Tag Archives: Malcolm X

The Irony of being Black and Somewhat Unfree in a Land Celebrating its Independence

The great comedian Chris Rock once stated the following, “If you’re black, you got to look at America a little bit different. You got to look at America like the uncle who paid for you to go to college, but molested you.” Rock succinctly explains the foremost dilemma of being Black in America; a nation that simultaneously presents African-Americans with glimpses of good and never-ending reminders of prejudice, discrimination, and racism.

Despite this peculiar position of being “free” in a nation that enslaved our ancestors, African-Americans have miraculously proven to be the vessels that memorable moments of what this nation was created to stand for are frequently communicated.

I am certain that you have seen Star Swain, a 34-year-old assistant principal from Tallahassee, Florida perform a soulful rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” in front of the Lincoln Memorial that reminds of Marian Anderson’s rendition in 1939 of “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” at the same location. The fact that a descendant of enslaved, exploited, and beaten Africans would be the very vessel that such a beautiful rendition of one of this nation’s most symbolic songs says so much about the perseverance of African-American hopes and dreams.

Despite historically being used as the mules from which this nation’s initial wealth was created via ‘cash crops’ such as tobacco, sugar, and ‘King Cotton’, the vast majority of enslaved Africans found a way to remain optimistic regarding what the future held for them. Even in moments of physical rebellion such as Nat Turner’s Southampton, Virginia, African-Americans display their desire for one of the foundational pillars of America, Freedom.

I hope that on this vaunted day of “Independence” for this nation called America that African-Americans take a few moments to remember our, not necessarily America’s, ‘Founding Fathers’. Names such as Olaudah Equiano, Nat Turner, Denmark Vesey, Gabriel and Nannie Prosser, Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. Du Bois, Anna Julia Cooper, Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X, E.D. Nixon, Asa Philip Randolph, James Baldwin, and the list goes on and on, must be integrated into a celebration of our tenuous independence. We must continue to find ways to strive for freedom, without forgetting our dark past.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2016

What People Will Do For Money: The Sad Saga of Ray Lewis’ Commentary on Colin Kaepernick

If you possess any level of wisdom, I am certain that you agree that paying close attention to the actions and statements of others for an extended period of time provides you with significant insight regarding their character. This very simple process also holds the potential to highlight an individual’s understanding, or the lack thereof, of history. Ultimately, this process concludes with the observer deciding if a person is a man of substance or a fraudulent charlatan willing to change their viewpoints at opportune moments for financial reward or material accruements. Trust me when I say that the latter persona is the most prevalent in Capitalist America.

Baltimore Ravens linebacker and self-styled political commentator Ray Lewis has once again proven himself to be a fraudulent charlatan willing to alter his viewpoints according to the direction that political winds are blowing the strongest. It does not take a genius to realize that Lewis is constantly positioning himself for a future economic windfall.

Consider for a moment that Ray Lewis has miraculously re-created himself as a person of some substance, a far-cry from the thug persona he relished during his time as the ultimate enforcer for the Miami Hurricanes and Baltimore Ravens; let us not forget that Lewis’ hooliganism was a fixture in his social interactions as well. If one seeks verification for Lewis’ penchant for melding together his on-field activities with his off-field conduct, they need to look no further than his guilty plea for obstruction of justice during the investigation of the murder of Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar. The plea bargain that Lewis agreed to was given in exchange for his testimony against his compatriots Reginald Oakley and Joseph Sweeting, for their role in the murder of Baker and Lollar after a Super Bowl XXXIV party in Atlanta, Georgia on January 31, 2000. Unbelievably, Ray Lewis has been able to not only escape a career-ending murder charge, but also reshaped his persona as public figure that has been provided access to the likes of Donald J. Trump and a who’s who of Black America. If nothing else, Ray Lewis’ publicist deserves a significant pay raise and accolades for re-shaping his public image.

