Any action which does not mobilize the community toward the goal is not a revolutionary action. The actions might be a marvelous statement of courage, but if it does not mobilize the people toward the goal of a higher manifestation of freedom, it is not making a political statement and could even be counter-revolutionary.
The people are the true poets. The rest of us, with our advances and royalty checks, are just journeyman making a dishonest living.
I am going to need you to read the words “stealing her son’s education” over and over again until it makes sense. Yep. Everything has a cost and apparently we haven’t paid our fair share. Call in Gene Marks. He needs to tell this poor black child how to get ahead now that the ground has fallen out of plan A. If I was a poor black kid, I’d find a nice Norwalk family to adopt me. Fuck condescension. Independence before assimilation in education, entertainment, communal excellence, sustainable engagement and every area of human activity that matters. You are being firmly reminded that you are a non-factor.
Questions to keep in mind:
- Who organized the event?
- Who does the struggle represent most?
- How long have people of color suffered at worst conditions from corporate greed?
- watch the videos: who’s mostly at the occupation?
- If people of color were the majority at the occupation, would the occupation have lasted this long?
- Is racial inequality a central component in the struggle?
- Let’s say the occupation is successful, and a new system is put into place: who will the new system benefit most?
- Police brutality: cops have been killing and incarcerating people of color at much higher rates than white people. Is the police brutality at occupywallstreet reflective of the true racist nature of police brutality in this country?
- The South Bronx/16th congressional district is the poorest congressional district in the United States (where I live). How many people from the South Bronx are participating at this occupation? Even if they wanted to attend, could they risk the survival of their family by missing work and school?
- How are the participants of occupy wall street privileged in their access to receiving and sending information concerning the event?
WHERE THE FOLKS OF COLOR AT IN ALL THIS???
i posted this in response to this article
“Our intention is not to dismiss it as just this, but the gut feeling was that there is a serious disconnect down there. We left with mad questions! Where was the hood? Where was the poorest congressional district in the USA, from The South Bronx at? Like we say in Hip Hop, where Brooklyn at? Could it be that perhaps the working class couldn’t afford to just leave work and the responsibility of bills and family survival to camp out in a city park? Did folks from our communities not know about this? If people of color were occupying Wall St. would we have lasted this long?”
I recognize that the experience of black folks in this country has given us an entirely itchy race trigger which is not without justification. I’m not convinced that this is a reason for me not to question the imperial and pernicious scope of the American fiscal and monetary system in tandem with a collective of others that are doing so. Though I do admit, where these folks misstep, they shall be questioned and brought to face their privilege that they don’t err ever again. I take the tact that my ancestors already shot this move during the class rebellion of the Industrial Revolution and they were betrayed by white Communists for their efforts. I know still and ever that race matters until the day that it doesn’t anymore.
Review: Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention
Malcolm X was a remarkable individual and political figure on the world stage. I don’t think it possible that this statement can be repeated enough. It is vindication against the revisionists who attempted to uproot and erase his mark upon history. There is nothing in the Marable text which upstages this very definite point. There is a profound amount of insight to be gleaned from the text if we use it to enhance the whole body of our research on Malcolm. It is not meant to be a new standard. We should hold no lofty expectation that any one volume could tell the complete story of such a complex man.
Ossie Davis summarized the prevailing view of the historical revisionists most eloquently in the following line from Malcolm’s eulogy. “There are those who will consider it their duty, as friends of the Negro people, to tell us to revile him, to flee, even from the presence of his memory, to save ourselves by writing him out of the history of our turbulent times.” Still our Malcolm endures. Our Malcolm. Note that phrase for later reference because much of the controversy surrounding the release of this text has to do with the vision that you individually hold, cherish and have chosen to defend of Malcolm X.
Early on the reading, one becomes well aware that Marable’s biography does little to build you rapidly towards the inspiring cultural triumph we are accustomed to from “The Autobiography of Malcolm X”. There is not the same manner of revelry and nostalgia cast about regarding the activities leading up to his imprisonment. It lasts only long enough for one to realize that they are not reading the redux of that text.
They are reading something markedly and necessarily different. I won’t say better or more important. That is a judgement best reserved for individual decision. But it is in some ways a very important text in examining Malcolm’s legacy on the basis that we rarely receive readings of Malcolm that cast him against the backdrop and in the company of his political contemporaries. I could be entirely wrong on this charge. Perhaps I was not diligent enough in my own study of Malcolm over the years where such comprehensive readings were made available.
