NAU-POS254-Radical challenges to Enlightenment Ideologies
Northern Arizona University POS 254 Political Ideologies Summer 2009, 2010
Biographical Information for Malcolm X[edit | edit source]
Malcolm X, born Malcolm Little in Omaha, spent his formative years in and around Lansing, Michigan. He lost his father at a young age to local white radicals, the Black Legion, and soon after witnessed the steady decline in his mother’s mental state. This eventually resulted in his mother being taken to a mental institution in Kalamazoo. He and his siblings were then fostered off to several different families, though they continued to remain as close as they could. Several years after these events, Little moves to Boston and eventually winds up in Harlem. During these years of his life, he is commonly known as “Detroit Red” or simply “Red” and takes up hustling, gambling, and drugs. These eventually lead him to commit larger crimes such as burglary, which eventually land him in jail.
While he is behind bars, Little is drawn to Islam and eventually becomes a member of the Nation of Islam, taking the name Malcolm X to signify his commitment to his new religion and cause. Upon his release from prison, Malcolm X becomes a leading member of the Nation and is engaged in numerous speaking engagements across the country. Over time, however, tensions began to creep between himself and Elijah Muhammed, eventually leading to X leaving the Nation and converting to Sunni Islam. This permanent schism largely occurred after X returned from making his Hajj and encountered Islam as he had never known it in the Nation. This departure from the Nation of Islam caused a radical ideological shift in X’s thinking. He began to discuss his new beliefs with the press while also reiterating some older ones. X continued his engagements and public life until he was assassinated on February 21, 1965.
Ideology of Malcolm X[edit | edit source]
Malcolm X had three transformations in his life. At different stages in his life he changed and adjusted is ideologies. In his first stage he was Detroit Red and he hustled in the streets of New York. In his second Stage he joined the Nation of Islam and began preaching Elijah Mohammad's message. In his third Stage he left the American Nation of Islam and made a trip to Mecca which changed his life.
First Stage: Detroit Red
Red (Malcolm Little) was a hustler, and a gambler. He believed you had to take and get what you could to survive. Women were a commodity to him. He had no problem smoking marijuana, or sniffing cocaine. He would engaged in criminal activity on a regular business. He thought that he had the upperhand in life because he understood the streets. People would label him as crazy and no body to be messed with.
Second Stage: Malcolm X
In the second stage of his life, Malcolm X was a firm believer in Elijah Mohammad and took him to be a prophet sent from Allah. Malcolm X believed black people were oppressed by white people. He thought of white people as "white devils" and that they were going to self-destruct. He believed black people should be separated and not integrated because they would never be accepted by white society. He thought Islamic religion was the religion of black people and Christianity was the religion forced upon black people by white people.
Third Stage: El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz
Malcolm X left the Nation of Islam after he learned that Elijah Mohammad had committed adultery and that Elijah Mohammad had gave the green light for Muslims to kill Malcolm X. He made the trip to Mecca and learned that Muslims all of races prayed together and considered themselves brothers. He changed his beliefs and realized that all white people were not 'white devils.' He began to realize that white Americans are not racist but it is the American social, economical, and political atmosphere that practiced racism. He also began to believe that the struggle of black people was not limited to America. He began to believe that the only way to uplift black people in America, was to uplift black people around the world.
Arguments of Malcolm X[edit | edit source]
1) Violence and its use: Malcolm X’s commitment to violence was affirmed in his days as Detroit Red, making “it known that [he] carried not a gun, but some guns” (p. 141). At the time, he was barely into his twenties and was comfortable with the threat and act of violence. As such, he continues to carry forward this belief into his days with the Nation of Islam and beyond. Understanding X’s ideology is bound up in understanding his notions toward the use of violence. Perhaps the most important distinction to makes is that he is not for violence for the sake of violence, but rather for the sake of “justice” (p. 373).
He does, however, advocate for violence as a way to hurry along a solution to the race problem: “[He is] for violence if non-violence means we continue postponing a solution to the American black man’s problem—just to avoid violence. [He doesn’t] go for non-violence if it means a delayed solution. To [him] a delayed solution is a non-solution” (p. 374). X views violence, then, as a means to an end if it will hurry the end along where non-violence would allow it to stagnate. Because of this particular view, he is often viewed as being a radical or even a terrorist by some members of the American public.
2) Black-white relations: Malcolm X’s belief in the separation of blacks from whites can be traced to his childhood and the beliefs of his father. This is particularly true in the case of economics as “[t]he teaching of Marcus Garvey stressed becoming independent of the white man” (p. 3). X remembers his father saying that “[c]redit is the first step into debt and back into slavery” (p. 12). Clearly, X had a distrust of the economic powers wielded by whites taught to him at a very young age. Viewing debt as a route to slavery, it makes sense that X would argue for a total separation from whites as necessary for Blacks to develop without limitations.
This particular attitude also helps explain why X proved so amenable to the notions of the “devil white man” and the “brainwashed black man” espoused by the Nation of Islam, which he encountered during his prison stay. Under the ideology of the Nation, the black race is the original human race while the white race was created to sow discord by a scientist called Yakub (pp. 167-170). This race of “devil whites” overthrew the blacks and set about “whitening” history—writing all of the accomplishments of the black race out and creating them as their own. Over time, blacks began to believe this version of history, even embracing the white religion (Christianity), and thus became brainwashed. The Nation, then, represents a break with the brainwashing and a return by blacks to their true heritage.
