By Imam John S. Bilal II
O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise each other). Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things). (13)
Early Saturday morning on January 2nd, 2016 Dr. Francis Cress Welsing returned to Allah (SWT) in the company of family, a few close friends and students at the Washington Hospital Center in Washington DC. Dr. Welsing was a psychiatrist, clinical practitioner, teacher, lecturer, down-to-earth friend, and staunch advocate for the mental health of African American people. Her many constructive works remain as a legacy of her phenomenal intellectual force in America psychiatry as nobly produced from the descendants of slaves.
Frances Luella Cress was born in 1935, at Chicago, Illinois to highly educated parents. In 1957, she earned her B.S. Degree from Antioch College and in 1962, earned a degree in Psychiatry from Howard University College of Medicine.
She earned her doctorate at the very start of the so-called "Black Power Movement" and two years prior to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Dr. Welsing immediately challenged herself to respond to the mental health crises of non-white people, specifically, those people who had just begun to self-identify as "Black" people. Dr. Welsing would work for many years as Clinical Director and Staff Physician with the Washington D.C. Department of Human Services, where she helped emotionally disturbed children. The sixties were tumultuous years in the United States. Jim Crow laws had been struck down in the courts and African Americans were feeling freer than ever to move out into fields of opportunity which had been formerly unattainable, however, hundreds of years of racism and oppression had left a mark on the victims of that system and the perpetrators. Dr. Welsing was one of many who heard the call to heal the wounds in a decade of great change.
Welsing tells the story of how she came to her theories about racism. She’d been invited many times to attend one of the Black Power meetings in Washington, DC, and one day a voice came to her quietly and convinced her to go. While at that meeting, she overheard a gentleman talking about racism as a local, national, global system; a concept she’d never heard before. His name was Neely Fuller Jr. and the name of his concept was called the United Independent Compensatory Code System Concept, called "The Code" for short. Fuller claims his work and any work to decipher the deceptive system of racism must be derived from progressively purified logic. The Code presents information to decode White Supremacy and reveals to its victims, what it is, and how it works and what specific things should done to lessen the damage and further, how to eradicate it. Dr. Welsing says when she asked Fuller about why the racists practice racism he said it doesn’t matter why, it’s already here and needs to be dealt with. As a trained psychiatrist Welsing needed an answer to that question and spent several years thinking about it. "I was standing at the sink doing dishes with my hands in the water and it struck me”. This was the beginning of the Cress Theory of Color Confrontation which postulates the reason white people commit racist aggression towards non-white people is because they are responding to the threat of white genetic annihilation by the non-white people on planet earth.
As a young student in the University of Islam, I listened attentively to the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and his ministers teach something quite similar to that idea - the idea of Yacub’s grafted devil. While that idea never really appealed to my young mind, the concept of genetic material being used to graft a human being, I got that part, I could understand it and it was fascinating. Fast forward to a time when Imam W. Deen Mohammed was giving birth to our logical minds against the winds of emotion as he made classic lectures like “Circumcision of the Mind”, “Artificial Brains” and the “Appetites Unchecked By Knowledge” and other probing topics, like most of the Muslims who had been followers in the Nation of Islam and later followed Imam W. Deen Mohammed into a true practice of Al Islam, I found myself attracted to any information which helped me separate the truth from the lie in the old race based language of the Nation of Islam. The intellectual work of Dr. Welsing helped me make that transition. What appealed most to me was the use of logical thinking to understand racism, when decoding racism, if your logic isn’t pure your conclusion will be incorrect and less than effective.
In 1973 Dr. Welsing debated Dr. William Shockley, an American Physicist who had in 1956, won a joint Nobel Prize in Physics for his part in the invention of the transistor. Shockley was a proponent of eugenics and was speaking around the country on college campuses advocating a program of forced birth control which would largely fall upon non-white people, “the negro”. Welsing won that debate, shutting Shockley down with her logical arguments. After the interview, Dr. Shockley quickly vanished into obscurity.
In her 1991, seminal treatise - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors, Dr. Welsing offers her readers a compelling reason for why the injustice of racism. She opens her book with a dedication: This work is dedicated to the victims of the global system of white supremacy (racism), all non-white people worldwide, past and present, who have resolved to end this great travesty and bring justice, then peace to planet Earth". Then Dr. Welsing says, no one should speak about racism until they have informed themselves properly about racism, and recommends reading materials, and films.
The tremendous pressure of chattel slavery on its victims caused the finest hearts to bathe in the soothing waters of righteousness and the minds to immerse themselves in the cooling fire of pure logic. We know the history of the struggle for dignity and those foremost fighters who were at the cutting edge; the names are etched now in the face of time - Fredrick Douglas, Denmark Vessey, Harriett Tubman, Marcus Garvey, Mary McCleod Bethune, Noble Drew Ali, Ida B. Wells, Martin Luther King, Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm Shabazz, Imam W. Deen Mohammed and many others. They are the workers that opened the path for the thinkers today; their works are at the root of Dr. Welsing’s work and her words and ideas are helping to bring understanding to future generations of young people to make sense of and how to guard against the evils of racism.
Dr. Welsing's importance in history should not be minimized because she made us feel uncomfortable. The truth is, her work was designed to take us out of our comfort zones, to make us all think more deeply and commit to act against what is arguably one of the world's most persistent and intractable problems - Racism/White Supremacy. The good doctor wanted more than anything to see all people think, speak and act to eradicate the entire system of White Supremacy worldwide. Dr. Welsing knew we would be uncomfortable and tells story after story in her lectures to bring home the detailed ugliness of “color sickness”. Too many of us still suffer from subtle forms of racist aggression, and too many are still in denial that white supremacy exists in our world, and too many of us don't want to think and behave in ways to end the practice. Welsing was a true intellectual who routinely dispensed penetrating scientific and cultural evidence designed to move the people to finally become determined to replace the system of Racism with a system of Justice.
Dr. Welsing gave monthly lectures for many years at Howard University which she carried on until her very last lecture two weeks before she passed away. A tribute will be held in her memory at the Howard University Crampton Auditorium on Saturday, January 23rd, 2016, from 11:00 am until 3:00 pm. The public is invited to attend.