Marable succeeds in showing him engaging in debate, discussion and dialogue with other figures of the era such as James Baldwin, James Forman, James Farmer, (Yes. I randomly chose three James’.), Bayard Rustin and Julian Mayfield. We see the actions of Malcolm and each of the organizations he built told in a singular story arc with other organizations in operation at the same time such as CORE, SNCC, SCLC and NAACP.
History is an oral art form and much of this material existed in the minds of elders or perhaps other texts which are out of print or not able to garner the same attention as “The Autobiography”. In any case, we have a scenario in which the full story of Malcolm is lost to a particular generation. Even those who are aware of some portion of Malcolm’s history from both “The Autobiography” or Spike Lee’s film account read him as some manner of detached and disassociated figure in the zeitgeist of that era. I think this largely a consequence of the fact that the revisionists succeeded in writing him out of the textbooks if they could achieve nothing else.
When Malcolm did arrive for most of us, he came packaged inside of “The Autobiography” where we could not find the full measure of his action in concert with the other forces of the age that were actively influencing him. This is largely evidenced by the fact that whenever a casual discussion is made of Malcolm’s work, the nearly ubiquitous question is the difference between Malcolm and Martin.
Were they the only two figures that existed at the time? How many others differed or dissented with the philosophy of the more acceptable side of the Civil Rights Movement? Did we forget Robert Williams, the Deacons for Defense or the SNCC field marshals? Debates on strategy are to be expected among those organized for a common cause, but unsure how to achieve their aims.
It is very natural for the mind to never make that further connection between Malcolm and his contemporaries. This text can represent the missing link which would yoke Malcolm’s most cathartic form of social critique and resistance to oppression back to the entire struggle of the era in which we continue to find ourselves engaged.
My criticism of Marable’s approach is noted in a few areas. He initiates his text with an explanation of his motivation for undertaking the project (“Life Beyond the Legend”) and later reiterates these points in the epilogue (“Reflections on a Revolutionary Vision”). In both sections, he notes that Haley injected a personal opinion within “The Autobiography” and then attempted to mold our final evaluation of Malcolm in his “Epilogue”. I fail to comprehend how Marable can offer such a critique of Haley while Marable is actively reexamining and reinterpreting both Malcolm’s actions and the actions of others in these opening and closing sections as well as at various points throughout the main text.
Marable also extracts such a level of detail in the course of telling the story that I sometimes had difficulty remembering that this was actually a biography about Malcolm. While I fancy myself an amateur historian and a fan of historical trivia, I think that another less focused reader might find themselves lost as Marable trails off into such tangential topics as the Zoot Suit Riots, Ahmadiyya Muslims, and NOI mythology. There is also the matter of his citation throughout the text. While some quotes are affixed to a footnote at the rear, others simply dangle there like unsubstantiated secrets sown among schoolchildren. Sometimes I could turn to the appendix and have my curiosity satiated with further research and other times I had to guess where he might have received his information.
All of these conflicting feelings led me to assess this text with a review of 3.5, but for failure of Goodreads to provide me with such an option, I leave the rating at a 4 based upon historical merit, usefulness, and accuracy. It is highly imperfect, but capable of augmenting an exhaustive study of Malcolm’s politics and activities for the greater good. I think Jared Ball offered the most effective final assessment of the matter in his April 2011 broadcast for Black Agenda Report where he stated the following “Read Marable’s work, read it in conjunction with many others. Host symposia, conduct interviews and challenge your organizations to do the same and then to adopt the actual politics and strategies of Malcolm X lest they – the most important aspects of the man – be lost in the shuffle of the academy or personal gossip. Indeed this is what we are doing. So stay tuned.” Be mindful, be aware, be Malcolm.
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In his 1992 Afterword, Charles Hamilton penned a response to the prevailing criticisms that Black Power was responsible for “highlighting racial divisions”, “eschewing coalitions with whites”, attempting “to kick whites out of the civil rights movement”, and being “anti-white, defeatist, and bitterly rejecting the civil rights movement’s traditional goal of integration”. While the rest of the afterword holds a patient and intellectual argument for the continued necessity of Black Power, one can sense in his retort that these critiques were particularly blistering for Hamilton and that he had argued the point many times before.