X continued to embrace these teachings throughout his time with the Nation, but he began to question them while on his Hajj, eventually breaking from them entirely. While he still recognized the oppression occurring in America, his experiences abroad caused him to see it as a symptom of “the American political, economic, and social atmosphere” (p. 378). He begins to recognize that whiteness is not inherently evil as he had been taught by the Nation; rather it was a set of frameworks and schemas set up by self-interested whites that continued to replicate this evil. From this point forward, he is willing to see a world where blacks can exist alongside “enlightened” white—those who recognize the problem within the system and are willing to work against it.
Relation to the Enlightenment[edit | edit source]
1) Human Autonomy Malcolm X believed that black people were continually subjecting themselves to the enslavement of white people. They are not enduring physical enslavement but mental enslavement by constantly attempting to gain the approval of white people. Once they free themselves from mental enslavement they will acheive autonomy.
2)Importance of Reason Malcolm X also believed that black people were somewhat "brain-washed" by white people and this inhibited them from thinking for themselves. Once black stopped following the blind obedience of staying in their place than they would understand the reasoning behind white oppression. They could use reason to understand how they were being treated as second-class citizens and through integration they would never be accepted in white society.
3) Enlightenment is Universal Once black people became enlightened about their situation they would come to realize that there is a universal black struggle. They would understand that all black people across the globe are universally connected because the all came from Africa. They would start thinking of themselves as sisters and brothers instead of being divided by geography, religion, education, and neighborhood.
4) Progress Malcolm X believed that once black people finally freed themselves form white people's enslavement and were enlightened on their situation they would begin to make progress toward freedom and would pull themselves out of the ghettos and stereotypes they have become accustomed to throughout history.
5) Secularism Malcolm X wanted black people to accept Islam as the official religion and to renounce Christianity as the white man's religion.
6) The Centrality of Economics to politics He believed that in regards to economics, black people should own and run their own businesses. He also believed they should only buy from black businesses in order to thrive economically wthin their race. This would enable them to overcome the white economy and thrive by themselves.
7) The Ideal Popular Government He also wanted black people to govern themselves by being separated from white people. Black people should have their own President, legislators, and bureaucrats. Thier own judicial court and political systems. This would provide them with political freedom to go along with their new economic, religious, and emotional freedoms they are trying to achieve.
THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MALCOLM X[edit | edit source]
The story of Malcolm X begins early on in his life. The opening paragraph sets the tone for his entire autobiography by explaining the terror and racial struggles that his parents faced before he was even born. His father, Reverend Earl Little, a Baptist minister who preached the words of Marcus Garvey, an organizer for the Universal Negro Improvement Association, was run out of town. Marcus Garvey was considered the most controversial black man in the world because of his protesting for black purity and preaching for the Negro masses to return to their African homeland. Once the Ku Klux Klan had shown up and threatened the Little family, Reverent Little moved all four children to Milwaukee. Malcolm’s father was an extremely hard headed man who had been witness to violent racial crimes throughout his whole life, losing 4 out of 6 brothers to these horrific crimes. Malcolm’s mother, Louise Little, was born in the British West Indies who was of mixed race, both white and black. Malcolm X shared his mother’s lighter skin, which she seemed to resent because of her disgust towards the white race. After moving to Lansing, Michigan, where Reverend Little could become an independent preacher, they bought a house which was soon purposely set fire by white men. This is where Malcolm X says the real nightmare began in his life. Shortly after this incident, Malcolm’s father was brutally attacked and murdered leaving the large family, now 7 children, alone and desperate. After charity from friends and family and insurance settlements wore off, hard times approached again. Social workers began harassing the family and soon split them all up, putting the mother in a institution, the younger children with other families and allowing the older children to stay in the Little’s house.
Although the family has been separated, they remain very close both physically and emotionally. Malcolm attended school, where even though it was 98% white children, they were accepting of him. He was referred to with degrading racial slurs; however he felt that the students and teachers didn’t mean it in any harm. It was just who he was. After moving to a detention home, Malcolm’s rebellious attitude began to change into helpful and appreciative which in turn allowed him to go to a reform school. He started attending Mason Junior High with the friendly white kids who nicknamed him mascot. He became popular because he was different. He began joining clubs and was eventually named class president. He became quite an icon on the school’s basketball team as well. On the weekend nights, you could find racially mixed couples hanging out together in the Negro district of Lansing. Malcolm said, he didn’t understand it then, but now looking back on it, all the kindness of the white people wasn’t truly sincere. “It has been historically the case with white people, in their regard for black people, that even though we might be with them, we weren’t considered of them” (Malcolm X, 28). He said that the white people never really saw him for what he really was, just how they wanted to see him, even though he wasn’t discriminated against in his early years, he just didn’t know yet how different they really saw him. Soon after all his success in school, his half sister Ella came to visit from Boston and her and Malcolm formed a close bond. In the summer of 1940, Malcolm went to Boston to stay with her where his entire perception of black people was changed forever. Upon his return home to Mason, his attitude had noticeably changed and he had become anxious and frustrated with the white people in his town. When his teacher had put down his plans on becoming a lawyer despite his excellent grades without explaining his reason, Malcolm knew and that became the last straw. He decided to move to Boston with his sister.
After arriving in Boston, Malcolm spent some time visiting all the sights and gets acquainted with the new city. During all the sight-seeing, he came upon a neighborhood where there were a large number of blacks living quite differently than the norm. At that time they appeared to be “successful” men and women making it in the world of white superiority. However, now he knows that these people were brainwashed into believing that they were part of the elite class because they prized themselves on being “cultured.” These specific black people were trying to imitate the white people they worked for in the city; however, their job’s consisted of shoe shiner, message delivery man or janitor. Malcolm states “It has never ceased to amaze me how so many Negroes, then and now, could stand the indignity of that kind of self-delusion” (Malcolm X, 43). One day soon, while down in the ghetto area of town where the black people were full of more of what Malcolm was looking for, he met a man named Shorty who would become both his guide and friend. He was able to get Malcolm “a slave” which is a word for “job,” as a shoe shiner at the Roseland State Ballroom. Here he was able to witness both white and black people dancing either at separate dances or together, as well as music groups which he had always heard of. He made decent money doing odds and ends around the ballroom during big events, eventually enough to get a “hip zoot suit” and change his hair into a conk. Now he compares the hair-do to a need for black men to imitate the white man’s oiled look. He refers to himself and others at that time as delusional and stupid for wanting to look so much like a white man.
