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  •  Dorothy Height & Malcolm X (12+ / 0-)

    Van reminded me of something Dorothy Height said about Malcolm X.

    I've always considered the religious spectrum from MLK (Christian) to Malcolm X (Muslim) an interesting political and spiritual perspective on being Black in America, and the tensions created by these different points of view. Malcolm X was known for strongly criticizing blacks marrying outside their race, challenging the "timidity of mainstream civil rights protesters", and criticizing MLK's non-violent strategy: pointing out that Gandhi was a big black elephant sitting on a small white mouse, while King was a small black mouse sitting on a big white elephant.

    So this recollection from Dorothy Height, when Malcolm X returned from his sojourn in Mecca, has always impressed me [check that Poitier link, he was at the White House the day (June 10, 1964) the filibuster was broken on the Civil Rights Act; 3 days later, i think, is the event Ms Height is talking about)]:

    GWEN IFILL: You write about an incident in your book involving Malcolm X and Lorraine Hansberry who was the author of A Raisin in the Sun.


    GWEN IFILL: Tell us about that.

    DOROTHY HEIGHT: Well, you know, Sidney Poitier really convened a group at his home in Pleasantville, Ossie Davis called it. And it was for Malcolm X, he wanted to meet with the united civil rights leadership group, which was made up of Dr. King and Mr. Whitney Young, Roy Wilkins, A. Philip Randolph, James Farmer, myself, and John Lewis. And he wanted to let us know that he'd been to Mecca [April 1964] and that he had a change of heart.

    He said "we spend all our time talking about the white man and trying to do something about him, and we've been at each other. We need to get together and always be together." And he said, "our unity has to be there, we have to be in unity," and he said, "we have to now focus on our people." And that was a complete change for him. And I'll never forget this strong man saying all of this and he said, "We need to talk with each other."

    And Lorraine Hansberry, the marvelous author, was lying on her couch and she lifted her head and she said, "Malcolm, I hear what you're saying, but how do you think I felt when I heard you on television saying that I was a traitor to the race because I married a white man? You didn't know who he was or why I married him or anything. And you never asked me a thing about him."

    And it was really a tremendous experience to see this huge, vigorous, articulate, militant man simply look at her and say gently, "Sister, you're right. We all must work together and talk to each other before we talk about each other." And that to me was an experience I'll never forget.

    in the past, Civil Rights activism has dealt with issues concerning whether it's effective to criticize Black leaders during times of crisis. i'm learning to be more fluid about the issue of criticism, primarily because of this video from Friday, How can Republicans attract minorities? -- because dammit, it kinda set me off, y'know?

    imho, the problem with the GOP is homogenization and exclusivity (which is totally opposite from "American Diversity": a motley rabble of saucy boys, negroes and molattoes, Irish teagues and outlandish jack tarrs) where dissent during the Bush administration — if not outright crushed — was definitely viewed as unpatriotic. i googled some links about this (as a reminder of how bad it used to be), see: Lawsuit reveals Bush Administration attempts to suppress dissent where ACLU attorney Chris Hansen stated: "The White House has gone too far in its attempt to make dissent invisible" & Treating dissent as treason, where David Sirota coined Intimigate describing "the well established pattern... that the Bush Administration has summarily fired, intimidated and defamed anyone who has had the courage to tell the truth...".

    i'm all for defeating the GOP with amazing diversity :)

    •  Such (4+ / 0-)

      a good excerpt for me to read a 1am!  Seriously, thanks for that contribution northanger.

      That historical nugget was not only sooo cool to read, but is another deposit into my evolving understanding of how to deal with the day - post 8 year of despair and the 1st black POTUS - hmph, what a culmination.

      Great links also. Gosh, I hope we all mine as much as we can at the time at hand to pass on to the next one.

    •  Diary-worthy comment, northanger. (7+ / 0-)

      Malcolm also touched on something I would like to see end: Talking past each other.

      Many seem so beholden to their own opinions that they can't hear those with different opinions. And I think that is something that Barack Obama is also trying to teach us as a nation. And for the record, I'm not a 'centrist' and I don't think Democrats should be advocating and adopting Republican policies.

      As individuals and a society, however, we need to embrace and respect diversity. When we do that, we can foster unity. The current climate of polarization must be broken.

      There is no more important struggle for American democracy than ensuring a diverse, independent and free media. - Bill Moyers

      by StepLeftStepForward on Sat Jul 24, 2010 at 03:05:43 AM PDT

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      •  To expand on that... (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Terri, northanger, brein, JordanRules

        I just read a recommended-by-me rant by NearlyNormal in response to an email from his dad, which ended with this:

        Do I seem pissed?  I have to tell you, it is not just because of some douchebag casino owner.  It is because there seems to be two kinds of people in America:  people who try to make America better for the greatest number of people on one side and people who lie, deny scientific evidence, and try to kill you for being a democrat on the other.  In case Fox hasn't been covering it, there was yet another murderous patriot last week on the hunt for liberals.  He was going to go shoot up the ACLU in San Francisco because Glenn Beck put it in his mind to.  He was going to go kill liberals...liberals like me.  And every time your friends fire off another email full of lies, the world gets a little less safe for people like me.  And that is why I am pissed.

        In my response, I came up with this:

        The 'two kinds of people' part is so true. I think the only way to change the other kind is to get very personal with them, to boil it down to YOU + ME = US.

        Nice that US = United States, America, patriotism.

        While the overwhelming majority of the Faux-hate-radio-Talebangelical-teabagger-militia-racist folks aka The Brainwashed are very likely lost causes, there are plenty we can save from that fate, if we try.

        There is no more important struggle for American democracy than ensuring a diverse, independent and free media. - Bill Moyers

        by StepLeftStepForward on Sat Jul 24, 2010 at 03:55:35 AM PDT

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      •  current climate of polarization must be broken (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        totally totally agree.

        btw, this started as a diary. there's a Brandeis quote on the Constitution being "deliberately inefficient" (diverse?), "to preclude the exercise of arbitrary power".

        once I gnaw on Teh Van a little more -- I mean his words of course! -- I'll post it.

    •  MLK wasn't necessarily for (0+ / 0-)

      "marrying outside his race" either. Don't remember exactly the phrase he used in his speech, but something like "I want to be the white man's brother, not his brother-in-law ..."

      Just saying, and just because you are in a mixed-race marriage or relationship and are not against it at all, doesn't mean you can't have racist feelings.

      "What gets us into trouble is not what we don't know, it's what we know for sure that just ain't so." --Mark Twain

      by mimi on Sat Jul 24, 2010 at 07:29:43 AM PDT

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