Jackie Robinson’s Response to Malcolm X

December 14, 1963
Dear Malcolm:

Frankly, your letter to me in the New York Amsterdam News is one of the things I shall cherish. Coming from you, an attack is a tribute. I am also honored to have been placed in the distinguished company of Dr. Ralph Bunche, whom you have also attacked.

I am proud of my associations with the men whom you choose to call my “white bosses”—Mr. Branch Rickey, my boss at Chock Full O’ Nuts, Mr. William Black, and Governor Nelson Rockefeller. I am also proud that so many others whom you would undoubtedly label as “white bosses,” marched with us to Washington and have been and are now working with our leaders to help achieve equality here in America.

I will not dignify your attempted slur against my appearance before the House Un-American Activities Committee some years back. All I can say is that if I were called upon to defend my country today, I would gladly do so. Nor do I hide behind any coat­tails as you do when caught in one of your numerous outlandish statements. Your usual “out” is to duck responsibility by stating: “The Honorable Elijah Muhammad says . . .”

Personally, I reject your racist views. I reject your dream of a separate state. I believe that many Americans, black and white, are committed to fighting for those freedoms for which Medgar Evers, William Moore, the Birmingham children and President John F. Kennedy died.

Those of us who are so committed have no intention of supporting the idea of a separate black state where the Honorable Muhammad can be the ruler and you his immediate successor—and all because you, Malcolm, hate white people. Too many of our young people have gone to jail and too many millions of dollars have been invested in our fight for equality for us to pay serious heed to your advice. Whether you like this country or not is of little concern to me. America is not perfect, by a long shot, but I happen to like it here and will do all I can to help make it the kind of place where my children and theirs can live in dignity.
As for Governor Rockefeller, I sincerely hope that what­ever contribution I can make to his campaign for nomination and election will be meaningful. I don’t know where you went to school, Malcolm. If you attended virtually any Negro college, I venture to say that a Rockefeller helped make your education possible. Neither do I apologize for my support of Mr. Nixon.

If conditions were the same today as they were in 1960, I would still support him. I do not do things to please “white bosses” or “black agitators” unless they are the things which please me. I respect Governor Rockefeller’s leadership of the present and what his family has meant to us in the past. I fully intend to do all I can to aid him.

The fact that I am supporting him does not mean you should. Rest assured, I am not doing so in the hope that you will come aboard.

You say I have never shown my appreciation to the Negro masses. I assume that is why NAACP branches all over the country constantly invite me to address them. I guess this is the reason the NAACP gave me its highest award, the Spingarn Medal, and why Dr. Martin King has consistently invited me to participate in the Southern Freedom Fight and invited me to co­chair with him the drive to raise funds to rebuild the burned churches in Georgia. By the way, Malcolm, I don’t remember our receiving your contribution.

Negroes are not fooled by your vicious theories that they are dying for freedom to please the white man. Negroes are fighting for freedom and rejecting your racism because we feel our stake in America is worth fighting for. Whom do you think you are kidding, Malcolm, when you say that Negro leaders ought to be “thankful” that you were not personally present in Birmingham or Mississippi after racial atrocities had been committed there? The inference seems to be that you would have played some dramatic, avenging role. I don’t think you would have.

I think you would have done exactly what you did after your own Muslim brothers ­were shot and killed in Los Angeles. You left it to the law to take its course.

You mouth a big and bitter battle, Malcolm, but it is noticeable that your militancy is mainly expressed in Harlem where it is safe.

I have always contended for your right—as for that of every American—to say and think and believe what you choose. I just happen to believe you are supporting and advocating policies which could not possibly interest the masses. Thank God for our Dr. Bunche, our Roy Wilkins, our Dr. King, and Mr. Randolph. I am also grateful for those people you consider “white bosses.”
I am glad that I have been able to come through for the people at whom you sneer. I am glad that Negroes spent so many millions for paid admissions to baseball. I am glad that we have sold an awful lot of Chock Full O’ Nuts Coffee. I am hopeful that we will be able to get a great many votes for Governor Rockefeller.

I shall always be happy to associate myself with decent Americans of either race who believe in justice for all. I hate to think of where we would be if we followed your leadership. Strictly in my personal opinion, it is a sick leadership which should rightfully be rejected by the vast majority of Americans.

 Jackie Robinson

Malcolm X Publicly Addresses Jackie Robinson

November 30, 1963
Dear Good Friend, Jackie Roosevelt Robinson:

You became a great baseball player after your White Boss (Mr. Rickey) lifted you to the Major Leagues. You proved that your White Boss had chosen the “right” Negro by getting plenty of hits, stealing plenty of bases, winning many games and bringing much money through the gates and into the pockets of your White Boss.

