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View Diary: El Hajj Malik el Shabazz, Race & Politics (52 comments)

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  •  Malcolm in the Tradition (5+ / 0-)

    Shanikka thank you for thumping me upside the head for having forgotten El Hajj Malik El Shabazz's birthday. I often think about the beauty of him and how perfectly apropos Ossie Davis' description of him is. I have often argued that ideologically and philosophically Malcolm did not bring anything new to the table. The call for Black instititions was a common one during the Golden Age of Black Nationalism. Criticisms of the use of Christianity by white supremacists and the inherent right to self defense (though Walker called for the moral obligation to kill one's oppressor) date back to David Walker's Appeal. The direct, blunt and confrontational style were epitomized by Frederick Douglass in his 4th of July Oration and the sly humor ranks with Sojourner Truth.Taking our case to the UN was a Robeson idea from the 50s. Yet it is Malcolm as Malcolm that is so beautiful. His ability to cross the class and cultural divides of our people. Who else could debate at Oxford on Friday, meet with heads of state on Sunday and rap on the corners of Harlem on Monday all with the same ease, confidence and assuredness? No Malcolm brought little that was new to the party except the breadth of his activism and his symbolic position to all of us. If you read a (fairly) recent monograph on him by his nephew Rodnell P. Collins Seventh Child, you will find that Malcolm was negotiating a sort of Pan African G.I. Bill with Nkrumah in Ghana to provide land and education to Afri-US veterans that were willing to go to Ghana and help train the fledgling Ghanaian army. That is a maneuver that would have had serious implications for the post colonial African world. These types of working policy ties were largely missing as so many Afri-US activists saw African nations of exile destinations. Yes this is something new. But I believe that Malcolm's real power was in his visceral witness to the degradations of the American system in his roles as foster child, low level laborer, hustler and convict. The power of his insights to the reality of America for Black people is only matched by the power of his witness to the power of Black people to overcome and transcend the mediocrities heaped upon us. Malcolm is an example, plain and simple of what we can be. I am ramblin' a bit but hope the readers of this post will respond because I think as Shanikka has shown us that Malcolm X needs to be deeply considered in light of our struggles today. For in truth this house is on fire with no rescue options in sight.There are so many other things concerning Malcolm that I want to talk about.

    •  Visceral Witness (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      4jkb4ia, shishani, majcmb1, skywriter

      I love that phrase.  It's perfect to describe him, his rhetoric and his vision.

      And you are right:  "this house is on fire"; although I am not quite ready to say "there are no rescue options in sight."  I do think that the rescue, however, needs to be seriously informed by history in a way that it is not.  Things are too far gone to rely on already tried scripts of traditional liberal thought, IMO.  

      I do hope you take time to talk about the other things you wanted to about Malcolm X, whether here, at my blog or MLW (not as much feedback on this diary as I had hoped, but it could be anything from subject matter to ridiculous length even for me.) Or in your own diary, even.  It's all about dialogue, even one like this that could go in a million different directions and still not be done.

      My separate place for mental meanderings: Political Sapphire

      by shanikka on Mon May 22, 2006 at 10:32:29 PM PDT

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