“No matter that some explanations focused on the denial of these charges and attempted to discuss the concept in terms of viable pluralist American politics. No matter that painstaking efforts were made to point out the years of inability of blacks to enter viable coalitions with other groups, coalitions that would recognize and respect the legitimate needs and complaints of black Americans. Many Black Power advocates tried to make the case that blacks have always understood the necessity for coalitions, but all too often those efforts were thwarted, and blacks, because of their relatively weak status, were unable to do much about this. Where were the viable coalitional partners in the 1930’s when black organizations (the NAACP and the National Urban League, most prominently) virtually pleaded with their white allies to include agricultural workers and domestic servants—not only blacks, but all such workers—in the social insurance provisions of the landmark Social Security Act of 1935? Those allies deserted them. Where were the coalition partners when blacks were persuaded not to push for the end to racial discrimination even while liberals urged blacks to support (as blacks did) a meaningful Full Employment Bill? And, when the 1960’s arrived, where were the enlightened allies when the racially integrated Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party sought to challenge the white racist Mississippi State Party at the 1964 Democratic National Convention? In each instance, the message was clear: Black Americans were not politically strong enough to convince their potential allies to go along with them. The message was equally clear that the fundamental interests of blacks would be subordinated to those interests of more powerful forces in the society.”
The sentiment of this passage along with others expressed by Hamilton in the afterword provides a reworked closing argument for rethinking the role which Black Power should play in the present era. In recounting the mistakes in he and Ture’s initial analysis and trajectory, he provides a lens through which we might view the events of the past and the future anew. He speaks to the scenario in which Black Power might have seemed philosophically different for those who are working towards its establishment. Whereas they may have had a socialist orientation and the goal of a more open society attached to their original outlook, it might be just as easily argued that black capitalism and black power are one and the same. This turned out to be the most gripping and transformative portion of the text for me because I was able to evaluate two recent political phenomena in the context of theories explored in the original text: Obama’s election and charter schools.
During the course of the election of Barack Obama, we saw a sweeping proclamation of a grassroots uprising; a coalition of Black, Latino, White, LGBT, and all other manner of liberal left leaning forces creating a groundswell tide that were to sweep President Obama from his humble roots as a community organizer and member of the founding advisory board at Public Allies through state and federal Senatorial roles direct into the White House. I am not going argue the point whether there are any significant “roots” remaining in that “grass” for I think we have other outlets which have vetted that point thoroughly. I will examine where black people stand nearly 4 years hence.
For 4 years, we have had challengers both in and outside of our community whom have shouted down the naysayers with cries of “He’s not simply the President of Black America. He’s the President of all America.” A hollow argument at best. If we examine this statement in the context of the chapter “The Myths of Coalition”, we are able to clearly see how the same coalition which beseeched us to “get on the bus” when many in our community were initially mistrusting of organizing around a black candidate and were ready to vote for any available Clinton have now deserted us in our pleas with the President to attend to the needs of our community. Are we markedly different from any other special interest group in need of social uplift? No. But we have been conned into accepting a weakened position as window decoration for a mythic coalition of American populism.
On charter schools, we have not fared much better. Whereas once we were organized around the goal of improvement for the conditions of our neighborhood schools as discussed in the chapter “The Search for New Forms” regarding such a case at I.S. 201 in Harlem, we have now created an educational crap shoot. If you cannot locate a viable school in your neighborhood, you can search out one of the many available magnet, private, or charter options perhaps a few buses or trains away. Less the case with private schools although it can happen, even when you settle on a magnet or charter school, your child could be in a few years before you realize that their skills are either not improving or regressing and perhaps by then the state will release a new report card and the Sun Times will do a “special investigation” to tell you that you rolled a 7 instead of an 11.
Individual gain in a capitalist system will inevitably be purchased at a social cost. The arguments in the charter movement are largely positioned in artificial opposition to each other. Every so often a test case will bubble to the surface at one of these schools which will show that a child from a broken home or damaging neighborhood environment can still be educated to succeed when given the right tools in their educational space to reach those goals. Still when we question why the tools in all schools are not simply improved to offer a greater supply of children the same success, we often hear the argument that the school is not a parent or that education does not end at its doors. Which is it? Can we save more students through education or not? We will never be able to have it both ways no matter how much mental justification we afford ourselves for accepting this as “just the way things are”. Douglass, DuBois, Harrison, Garvey, and Shabazz all stood in agreement on the matter.
