Brother Jesse Muhammad
On November 18, I was guest alongside a panel of others on Just Us and You Blog Talk Radio Show hosted by Attorney Pamela Muhammad, Amatullah Muhammad and Attorney Athill Muhammad. The topic was “Ferguson under siege: A conversation on the power of Discipline Unity and Faith.” Click here to listen to the replay.
Originally published 11.11.14
On November 8, I was a guest on Thru The Eyes of Faith Blog Talk Radio Show hosted by Imani Muhammad of Portland, Oregon. We discussed why #BlackLivesMatter, The Teachings 2.0 Twitter book of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, the Farrakhan Twitter Army, national issues and more. Click below and listen
On September 9, I was guest on the Ahmad X Morton Show alongside Benton Harbor City Commissioner Marcus Muhammad. In my segment, we discussed The Teachings 2.0 book, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan’s impact on social media, the consistent work of The Farrakhan Twitter Army and much more. Click below to hear the full replay.
Originally published 6.19.11
This is an old school photo of my mother, Mavis Jackson, with my father Joe McCray, Jr. that I scanned. They look so happy!
This time last year, I was extremely depressed on Fatherâ€™s Day because I was coping with the truth that I had discovered via a DNA test that was taken September 2009.
For those who just started reading my blogs, as a birthday gift to me and my mother, I decided to discover the truth as to who my biological father is. Due to my motherâ€™s circumstances surrounding my birth, I had two men as possibilities. One man, Joe McCray, had been deceased since 1988 and the other one, Earl Rideaux, was alive somewhere in Houston. I chose to find Earl and ask him to take the DNA test if he would agree. See, Earl was the one I was told all along was my biological father. But my mother confessed to me ten years ago that she was honestly unsure.
The days leading up to the DNA test, I prayed that it would be him. Then, regardless of his shortcomings in the past, I would have a chance to have a father-son relationship. We took the test on Sept. 17 of that year and the results came back Sept. 22 as 0% probability. I was crushed and so was Earl.
So at that moment I had to face reality. The man that God used to bring me to birth is dead, yet, he lives in me and through me. Interestingly, Joe McCray had been a part of my life when I was a little boy but I was told he was my â€œGodfather.â€ So I have fond memories of him, but never knew he was my real dad. My mother didnâ€™t either, however she is elated that we have closure to that question.
I went through a slight depression about it but my journey didnâ€™t stop there!
Last June, I obtained my fatherâ€™s death certificate, did extensive research at the library, and gained help from others which led me to July 4, 2010â€”the day I found my dadâ€™s two living brothers and sister. Since that time I have been bonding with Uncle Larry, Uncle Curly, Aunt Marilyn, my cousin Mickey and meeting more family members. It has been unreal and a blessing. I even went to a Houston Rockets game with one of them and I felt like a little nephew for realâ€”even though Iâ€™m 32 years old. (smile)
Last September I visited my dadâ€™s gravesite for the first time ever. It was emotionally painful and I couldnâ€™t stay long. Since that time Iâ€™ve had people to help me to relieve aspects of the mental weight connected to that lost and I feel happier today about it all.
To mark the anniversary of my dadâ€™s birth, I hosted a family gathering this February to bring together my dadâ€™s and motherâ€™s families for a heartfelt reunion.
I no longer will have a fatherless Fatherâ€™s Day, because today I get to visit with my two uncles, through whom my father lives every day. He lives through me also.
Anything is possible.
Happy Fatherâ€™s Day!
P.S.-I am finishing a book about this entire experience and God-Willing it is releasing in September.
Originally published 6.17.10
Father’s Day is upon us…..sigh.
For the last 31 years, I have watched this annual Father’s Day holiday go by without the presence of my biological father. I remember only drawing cards for other people’s fathers as a gift to them, but not once have I ever known what it felt like to juggle between getting cologne or a silk tie for mine. He wasn’t there to receive a gift or a pat on the back for being a great caretaker.
Not only has he been absent, I found out last year he has been deceased since 1988.
Last September, as a birthday gift to myself and my mother, I decided to discover the truth as to who my biological father is. Due to my mother’s circumstances surrounding my birth, I had two possibilities and a reality to face as a result of one pending DNA test. One DNA test would let me know more about myself, more about why I’m the way I am and mostly what the next phase of my life would be like concerning this.
