On President's Day: Malcolm X

Malcolm X

Cover of Malcolm X

Black. Muslim. Teapartier?

In honor of President’s Day, I’d thought I would, well never mind. Today marks the 46th anniversary of Malcolm X‘s assassination. So, I thought I would share some quotes from my reading from this week’s Monastic Monday, in By Any Means Necessary; Speeches, Interviews, and a letter by Malcolm X.

As I was quoting Malcolm en mass on Twitter today, I noticed that his rhetoric (apart from his collectivist economics) echoed that of a Tea Partier, especially on the 2nd Amendment.  No, I am not suggesting Malcolm would be a part of an astro-turf movement funded by Newt Gingrich, the Koch Brothers, or Dick Armey.  I think he would also not participate in the political mechanisms sponsored by Arianna Huffington or George Soros either, and with good reason. Without further ado, Malcolm X quotes, and my commentary.

white people are intelligent enough to know that the [race] problem will never be solved in Washington DC-Malcolm X

Like the Tea Party, which blames every problem that the US has on Washington, DC (Congress, President, SCOTUS), Malcolm is suspicious of the federal government (when it comes to race relations). Instead (unlike a conservative) he suggested that the Negro appeal to the United Nations. This brand of thinking globally is what I think is needed in this day and age. Quite provocative, and as I think about it more and more, he was right: it was a human rights issue, not just a domestic civil rights struggle.

I believe in human beings, and that all humans beings should be respected as such regardless of their color.- Malcolm X

It seems as if Malcolm X, while desiring a form of racial segregation for racial upliftment, still desired to see a color-blind society. Hmmmmmmmmm, I think color blindness is typical of the conservative movement.

As long as the black community and the leaders of the black community are afraid of criticism, collective criticism, as a stereotype no one will ever be able to pull our coat.

The same I believe can be said today. Since I have made it my practice to be less critical of black culture for the time being, I’ll let the quote stand on its own, but note that black conservatives do seem themselves as a critique of the black progressive hegemonic discourse.

Registering is all right. That only means ‘load your gun.’ Just because you load it doesnt mean you have to shoot it. You wait until you get a target and make certain you are in a position to put that thing up next to the target, and then you pull the trigger. And just as you dont waste bullets at a target that’s out of reach, you dont throw ballots just to be throwing ballots

Um Sarah Palin anyone? Don’t retreat, reload! Yeah, and we think that political conversations are uncivil. Puleeeze!

Number one. I don’t know too much about Karl Marx.

And neither do the Tea Partiers even though they bring up his name.

Any Negro who registers as a Democrat or a Republican is a traitor to his own people. […] We are going to encourage our people to register as independent voters.

Most of the TP claims to be independent, and they do criticize both the Democratic Party and the Republican party.

The black man in this country is within his constitutional rights to have a rifle. The white man is too. The Constitution gives you the right to have a rifle or a shotgun.

Hello, second amendment solutions, anyone?

And last and certainly my favorite:

we can see where Christianity has failed us 100 percent. They teach us to turn the other cheek, but they don’t turn it.

Speaks for itself. Look at the Defense budget.

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  4. Jeremy

    I’ve been studying Malcolm X lately and find him extremely interesting. You should check out his clip on youtube labeled Malcolm on Jesus Christ. I did have a quibble with one thing you said. You mentioned that Malcolm strove for colorblindness and claimed that this was a conservative move. Isn’t it actually liberals who are most accustomed to pull this kind of rhetoric? Also, Malcolm X may hope for that but he is obviously that black people must first be united before there is any hope for white-black reconciliation. Other than Cone, do you know any other books that engage Malcolm X from a liberation theology perspective?

    Reply
    1. Rod of Alexandria Post author

      Hey Jeremy,

      Hey Jeremy,

      Thanks for commenting.

      On the colorblindness issue, in James Cone’s Black Theology and Black Power, he brings up the idea that white liberalism and white conservatives work from many of the same assumptions when it comes to race. I brought up the conservative habit of wanting a color-blind society because they always cite Dr. King in their cases against race-based affirmative action. I am uncomfortable with race-based AA myself, I lean more towards a class oriented affirmative action, but thats for another day. Also, alot of conservative commentators always say, we don’t see color (um, but from their approaches on hip hop, etc., it is obvious that they do!).

      I understand Malcolm’s separatism as part of his frustration with the fact that there would never be a color-blind society, but that is a personal interpretation right now, I do have to look into it. If you look at his father’s religion, his father was a pastor who believed in Marcus Garvey’s back to africa movement, and Garvey is considered to be more of a conservative enterpeneur type like Booker T. Washington (one of Garvey’s heroes).

      As for liberation theologians that deal with Malcolm X besides James Cone, try a contemporary of Cone, Albert Cleage, he was a black nationalist and theologian and wrote, THE BLACK MESSIAH as well as a book on Myths about Malcolm X–here is a PBS bio of him:

      http://www.pbs.org/thisfarbyfaith/people/albert_cleage.html

      Hope that helps.

      Reply
      1. Jeremy

        I totally forgot about his father being a Garveyite. That’s a helpful reminder. Speaking of hip hop, have you read Dyson’s work on theology and hip hop? I just finished listened to a course on youtube by Clay Carson from Stanford on the African-American freedom struggle. It’s really great, you should check it out when you get some time (http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=40E11D5C66CAC48C)

        Thanks for the link on Cleage. After reading Douglas’ The Black Christ, I have been meaning to go back and read him. Today I was listening to Malcolm’s speech the Ballot or the Bullet, which I believe was delivered at Cleage’s church in Detroit. Interesting stuff.

        Reply
        1. Rod of Alexandria Post author

          I haven’t read anything on Dyson, theology and hip, any suggestions for me to put in my reading queue?

          Yup, ideas do not fall out of no where. I believe separatism was passed down from Malcolm’s father to him (at least according to the Alex Haley/X autobiography).

          Douglas’ The Black Christ is a good introduction to black theology.

          Reply
    2. Klaid Hassan

      Read the Theology of Minister Malcolm X for more insight and how he influenced black Christians’ liberation theology.

      Reply
  5. Jeremy

    Well his major work is Between God and Gangsta Rap on hip hop and theology. This one, Open Mike, also looks good: http://tinyurl.com/62umo82.

    He’s one of the few leftist black intellectuals who seems to really engage the question of sexuality in a refreshing progressive way. I’ve listened to his radio show where he even discusses transgender issues. I’d love to see him lecture cause he’s a professor in DC at Georgetown and I go to GWU. Maybe one day.

    I’m also guessing Cone’s book on Malcom and Martin is good? I heard Cone lecture and a woman told him that her students in Detroit hated King for being an “uncle Tom”. The teacher told Cone that she was in his debt because he convinced her students through his work that King was much more radical than America would like to remember.

    Reply
    1. Rod of Alexandria Post author

      I love what I hear by Dyson in his interviews on t.v., and I think his wife is actually a pastor too. I need to read his works.

      Malcolm and Martin is a good book, and it also seems to be written at a time when Cone’s theology had become mainstream.

      Dr. King was a radical, any one who reads his own writing would recognize that. His daughter Alveda, while its good she has her own views, is being dishonest when it comes to his socialist views on economics and his pacifism.

      Reply
  6. Jeremy

    Listening to his speech on Vietnam should convince anyone of his radicality. His daughter is lying if she says otherwise.

    Reply
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