The Killing of a Journalist

Voice staff writer Chris Thompson not only knew the Oakland reporter shot dead by a follower of the Yusuf Bey family, he'd also incurred the family's wrath

Bey also spoke at the event, praising and defending Muhammad while he stumped for his candidacy. An interfaith coalition of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim groups had rallied against Muhammad's appearance earlier in the day, and a wounded Bey spoke of the pain they had caused him. "Mr. Rabbi, when you challenge us, you're the oppressor," he complained. "Those rich guys really are something, picking on a poor ex-slave." But he took the time to assure the audience that he bore no ill will. Bey didn't hate Jews, he said, because "they're not worthy of being hated."

Because of Muhammad's campaign appearance, and Bey's pointed observation on True Solutions that homosexuals are executed in the Middle East, many Bay Area grocery stores refused to stock his bakery products, forcing him to lay off several employees. Bey never came close to winning the mayor's race, but he seemed to blame everyone but himself. He even told a reporter that Abaz and Nedir Bey's recent legal problems were the product of a sinister conspiracy to keep him out of the mayor's office. "These brothers have been accused, and we have been accused of every atrocity you can name," Bey said in a KTVU broadcast. "The bottom line is, we've been innocent. ... We've always been set up. This is a time I'm running for mayor, so let's use something to frighten the people."

While this convergence of scandals and elections brought Bey's views to the public's attention for a brief period, as time went on, he faded back into the margins of Oakland life. But he never stopped preaching, pushing his ideas onto impressionable young men.


Chris Thompson's Other Stories on the Yusuf Bey Family

How Official Oakland Kept the Bey Empire Going
The troublesome history of Oakland's most prominent Black Muslims ó and the political establishment that protects them.
Published: November 20, 2002

Blood & Money: Endgame
Even in his death, Yusuf Bey is lionized as an elder statesman rather than branded as a thug. Meanwhile, his victims reflect.
Published: October 8, 2003

For decades, city leaders have treated his odious notions with indulgence and respect, never subjecting Bey to the public shaming that should be his due. Yet when one stops to examine what Bey truly believes -- and what he promotes every week on his television show -- it becomes clear that this man does far more than simply express a love for his people, as his followers so often put it.

The ideology and creation myths of the Nation of Islam were conceived and refined by Nation of Islam founder Farrad Mohammad in the '30s, when lynching was common and Jim Crow regimes held sway throughout the South. Today, in an age of imperfect but congenial pluralism, Bey still recycles Mohammad's fairy tales and broadcasts them over the Oakland airwaves.

The black man, Bey claims in his numerous True Solutions sermons, is God. Not made in the image of God, but divinity itself. All black men are essentially avatars of Allah, the wellspring of all creative thought. In fact, Bey insists that the black man has invented every single tool, every idea, every system of government and social organization. White people, by contrast, are genetically incapable of creativity or invention. "The Caucasian has never created one thing in 6,000 years," Bey said in a 2001 speech commemorating Black History Month.

The only endeavor the white man can claim as his own, Bey says, is the science of "tricknology," the art of being devious and underhanded. "We black people are not up to tricknology," Bey said in the same speech. "We don't know tricknology, we cannot master it. How many black magicians do you see today? Like Siegfried and Roy, guys who can make elephants disappear, we can't trick like that."

How could an obviously inferior race have mastered the children of God? Bey says the answer lies in ancient history. Six thousand years ago, in a mythic black utopia on the Arabian peninsula, a mad scientist named Yakub invented the ghastly science of genetic engineering. In a series of secret experiments, he "grafted" the pallid, inferior gene from the black man, progressively bleaching his subjects until they grew brown, yellow, and finally white. As C. Eric Lincoln put it in his classic study, The Black Muslims in America, these experiments "peopled the world with 'blue-eyed devils,' who were of comparatively low physical and moral stamina -- a reflection of their polar distance from the divine black."

White people scuttled among the citizens of this utopia, spreading their tricknology and fostering division among the original black man. But black men discovered the white man's plot and drove whites from civilization, exiling them to the hills of Europe. After 2,000 years of savagery, the black diplomat Moses traveled to Europe and taught the white man civilization again, in a gesture of reconciliation. But as the white man is inherently devilish, he used civilization to enslave the black man and dominate the globe. Soon, Bey preaches, a racial judgment day will arrive, and black men will retake their rightful place as stewards of the planet.

Bey says that black women have conspired with white men to set up a racial pecking order that strikes at the heart of the black family. Indeed, he seems to reserve a special anger for African-American women. When the white man brought Africans to the New World in chains, Bey says, he made a point of crippling and humiliating the black man in front of his woman. This so terrified the black woman that she developed a new set of survival skills: emasculate the black man, and teach him a reflexive, paralyzing humility designed to appease the master's wrath. Over the generations, this has become second nature to the black woman, until she took for granted the notion that she should speak her mind or consider herself an equal partner in the family.

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