Saturday, June 18, 2011

Lessons from Malcolm X's "little blonde Co-ed"

I just read this account of Malcolm X's encounter with a "little blonde Co-ed".  From his biography, he explains that at the time he distrust all whites.
Then a young firebrand, Malcolm X railed against all white people, including "white liberals" who sought to integrate themselves in the struggles of black people. Add white cream to black coffee, he analogized, and you weaken it. 
But he changed. In a letter from Birmingham jail April 16, 1963 he wrote:
I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season." 
Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection."

One sweet little white girl is a good thing for race relations. A large majority of somewhat intransigent white people is not a good thing for race relations.
In June 1963, John F. Kennedy introduced his Civil Rights legislation that allowed Federal enforcement of  desegregation upon states - it was game on and he was assassinated 5 months later on Nov 22, 1963.

During this time Malcolm (apparently) appeared to experience a change of heart from hard-line racial "separationist" views of the Nation of Islam and after returning from his Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca in April 13 1964 this change caused a great rift between him and the leadership of Nation of Islam.   Unfortunately, within the year, he too was assassinated (Feb 21, 1965) and suspicions ran high that Nation of Islam leaders like Elijah Muhammad and Louis Farrakhan were somehow involved, but this was never proved.

What I find interesting is the change in Malcolm X's radical viewpoint and disillusionment (a tipping point?)  regarding "shallow understanding" and "lukewarm acceptance".

No comments:

Post a Comment