Penthouse Retrospective

by Clark Howard Originally Published: November, 1979

The Zebra Murders | 40 Years Ago this Month

“A thousand years ago, near the holy city of Mecca, there lived an evil black leader named Yakub. He desired to create a race of weak people that he and his ancestors could rule forever. To do this, he began to study the black race. He learned that in every black man there exist two germs: a black germ and a brown germ. He found a way to separate the brown germs from the black germs, and he put the brown germs into all the healthy, strong girls among his followers who were at least sixteen years of age. As they produced babies, he had the black ones separated and fed to wild beasts, but he had the brown ones carefully nursed and raised to adults. Then he passed a law that blacks who were alike could not marry; only those who were unlike could marry. Black had to marry brown. Dark had to marry light, and the light had to marry lighter.

“Yakub was pleased because he saw his people becoming weaker and weaker, while he and those who ruled with him remained black and strong. For six hundred years there continued this process of grafting brown from black, and lighter brown from darker brown, until finally the original black blood had thinned so much and become so weak that the germ it carried lost all its color and became white. Weak, wicked white.”

From the audience came a several low grunts of disapproval. The speaker nodded agreement with them.

“By the time the descendants of Yakub realized what had been done, it was too late. The grafted white devils had spread over the earth and were teaching lessons about a new, mysterious god that no one could see until after death. Soon eighty-five percent of the people on earth were being taught about this mystery god. They were being taught by ten percent who were clever and crafty and desired to lead them. Only a scant five percent of the earth’s population remained righteously believing in the true god Allah.”

The speaker raised his forefinger like a vengeful sword. “For four hundred years these white infidels have spread their false religion over the land like a great dirty plague, trying to put out the light of Allah. Christians and Jews alike are guilty of setting rivals to Allah. Both are black­slave-making religions, dedicated to the mental destruction of the black man. They are the enemies of Allah, and they are the sole people responsible for leading astray nine-tenths of the world’s black population!”

“Evil!” one of the men in the audience said loudly.

The speaker’s eyes widened even more. His voice grew raspy, hissing. “For four hundred years this grafted white devil has controlled the earth and manipulated the black man. For four hundred years he has castrated black men, raped black women, and stomped the heads of little black babies!”

“Devils!” said a voice in the audience. It was the same man who had spoken before. He was a thick-necked black man with a clean-shaven skull and eyes like bullet holes. The only soft feature of his entire presence was his long, almost feminine eyelashes. Under the overhead light his shiny skull glistened. Call this man Head.

“For four hundred years,” the speaker now began to rant, “we, the true followers of Allah, the true Muslims of the earth, have suffered persecution at the hands of this grafted white devil who came from our very own diluted seed! We have been relegated to ghettos, deprived of a decent education, victimized in the labor market, and sent to the white man’s prisons!” The forefinger whipped across the audience. “There are some in this very room who can give witness to the injustices wreaked on us in the white man’s prisons!”

“Right on!” said Head. He was one who could give such witness.

’’All right!” said a young, light-skinned Negro next to him. So light that his skin had faint freckles on it, he was seven years younger than Head, who was 28 and handsome in a boyish way. Unlike Head, he could not give witness to anything about the white man’s prison, because he had never even been arrested much less incarcerated. In the muted overhead light, with the dark contrast of Head next to him, he looked almost yellow-skinned. Call him Yellow.

“But we do not need the white man’s prisons to prove to us that the white man is our enemy,” the Vandyked speaker continued. “We need only to study our lessons from this.” He removed a small book from his inside pocket. “Message to the Black Man,” he said, lowering his voice to a reverent tone to read the book’s title Opening the cover, he recited a prayer on the first page. “In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Most Merciful Saviour, to whom all praise is due for raising up among us a Divine Leader, Teacher, and Guide, the most honorable Elijah Mohammed. As-salaam-alaikum.”

Americans do not often consider themselves living in a war zone, but for half a year in San Francisco, the Zebra Murders held those citizens hostage by fear.