Malcolm began playing “the numbers” which is a form of gambling which means placing bets on numbers and “hitting.” While bartending in Harlem Malcolm became associated with members of the Forty Thieves gang and became good friends with hustlers, pimps, prostitutes and burglars. “All of us- who might have probed space or cured cancer, or built industries-were, instead, black victims of the white man’s American social system” (Malcolm X, 93). One of the lessons that Malcolm learns, he is taught by prostitute women living in his building. “All women, by their nature, are fragile and weak; they are attracted to the male in whom they see strength” (Malcolm X, 96). Also, that although a white woman might marry a white man, she still has a lust for being with a black man. After giving an undercover cop an offer for a prostitute, Malcolm was taken downtown then banned from his place of employment. He soon began selling marijuana and making quite a profit before becoming on the hot list with the Harlem narcotics squad. Malcolm then began to travel and sell narcotics. When his younger brother, Reginald visited he shared with him some wisdom, “that in order to get something, you had to look like you already had something” (Malcolm X, 108). Soon after that, he went down to the army to sign up, along with all his efforts to be avoided and not picked, he was rejected.
Malcolm’s sister Ella couldn’t believe how atheist and uncouth he had become. He said his vocabulary couldn’t have been more than two hundred words. Women were possessions. Red (Malcolm X) moved in to Shorty’s apartment; for two years he slept a lot and acted like a predator. He smoked a lot of marijuana and would hustle for money. It didn’t take him long to find a cocaine dealer. The high he got from sniffing cocaine made him feel over confident both mentally and physically. His girlfriend Sophia (a married white woman from Boston) would visit him. She began bringing her seventeen year old sister, who Shorty became involved with. He suggested to Shorty they should get into burglary; Shorty agreed. Malcolm thought it would be best to rob upscale white peoples’ homes. They employed Rudy who worked as a waiter in these homes, he was to case the houses and be the looker. They also involved the girls. Being white the girls were able to do things they were not, such as rent a nice apartment, and be able to get into the homes to locate specific items. They got a fence who would buy the items they stole. The fence never came in person he would send someone else to do the purchasing for him. The girls were known in the ghetto because they would hang out at the nightclubs with Malcolm and Shorty. One night Malcolm goes into the nightclub and the bartender was acting odd. Then he saw why the girls were there with a white man who just happened to be a close friend of Sophia’s husband. The next day he went to the jeweler to have his watch (one that had been stolen) repaired. The police were called the jeweler had been notified of the theft and recognized the watch. The police came in and then another black man who had just gotten out of the military. The detective had his back to Red (Malcolm) and instead of Red shooting the detective he raised his hands and motioned for him to take his gun. That same morning as he was being arrested, Sophia’s husband went to the apartment to kill him. He believes his life was spared because of Allah. He and Shorty were convicted and sentenced for a long time. Rudy got away, and the girls got a low bail and Red and Shorty believe they were sentenced for being with white women not for their crimes. "I reflected many times that the average burglary sentence for a first time offender, as we all were, was about two years. But we weren't going to get the average-not for our crimes" (Malcolm X, 153).
There were fourteen counts of crimes they were being convicted of. Shorty got eight to ten for each crime. Red got ten years. The girls got one to five years in a Women’s Reformatory at Framingham, Massachusetts. 1946, not yet even 21 Red and Shorty went to the Charlestown State Prison. Red was very angry and cursed at everyone, the psychologist, and even worse at the chaplain. The other inmates gave him the name of Satan because he was such an atheist. He met an inmate named Bimbi who commanded respect from everyone using only his words; this impressed Red. He stopped going to school after the eighth grade, and had forgotten much of what had been learned. Bibmbi suggested he take correspondence courses offered by the prison and use the library. His sister had made the suggestion before, since it was so hard to understand his limited vocabulary. He took an English correspondence course, and everything started to come back to him. He began checking out books from the library. In 1948 he had been transferred to Concord Prison, it was there he received a letter from his brother Philbert saying “he belonged to the natural religion for the black man” (Malcolm X, 158), it was “the nation of Islam” (Malcolm X, 158). He told him not to eat pork, not to smoke cigarettes and to pray to Allah. Malcolm’s sister Ella got him transferred to Norfolk, Massachusetts Prison Colony. It was much better there, they had flushing toilettes and were allowed to go to the library with permission, and each person got their own room. His brother Reginald went to Norfolk to visit with Malcolm and help convert him to the Nation of Islam. Reginald told Malcolm that all white people were the devil and they knew it. He told him Elijah Muhammad, and the importance of not putting narcotics, pork, or cigarettes in your body. His brothers and sisters raised money for his sister Hilda to visit Malcolm. When she was there she told him about Mr. Yacub and he was exiled from Mecca. It was Yacub that created the white man to rid the earth of the black man. Later Malcolm learned that it was these types of stories that Muslims of the East did not like. “While at Mecca, I reminded them that it was their fault, since they themselves hadn’t done enough to make real Islam known in the West” (Malcolm X, 171).
