11 Malcolm X (5/10)
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“Never Cross a Man Not Afraid to Die” Malcolm X “I seek the truth”
• “Here is a black man caged behind bars, probably for years, put there by the white man. Usually the convict comes from among those bottom-of-the-pile Negroes, the Negroes who throughout their entire lives have been kicked about, treated like children—Negroes who have never met one white man who didn’t either try to take something from them or do something to them.” (211)
• “You don’t even know who you are,” Reginald had said. “You don’t even know, the white devil has hidden it from you, that you are from a race of people of ancient civilizations, and riches in gold and kings.” (186) – History & education • Slavery • Opium war
– “History had been ‘whitened’” (187) – “This ‘Negro’ had been taught to worship an alien God having the same blond hair, pale skin, and blue eyes as the slavemaster.” (188) 3
This History of Yacub • ‘Muslim’ used to refer both to members of the Nation of Islam and followers of orthodox Islam • “The humans resulting, he knew, would be, as they became lighter, and weaker, progressively also more susceptible to wickedness and evil.” – Affirmation of blackness – Devaluation of whiteness 4
Conversion • “If you will take one step toward Allah—Allah will take two steps toward you.” (181) • “I was going through the hardest thing, also the greatest thing, for any human being to do; to accept that which is already within you, and around you.” (189) • “The very enormity of my previous life’s guilt prepared me to accept the truth.” (189) 5
Ordering • “I had never dreamed of anything like that atmosphere among black people who had learned to be proud they were black, who had learned to love other black people instead of being jealous and suspicious” • Prayer, ablution, family order • “Even the children spoke to other children” with “mutual respect and dignity…. Beautiful!” (224) – Order, cleanliness, & respect – The problem is not with us... 6
A New Self • For me, my “X” replaced the white slavemaster name of “Little” which some blue eyed devil named Little had imposed upon my paternal forebears.” (229) – Break with the past – Rejection of whiteness
• “Think of hearing wives, mothers, daughters being raped! And you were too filled with fear of the rapist to do anything about it?” (232) – Fear, power, & violence 7
The whole point in a joke • “’Do you know what white racists call black Ph.D’s? He said something like, “I believe I happen to not be aware of that”—you know, one of these ultra-proper talking Negroes. And I laid the word down on him, loud: Nigger!” (327)
• “If Malcolm X were not a Negro, his autobiography would be little more than a journal of abnormal psychology, the story of a burglar, dope pusher, addict, and jailbird—with a family history of insanity—who acquires messianic delusions and sets forth to preach an upside-down religion of ‘brotherly’ hatred.” Saturday Evening Post, Sept. 12, 1965 – “For the white man to ask the black man if he hates him, is just like the rapist asking the raped, or the wolf asking the sheep, ‘Do you hate me?’ The white man is in no moral position to accuse anyone else of hate!” (277)
• “The Jew will never forget that lesson [of the Holocaust]… they used violence to force the British to help them take Palestine, “and then the Jews set up Israel, their own country—the one thing that every race of man in the world respects, and understands.” (320) – Why is this something universally understood?
• “I think there are plenty of good people in America, but there are also plenty of bad people in America and the bad ones are the ones who seem to have all the power and be in these positions to block things that you and I need. – Because this is the situation, you and I have to preserve the right to do what is necessary to bring an end to that situation, and it doesn't mean that I advocate violence, but at the same time I am not against using violence in self-defense.
• I don't even call it violence when it's selfdefense, I call it intelligence.” 11
The Transformative Power of Truth • The soteriological potential of the Truth over fact – Asceticism – Order – Transformation
• Nation of Islam’s 6-step recovery program • 1. Admit you’re a junkie – Usually “fished” by a converted friend & former junkie, overcoming distrust & suspicion 12
• 2. Understand why you’re a junkie – “Narcotizing themselves against being a black man in the white man’s America.” Helps to “prove” inferiority of the black man. (300) – “What’s a black man buying Whitey’s dope for but to make Whitey richer—killing yourself!” – “The Muslim often collects audiences of junkies. They listen only because they know the clean-cut proud Muslim had earlier been like them.” (299) 13
• 3. The way to quit drugs is through the message of the Nation of Islam – Brought to a Muslim restaurant, “the addict hears himself called, genuinely, ‘Brother,’ ‘Sir,’ and ‘Mr.’ No one cares about his past.”
