuttering problem. As a result. I was labeled as a special needs child. From the 4th to 7th grades I had to attend special classes in the basement. I remember the embarrassment of being pulled out of my regular classes by the speech therapy teacher. I was at a new school when it started but throughout it all I kept a positive attitude about school. In the eighth grade I transferred to a new school and didn’t have to attend any more special classes. I had worked my tail off in my other subjects. I was playing catch up on the regular class time I was missing due to the therapy classes. I made the honor roll in the eighth grade and I felt that this whole episode of special classes was behind me.
For my freshman year, I was shocked to see that I was enrolled in special reading classes. I thought that my English would be composition English or literature like other college-bound students. I knew at this point that my idea of going to college was over. I mentally dropped out of school at that point. My frustration with the educational system was building but I put on a good face for my parents. I lasted for 2 years and surprisingly passed all of my courses before I dropped out after my sophomore year.
At this point in my life, I had no direction but I did not want to displease my parents. I made a deal with them to work and get my GED. This went on for 4 years. I enlisted in the Army when I was 21. I did 3 years in the Army and got out when I was 24. I knew I could do better and have more choices in my life than what the Army was offering me. However, things did not work out for me at all once when got out. I had a lot of trouble finding what my passion was and I had little desire to do anything with my life. I think a lot of it stemmed from my childhood and being labeled. Being an adult now and not having any direction in life is different than when I was a kid. As a kid it was frustration -- as an adult it turned to anger. I was looking back at my school years and I became very angry and was looking for answers.
I had started to listen to black talk radio and heard this Nation of Islam minister guy come on and I was mesmerized. The radio station WVON out of Chicago use to play speeches by Louis Farrakhan. I listened and it was if he was talking to me personally. It seemed like he had all of the answers that I was seeking in my life. Listening to him made me believe that my problems stem from me not having knowledge about myself. He would provide info on all of the famous blacks I had never heard of from school. From inventors, writers etc and he would blame the educational system for not teaching me this. When he said this it was a hallelujah moment for me. This inspired me to want to join the Nation of Islam. This was in the late 80's and early 90's when it seemed that black nationalism was everywhere in the black community. I knew right then that this was going to be an important part of my life. I was at the time involved in my first interracial relationship. She became the first casualty of my new way of thinking. I was set up with a mentor from the nation who would help me become a member.
I was given a set of general orders mainly talking about the distance of the earth to the sun, and other facts about the population of the original man (Black Man). My mentor then taught me how the white man was not human. He took out a dictionary and looked up the word hue. He then showed me how it was spelled phonetically (hyoo). He then looked the word human and it was spelled (hyoo-men). He concluded that since hue meant color that the word human means man of color. Since the white man has no color he cannot be human.
Soon after I was reading a lot of books by a black nationalist. The common theme was the black man is the victim of white supremacy. Out of all the books I read there were 2 people who I found fascinating: Frances Cress Welsing and Leonard Jeffries. Leonard Jeffries was more of a professor than a writer. Both of them, along with the Nation of Islam, believed in melanin as a superior pigment. This was something that made the black man supreme and since whites had far less than blacks they were evil. I was taught that the white man knew the power of melanin and that is one of the reasons he had to destroy the black man. I found all of this fascinating, because to me this explained why my life was the way it was. I felt that if I could better understand this then I would have a better life because I will have this knowledge. Melanin was explained for the different anatomies of blacks and whites. From our hair which they called strong antennas, which allow for quicker transmission of magnetic and electrical energy. Whites had what was called limp hair or weak antennas. To our noses which are broad and flat. It causes blacks to have a wider field of vision. Whites have noses that are raised and have a chiseled bridge which blocks field of vision.
FP: What started your second thoughts and how did you act on them? What were the consequences?
Patrick: Well, this type of education went on for a little more than a year. I was being asked by my mentor to join the nation of Islam. I had a hard time denouncing the Christian religion and becoming a Muslim. I was getting tired of reading books by black nationalists. I felt that I was not being challenged intellectually. I started reading motivational books. They had a quote that says "once the mind is expanded with knowledge it never goes back to its original dimensions." My professional life was not going better. I still had a hard time trying to figure out what kind of career I wanted.
I started telling my Nation of Islam mentor that I had a desire to become a business owner even though I had no idea as to what kind. He did not take to this too kindly. It started to occur to me that all that they wanted me to do was to sell and promote the Nation of Islam and my individual aspirations did not matter. I was starting to have second thoughts about joining.
I was isolated from family and friends. In reality they started to avoid me because they didn’t want to hear me talk about "that Muslim stuff." A lot of black men I met from the Nation of Islam had come from jail, or were former junkies and gang-bangers. Even though we all believed in what the Nation was doing I did not have the type of worship mentality they had when it came to Farrakhan. For me, I found it hard that they did not give credit to themselves for changing their lives. It was hard for me to give up my individual self for the collective. I had done service in the Army where I felt the same type of thing. I was not going down that road again even if it was for the uplift of the black community. In reality it was not for the uplift of the black community, it was for the uplift of the Nation of Islam.
The consequences from all of this was catastrophic for me. I was now in my early 30's and I felt that I had done nothing to better myself professionally. I was alienated from friends and family. I was no closer to doing the things in life that I knew I was capable of doing. I went into the nation of Islam thinking it was a black self-improvement organization. I started to see that I was still living my life as a victim under the guise of self-improvement. In life everything is a balance, you can’t have one without having the other. There can be no white supremacy without black inferiority. I felt subconsciously that I was a victim so my life reflected what I was living and felt on the inside. I did this to uphold the fallacy of white supremacy that I believed in consciously. I learned that hate has a more corrosive effect on the hater than the hated. As a result I ended up homeless.