One man was deceased and the other one was alive somewhere in Houston. I chose to find him and ask him to take the DNA test if he would agree. The Power of Allah (God) moved on my desire to know the truth and I was able to find the one who is alive within days.
This particular man was the one I was told all along was my biological father. Before I changed my name from ‘Jackson’ to ‘Muhammad’ in college, I used to bear his first name as one of my middle names. Honestly, I was happy to get rid of it because I figured why should I even carry his name when he had never carried me in his arms?
The little boy in me was still happy to see him last year and talk to him on the phone. I didn’t feel resentment. I only sought atonement and redemption. Up until that moment I had only seen him twice my entire life. The first time was in elementary and then my senior year in high school.
This was our moment. The days leading up to the DNA test, I prayed that it would be him. Then, regardless of his shortcomings in the past, I would have a chance to have a father-son relationship, buy him a card, shop for a silk tie, catch a movie, shoot some basketball, go out to dinner and even hear him say for the first time “I’m proud of you Jesse.” Plus he had other children who would become my sisters and brothers.
It is bigger than a commercialized holiday, but that would have meant this Sunday would be my first ever Father’s Day with my biological father. We took the test and the results came back 0% probability. I was crushed and so was he. Nonetheless, I applaud him for standing up like a man and having the courage to take the test.
So at that moment I had to face reality.
The man that Allah (God) used to bring me to birth is dead, yet, he lives in me and through me. I actually knew him growing up, but I didn’t know he was my pops. I was told he was my ‘Godfather’. He’s gone. He wasn’t there to see me play basketball, graduate from school, learn to ride a bike, get my first car or even see the birth of his grandchild.
I was blessed with a strong single mother, supportive siblings, a firm grandmother and a caring extended family being there through it all. Plus I have had male role models in my life.
However, the results of that DNA test showed me that I still had a void within that I was only covering up, just like some of you reading this might being doing now. It is real and we need healing. If you desire to do the same thing I did, I encourage you. I am now in search of my other relatives connected to my father. I don’t have much to start with except the date of his death. I have a long journey ahead.
As a man, if you have children in the world that you have not seen in a while go and atone. Start the healing process. If your father is alive and you haven’t spoken to him in a long time, pick up the phone. This is only encouragement. I don’t know the extent of your personal situation and I know the epidemic of absent fathers can’t be solved in an 800 word blog. Nevertheless, I know healing is possible.
If you have your father in the home with you, don’t take him for granted. If you’re headed to the Galleria to get him a gift, don’t take it for granted. Some of us might happily trade places with you.
If you’re being raised by a single mother or your grandmother, tell her “Happy Father’s Day” because she’s pulling double duty.
If you’re a father who is taking care of your responsibility, I applaud you. Fatherhood is more than a day.
To those of us void of the presence of our fathers and still paining, Hallmark doesn’t have a card big enough to fill this void.
However, there is a Divine Father who has yet to abandon us through it all. Hold your head up.
Happy Father’s Day Mother (smile)
(If you want to read more about how Jesse Muhammad found his biological father, click the image below)
All artwork in this post by Jesse Muhammad
Originally published 4.16.10
Peace to all.
I am honored to join this assembly of thought-provoking bloggers and candid readers.
First, let me thank Kate Shellnutt for her gracious and surprising invite. I say surprising because it’s not breaking news that there have been unwritten sanctions and untruthful labels placed upon the religious organization I am a member of–the Nation of Islam (N.O.I.). So to get this invite is a major step towards religious tolerance, but I guess that remains to be seen based on the comments I receive.
Before I get into that, and you start putting on your “e-gloves” (smile), I would like to just tell you briefly who I am. I am a product of the Northeast side of Houston. I attended Forest Brook Senior High School and Prairie View A&M University. I am a writer for The Final Call (helped to break stories like The Jena Six case), a blogger, a touring motivational speaker, a family man and one who strives to maintain the attitude and posture of a student.