• 4. The message of the Nation gives lets the addict realize that he has the inner strength to change. – “For the first time he is feeling the effect of black selfpride. That’s a powerful motivation for a man who has been existing in the mud of society. In fact, once he is motivated no one can change more completely than the man who has been at the bottom. I call myself the best example of that.” 14
• 5. Voluntarily go cold turkey – When the ordeal is over, “he will never forget these brothers who stood by him during this time. He will never forget that it was the Nation of Islam’s program which rescued him from the special hell of dope.” (301)
• 6. The convert in turn goes “fishing” – “The ex-addict, when he is proud, clean, renewed, can scarcely wait to hit the same junkie jungle he was in, to ‘fish’ out some buddy and salvage him!” (301) 15
• “The only thing that anybody… could ever find me guilty of, was being open-minded. I said I was seeking for the truth…” (428) – Deep commitment to truth – His faith in the Hon. Elijah Muhammed was the core of his being • “It felt as though something in nature had failed, like the sun, or the stars.” (351) • Who is he now? 16
The last conversion • Takes the Hajj – On the Hajj, “You could be a king or a peasant and no one would know.” – “Everything about the pilgrimage atmosphere accented the Oneness of Man under one God” (380) – Kindness & brotherhood with all Muslims, even those who would be white – “The holy city of Mecca had been the first time that I had ever stood before the Creator of All and felt like a complete human being.” (420) • Double consciousness 17
• White & black people not the problem, whiteness and blackness are the problem – “That morning was when I first began to reappraise the ‘white man.’ It was when I first began to perceive that ‘white man,’ as commonly used, means complexion only secondarily; primarily it described attitudes and actions. In America, ‘white man’ meant specific attitudes and actions toward the black man, and toward all other non-white men.” (383) • Whiteness is essentially defined in US by rejection of & dominance over non-whites
• While approach to race changes, militancy does not – Racial cooperation • “I don’t mind shaking hands with human beings. Are you one?” (418)
– Black militancy – Not black nationalism, but black inter-nationalism
• “To come right down to it, if I take the kind of things in which I believe, then add to that the kind of temperament that I have, plus the one hundred percent dedication I have to whatever I believe in—these are the ingredients which make it just about impossible for me to die of old age.” (435) • “If I can’t be safe among my own kind, where can I be?” (497) 19
Ossie Davis’ Eulogy • “Many will ask what Harlem finds to honor in this stormy, controversial and bold young captain—and we will smile. Many will say turn away—away from this man; for he is not a man but a demon, a monster, a subverter and an enemy of the black man—and we will smile. They will say that he is of hate—a fanatic, a racist—who can only bring evil to the cause for which you struggle! And we will answer and say to them: – Did you ever talk to Brother Malcolm? Did you ever touch him or have him smile at you? Did you ever really listen to him? Did he ever do a mean thing? Was he ever himself associated with violence or any public disturbance? For if you did, you would know him. And if you knew him, you would know why we must honor him: Malcolm was our manhood, our living, black manhood!” 20
Ossie Davis’ Eulogy • “However we may have differed with him—or with each other about him and his value as a man—let his going from us serve only to bring us together, now. – Consigning these mortal remains to earth, the common mother of all, secure in the knowledge that what we place in the ground is no more now a man—but a seed—which, after the winter of our discontent, will come forth again to meet us.
• And we will know him then for what he was and is—a prince—our own black shining prince!—who didn’t hesitate to die, because he loved us so.” 21
• Why did you eulogize Malcolm X? – “You may anticipate my defense somewhat by considering the following fact: no Negro has yet asked me that question. (My pastor in Grace Baptist Church where I teach Sunday school preached a sermon about Malcolm in which he called him a "giant in a sick world.") Every one of the many letters I got from my own people lauded Malcolm as a man, and commended me for having spoken at his funeral.
• At the same time-and this is important most of them took special pains to disagree with much or all of what Malcolm said and what he stood for. That is, with one singing exception, they all, every last, black, glory-hugging one of them, knew that Malcolm—whatever else he was or was not—Malcolm was a man!” 22
Ossie Davis’ Eulogy • “White folks do not need anybody to remind them that they are men. We do! This was his one incontrovertible benefit to his people. – Protocol and common sense require that Negroes stand back and let the white man speak up for us, defend us, and lead us from behind the scene in our fight. This is the essence of Negro politics.
• But Malcolm said to hell with that! Get up off your knees and fight your own battles. That’s the way to win back your self-respect. That’s the way to make the white man respect you. And if he won’t let you live like a man, he certainly can’t keep you from dying like one!” 23
Ossie Davis’ Eulogy • You can imagine what a howling, shocking nuisance this man was to both Negroes and whites. Once Malcolm fastened on you, you could not escape. – He was one of the most fascinating and charming men I have ever met, and never hesitated to take his attractiveness and beat you to death with it. Yet his irritation, though painful to us, was most salutary. He would make you angry as hell, but he would also make you proud.
• It was impossible to remain defensive and apologetic about being a negro in his presence. He wouldn’t let you. And you always left his presence with the sneaky suspicion that maybe, after all, you were a man!” 24
• “I knew the man personally, and however much I disagreed with him, I never doubted that Malcolm X even when he was wrong, was always that rarest thing in the world among us Negroes: a true man. – And if, to protect my relations with the many good white folks who make it possible for me to earn a fairly good living in the entertainment industry, I was too chicken, too cautious, to admit that fact when he was alive, I thought at least that now, when all the white folks are safe from him at last,
• I could be honest with myself enough to lift my hat for one final salute to that brave, black, ironic gallantry, which was his style and hallmark; that shocking zing of fire-and-bedamned-to-you, so absolutely absent in every other Negro man I know, which brought him, too soon, to his death.” 25