FP: Ok so then what happened? Where are you at now in life? What are your political views and what are your thoughts on the Nation of Islam and on the Left’s vision?
Patrick: When I became homeless I made a life-changing decision. Everything in my life up to that point was wrong. I wiped the slate clean and said that I was going to go with my gut feelings from now on. I pictured myself as a brand new immigrant coming to America. The hate-America and hate-whitey attitude I had held on to for so long was now withering away -- I always, deep down, knew it was wrong subconsciously. I had been reading motivational books and listening to Rush Limbaugh for 5 years but I fought it.
The feelings of being a victim and the residue of my Nation of Islam thinking had paralyzed my thinking. I now made a leap of faith and decided that I was going to have faith in what Rush was saying. I knew this was right for me because there was no internal struggle going on inside of me like it was before. I adopted the credo “seeing is not believing but believing is seeing.” I had this picture in my mind of what I wanted. I started driving a cab for the city of Chicago. It was my way of controlling what I made. I set my own hours and it was concurrent with my dream of being an entrepreneur.
I drove for a couple of years and took on another job part-time, it was cleaning toilets on the 3rd shift. I loved it! This was my labor of love which I read about in my books. I had tried a number of things from insurance, real estate and stock broking but I failed at them all. I rose through the ranks at a couple of janitorial companies. I became a regional supervisor in charge of accounts for two states. I started my own janitorial company and again I was very successful. Then in 2008 and 2009 the recession hit and I lost my job and my business. I am now a motivational speaker (www.charlesrpatrick.com) and I'm working two jobs and I'm writing a book which I plan on self publishing (unless I can find an editor and publisher). The name of my book is "From Left 2 Right: My Journey from Farrakhan to Limbaugh.”
FP: What do you consider yourself now politically? How are you seen by your former community?
Patrick: I consider myself to be a constitutional conservative. I use to be a liberal during my Farrakhan days. Within the black community, I'm considered a sellout. That does not bother me at all, as a matter of fact I laugh at those who try to denigrate me. I'm not burdened by having to carry my blackness around me like an albatross around my neck. That’s one of the main reasons black liberals hate black conservatives. Black liberals cannot stomach the thought of someone black not embracing the whole black identity. What they fail to take into consideration is that yes I'm black but my mental state is of prosperity and not of poverty. I have far greater power as an individual than I would being a (victim specimen) black man. Black liberals wrap their whole lives around being black. In part, because they are insecure of themselves as individuals. They believe that blacks can gain more power as victims through concessions from whites (government) than by having power as individuals. Some feel as though it is owed to them (reparations). They can’t see that what they have done is replace the chains of slavery from around our ankles to our minds. That runs contrary to the greatness of what America has to offer.
This country was set up as a representative republic to protect and ensure the God given inalienable rights of the individual. It does not matter if that individual was part of a minority or majority. That way the ordinary individual can accomplish extraordinary things. Frederick Douglass once said "I know of no rights of race greater than rights of humanity."
The Nation of Islam might seem to some as harmless rhetoric but they inspire a lot of blacks to have negative views of America. The part that bothers me is not that the Nation has done anything different from what they do. What bothers me is that the black community by and large has caught up to the Nation of Islam way of thinking. In 1993, when Ben Chavis took over the NAACP, it signaled to me that the radical left had taken over the black civil rights organizations. The jury nullification verdict in the O J Simpson trial in 1995 was a sign to me that the black community had become a lot more militant. My fears were confirmed in 1995 when Farrakhan had the Million Man March. Black representatives in Congress were always agitators. After 1995, I think they got more radical and more bolder. A lot of the things Farrakhan championed became proposals for black reps like John Conyers, Maxine Waters and others. Now it seems that to some radicals in the black community the Nation of Islam has gone too mainstream. You have a spin off organization now called the New Black Panther Party, trying to take up the mantel from where they think the Nation dropped it.
FP: Our time is up my friend, let’s finish up with a comment from you on the vision of the Left.
Patrick: The vision of the Left has been hijacked by the radicals. I use to hear that things that happen in the black community are a precursor to what will happen in America in the coming years. This is the case in terms of politics. In the year 2006, MoveOn.org and other radical groups became the dominant players in democratic politics. In my opinion, the relationship between blacks and whites on the Left are one of paternalism and irreverence. Blacks on the Left have this obsession with being looked at as victims. Whites on the Left know this instinctively and view blacks through that prism. White conservatives commit a crime in the eyes of the blacks on the Left. The crime they commit is looking at blacks as human beings and not as specimens to be examined. They see blacks as they see themselves, having the God-given gifts and power to do better in your life. Blacks on the Left then say “How dare you not acknowledge me as a victim!”
Years ago I read a quote by Lionel Trilling, a socialist at Columbia during the 1950's. He said "We who are liberal and progressive know that the poor are our equals in every sense, except that of being equal to us." This is the attitude that I see on behalf of whites on the left. Just like blacks on the Left are motivated by victimization, whites on the Left are motivated by not being seen as racist. These types of politics have been eclipsed by what I see as the threat to America today. The threat is the Left and the turning of America into a statist and socialist country. Government has more and more control over your daily life. They are on a mission to make transfer payments to people the dominant way to make a living in America. I believe the bigger government gets the smaller the individual becomes. And vice-versa. And that’s the road the Left is tragically succeeding in paving for this great nation.
FP: Charles Patrick, thank you for joining us today. We wish you the best.
Editor's note: To get the whole story on why the Left derives its blood supply from the mantle of victimhood, read Jamie Glazov's critically acclaimed, United in Hate: The Left's Romance With Tyranny and Terror.