He decided to write to Elijah Muhammad, and his handwriting, spelling, and vocabulary were atrocious. He was very embarrassed by that. When he received a typed response signed by the messenger of Allah he was overcome. His family told him he should pray and turn to the East. Praying was such an emotional time for him. It was so hard for him to get into the praying position, not because of the physicality of it, but because of the psychological turmoil he felt. Kneeling down to pray meant admitting his guilt and shame. When he finally got into the position, he didn’t know what to say. He began writing to his hustler friends and criminals about Allah and Elijah Muhammad, the Mayor of Boston, the Governor of Massachusetts, and Harry S. Truman. This is what motivated him to become educated. He was frustrated at the fact that he was unable to express his thoughts and opinions as well as he wanted to. He requested a dictionary, some tablets, and pencils from the Norfolk Prison Colony School. He began writing the pages of the dictionary; every word and punctuation mark. He said he never realized the amount of words that existed. He was so fascinated by the dictionary. As his vocabulary increased he was finally able to understand the text of books. He began reading everything he could. He came to the realization that history books are told by white men and they write it portraying them, leaving out the black man. He studied genetics, philosophy, and history while in Norfolk Prison Colony. He says looking back at his time on the streets he never would have expected public speaking and debating. His brother Reginald had been having an affair and wrote to Mr. Muhammad pleading his brothers case and Elijah Muhammad wrote back to trust in the faith. Reginald was ostracized by the Nation of Islam, and eventually ended up institutionalized.
Malcolm’s brother Wilfred in Detroit, made arrangements with his employer the owner of a furniture store, to write a letter stating he was giving him a job. Shorty was also up for parole but was having difficulties finding a reputable person to sign for him. While in prison Shorty studied musical composition and even wrote some pieces one titled “The Bastille Concerto.” When he was released he spent the night at his sister Ella’s house, and his sister Hilda gave him some money. He bought a watch, a suitcase, and nicer glasses, which have become the most essential items of his life. Malcolm moved in with Wilfred and the routine of family life was a blessing and a nice change. There was order structure and respect. Everyone cleansed before prayer. At the temple meetings he was so impressed how others treated each other and used the proper terms, even the children. Elijah Muhammad spoke at the meeting and asked for Malcolm to stand. He said it was electrifying and Mr. Muhammad said how strong Malcolm was and that he knew he would be a faithful follower. He believed Allah helped those who help themselves, and it was up to them to recruit black men and women to the Nation of Islam. He began preaching and recruiting. The caravans grew. In 1942 Mr. Muhammad was arrested for his teachings. He was sentenced to five years but released after three.
Malcolm X decided to quite his job at the Ford Motor Company and began training under Elijah Mohammad to become a minister of Islam. He wanted to help establish more temples in North America to assist the 22 million African Americans who were "brainwashed and sleeping." He started teaching in Boston and moved around to New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Detroit. When he went to New York he reunited with some old friends such as West Indian Archie. He began lecturing in New York and was ineffective at first. He changed strategies and began handing out leaflet pamphlets on the streets of Harlem, in front of Black Nationalists meetings and Christian Churches. After temples had been established he would move on to another city that Mohammad would delegate him to. In 1958 he married Betty X and they had four daughters over the course of five years. In the later year of 1958 a Muslim man was a victim of police brutality and 50 Muslims stood outside the police precinct and demanded the man beaten to receive medical attention. It was the first time the police had seen a formation of disciplined black men and they were afraid of the crowd. Afterward, the Nation of Islam helped the man sue the police department and won $70,000 after they learned the beaten man would have to have a steel plate put into his head. That was the first time the Nation of Islam received local media attention and the police began paying closer attention to their organization.
C. Eric Lincoln began writing a book about the Black Muslims. In 1957 Malcolm X started a newspaper called Mohammad Speaks, that focused on issues in the Muslim community. In 1959 Louis Lomax began filming the black mosques around Washington, DC, New York, and Chicago to compile a documentary that would be aired on the Mike Wallace Show. The program was called "The Hate that Hate Produced" and it was aired in 1959. The program sent shock waves through the United States and the media started labeling the Muslims as "black racists' and "black fascists." After the program aired on television some newspapers started to quote the "house" and "yard" Negroes saying that the Muslims do not speak for the entire black community and that they are a hate cult. In Malcolm X's eyes the "house" and "yard" Negroes were the black people that confirmed to white people that black people were grateful for the progress and opportunities white people had given black people. They got their titles from the slave era when the slave masters would give certain slaves more food and privileges than the other slaves. As a result, these slaves became known as Uncle Toms and gave the slave masters a good image. Malcolm X started receiving phone calls from the American press and the world media and was asked to defend the position of the Muslims. American reporters(white)were angry and disgusted about the accusations of white America persecuting black America. Malcolm X claims in interviews that his words were skewed and never printed the way he said it, no matter how many good points he made to explain how and why the black man in America was being treated like a second-class citizen. On radio shows he would declare that the honorable Elijah Mohammad teachers black American that the only solution to their problems was separation from white people and Western society because it was self-destructing and black needed to distance themselves from the evils. Dr. Lincoln's book titled The Black Muslims in America was published around the time the Muslims started to host mass rallies around the United states. The hosted rallies in Chicago, New York, Detroit, and other major metropolitan cities. White people were barred from attendance of the rallies, special seating for the Muslims in the front, special seating for the black people that advocated for white people, and special section for black reporters and journalists. At the rallies Elijah Mohammad would preach his message of black revolution and why black people should be separated from white people. Eventually, the rallies provided a small section for white reports to attend. By 1961 The Nation of Islam was flourishing, the publicity and rallies help contribute to its increase in membership. The Nation also became popular because it would convert convicted criminals and drug addicts into respectable citizens.