In those days I was one of your many ardent fans; your speed and shifty base running used to hold me spellbound . . . and, according to the attack you leveled against me and Congressman Powell in your recent column, I must confess that even today you still display the same old “speed,” the same “cunning,” and “shiftiness” . . . and you are still trying to win “The Big Game” for your White Boss.

Shortly after the White Man lifted you from poverty and obscurity to the Major Leagues, Paul Robeson was condemning America for her injustices against American Negroes. Mr. Robeson questioned the intelligence of Negroes fighting to defend a country that treated them with such open contempt and bestial brutality.

Robeson’s Stand
Robeson’s brilliant stand in behalf of our people left the guilty American whites speechless: they had no defense.

They sought desperately to find another Negro who would be dumb enough to champion their bankrupt “white” cause against Paul Robeson.

It was you who let yourself be used by the whites even in those days against your own kind. You let them sic you on Paul Robeson.

You let them use you to destroy Paul Robeson. You let your White Boss send you before a congressional hearing in Washington, D.C. (the capitol of Segregationville) to dispute and condemn Paul Robeson, because he had these guilty American whites frightened silly.

Your White Boss sent you to Washington to assure all the worried white folks that Negroes were still thankful to the Great White Father for bringing us to America, that Negroes were grateful to America (despite our not being treated as full citizens), and that Negroes would still lay down our lives to defend this white country (though this same white government wasn’t ready nor willing to defend Negroes) . . . even in those days, Jackie!

Jackie’s Column
In this same recent column you also accused me and Dr. Powell of misleading our people. Aren’t you the same ex­baseball player who tried to “MISLEAD” Negroes into Nixon’s camp during the last presidential election?

Evidently you were the only Negro who voted for Nixon, because according to the polls taken afterward, very few Negroes were dumb enough to follow your “MISLEAD.”

Today you confess to our people that you now think Nixon would have been the wrong man. Aren’t you also confessing that if Negroes had been dumb enough to follow you three years ago that you would have been guilty of MISLEADING them?

Rocke­fel­ler
You never gave up. You are now trying to lead Negroes into Nelson Rockefeller’s political camp. If you admit that you were wrong about Richard Nixon three years ago, how are we to be sure that you’ve become so politically mature in the meantime to be right in your choice today? Your “shiftiness” is confusing and very misleading.

We hear that you are about to be appointed Boxing Commissioner of New York State by Governor Nelson Rockefeller. Does this have any bearing on your efforts to get Negroes into Rockefeller’s camp? Just who are you playing ball for today, good Friend?

Our people followed you on the football field and the baseball field, but we are cautious and doubtful about your shifty position in this political field.

When Mr. Rickey picked you up from obscurity and made you a Big Leaguer, you never let Mr. Rickey down; and since Mr. Black has given you a well­paying position with Chock-Full-O-Nuts, you have never let Mr. Black down . . . and now with Mr. Rockefeller promising to make you the Boxing Commissioner of New York State, we know that you can’t afford to let Ole Rocky down.

You have never shown appreciation for the support given you by the Negro masses, but you have a record of being very faithful to your White Benefactors. Perhaps, if Nixon had not been such a relatively poorer man, he too would have fared much better with your support.

Your column also accused me of attacking Dr. Ralph Bunche. This is untrue. I have never attacked Ralph Bunche. No Muslim ever initiates an attack on anyone. Dr. Bunche had attacked the Muslims in general and me in particular from a college campus in the state of Mississippi, and his venomous poison was carried by all the major networks. My reply to Dr. Bunche’s unwarranted attack was made strictly in self­defense (as is this present letter an answer to your unjust attack).

If Dr. Bunche’s UN position is supposed to confine him to matters “above and beyond” America’s race problems, whenever he does escape the confines of UN protocol, why does he always attack our Muslim religious group? This is the third time he has attacked our religion. Is he anti­Islam?

Mississippi
Since he was in Mississippi while making his recent speech, he would have shown more intelligence had he directed his full attention toward the whites in that area who are bombing Negro churches and murdering innocent little Negro girls.

Why waste precious time and energy on us? Muslims don’t bomb churches. Muslims don’t shoot Medgar Evers in the back. Muslims have never lynched anyone.

Dr. Bunche should realize he can’t fight an effective battle on two different fronts at the same time. He can’t fight the Muslims and at the same time be effective against the lynchers of Negroes.

