Malcolm’s Troubled Legacy in the Age of Obama, My University Lecture Notes.

Posted: November 10, 2008 in Uncategorized


One of the more gratifying aspects of my career as a researcher and

scholar is the opportunity to lecture at some of nation’s most prestigious colleges and universities. This semester I’ve been teaching at The George Washington University (GW) in Washington, D.C., and next semester I’ll be on the campuses of both GW and Georgetown. I am usually invited as an authority on Islam in America, Black Muslims, and the life and legacy of Malcolm X. In my most recent talks on Friday, I compared and contrasted the differences between the so-called Nation of Islam and the religion of Islam, which was all pretty much academic. However, during those two 90 minute classes, I felt compelled to share with the students some of my own thoughts on the legacy of Malcolm X in light of Barack Obama’s stunning victory.

Like most African American Muslims, the Autobiography of Malcolm X had a huge impact on my decision to accept Islam, but it would be many years later before I really understood the complications associated with his life. In researching his story, I had to free myself of the hero worship and romanticism which afflicts most Muslims whenever this topic comes up, and rely solely on primary sources and scholastic detachment.

In my research there were moments of great exhilaration and profound disappointments. I remember vividly sitting one day in the special collections division of the Library of Congress examining the papers of Ken McCormick, Alex Haley’s editor at Double Day Press, when to my astonishment, the original contract for the Autobiography of Malcolm X fell into my hands! Folded in threes, I opened it to find both men’s signatures, ALEX HALEY, MALCOLM X. Incredible! For those interested to know both of them had to split a twenty thousand dollar advance. That was thrilling.

The disappointments were also many, and really too much to go into in the space of a blog. All that I will say here is that so much of what Muslims believe about Malcolm X is myth, derived mostly from the Autobiography. The book cannot under any circumstances be read as straight history, and I’m on sound scholarly ground here when I say that huge portions of it are pure fiction. I have devoted an entire chapter on Malcolm X in my forthcoming book.

Over the years I have had the benefit to meet and know many of Malcolm X’s closest colleagues, both when he was in the N.O.I. and after. I knew and shared the stage with brother Benjamin 2X Karim at a program I organized in 1991, who was Malcolm’s assistant Minister and the man who introduced him that fateful day in 1965, when he was assassinated at the Audubon Ballroom. In fact, as God would have it, the last time I spoke to Ben was two days before his death in August of 2005. I also wrote his obituary which was syndicated in a number of Black newspapers.

Two months ago, I was granted an exclusive interview with Brother Luqman Abdul Rahim, mentioned in the Autobiography (though not by name) as the man Captain Joseph ordered to wire Malcolm X’s car. Luqman has never agreed to a taped interview in the 43 years since Malcolm’s death, but because he’s now in poor health and feels the end is near, he decided to share his story with me. And man does he have a story to tell! I asked Dr. Manning Marable, founder of the African American studies Department at Columbia University and Director of the Malcolm X Project, if he would participate in the interview since he is in the final leg of completing his massive biography of Malcolm X, and he agreed.

I could also mention Miss Sarah Mitchel, the last person to speak with Malcolm before his death, back stage at the Audubon, and Peter Bailey who edited the O.A.A.U newsletter for Malcolm, who lives not far from me here in Washington, D.C , both of whom I count as friends. I could go on, but I think I’ve made the point that I know a little something about Malcolm X.

So why have I brought all of this up? Let me explain. Over the past few of years I have noticed a disturbing trend among some Muslims to claim to speak for Malcolm X, and that were he here today he would endorse the philosophies they espouse or groups they belong to. This is especially true of second generation immigrant Muslims, who are fighting desperately to portray themselves as some kind of oppressed group in this country, and see in the slain leader a champion for their cause and a vehicle to “indiginize” themselves. So taking things full circle, the other day one of these immigrant kids had the audacity and unmitigated gall to comment on a Black Muslim blog that were Malcolm here today, he would NOT be talking about race or the magnificent victory of Barack Obama. This is the kind of arrogance and disrespect that immigrant Muslims have always exhibited towards us, Black American Muslims, and its really nothing new. But I think that if anyone is qualified to proffer an opinion about what Malcolm would say or believe today, it is someone like myself, who has researched his life for many years. I will match my credentials on this subject with anyone in any forum, but the sad truth is that not even Malcolm knew what he believed, or would say, even then. In his last year his thoughts were as confused as his program was disorganized. It is simply preposterous for anyone, so many years later, to know what the man would say or believe today! And I certainly will not dignify the ridiculous assertions of immigrant kids so completely ignorant of Black history, and who only wish to high jack the little bit of it they know for their own selfish agenda. Groups like MANA also claim to represent Malcolm’s legacy. However in a short while it won’t matter who wins the mantel of Malcolm X, because Barack Obama’s victory as the first Black President of the United States has demonstrated that he was completely wrong in his views on race in America,