Malcolm X began speaking at Universities and schools along with regular television and radio interviews. He began defending the term "white devil" and why it was necessary to label white men in that fashion. Malcolm X felt that the civil rights leaders were much to passive and emphasized integration to heavily. He was against black people joining the army to fight democracy when they were not awarded democracy from the country they were fighting for. He was against Northern white and black people going to the south to fight racism because the North had its own racial problems that were not being dealt with. North liberals were always pointing the finger at the south stating that the worst case of racism was in the deep south. Malcolm felt the North would hide its despise for black people while the south blatantly denied black people their rights. Black people had a problem of allowing themselves to be separated into superior educated professional black against the inferior ghetto uneducated working class black person. He felt that white people had created a self-hate that black people felt towards themselves. That's why he reasoned some black people permed, colored, or straightened their hair instead of wearing their natural hair style. That's why some black looked down at other black people that lived in the ghetto instead of showing them how to better themselves. That's why some black people had white friends and tried to immerse themselves in white culture. According to his teachings that he learned from the Nation of Islam, black people should start their own businesses and only hire black employees. They should also only sell black products and buy from other black-owned businesses. He also felt the March on Washington had been diluted by the involvement of white people. Before white people had gotten involved it was a national unorganized, leaderless, militant movement that was going to be a protest of black people instead of a peaceful demonstration of white and black people singing together. He saw this as another hoax created by white people to confine and contain the black community. He said that is why after the march black people had a deeper resentment of feeling that nothing had been solved and that led to the racial riots in the summer of 1964.
In 1961 Elijah Mohammad became extremely ill had to move to Phoenix, AZ. Malcolm X began to hear jealous and envious rumors about him from fellow Muslim brothers. Some of the other Muslims felt he thought he was bigger than Elijah Mohammad and that he was making money from the publicity. Some media even went as far as calling him the number 2 black Muslim to Elijah Mohammad. In was in 1962 when the Muslim newspaper he helped create, stopped printing articles about him. by 1963 the jealousy and narrow-mindedness of the Nation had cause him to decline interviews. In July of 1963 two paternity suits had been brought against the honorable Elijah Mohammad with two women claiming he had fathered their children. Malcolm X's spirit had been broken by the news and at first he denied it and refused to accept it. Muslims in Chicago began to leave the Nation of Islam because of news. Malcolm X was tormented by the whole ordeal and broke a sacred of rule contacting the women that made the claims. This was against the rules because the two women had been suspended from the Nation and no active members are suppose to have contact with suspended or isolated Muslims. They confirmed his suspicions and Malcolm X was so hurt that he went to see Elijah Mohammad in 1963. Elijah Mohammad admitted to committing adultery and that it was destiny to fulfill all the prophecies of the bible. When President Kennedy was assassinated Malcolm X made an insensitive comment that was taken out of context and Elijah Mohammad silenced him for 90 days. Malcolm X completely submitted to Elijah Mohammad's request but immediately there were rumors that he was resisting. He was no longer was allowed to preach at his Mosque or talk to the media. The rumors about him resisting Elijah Mohammad's order struck him a set up. Then soon after he was informed of some Muslims making threats against his life and he knew that only death threats could be ordered my the leader of the Nation. Mohammad had been betrayed by his teacher. Malcolm X vacationed in Florida with Cassius Clay and supported him in the beginning of his career. While he was away resentment towards festered to the point where someone confided in him that he was suppose to wire his car for it to explode. The guy that was suppose to do it know Malcom X's devotion to the Nation and went against it. Malcolm X made the final decision to break away from the Nation of Islam and start his own organization that would embrace of black men no matter what their religious faiths were. He decided to call it Muslim Mosque, Inc.
In a quest to learn all that he can about Muslim, Malcolm X decided to go on the pilgrimage to Mecca which is an orthodox Muslim’s obligation if he or she is able to make the journey. With the financial and emotional support of his sister Ella, Malcolm was able to go. On his plane ride was when he first realized that there was an abundance of different types of people, races, colors and genders all sharing the same belief and honoring the same god Allah. After watching a guide, Malcolm was able to learn all the correct ways to wash, pray and act while in the mosque. “All ate as one, and slept as one. Everything about the pilgrimage atmosphere accented the Oneness of Man under One God” (Malcolm X, 337). Malcolm learned the difference between the term “white man” used in America and the way it was used in Muslim belief. In America, the white man stood for specific actions towards other men but in the Muslim world it mean fairer complexion. Malcolm had been very impacted by the Muslim’s world ‘s color-blindness towards religious society and human society and this changed his views of the human race. He felt this experience allowed him a better understanding into the racial problems within American society. “I have never before seen sincere and true brotherhood practiced by all colors together, irrespective of their color…We were truly all the same (brothers)- because their belief in one god had removed the “white” from their minds, the “white” from their behavior, and the “white” from their attitude” (Malcolm X, 347). He believed that curing countries of racism can be done by believing in one god and finding a common ground.