But Dr. Bunche seems more anxious to discredit and destroy the Muslim religious group than he does the white lynchers of Negroes. Whenever I read the speeches he makes for American consumption, I often wonder if his scriptwriter isn’t some anti-Muslim Israeli?

You also quoted the comedian, Dick Gregory, whose scriptwriter has him saying that most Negroes never knew the Muslims existed until the white man put the Muslims on television. I must confess that this is part­true.

The Muslims have been in the Negro Community for a long time, but Negroes such as yourself, who regard yourselves as Negro “leaders,” never know what is going on in the Negro Community until the white man tells you.

You stay as far away from the Negro Community as you can get, and you never take an interest in anything in the Negro Community until the white man himself takes an interest in it. You, yourself would never shake my hand until you saw some of your white friends shaking it.

Negro “leaders” never knew Muslims existed until the white man discovered them, and right today most of these same Negro “leaders” know about Muslims only what the white man has told them.

Medgar Evers
Finally, good Friend Jackie: you attacked me for not attending the funeral of Medgar Evers, who was murdered in Mississippi. When I go to a Mississippi funeral it won’t be to attend the funeral of a black man!

And you Negro “leaders,” whose bread and butter depend on your ability to make your white boss think you have all these Negroes “under control,” better be thankful that I wasn’t in Mississippi after Medgar Evers was murdered, nor in Birmingham after the murder of those four innocent little Negro girls.

If my integrity or sincerity is to be measured in your eyesight by my attendance at funerals of Negroes who have been murdered by whites, if you should ever meet with such misfortune I promise to attend your funeral, and then perhaps you will be able to see me in a different light?

If you should ever become as militant in behalf of our oppressed people as Medgar Evers was, the same whites whom you now take to be your friends will be the first to put the bullet or the dagger in your back, just as they put it in the back of Medgar Evers . . .

And I sincerely fear, good Friend Jackie, that if the whites do murder you, you are still gullible enough to die thinking they are still your white friends, and that the dagger in your back is only an accident!

Whereas if whites were to murder me for the religious philosophy that I represent and stand for, I would die KNOWING that it was at the hands of OPEN ENEMIES OF TRUTH AND JUSTICE!

 

Letter Published in the Amsterdam News

WHY I WILL NOT BE CELEBRATING THE 70TH ANNIVERSARY OF JACKIE ROBINSON’S MAJOR LEAGUE DEBUT

Although I am a baseball fan, I will abstain from the jubilant celebrations surrounding the 70th Anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s integration of “Major League Baseball.” Where others see cause to celebrate, I mourn. From my perspective, this is yet another occasion that proves that African-Americans have made whites the measuring stick that they measure success. Such individuals apparently think that there is no greater sign of success than to close the physical gap between themselves and whites, no matter the cost. One thing is for certain, African-Americans foolish commitment to integrate with whites has repeatedly resulted in their ruin. Put simply; the integration of Jackie Robinson into major league baseball came at a steep cost to the entire community, particularly black baseball players and those men who owned Negro League teams.

Never mentioned in these annual celebrations of Robinson’s arrival to the Los Angeles Dodgers roster on April 15, 2017, is the economic ruin that resulted for the black community. The eventual disappearance of Negro League teams meant the loss of dollars within a community that had learned to circulate their monies as a result of racial segregation. Trust me when I say that the socioeconomic casualties, especially the loss of ownership of teams, are far too numerous to list in this space. Negro League teams such as the Atlanta Black Crackers, Cleveland Buckeyes, New York Black Yankees, and Kansas City Monarchs were not only a significant source of entertainment for the African-American communities that they were situated within, but also provided an opportunity for team ownership for African-American men such as Joe Green, Andrew “Rube” Foster, Tom Wilson.

By most accounts, Negro League players were more skilled and physically superior to their Major League counterparts. This statement even includes a folk-hero such as Babe Ruth whose talent was eclipsed by Josh Gibson; we must never forget that it was Gibson, not Ruth, who was the only man to ever hit a ball out of Yankee Stadium.

In hindsight, it made little sense for Negro League teams to disassemble and have its most acceptable, not necessarily most talented, pieces parceled out to white Major League teams. Although I could be wrong on this matter, I would hope that if the African-American community understood that the most significant consequence of Jackie Robinson integrating Major League Baseball was the dismantling of the Negro Leagues and the ancillary decline of the African-American community’s socioeconomic viability that they would temper their celebration of Jackie Robinson donning “Dodger blue.”

Now please do not take this as a veiled call for the continuation of racial segregation in baseball or the nation in general, because it is not. However, it is a much-needed call to reconsider African-Americans rush to abandon their institutions for outside entities for no logical reason beyond it being owned by whites.

