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.

XSpeaks — “The House Negro and The Field Negro”

There were two kinds of Negroes. There was the old house Negro and there was the field Negro.  And the house Negro always looked out for his master. When the field Negro got too much out of line, he held him back in check. He put ’em back on the plantation.

The house Negro could afford to do that because he lives better than the field Negro. He ate better, he dressed better, and he lived in a better house. He lived right up next to his master—in the attic or in the basement. He ate the same food his master ate and he dressed in the same clothes. And he could talk just like his master—good diction. And he loved his master more than his master loved himself. That’s why he didn’t want his master hurt.

If the master got sick, he’d say, “What’s the matter, boss, we sick?” [Laughter] When the master’s house caught afire, he’d try and put the fire out. He didn’t want his master’s house burned. He never wanted his master’s property threatened. He was more defensive of it then the master was. That was the house Negro.

— Malcolm X