I was raised as a Christian in a Methodist church. I was introduced to the Teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad while in high school and I initially wanted to join immediately because I saw a transformation taking place with Black men. Due to household rules, I was detoured from joining until I got to college. I joined in 1997 and I have honestly grown to appreciate my Christian upbringing. My deeper reasons for converting are not complex and I look forward to sharing those reasons later on. They stem from being introduced to seemingly complex truths in a very practical and mathematical way that resonated with me.
Let’s now sit down together at the table in “The Upper Situation Room.”
I have to be very honest with you from the start. In 2010, I know many that still have very skewed views of the N.O.I. and our leader the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan. It is not just Christians or Jews but even some of our very own Orthodox Muslim brothers and sisters. Some have had their opinions handed to them by media sound bites, others have judged without study and a core circle has outright labeled us a hate group.
I see this blog as another opportunity to dialogue, deal with actual facts, and to constantly present the pressing question facing all of us: What are we doing with what we know?
I am not easily offended or sensitive. So I would like to know your thoughts on this one question: What do you think about Minister Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam as a whole?
Until next time save me a seat at the table in “The Upper Situation Room.”
Originally published 6.9.10
The word “became” is the past participle of the word “become” which means “to come, change, or grow to be; to come into being.”
When I was approached by Hurt 2 Healing magazine’s publisher Ebony Muhammad to be the cover feature for the June edition, I honestly hesitated. With all of the accolades I receive, I strive not to get carried away with myself because I ultimately know who the Giver of gifts is. I strive to re-route the praise to Him.
I eventually accepted, though she could tell you that I was still trying to squeeze out of it in May by suggesting other great men I felt were more worthy than myself. I went forward with it because the title of the interview is bigger than “Brother Jesse”…it is about addressing a generational issue that’s haunting our community.
That issue is the absence of biological fathers in the lives of their children.
Last year, with my mother’s permission, I embarked upon a journey to find out the truth of who my biological father is as a birthday gift to myself and my mother. Little did I know it would turn into a journey that would become a gift to thousands around the world who followed my every move until the day I found out that the deceased Joe McCray is my biological father.
I have been very silent the last several months about it all, because truthfully I lost a little momentum from the DNA results. Instead of immediately going on the search for family members in the biological tree of my father, I went into reflection, immobilization and even depression over it all. However, this interview with Hurt 2 Healing magazine has reinvigorated my spirit to begin the next phase.
Thank you to Sister Ebony for the opportunity. I opened this blog with the definition of the word “become” to say that Allah (God) is not finished with me yet as I strive to attain a higher level of manhood on a daily basis. I am still becoming a manâ€¦..
Here is a sneak preview from the interview:
H2H:From that day to 2009, how often did you think about finally finding out which one was your biological father?
JM: I would say, honestly, not a month went by where it didnâ€™t cross my mind. It would be one of those situations where I would be driving down the street, or Iâ€™d be watching a particular movie and seeing a father and son uniting. I remember, and this is how I could tell that I wasn’t emotionally healed, watching an episode of the Fresh Prince of Bel-air. His father came back into his life, and Will bought that gift for him and they went to the park, you know. Then he just skipped out on him and made up some excuse, and I remember I cried watching that episode. I used to watch it a lot. It stopped me from wanting to go see movies like that. I would ask myself why was I crying, but I realized thatâ€™s what it was. I just learned to cope with it; act like it didn’t exist, and just keep going.
by Jesse Muhammad, Staff Writer(FinalCall.com) – The deepening crisis in the Gulf Coast caused President Barack Obama to amend his Memorial Day weekend plans. He landed in Louisiana to tour the devastation amid frustrated complaints that his administration has responded too slow and has been weak in its pressure on British Petroleum (BP) to halt what is being called the largest oil spill in the nation’s history.
â€œWe expect that frustration and anger to continue until we solve the problem,”said President Obama during his May 28 speech at Grand Isle. He still was unsure whether the â€œtop killâ€ method will halt the ecological disaster.The visit was the president’s second trip to the region since BP’s offshore oil rig Deepwater Horizon exploded over a month ago on April 20, killing 11 and triggering a massive oil spill. It is estimated that this oil spill has surpassed the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska in 1989.
According to the White House, the purpose of the trip was for the president to meet with local officials and hear their ideas. But this crisis has some analysts zeroing in on what they call a systemic history of corporate criminal behavior and negligence by government to fully hold these companies accountable.