The ruler of Arabia, Prince Faisal, made Malcolm X a guest of the State which is an extreme honor to bestowed upon anyone. He was given a chauffeur that toured him around Mecca. He was labeled the "Muslim from America" and all the Muslims want to meet him and ask him questions. After a week or so he began to get comfortable and adapt to the Muslims' worlds customs. He noticed that people of the same culture and color were drawn together naturally. The Africans were with the Africans and the Pakistanis were with the Pakistanis. He was constantly asked about the racial discrimination in America and he always took the opportunity to convey the injustices. He began to think about how black people in America had never thought about communicating with African countries, and he felt that was one of the biggest mistakes black American made. In April of 1964 he left Mecca and traveled to different countries in Africa. He visited Beirut, Lebanon, where he lectured at the University of Beirut and noticed how the European Influence had corrupted the Lebanese women. He lectured at Ibadan University where the Student Union made him an honorary member of the Nigeria Muslim Students' Society. Malcolm learned that the US Information Agency sought to spread the impression that black people in America were advancing and that the race problem was almost solved. He flew to Accra, Ghana; the black people were wealthy and beautiful there, unlike any place he had seen. It was the fountainhead of Pan-Africanism. When he got off the plane a white man from Alabama came up to him, shook his hand and invited him to dinner. The next morning while having breakfast at the hotel he was so disgusted to see many more white men discussing how rich the African land was and they wanted to exploit it again. Malcolm said the white man robbed Africa of “her human wealth the last time, now he wanted Africa’s mineral wealth. Author Julian Mayfield was a leader of Ghana’s colony of Afro-American expatriates. He had organized the Malcolm X Committee, and had quite the following. At a press conference he stressed the importance of black people to globally unite. He attended a dinner with the Chinese Ambassador and his wife Mrs. Huang Hua; after dinner three films about 1) Robert Williams who resided in Cuba after advocating American black men to take up arms, 2) the Chinese people’s support of the Afro-American, and 3) U.S. atrocities against the Afro-Americans. After he went to a Ghanaian soiree, where many people were dancing and celebrating his presence. He said he wouldn’t dance in memory of those who are struggling. . He said it was in the holy land he realized that there were good white people, who were against racism. The problem is in that in the U.S. racism is so deeply rooted in American society that it is hard to change.
Black people had no idea their struggle was global. Malcolm believed they were so brainwashed to believe their dilemma was a domestic problem, one of civil rights, when in actuality it was about human rights. When Malcolm would speak to the public they would shake his hand and ask for an autograph, but they were apprehensive about what he spoke. “The black man was scarred, he was cautious, he was apprehensive.” (Malcolm X, 372) He realized that he believed so much in Elijah Muhammad not only as a leader of black people but as a divine leader, and to have that much faith in a person is dangerous. Elijah Muhammad was human and people make mistakes; no matter the religion, faith, or color. He was accused of “stirring up the Negros” (Malcolm X, 372). He wasn’t condoning violence he wanted justice. He wanted the black man to be treated as equals and have the same advantages. Racism in the United States goes back to Colonial times when the Native Americans were killed by the white men for their land. There was a lot of bloodshed before the black man arrived to this country. He said that Conservatism means “Let's keep the niggers in their place. And Liberalism means let’s keep the knee-grows in their place-but tell them we’ll treat them a little better, let’s fool them more with promises.” (Malcolm X, 380) Malcolm knew he wouldn’t live to be an old man and felt very blessed to wake up each new day. “If I can die having brought any light, having exposed any meaningful truth that will help to destroy the racist cancer that is malignant in the body of America- then, all of the credit is due to Allah. Only the mistakes have been mine.” (Malcolm, 389)
Liberation Ideologies[edit | edit source]
Liberation Ideologies: Common Features
Liberation ideologies have changed over time with the new forms seeking liberation from oppression and liberalists feeling neglected. The first common feature that is shared between modern liberation ideologies is that each address a particular audience. Each audience is a group of people who share specific characteristics which form an identity of the people in this group. A second feature is that the group believes they are being mistreated or oppressed by a more dominant group. A third feature is that these people aim to liberate people from external and internal restraints or restrictions. A fourth feature in modern liberation is the aim to “raise the consciousness” and change people’s outlooks. The last feature in common is that liberalists also aim to liberate the “oppressor” and free them of their negative ideas and feeling of superiority towards other human beings.
The Black liberation movement began when there was too many obstacle standing in the way of the black people’s freedom. There are two main forms of black liberalists, including the people who take an integrationist approach such as Reverend Martin Luther King, or the radical nationalists such as Malcolm X. The integrationist approach believes “Black liberation is mostly a matter of removing barriers to black people’s full and free participation in the social, economic and political life of their countries barriers such as laws that deny them equal voting rights or equal opportunities for housing, employment, and education” (Ball and Dagger, 224). These liberalists want to see black people treated as individuals and part of society. An example of this is Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream speech, “in which people will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character” (Ball and dagger, 225). On the opposite hand there are the separatists or the nationalists that believe strongly in building racial pride and economic self-sufficiency in the black communities. According to these liberalists, no matter how hard they work at earning the respect or becoming part of the white man’s world, they will always be seen as racially different. These two forms of liberalism agree upon an idea called reparations which means that they feel that the white Americans should re-pay them back for all the hardships in the history of blacks such as the effects of slavery and racism, as well as the overall exploitation of the black culture in general. However this form of payment should not come in the form of cash, but in scholarships, financial aid, low-interest loans etc. The integrationists believe that the legal obstacles that deny black people an equal way of life should be removed creating a color-blind society. The nationalists believe that promoting a strong self sufficient and proud society of black people is the answer to black liberation. The Nation of Islam (or Black Muslims) was led by Reverend Louis Farrakhan who taught “that black people must take control of their own destiny through hard work, discipline, and abstinence from alcohol, drugs and extramarital sex” (Ball and Dagger, 228). Many demonstrations and marches have been conducted over the years in honor of this idea.
