He's no Malcolm X, but could we handle Malcolm X today?
President Obama went to the Congressional Black Caucus dinner and spoke about Black unemployment, Black problems and Black people. All the things critics like Maxine Waters and Tavis Smiley and all the other professional “leaders” have ripped Obama for not saying he said out loud and on the record.
“With patient and firm determination, I am going to press on for jobs. I’m going to press on for equality. I’m going to press on for the sake of our children. I’m going to press on for the sake of all those families who are struggling right now. I don’t have time to feel sorry for myself. I don’t have time to complain. I am going to press on.
“I expect all of you to march with me and press on. Take off your bedroom slippers, put on your marching shoes. Shake it off. Stop complaining, stop grumbling, stop crying. We are going to press on. We’ve got work to do, CBC.”
Seems they didn’t dig Obama telling them to “stop complaining.” Complaining is what Waters and Smiley do best. Smiley sputtered, “How does he get away with saying this to Black folk?” Waters sniffed indignantly, “I don’t know who he was talking to because we’re certainly not complaining,”
Negroes, please! I hate to see bourgeois Black people get their ass on their shoulders when they get called out. Tavis all you do is talk and if talking’ could solve a problem we wouldn’t have any. Maxine, you’ve been in Congress for 21 years! How are your constituents in South Central L.A. doing these day? With all the ethical clouds hanging over your head where do you get the balls to be so damned morally superior?
Waters and Smiley are so focused on their disdain for the messenger they didn’t bother listening to the message.
"You talkin' to me? I know you aren't talking to me."
With all the whiny responses to the president’s remarks I got to wondering. What would happen if a real flamethrower spoke to the CBC? How would these proper and respectable Negroes handle being called out by a Black man who spoke in capital letters and with no regard or concern whether or not they wanted to hear what he had to say.
What would happen if Malcolm X spoke to a group of politicians and professional Black leaders? What would that sound like?
Maybe something like this.
“Usually when people are sad, they don’t do anything. They just cry over their condition. But when they get angry, they bring about a change.”
“Children have a lesson adults should learn, to not be ashamed of failing, but to get up and try again. Most of us adults are so afraid, so cautious, so ‘safe,’ and therefore so shrinking and rigid and afraid that it is why so many humans fail. Most middle-aged adults have resigned themselves to failure.”
“The greatest miracle Christianity has achieved in America is that the black man in white Christian hands has not grown violent. It is a miracle that 22 million black people have not risen up against their oppressors – in which they would have been justified by all moral criteria, and even by the democratic tradition! It is a miracle that a nation of black people has so fervently continued to believe in a turn-the-other-cheek and heaven-for-you-after-you-die philosophy! It is a miracle that the American black people have remained a peaceful people, while catching all the centuries of hell that they have caught, here in white man’s heaven! The miracle is that the white man’s puppet Negro ‘leaders’, his preachers and the educated Negroes laden with degrees, and others who have been allowed to wax fat off their black poor brothers, have been able to hold the black masses quiet until now.”
“You can cuss out colonialism, imperialism, and all other kinds of ism, but it’s hard for you to cuss that dollarism. When they drop those dollars on you, your soul goes.”
“Look at yourselves. Some of you teenagers, students. How do you think I feel and I belong to a generation ahead of you – how do you think I feel to have to tell you, ‘We, my generation, sat around like a knot on a wall while the whole world was fighting for its hum an rights – and you’ve got to be born into a society where you still have that same fight.’ What did we do, who preceded you ? I’ll tell you what we did. Nothing. And don’t you make the same mistake we made….”
“Our people have made the mistake of confusing the methods with the objectives. As long as we agree on objectives, we should never fall out with each other just because we believe in different methods, or tactics, or strategy. We have to keep in mind at all times that we are not fighting for separation. We are fighting for recognition as free humans in this society.”
“Yes, I’m an extremist. The black race… is in extremely bad condition. You show me a black man who isn’t an extremist and I’ll show you one who needs psychiatric attention!”
“People involved in a revolution don’t become part of the system; they destroy the system… The Negro revolution is no revolution because it condemns the system and then asks the system it has condemned to accept them…The price of freedom is death. “
“Who ever heard of angry revolutionists all harmonizing ‘We shall overcome … Suum Day…’ while tripping and swaying along arm-in-arm with the very people they were supposed to be angrily revolting against ? Who ever heard of angry revolutionists swinging their bare feet together with their oppressor in lily-pad park pools, with gospels and guitars and ‘I have a dream’ speeches? And the black masses in America were–and still are–having a nightmare.”