â€œBP is a habitual criminal offender and cannot be trusted. The fact they were even allowed to manage this oil spill up to this point in the Gulf is horrendous. The company has one of the worst track records of any oil company operating in America,â€ Tyson Slocum, energy policy program director of the progressive group Public Citizen, told The Final Call.
At Final Call press time, a BP press release reported that the cost of the response as of May 28 was about $930 million, including the cost of the spill response, containment, relief well drilling, grants to Gulf states, claims paid and federal costs.The company says that 26,000 claims have been filed and 11,650 payments have already been made and over 96,000 calls have been made to the help line. Experts have estimated that the rate of oil spill into the Gulf could reach as high as 4.2 million gallons (100,000 barrels) a day.
â€œWe cannot let bureaucracy and red tape delay our action while oil hits our wetlands week after week,â€ said Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.
â€œThe American people should know that from the moment this disaster began, the federal government has been in charge of the response effort.As far as I’m concerned, BP is responsible for this horrific disaster, and we will hold them fully accountable on behalf of the United States as well as the people and communities victimized by this tragedy,â€ said President Obama at a May 27 press conference.
President Obama also ordered a halt to drilling operations at all 33 deep-water rigs in the Gulf of Mexico for six months or until a commission completes its task. Rigs that are already drilling will have to stop and others that were preparing to drill will have to stop those preparations.
According to the U.S. State Dept., some 17 countries have offered assistance, including Canada, Mexico, South Korea, Croatia, France, Germany,Ireland, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Russia, Spain, Sweden, theUnited Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom andVietnam. But no approval has been made by the U.S.
Lack of corporate transparency
â€œBP is as transparent as oil about the disaster. BP has consistently misled the public about how much oil is gushing from the well. BP must be held accountable and should be subject to permanent sanctions and criminal charges against executives,â€ said Mr. Slocum of Public Citizen.
â€œIt is clear that Obama’s administration responded too slowly. He needs to fire BP and put this under full federal control. The solutions to this are difficult but he made a mistake entrusting BP with handling this,â€ he continued.
In a letter to BP, Rep.Henry Waxman, (D-Calif.) and Rep.Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) said company investigators failed to keep lawmakers thoroughly informed in a series of briefings about the company’s abrupt decision to use a type of drill casing that was prone to cause more leaks.
â€œThis raises the possibility that BP’s internal investigation is not examining the consequences of BP’s own decisions and conduct,â€ the two lawmakers said in the letter. Mr. Waxman chairs the Energy Committee and Mr. Stupak is chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.
â€œMounting evidence shows that BP was negligent. Firsthand accounts describe BP managers proceeding with work to cap the well, even though they were informed that the integrity of the blowout preventer had been compromised,â€ said Mr. Slocum.
Corporate Gangsters on Capitol Hill? [READ MORE]
On April 16, Brother Jesse Muhammad officially became a guest blogger for HoustonBelief.com, which is the Houston Chronicleâ€™s religion page. This page features local bloggers from across faith traditions. One of their goals is to expand the perspectives represented on HoustonBelief to help their readers learn more and better understand the religious traditions in Houston.
The title of Brother Jesseâ€™s blog is The Upper Situation Room
â€œHoustonBelief is always looking for contributors who can help represent Houstonâ€™s diverse groups of people and faiths. Writing as a member of the Nation of Islam, Jesse Muhammad adds to the traditions represented on our site. Heâ€™s a local blogger whoâ€™s already made a name for himself writing about issues in the Black community, so I think heâ€™ll be able to start meaningful conversations about race and religion on HoustonBelief,â€ said Kate Shellnutt, web producer for HoustonBelief.
â€œIt is a great honor to be given this platform to further share the Teachings of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad as taught by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan. It is an opportunity to educate readers about the majesty of the Nation of Islam plus bring a fresh perspective on issues impacting the Black community,â€ said Brother Jesse.
Brother Jesse did not waste any time as he addressed false labels placed on Minister Farrakhan and Nation of Islam in his first two blog articles. Please join Brother Jesse in The Upper Situation Room at: http://blogs.chron.com/brotherjesse