Non-Black Muslims and Malcolm X

After participating in a recent panel discussing the life and legacy of Malcolm X, I was given over to contemplating Malcolm’s appropriation, image, and rhetoric by non-black Muslims. I have found a couple of curious observations.

First, it seems that most non-black Muslims take, what I will term, the Morgan Freeman approach to racism:

“How are we going to get rid of racism? Stop talking about it!”

The above comment, taken from a 60 Minutes interview with Mike Wallace, partially sums up what I’m talking about. Please, oh please!, would y’all black Muslims just stop talking about that damned race thing!…

…Unless of course you want to talk about Palestine, Kashmir, Afghanistan, or any other place on the earth that’s been colonized, brutalized, or terrorized by whites. And yet for all of its obviousness, many if not most non-Black Muslims refuse to look white supremacy squarely in the eye. Is it because non-black Muslims do not want to insult whites as a whole, painting them with the same broad brush many whites paint them with? Is it further complicated because some of them see themselves as (or long to be) white? Further investigation may be necessary to divulge the answer.

What I do know, personally, after careful observation, is that non-black (and a few black!) Muslims are going to have to make an important decision: either Malcolm — the real Malcolm — was opposed to white supremacy (which is not concomitant to being opposed to white people!), a.k.a., racism, meaning that they too should be equally committed to combating white supremacy (the true villain we all have been battling these long centuries including white people!) or find another cultural figure to appropriate because we’d like our brother back. For without a doubt, one cannot have Malcolm Little, El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz — رحمه الله تعالى — without talking about white supremacy.

5 Replies to “Non-Black Muslims and Malcolm X”

  1. Its a lack of true understanding of who Malcolm was an what he stood for and it happens often with historical figures like Malcolm. They become who we want (or need) them to be. Think of the European appropriation of Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) is one of the worst and most extreme examples of this.
    From the title I was hoping for your perspective on another group of non-black Muslims, white converts. I know many white converts from Shaykh Umar f. Abdullah to Baraka Blue hold Malcolm in high esteem and understand how much white supremacy has negatively affected all of us.

    Jason Salahuddin Hammer

  2. Listen, how are you going to tell us to disavow something that’s been ingrained in all of our cultures? Capitalism as it exists today is wedded to white supremacy, and since most of us who migrated here voluntarily (meaning not bounded and not seeking asylum) came actively seeking the Dollar, the crumbs off the table here look better than anything we’ve had back home!

    In short, we’re not about to bring up Malcolm without appropriating him the way our white liberal masters did with Dr. King (or the Arabs did with Muhammad for that matter).

  3. As a non-black (brown) Muslim I hold Malcolm very dear, pre and post Nation of Islam. But the fact that his pilgrimage to Mecca had a profound influence on his “post” standing, thought process and believes.

  4. The man changed his name to Malik al-Shabazz – ‘King of the Shabazz’. Who are the Shabazz? This is the teaching of W. D. Fard and the Honourable Elijah Muhammad. Sunnis, Shia and the rest clam Malcolm but Malcolm was no ‘Sunni’ or ‘Shia’.

    If he was around today the likes of Yasir Qadhi and Hamza Yusuf would be decrying him for his unorthodoxy.

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