In November 2020, Port Of Harlem will celebrate 25 years of publication. As we count down to our birthday, we will republish some of our most popular articles from our print issues. Thanks for subscribing and inviting others to join you in supporting our inclusive, diverse, pan-African publication - - now completely online. We originally published this article in the Nov 2005 - Jan 2006 print issue.
When I first spoke to Brother Bey, a self-described servant of God, he warned me to stay away from everything white -- everything. He says his awakening to the dangers of whites came in 1968 as he was sitting in church. “I saw that the sick and shut-in list was getting longer and the names of the people were not coming off the list though we were praying for them,” he said.
It was during this period of personal introspection and social upheaval that the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, Dr.Alvina Folton, Earl Mendel, Victor Kolavinsky, and Ann Waymor inspired him to evaluate his beliefs and physical health options. “I thought it was strange,” he said, “for me as a Black man to see on the cover of Kolavinsky’s book, this White man with a long beard eating a whole lot of stuff called wheat grass, sprouts, and other stuff of that nature - - things that I had never heard of.” What intrigued Bey was Kolavinksy’s claim that people with such diets lived longer.
We were not far into our interview at Bey’s Da Place Health Food store before he clarified with a smile, “Don’t eat anything white, such as white rice, white flour, or white sugar.” He continued, “We have stopped eating the right things and started eating the substitutes.”
Rice, flour, and sugar are brown in their natural state he explained. Humans process them to make them white. Bey believes that the consumption of white foods agitates the body’s natural functions and diminishes our chances of living an “everlasting life.”
“Processed foods are basically dead foods,” he continued, “they have no nutrients in them.” Bey expounded that manufactures process foods by cooking them at a temperature that kills the nutrients. They then further refine them with chemicals that harm the body.
Companies process such staples with bleaches, food colorings, flavour enhancers, chemical preservatives, salt, refined sugars, saturated fats, and more. Scientists have associated such additives with high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and other health problems.
Take rice, for instance. All rice is naturally brown until the milling process removes the outer bran layer of the grain. The bran layer is where all the nutritional goodness lies. What is left is the white core, which consists mostly of now infamous carbohydrates.