Open Carry Texas turns 1 year old today and it looks like the gun rally they planned in Houston's predominantly Black 5th Ward I reported on last month is back on for August 16th. After a month of criticism over racial insensitivity they have recruited an African American, and follower of Louis Farrakhan, named Maurice Muhammad as a special guest.
C.J. Grisham, OCT's founder, says open carry is a “universal right” and believes the media has been unfair in characterizing the organization as white male “rednecks.” He says this description is a disservice to their minority members. Having seen many pictures and videos of OCT events I can attest that the group is predominantly white and male but does have minority members.
Maurice Muhammad is the National Director of the Initiative. He says he fights “unfair discrimination and ridicule of Black people throughout the earth and the Initiative's mission statement is to, “build a reality for our people and to conduct WAR on anybody that comes against what we have decided to build…and provide a fertile ground for black People to be able to do for self.” He said he came across the 5th Ward demonstration in his inbox and decided to reach out to see what OCT's true intentions were.
In a radio interview with Muhammad, Grisham said he is “very uncomfortable” with using racial identifiers and only sees the “human race,” and that OCT is a “very diverse organization.”
Grisham said the 5th Ward event was sparked after he was attacked on Twitter by a black female for only demonstrating in rich white areas and then challenged him to go to the 5th Ward, to which he replied, “why not.”
“We're going to hold up our signs and hold up our flags and encourage the 5th Ward citizens to stand with us and exercise their gun rights, to take up arms to show both the criminal element the the political element that we won't be victims of tyranny whether it be from a street thug or a government thug.”
OCT believes it is the laws themselves that are racist pointing to the fact that more Black men occupy prisons than White men, that ex-felons can't own firearms and that individuals behind on child support can not get a concealed handgun licenses. Those are real stats, but instead of fighting the root causes of these disparities they prefer to use them to further their agenda of desensitising people to seeing military-styled weapons carried openly and casually in public.
They also believe that the NRA has brainwashed gun owners to believe they need government approval and training in order to be considered “responsible guns owners.” David Aman told Muhammad in the same radio interview that he believed gun owners should be trained but not by the government — he said he was taught by his father.
Yes, we have de facto racist laws in this country that fuel the disparity in the prison population and systemic problems that perpetuate social and economic inequality, but those would be better addressed through better education that leads to better jobs and opportunities, not carrying guns.
OCT doesn't seem to understand the root of why they are criticized over race so let me explain a couple of things. First, when being accused of racially insensitivity it is never a good idea to say “I don't see race.” That was proven false by this Harvard study. The evidence shows that first thing your brain does is take note of two characteristics: race and gender. As I also mentioned here, the root cause of this social construct of racism in America is the stigma that being black somehow equates to inferiority — something that was for centuries enforced by law and later propagated by the status quo. So let's not deny history for convenience sake, or because you don't intend to be racist.
Secondly, and sadly, almost 70% of African American children grow up in a single parent home, and more than half with just their biological mother, so the idea of their father will teach them gun safety also ignores some harsh realities rooted in our past. This is the same garbage line of reasoning that is used to keep legitimate sex education out of schools when statistics show that abstinence only education has been an abject failure (Texas has the highest rate of teen pregnancy).
A great article about the subject appeared in Everyday Feminism:
- So if someone ever tells you to “check your privilege,” what they may very well mean is: “Stop centering your experience and identity in the conversation by making this about the intent of your actions instead of their impact.” That is: Not everything is about you…Just because you did something sexist doesn't mean that you are sexist. Just because you said something racist doesn't mean that you are racist.
When your actions are called into question, it's important to recognize that that's all that is being called into question – your actions, not your overall character.
Besides all of the statistical and technical problems with OCT's approach to being called racially insensitive, Grishman is also a member of the John Birch Society which is a right wing organization that opposes government in almost every capacity, and is preoccupied with paranoia over Communism. During the 60s they even opposed the Civil Rights Act and denounced Martin Luther King Jr. himself as a Communist. So it should be understandable that people would question M.O. behind a belief that government should not do anything to address the inequalities it enforced, or that to do so is somehow “reverse racism.”
Let's take race out of the issue and break it down. If someone injures you with their car, not injuring you again is only part of the answer. You must also pay medical bills, you could be sued for lost wages, and depending on the circumstances you may even face criminal charges. Because lets face it, despite your intent you have irreversibly impacted someone, and even if you never drive again they will forever live with the consequences.
In other words, as long as there are shameful statistics showing incredible racial disparity those very facts will remain the impetus for racial recognition.
So I'll extend the closing advice by granted by the previously quoted article:
- When we are told that the impact of our action, inaction, or words is hurtful and furthers oppression, we can start by apologizing without any caveats.
From there, we can spend the time to reflect in hopes of gaining at least some understanding (however marginal) of the harmful impact. And we can do our best to move forward by acting more accountably.
5th Ward walk Facebook event page.
Follow me on Twitter at @joethepleb.