Make no mistake about it, the decline of the Negro Leagues was a hostile takeover by white baseball owners. If Major League Baseball power-brokers such as the frequently celebrated Branch Rickey were interested in actually integrating the sport, they would have pursued diversity throughout the entirety of the game from the outfield to the ownership boxes. There is precedent for such a move in professional sports as well.

There was a time when the National Basketball Association (NBA) had stiff competition from the upstart American Basketball Association (ABA). Now I do not want you to think that the ABA was some ragtag outfit composed of players who could not have played in the NBA. It was very similar to the Negro Leagues in that it featured incredibly talented players:

  • Julius “Dr. J.” Irving
  • Artis Gilmore
  • Connie Hawkins
  • Rick Barry
  • Spencer Haywood
  • Billy Cunningham
  • George McGinnis
  • George Gervin
  • Moses Malone
  • Dan Issel
  • David Thompson

Instead of “integrating” the ABA stars into NBA teams, NBA owners created a merger with the upstart league and agreed to accept the Denver Nuggets, San Antonio Spurs, Indiana Pacers, and New York Nets into their league. Players from the two remaining teams that folded were placed in a dispersal draft.

When placed within this context, there was absolutely nothing, outside of bigotry fueled institutional racism, preventing white Major League owners from creating a merger with the Negro Leagues and bringing several pre-existing franchises into their league. Although I am certain that many will charge that white fans would have boycotted inter-racial games, such an action would have had little impact on profits as African-American fans would have flocked to the games in droves with hopes that black baseball players would have proven their superiority once and for all. Despite it being relatively difficult to comprehend considering the popularity of football and basketball within Black America that there was a time when baseball was also Black America’s favorite pastime.

Unfortunately for Negro League owners and the black community, the price white team owners demanded their “acceptance” of African-American baseball players was the dissolving and absence of black ownership. From their perspective, African-Americans were only acceptable as disposable employees, not as owners possessing a voice in league operations. It is for these reasons that I cannot fully embrace Jackie Robinson’s Major League Baseball debut because it came at such a steep cost to the entire black community, a cost that is so enormous that we still to this day do not have an accurate tally. In fact, the vast majority of us are unaware of the tremendous collateral damage that the integration of the Major Leagues had upon the entire community.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2017.

Children’s Rhymes: Why the eagerness to hear Nicki Minaj’s response to Remy Ma is crucial to understanding the present state of Black America

I particularly like the saying of “If you do what you always did, you will get what you always got.” Put simply, if you desire to see a particular result, you simply have to repeat the actions and decisions that led to the result that you seek to repeat. Despite what many think, success is far from being accidental, in fact, it results from the adherence to several logical steps. It is the science behind “luck” that guarantees that the same people will experience success while others languish in a pitiful mediocrity.

When one reflects on it, the above quote may be the most efficient way of explaining unceasing African-American politico-economic powerlessness. There is little room to debate the reality that African-Americans repeated failure to prioritize pressing politico-economic issues has led to their consistent position as the have-not’s regarding important matters.

Recently, the general foolishness that rules the lives of so many negroes was reiterated yet again when I noticed that hip-hop icon Nicki Minaj was the top trending story in Black America. Apparently, out of all of the issues facing black folk (rampant unemployment, alcoholism, police brutality, domestic violence, the disappearance of black children, the sexual exploitation of black girls by forces within and foreign agents from outside), the “rap beef” between Nicki Minaj and Remy Ma supersedes them all.

Although I would love to attribute this foolishness to yet another routine engagement of African-American youth with an inconsequential black popular culture moment, however, I do not have that luxury as many of those mesmerized by this absolute nonsense are adults whose attention would be better served on a host of other important issues such as raising their children, improving their credit rating, or even pursuing long overdue entrepreneurial endeavors. Consider for a moment that at a time when African-American women are being attacked by non-black men as they shop, African-American children are disappearing from their homes for one reason or another, and injustice continues unabated for the members of our community at every turn, huge swaths of Black America have somehow managed to ignore such matters and create sufficient psychological space to eagerly await Nikki Minaj’s response to Remy Ma’s Shether.

What a stupid people we have become.

At a moment where African-Americans are outperformed in every societal measurable, the cowardice of our population, especially African-American men, is best displayed in their refusal to engage their opponents in the realms of education, business, or politics. Instead of battling their opponents in meaningful areas, African-American men do their fiercest competition via video games while black women display a similar level of ridiculousness by denigrating other black women regarding hair weaves, designer bags and clothes, not to mention their ferocious commitment to maintaining copious amounts of unnecessary drama, usually regarding a no-good man, that serves as stifling agent to their advancement.