“I’m not going to sit at your table and watch you eat, with nothing on my plate, and call myself a diner. Sitting at the table doesn’t make you a diner, unless you eat some of what’s on that plate. Being here in America doesn’t make you an American…. No I’m not an American, I’m one of the 22 million black people who are the victims of Americanism. One of the 22 million black people who are the victims of democracy, nothing but disguised hypocrisy…. I’m speaking as a victim of this American system. And I see America through the eyes of a victim. I don’t see any American dream; I see an American nightmare.”
“Sitting at the table doesn’t make you a diner, unless you eat some of what’s on that plate. Being here in America doesn’t make you an American. Being born here in America doesn’t make you an American.”
“If you’re afraid of black nationalism, you’re afraid of revolution. And if you love revolution, you love black nationalism. To understand this, you have to go back to what the young brother here referred to as the house Negro and the field Negro back during slavery. There were two kinds of slaves, the house Negro and the field Negro. The house Negroes — they lived in the house with master, they dressed pretty good, they ate good because they ate his food — what he left. They lived in the attic or the basement, but still they lived near the master; and they loved the master more than the master loved himself. They would give their life to save the master’s house — quicker than the master would. If the master said, “We got a good house here,” the house Negro would say, “Yeah, we got a good house here.” Whenever the master said “we,” he said “we.” That’s how you can tell a house Negro.
“We, the Black masses, don’t want these leaders who seek our support coming to us representing a certain political party. They must come to us today as Black Leaders representing the welfare of Black people. We won’t follow any leader today who comes on the basis of political party. Both parties (Democrat and Republican) are controlled by the same people who have abused our rights, and who have deceived us with false promises every time an election rolls around.”
“I’m nonviolent with those who are nonviolent with me. But when you drop that violence on me, then you’ve made me go insane, and I’m not responsible for what I do. And that’s the way every Negro should get. Any time you know you’re within the law, within your legal rights, within your moral rights, in accord with justice, then die for what you believe in. But don’t die alone. Let your dying be reciprocal. This is what is meant by equality. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.”
“If it doesn’t take senators and congressmen and presidential proclamations to give freedom to the white man, it is not necessary for legislation or proclamation or Supreme Court decisions to give freedom to the Black man. You let that white man know, if this is a country of freedom, let it be a country of freedom; and if it’s not a country of freedom, change it.”
Yeah, if Malcolm X spoke to some of these so-called “Black leaders” there would be smoke coming out of their ears and their heads would explode.
At some point Waters and Smiley and all the professional pessimists who call out Obama for not showing concern about issues of poverty, unemployment and the suffering of African-Americans will to have to decide if they’re primarily interested in only criticizing him when he’s wrong instead of supporting him when he’s right
It used to be Black people responded when they were challenged by their leaders and yes, Barack Obama is a leader. He’s not a fire starter as Malcolm X was and he’s far too careful at times but this is not the first time Obama’s policies have come wrapped in a moral lesson. Waters and Smiley don’t want to be challenged. They want to be asked real nicely. They don’t even want solutions to problems. What would they do if they had nothing to bitch about?
What would they say if Malcolm X challenged them to stop complaining, stop grumbling, stop crying? If a Black moderate like Obama annoys them so much how would an outspoken Black nationalist rock their world? Malcolm loved Black people but he wasn’t afraid to chide Black people for not stepping up their game. Writing in The Atlantic Ta-Nehisi Coates pondered the parallels between the fatherly advice both men gave Black Americans.
Always lurking among Malcolm’s condemnations of white racism was a subtler, and more inspiring, notion—“You’re better than you think you are,” he seemed to say to us. “Now act like it.”
Ossie Davis famously eulogized Malcolm X as “our living, black manhood” and “our own black shining prince.” Only one man today could bear those twin honorifics: Barack Obama. Progressives who always enjoyed Malcolm’s thundering denunciations more than his moral appeals are unimpressed by that message. But among blacks, Obama’s moral appeals are warmly received, not because the listeners believe racism has been defeated, but because cutting off your son’s PlayStation speaks to something deep and American in black people—a belief that, by their own hand, they can be made better, they can be made anew.
Barack Obama is no Malcolm X. No one would argue that, What else can’t be argued is Black people aren’t what they used to be either.