Women's Liberation (Feminism)
The women’s movement for liberation began as early as 1776 during the Continental Congress when Abigail Adams wrote to her husband, John Adams and said this to him, “If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation” (Ball and Dagger, 229). During the 19th century there was increase in women fighting for a women’s right to vote while others lobbied for new marriage and divorce regulations and laws. Women were also active in fighting against slavery as they believed that slavery and women’s oppression were similar conditions. Susan B Anthony is a historical feminist who made many changes in the women’s movement. She fought for wives and children who had been abused by men among many other things. In the 20th century different forms of feminism were developing. Socialist feminists “have argued that women cannot be free until capitalism has been replaced by socialism” (Ball and dagger, 231). There were Anarchist feminists who believed as long as the state is in existence women will be mistreated. Lesbian separatists claimed that women will continue to be oppressed by men as long as we are dependent on them, although the 2 most important forms of feminism were the liberal feminist and the radical feminist during this time. The liberal feminist is motivated in their movement by discrimination against their rights. The radical feminist appeared in the 1960’s and is concerned mainly with overcoming sexism, which is a set of beliefs that make women appear inferior to men. Efforts that were formed to assist with the fight against sexism include “consciousness raising groups,” marches to publicize rape, and counseling and shelters for abused women. Also studies programs were developed so women could learn about women’s history in higher education institutions. The liberal feminist believe that men and women are equal, whereas the radical feminist argues that men and women are different in every aspect and women should be free to be individual.
Liberation Theology. Plight of the Poor
The Liberation theology is to help bring an end to poverty. It calls for political and revolutionary action on behalf of the poor. Ending poverty does not just end with distributing food but it is a matter of liberating the poverty-stricken people form oppression and injustice. Liberation theology combines religious inspiration with political action. Liberation theology developed primarily within the Roman Catholic Religion. The center of its attention was Latin America but it also advocates for Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America. Some critics of liberation theology such as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) claims liberation theology combines Marxism and Christianity, Marxism more heavily than Christianity. Defenders of liberation theology stress the need to use the insights from modern social theorists which reveal the human sources of poverty. Advocates for liberation theology such as Gustavo Gutierrez of Peru have undertaken the critique by urging the Catholic Church to take a more active role in liberating the poor from poverty. He suggest the church use its "preferential option for the poor." Liberation Theology suggest the church should move away from its traditional rituals and sacraments of saving souls for the afterlife and implement "orthopraxis." Orthopraxis is the right or correct action in this world. There is not a clear right or correct action but liberation theologists's mission is to raise consciousness in the poor and the elite. They have begun to construct "ecclesial base communities" where they instruct poor people in health care, writing, social action, and reading along with Christian scriptures and faith. The Liberation Theology relates to the enlightenment ideals 1) Poor people being able to uplift through autonomy themselves 2) Analyzing and understanding the reasoning behind their suffering and devising solutions 3)Advocating for the universal involvement of affluent countries and people 4) Progression out of poverty 5) Advocating the importance of faith and christian beliefs 6) Structuring their economy to aid the poor and not create the poor 7) Democratic government that helps the poor
Gay Liberation: Homosexuality is as old as heterosexuality, in ancient times it was acknowledged by Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle that heterosexuality was necessary for procreation, however the love between two men or two women was an equal relationship; the relationship between man and woman was not equal. In contrast “Jewish, Christian, and Islamic doctrines … condemned homosexuality as perverted, unnatural, and sinful” (Political Ideologies and the Democratic Ideal, 233). In the U.S. Supreme Court ruling of Lawrence V. Texas (June 2003), it is unconstitutional to create laws prohibiting homosexuality. Homosexual mothers and fathers have been denied custody of their children; teachers sometimes lose their job as well as gays in the military or other public service occupations. In 1950 the Mattachine Society was founded to support gay men. In 1955 the Daughters of Bilitis was created to help lesbians. In 1963 the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from their list of mental disorders. 1969 was an important day for the gay liberation movement. Police raided the Stonewall Inn (this was not uncommon), instead the patrons fought back for three days. The police did not expect this, and gay men and women found a new sense of liberation. The liberation movement came about to create equality for gay men and women, not to mention to remove the homophobic stereotypes that exist about them. Some gays are liberal and are members of more “in your face” ((Political Ideologies and the Democratic Ideal, 233) groups while others are very conservative.
Their ideology is they deserve to have the same rights as heterosexual people. Jobs should not be withheld from them because of their sexual orientation. They should have the same respect and rights as everyone else. They want to overcome and do away with homophobic beliefs. They want to overcome the negative stigmatism that was placed upon them by various religious organizations. There is supposed to be a separation of church and state. Many laws opposing homosexuality are created by those who believe it goes against their religious beliefs. According to the seven laws of enlightenment Secularism – separation of church and state would apply here. Enlightened individuals place limitations on religious beliefs.
Native People’s Liberation (Indigenism)
Native or indigenous people include 1) Aborigines – Australia, 2) Maori – New Zealand, 3) First Nations – Canada, and 4) Native Americans – United States. Even though they are far apart these people have similarities 1) they live on the lands of their ancestors who were first inhabitants, 2) their ancestral lands were taken from them and occupied by European colonizers, 3) they became aliens and outsiders in their own lands, 4) they lost their sense of pride, demeanor, and identity, 5) they are plagued by social ills: high rate of unemployment, alcoholism, suicide, and other social problems. “Native people’s liberation groups aim to break this vicious cycle of poverty, social and economic subordination, and political powerlessness by reclaiming and restoring lost or long eclipsed group identities” (Political Ideologies and the Democratic Ideals, 236). The children were forced to attend school and forbidden to speak their native language. In 1910-1970 approximately 100,000 Aboriginal children were taken from their parents. The lighter skinned children were put up for adoption to white Australian families, and the darker skinned children were placed in orphanages. Both groups of children were forbidden to speak their language or practice their customs. They became known as the lost generation. In 1997 an apology was given to the Aborigines of Australia. In 1998 the Canadian government issued an apology to its native peoples. In 2000 the director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs issued an apology for the governments’ history of mistreating Native Americans. Even though these apologies are welcomed it is a little too late. AIM (American Indian Movement) has fought to restore the image and rights of the Native American. Native Americans have fought to have their treaties reasserted. Some believe that Native Americans who break the law should be tried in a tribal court, and not the white courts. Those who oppose say they will be given special treatment. Native Americans and other indigenous people argue that it “their rights and dignity as individuals require respect for their rights and dignity as a people” (Political Ideologies and the Democratic Ideals, 239). In order for a person to be free, then the rights of the people must be free.