I am confident that in due time, Nicki Minaj will respond to Remy Ma in the same vein that Jay-Z responded to Nas, or LL Cool J responded to Kool Moe Dee, Canibus, MC Shan, MC Hammer and Ice-T. Beyond the sheer entertainment value that it provides, these rap battles are in a word, worthless. However, I doubt that their absolute lack of utility in the uplift of Black America matters one iota to the droves of hip-hop heads perched on the edge of their seat awaiting Minaj’s response. One thing is for certain, if African-Americans continue to make useless black popular culture occurrences their top priority, they will pursue their age-old pattern of lagging behind all other groups in every important facet of life. Despite our most fervent attempts, there is one rule that we will never conquer, that being, “If you do what you always did, you are going to get what you always got.”

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2017

The Micro Aggressions that White America Never Witnesses

I have come to believe that the reason so many whites fail to understand the perspectives of African-Americans regarding racial matters is not attributable to any innate malice in their hearts. I fervently believe that the vast majority of whites are reasonable-minded individuals who honestly do not consider themselves to be in possession of any significant malice toward African-Americans. Experience has taught me that the genesis of what can be comfortably termed objectionable attitudes and behaviors regarding racial matters from the white community is a by-product of their operating with limited information regarding the many micro-aggressions that African-Americans deal with on a daily basis.

Make no mistake about it; American residential segregation prevents whites from having any understanding of the micro-aggressions that every African-American regardless of age, gender, educational accomplishments, political affiliation, or socioeconomic status will experience at some point. I offer the following incident as an example of the unfortunate reality that every African-Americans time to deal with white micro-aggression could be right around the corner. I now understand that it is these moments that not only ferment the hatred and distrust that so many African-Americans have for whites but also cause a widening of the racial divide as the vast majority of whites are seemingly oblivious to the occurrences.

A few days ago I was leaving a doctor’s appointment and heading to wash my car, an activity that I enjoy as it is not only physical but also provides me with moments of solitude to think about anything that is weighing heavy on my mind. As I made the left turn to enter the road where the car wash was located, I noticed that several cars behind me a white sports utility vehicle made the turn, I thought nothing of this matter. However, within the next sixty seconds, it became apparent to me that this SUV, which was most certainly a law enforcement vehicle was weaving in and out of traffic in a desperate pursuit to get behind me. Just as I expected, the law enforcement officer not only followed me for the next half-mile but also would periodically accelerate his vehicle to within inches of my rear bumper. I did my best to ignore these juvenile antics and made the right turn into my desired location and found an empty bay to wash my vehicle. To my shock, the law enforcement vehicle followed me into the car wash. I instantly decided to ignore this ‘officer of the law’ and proceeded to put quarters into the machine, however, before the last quarter dropping, this fool rolled down his window and said, “I thought that you were someone else that we have been pursuing. You better be careful out here.”

Make no mistake about it; I took his comments as both a veiled threat and warning regarding the precarious nature of being a black man in America. As someone who continually writes about American racial matters, I long ago understood that I am inextricably tied to my brothers at every moment of the day. The animosity undergirding the racial bias and blind hatred that serves as the standard modus operandi for so many, certainly not all, law enforcement officers makes the fact that I am a gainfully employed, educated black man who has earned four degrees from a leading university, as well as a loving father and husband non-considerations. All that they see, all that they consider is the fact that I am an African-American male that they have chosen to place within their crosshairs. And as an African-American male, I will tell you that once an officer has selected you, your singular goal is to survive the encounter ‘by any means necessary.’

Despite the propensity of non-blacks to believe that we are crying wolf when complaining about the actions and treatment that we receive at the hand of law enforcement officers and officials, the truth of the matter is that they will never fully understand the terror and uncertainty that flows from even the most “routine” interaction with law enforcement officers. Ironically, it is these moments of mundane conflict, these microaggressions so to speak, that fuel the natural hatred that black men feel for law enforcement officers and extend the average white citizens skepticism regarding the dire nature of American race relations. If only they could spend a moment in our shoes, their eyes would be opened to a harsh new reality that they have failed to recognize although it has been occurring around them the entire time.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

Committed to investigating, examining, and representing the African-American male, men, and manhood by offering commentary regarding the status of Black Men and Black Manhood as it relates to African-American Manhood, Race, Class, Politics, and Culture from an educated and authentic African-American perspective aimed at improving the plight of African-American men and African-American Manhood in regards to Politics, Culture, Education, and Social Matters.

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