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Review: The Autobiography of Malcolm X: As Told to Alex Haley
“Only such real, meaningful actions as those which are sincerely motivated from a deep sense of humanism and moral responsibility can get at the basic causes that produce the racial explosions in America today. Otherwise, the racial explosions are only going to grow worse.” ~ Malcolm X
Before I offer an opinion of this text, there is something which I feel I must confess. I am not Will Smith. I did not read “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” like 3 times (see episode where Aunt Viv lectures to Will’s Black History class). I did read it once before around the age of 18 and even then not very thoroughly, but because I was a pre-teen experiencing my formative years during the opening of Spike Lee’s film, I certainly felt I had the scoop and the insight on who Malcolm was and what he represented (as ill formed and incomplete as that opinion might have been).
I have identified with him mentally (and perhaps physically) since my attendance at the opening of the film in New Orleans when I was 12 years old. I had perhaps heard chatter prior to then that I bore him some resemblance, but it was never more true to life and form than when I saw Denzel Washington’s portrayal of Malcolm’s firebrand eloquence in the theater. From then on I would search for ways that I might carve out my personality more in tune with his likeness intellectually. I was a reader before then of Fear Street fiction and other such youthful exploits, but I immediately parted ways with those childish pursuits in favor of Ralph Wiley, Chancellor Williams, Marcus Garvey, Stokely Carmichael, and self identification with Islam.
While I never went full bore into the final stage of conversion to Islam of any form, pursuit of the personal philosophy of Malcolm X would inform my future relationships and organizational engagement for the next 18 years. What is the relevance of my personal story to this text? It is one of evolution and identification; of change and the challenges of growing. The mere fact that I can take this very same text and read it with two, ten, or twelve years between readings and draw starkly different conclusions each time speaks to Malcolm X as an entirely evolutionary (and by extension revolutionary) figure.
I think that my brother Kamau Rashid stated it best when he noted that upon his first reading of the text, he was a sympathizer, but now he can be fully objective and critical of the text because he has developed greater nuance in his thinking and positions. Not unlike Malcolm as we began to reach the close of this text and his life. He wanted the world to understand that his philosophy was evolving and growing in a number of ways, but perhaps because we as humans are not as evolutionary in scale as we would like to think, we could not get away from the first Malcolm that we knew rapidly enough to embrace his second coming.
I want no one to be confused about the fact. Malcolm was still the most strident contender that a seething racist American undertone would ever encounter in his generation. His view on the situation in America for Black people was still unhindered by his insight from traveling the world, but America’s nativist tendency was unable to confront the tarnish of world opinion on a just and stable field.
Malcolm was splashed with the lead paint of his past speakings. He was tarred and feathered so well by the same system which would later literally manufacture evidence to convict Geronimo Pratt and all of the other victims of COINTELPRO that even in the face of the FOIA documentation we can have someone like Kevin Williamson state on NPR Tell Me More that “Well, I think that we had an opportunity at that time to take things socially in a slightly different direction, and Malcolm X and the movement that he stood for, I think, probably did more damage to the cause of fully integrating blacks in American public life and American private life than it did good.”
I think the unfortunate nature of literature in America is that more people don’t subject texts such as “The Autobiography…” to multiple critical readings. Don’t read the book to say that you have read it or so that you may have an argumentative jump off point to slander Malcolm’s intellectual progeny in debate. Read it and understand what manner of system can create the man and the mind. Read it and understand how personal evolution can make that which once was destructive become instructive. Read it and recognize how much you need to change so that the world can change.
No matter what is written of this text now or in the future, there will be no other biography of Malcolm that matters as much. The first person narrative here and acute detail for the length of Malcolm’s life is far too gripping and overwhelming to be undertaken by any study, no matter how deep or insightful, of Malcolm’s life and legacy. This is Malcolm. Our Malcolm.
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I look at all of the events now and these revolutions happening with you know excitement and perhaps a little more trepidation kind of almost wanting to warn the people that it might not be as easy as you think. And it doesn’t mean that there won’t be very important changes for the better, but restructuring of society doesn’t always work the way that you planned.
Second OAAU Rally
- Question: What will be the attitude of this organization towards American intervention in Africa?
- Malcolm: The brother wants to know what will be the attitude of this organization in regards to American intervention in Africa. By that you are probably referring to recently, when they bombed our Congolese brothers, when American pilots bombed our brothers int he Congo. Why, that was worse than what the Italians did to our brothers in Ethiopia.
- Any time these kinds of things take place, you and I should be organized in such a way that the American government will think a long time before it takes any steps towards dropping bombs on Africans who are our brothers and sisters. This is why we must organize. But this handful of people we have here means nothing. We have to organize ourselves and then organize the city and then organize the state and then organize the country. Once you do this, the government is not going to intervene in Africa.