Ebony S. Muhammad (EM): First congratulations on such a major endeavor!
Deric Muhammad (DM): THANK YOU! All praise is due to Allah.
EM: This is nothing to wink at. I read that 200 million people desire to write and publish a book, but only 65,000 books make it all the way, of which only 12,000 exclude textbooks and other professional writings. 12,000 out of 200 million … And here we are celebrating the release of your very first self published book, A Street Activist’s Perspective (ASAP).
What was the event or thought that sparked the idea to publish your first book? What was the initial ground work like?
DM: When I was a high school student, one of my English teachers forced me into a Journalism class. She recognized through my work that I had a gift to write. It was a beautiful teacher by the name of Mrs. Myra Leonard who taught me how to use this skill and gave me confidence in my ability. Years later, I decided to pick up the pen again as a way to compliment the work of the Nation of Islam, and my activist work coming out of the greater NOI. I began writing opinion editorials. They made the pages of The Final Call Newspaper and other Black publications, as well. This book is a compilation of some of our best work. The ground work has been in play for many years. We are grateful for this milestone and excited to get the ASAP message out to the people.
EM: What exactly is a street activist and when did your passion for people begin? How was it developed?
DM: That is a good question (LOL). One of the pioneers of the Nation of Islam, Brother Epworth Muhammad (may God be pleased with him), used to refer to me as a “street minister” in the earlier days of my becoming a Muslim. My ministry has always been most inclined to the brother and sister in “the hood.” At some point people began to refer to aspects of my work as “activism.” There are civil rights activists, gay rights activists, human rights activists, etc. However, The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan always asks the question “Who Speaks for the Poor.” I would like to consider myself as a servant of the poor who tries to speak for the poor.
There was no beginning to my passion for the people. I have always been this way. However, my activation into the actual work of putting that passion to work began when I heard the voice and discovered the example of Minister Louis Farrakhan.
EM: ASAP covers a wide array of topics from fighting injustice, advice for single mothers raising boys to the issue of teen lesbianism. What is your overall goal for this publication and what do you hope each reader gains from it?
DM: Our overall goal is to raise the level of consciousness of all who would read our writings. Each chapter addresses a critical issue, but also presents a proposed solution. We would hope that this book inspires dialogue about some of our more painful issues, such as the molestation of women. I am a firm believer that if you are unwilling to face tough issues you can never implement solutions. Certain aspect of the book will make you laugh; others will make you think deeply. We want to give the world a better understanding of the most misunderstood people on the planet: Black people in America.
Last but not least, the book is entitled A.S.A.P. because we want to inspire in our people a sense of urgency to get involved, stay involved, unite and do something for ourselves. We pray that each reader is lifted by the spirit of the words in our book.
EM: You are kicking off your book signing tour in Houston. What do you have lined up for your supporters tonight? How can other cities bring you in for book signings?
DM: It was natural for me to kick off my book signing tour in my hometown, Houston. I have received so much love and support over the years that it was a no brainer. I was born and raised here. Much of my “perspective” on life was learned here. My family, my people and the believers have all inspired me to do what I am striving to do with God’s permission. So my book signing will be more than a book signing. It will be more like a family reunion, neighborhood block party and Ramadan feast all rolled up into one. We anticipate a lot of blood, love and loyalty to be on deck.
Lastly, we are hosting our book signing at a Black-owned establishment called Aunt Beas Restaurant. My book emphasizes the critical importance of circulating the Black dollar by supporting Black businesses. By hosting our release at Aunt Beas we are practicing what we preach. For those looking to bring us in for speaking engagements, book signings, townhall meetings, etc., visit my website at www.dericmuhammad.com. There is a form to filled out for such requests.
I just want to express my gratitude to Allah, His Messenger and our Minister (Farrakhan) for giving me something to say that would be worth printing and distributing. And I mean that. Before I became a student of the Teachings of Elijah Muhammad, I had very little to say of value. I am grateful. THANK YOU to everyone (there are too many people to name) for your prayers, support, well-wishes and kind thoughts. Please pick up this book ASAP look forward to your feedback.