Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Continuing Relevance of Brother Malcolm X's Message

On May 19, 1925, the legendary black freedom fighter Malcolm X was born. Today, we should to take a moment to reflect on our dear beloved brother's contribution to our struggle for freedom, justice and equality. We should reflect on the relevance of his revolutionary ideology in this Age of Obama.

I am just about finish reading Manning Marable's masterpiece, Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention. As I continue to read the book, I wonder what would Malcolm X think about the state of black people today. I am convinced that many of his views remain relevant today.

Malcolm X said that we should control the politicians in our community. In his Ballot or the Bullet speech, he proclaimed that:

"The time when white people can come in our community and get us to vote for them so they can be our political leaders and tell us what to do and what not to do is long gone. By the same token, the time when that same white man...can send another Negro into the community and get you and me to support him so he can use him to lead us astray, those days are long gone too."

America has made tremendous progress in race relations. Due to the Voting Rights Act, we have the power to elect our candidates of choice. We have an African American President. We have many black congressional representatives and mayors. There have been a few black governors. I am sure that Malcolm X would not pacified by the quantity of African American politicians. He would focus on the quality and commitment of those politicians.

Can we truly say that we truly control the politicians in our community when most of them depend on corporate contributions for their political survival? In the tradition of Malcolm X, we must challenge our politicians and so called leaders when they support policies that are contrary to the interests of black people and oppressed people. We cannot efford to simply be enamored by black faces in high places.

Brother Malcolm challenged U.S. Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson for failing to protect civil rights workers. He challenged them for their imperialistic foreign policies in the Congo, Vietnam and elsewhere. Malcolm X condemned Israel's oppression of the Palestinian people. Today, we must oppose U.S. imperialism. Let's remember Malcolm X by opposing the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.

Malcolm X said that we should control the economy of our communities. Today, we have extraordinary examples of black entrepreneurs such as Oprah Winfrey and Jay Z. Currently, there are six African American CEOs of Fortune 500 companies.

Despite those major accomplishments, black people still do not own the restaurants, grocery stores, clothing stores, gas stations, banks and malls in their communities. We don't even own the beauty supply stores in the 'hood. Many of those businesses are owned and controlled by outsiders. Essentially, we remain economically colonized.

Unlike this current generation of bloggers and political pundits, brother Malcolm X knew that liberation would only come through organized struggle. For over a decade, he was a leader and member of the Nation of Islam. Later, he formed two organizations, Muslim Mosque, Inc. and the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU). His militant philosophy inspired young people like Huey P. Newton to create revolutionary organizations. He inspired civil rights groups such as SNCC and CORE to take a more militant stance. Words have power. However, writing is not enough.

We must join or create organizations to address the needs of our people. With ongoing problems such as poverty, high unemployment, racial profiling, police brutality, mass incarceration, inferior schools, high dropout rates and inner city violence, there is plenty of work left to be done.

This article is cross-posted on Jack and Jill Politics.

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