Animal Liberation[edit | edit source]
Animal Liberation has an ideology of animals are unable to free themselves so humans need to act on their behalf. Their ideology is addressed to human beings that have 1)oppressed or abused animals 2) derive some benefit from oppressing animals and 3) humans that stand by and do nothing to prevent the abuse. Animal liberationists seek to liberate the psychological barriers or inhibitions of humans caused by "speciesism." Speciesism is the belief that human beings are superior to animals. Animal Liberation has a history that starts back as far as the 19th century with Jeremy Bentham. Jeremy Bentham was the first to raise the question of why are animals treated differently? He was disgusted by the treatment of animals for spectator sport. He said the reasoning should not rest on the ability of animals to talk or be rational but it should rest on their ability to suffer. In 1892 Henry Salt wrote a book titled Animal Rights that made the moral case for vegetarianism. The book added personal and political risk to protect the right of animals. In 1986 a movie titled Turtle Diaries was a story about three people that kidnap sea turtles from the zoo and release them into the ocean. In 1988 there was a campaign in Sweden that band certain kinds of beef and poultry-farming practices. In the 1990s numerous super models and celebrities protested against the sale, manufacturing, and wearing of fur coats. The Body Shop is a retail business that sold perfumes and cosmetics without testing on animals. The gruesome case of animal testing took place in the 1900s when a man named Harry Harlow conducted sadism experiments on monkeys. He deprived infant monkeys of their mother and they showed signs of mental illness. Another experiment he did called "evil mother" where he developed a metal surrogate mother that would shoot out sparks and blasts of cold air when an infant monkey tried to embrace it. These infant monkeys grew to be neurotic and psychotic adults. The females that were raised under these conditions refused to mate with males so he conducted another experiment called "rape rack" where he tied the females up while the males mated with them. One of his final experiments called "the well of despair" where he hung monkeys upside down in an isolated chamber for two years without contact from the world and being unable to move. These monkeys became disoriented and insane. After experiments such as these occurred laboratories formed committees to review and assess proposed experiments and stop the ones that were cruel and inhuman. Animal Liberation has tried to make factory farming illegal. Factory farming consists of animals being confined to small spaces and injected with hormones and antibiotics. Animal liberation aims to raise the consciousness of human beings that animals are not out here for our pleasure and entertainment. Peter Singer's examined the the arguments in favor of speciesism and found them to be unwarranted, incoherent, and untenable.
This relates to the enlightenment ideals by 1) Humans can think for themselves about how animals are being treated and realize that "specieism" is prejudice 2) Once people realize that animals have feelings then they would understand the reason why humans need to protect animal's rights. Reason will lead them to truth about animal cruelty 3) All creatures on earth are connected. Whether they are mammals, reptiles, fish, amphibians, and birds, we all are universally connected. 4) humans will progress from the idea that animals are meant to be used for pleasure and entertainment. 5) People that have religious beliefs should take their values and apply to the treatment of animals. 6) Animals that have a fate of being slaughter for economic profit should be able to live a happy life before their death 7) The government should take a stance and outlaw some farm-raising practices, outlaw animal cruelty practices, and outlaw unnecessary animal sports.
Critique of Malcolm X[edit | edit source]
There is only one real critique I have of Malcolm X’s ideology: his belief in violence as a possible means for change. His stance on violence, I believe, is more hindrance than help for two reasons: 1) the fear it generates; and 2) the ideological danger it presents. X hints at the source of the first part of my criticism when he says, “Largely, the American white man’s press refused to convey that I was now attempting to teach Negroes a new direction…And I feel that when the law fails to protect Negroes from whites’ attack, then those Negroes should use arms” (p. 373). His indignation at the refusal of the press to convey a tonal shift in one point of his politics and focus on the consistency of another seems naïve. Because he advocates the use of force to hurry along a solution, he is easily taken to be a radical, at best, and a terrorist, at worst. It is difficult for anyone to take seriously the finer points of someone’s argument when there is that glaring detail. It undermines the rest of his argument that he can be intellectually dismissed as being a potentially dangerous radical. It also makes the jobs of others working in the same area more difficult as they must now distance themselves from him while also working toward the same goal.
The second part of my criticism is derived from a statement by Audre Lorde: “The master's tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” I am a firm believer in this which is why I call X’s stance dangerous ideologically. Violence was the tool used by whites to bring blacks under control through slavery. Later the implicit and explicit threat of it kept, and continued to keep during X’s time, them in check. Using violence in response would not have provided a solution because it would have reproduced the crimes of the past. By using the very same means used against them, X would have had blacks recreate a very similar end. The master’s house would still be standing. It may have been in a different location or looked a little different, but it would have been there regardless. That is the ideological danger: repetition.
Notes[edit | edit source]
Malcolm X's conception of Freedom, Equality, and Democracy In regards to freedom, Malcolm X believed that black people needed to free themselves from white people's hold on them by becoming emotional free. Black people, according to Malcolm X, were constantly seeking approval from white people which hindered them from becoming entirely free from them. Becoming free from white people would also help black people become more equal. If black people were not constantly seeking approval they would be equal in a sense that they were not looking to others for their acceptance in society. Equality also goes hand-in-hand with democracy and economics. If black people owned their own businesses and bought only from black businesses, they would become economically and financially indpendent from white people. They would also gain equality due to the fact they are thriving on their own. Add notes, references and edit categories here