A crucial portion of Lewis’ persona has been his ascension as a motivational speaker who provides adherents with words of wisdom and inspiration. Consider the following advice from Lewis, “We get one opportunity in life, one chance at life to do whatever you’re going to do, and lay your foundation and make whatever mark you’re going to make. Whatever legacy you’re going to leave; leave your legacy!” One would be hard-pressed to not consider Lewis’ sentiment as Poignant! Relevant! Inspirational! Unfortunately, if one has paid close attention to Lewis, particularly his recent comments regarding Colin Kaepernick it becomes clear that at best he is woefully inconsistent in regards to honoring his words and thoughts.

Consider for a moment how Lewis’ vitriolic diatribe aimed at Kaepernick, a figure whose public protest regarding the continuation of racial bias in “the land of the free and the home of the brave,” betrays the above quote about leaving a lasting legacy. Within a context that has seen NFL owners refuse to employ the more than capable quarterback, Lewis attacks Kaepernick’s political activism by remarking “Kaepernick has to make up his mind. Do you want to play football or do you want to be an activist.” Make no mistake about it, this was a conscious move by Lewis that displays his extreme desire to extend his access to the NFL trough owned by the same white powerbrokers who have colluded to keep Kaepernick out of the NFL. Additionally, Lewis’ unfortunate commentary conveys either his ignorance regarding the extended tradition of politicized athletes such as Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, and Bill Russell or his determination to never ‘bite the white hands’ that feed him.

Although I would love to think that Lewis’ commentary was solely directed at Kaepernick, however, I am unable to do so as its meaning covers the entire pantheon of politicized black athletes. Lewis’ message reduces to an antiquated, yet familiar message that one would expect to hear from racist whites during the Jim Crow era, not a black man in the new millennium. In many ways, Lewis’ tired routine casts him as the “House Negro” that Malcolm X stated loved and identified with his master so much that when the master became ill, the House Negro responded, “What’s wrong boss? We sick.” What a terrible person, Ray Lewis has become, just absolutely terrible.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2017

Remembering Malcolm X

“Here – at this final hour, in this quiet place – Harlem has come to bid farewell to one of its brightest hopes -extinguished now, and gone from us forever. For Harlem is where he worked and where he struggled and fought – his home of homes, where his heart was, and where his people are – and it is, therefore, most fitting that we meet once again – in Harlem – to share these last moments with him. For Harlem has ever been gracious to those who have loved her, have fought her, and have defended her honor even to the death.
It is not in the memory of man that this beleaguered, unfortunate, but nonetheless proud community has found a braver, more gallant young champion than this Afro-American who lies before us – unconquered still. I say the word again, as he would want me to : Afro-American – Afro-American Malcolm, who was a master, was most meticulous in his use of words. Nobody knew better than he the power words have over minds of men. Malcolm had stopped being a ‘Negro’ years ago. It had become too small, too puny, too weak a word for him. Malcolm was bigger than that. Malcolm had become an Afro-American and he wanted – so desperately – that we, that all his people, would become Afro-Americans too.

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. Many will ask what Harlem finds to honor in this stormy, controversial and bold young captain – and we will smile. Many will say turn away – away from this man, for he is not a man but a demon, a monster, a subverter and an enemy of the black man – and we will smile. They will say that he is of hate – a fanatic, a racist – who can only bring evil to the cause for which you struggle! And we will answer and say to them : Did you ever talk to Brother Malcolm? Did you ever touch him, or have him smile at you? Did you ever really listen to him? Did he ever do a mean thing? Was he ever himself associated with violence or any public disturbance? For if you did you would know him. And if you knew him you would know why we must honor him.

Malcolm was our manhood, our living, black manhood! This was his meaning to his people. And, in honoring him, we honor the best in ourselves. Last year, from Africa, he wrote these words to a friend: ‘My journey’, he says, ‘is almost ended, and I have a much broader scope than when I started out, which I believe will add new life and dimension to our struggle for freedom and honor and dignity in the States. I am writing these things so that you will know for a fact the tremendous sympathy and support we have among the African States for our Human Rights struggle. The main thing is that we keep a United Front wherein our most valuable time and energy will not be wasted fighting each other.’ However we may have differed with him – or with each other about him and his value as a man – let his going from us serve only to bring us together, now.

(Ossie Davis, 1965)

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