I’m not an American, I’m one of the twenty two million Black victims of Americanism,

Malcolm X

The overwhelming number of African Americans categorically repudiated that statement on Nov. 4, 2008. This is precisely what I am teaching at the universities, that in the final analysis, the militant Black Nationalism espoused by Malcolm X, Louis Farrakhan, The N.O.I, the Republic of New Afrika, and on and on, is a relic of the past. Anti-Americanism is a relic of the past. All of the angry, belligerent, anti-productive hostilities have been supplanted by a fierce patriotism and pride in the flag. In fact, radicalism of any kind is finished, especially Islamic radicalism. No longer will immigrants be able to exploit Black grievance to further their seditious agendas. The game is up, its over, its dead. If someone stands up today and starts talking “Khalifah” and “Islamic State” the first ones to fight them will be Black people, who have a new sense of ownership of the country. And this is a great thing.

This is the message that I will be sharing in my lectures all this year, and if the response I received at George Washington University is any indication, It looks like I’m on to something. Its a great time to be alive Black people.


  1. IBN ABDUL HAQQ says:

    ASA BR. Unlike some who start off attacking let me say you are entitled to you opinions.
    However just as I at 60 cant speak for hip hop America, there is no way for you to understand what we went through. Because of some of your contempt for the past struggle, and some of your contempt for Islam as you know it .You have a great future as the modern black leader, as leadership is that which you aspire to.

    You sarcastically mock ” I’m not an American, I’m one of the twenty two million victims of Americanism”

    But what we went through was by no means a joke, you who never experienced overt, physical ,white racism can be flippant all you want. Maybe you are right unlike you Allah knows best.

    A word of advice you don’t raise yourself by tearing down the works of others.Roy Innis who I knew, was a great civil rights leader, unfortunately some of his sons were killed by black folks. Roy then became a neo cons dream attacking Black folks.

    You probably would have waved the flag during the times we went through, but TRY to respect those who couldn’t.

  2. SjP says:

    Abdur-Rahman – much obliged for this post. It provides a prospective that we certainly do not think about often. I must say, however, that I have often wondered during this election process what would the pre NOI and post NOI Malcolm think, say, or even do relative to Obama’s vie for the presidency. Much obliged for the “food for thought and consideration” and the link to Sojourner’s Place.

  3. ASA,

    @I’m not an American, I’m one of the twenty two million victims of Americanism,

    I believe that there was an evolution of Black nationalism in America. Malcolm was not alone when he made the above statement, and this was probably more than the minority consensus among Blacks. However, even then, there was a sense of ownership and pride that combated this view. I think its much more necessary to highlight the change in ideology rather than point fingers at statements. As you noted yourself, Malcolm’s views were constantly evolving and would appear mixed and confused to those around him.

  4. Hamza21 says:

    Abdur Rahman I believe your way off base with this statement:

    “All of the angry, belligerent, anti-productive anger has been supplanted by a fierce patriotism and pride in the flag.”

    I think you’re projecting your feeling,opinions on others. I don’t see what you comment suggests at all. Indeed black folk have become inspired and raised their standards of what the future may behold in terms if their achievements but to say black folk are “patriotic” or “flag wavers” that’s a stretch of the imagination.

    I, myself, would never describe as being patriotic. Patriotism for me always have been an euphemism for blind nationalism,which the Prophet spoke out against. The Arabs have saying:

    Me and brother against my cousin
    my brother and my cousin and I against the stranger.

    Islam is against this type of thinking,known as asabiyyah in the arabic language.

    For me,maybe because I’m not just AA but also Mexican-American, I looked being an American as something that was. It’s statement of fact, nothing to be proud of nor ashamed by. Obama’s victory doesn’t change my outlook and I believe many black folk’s outlook as well on being patriotic or flagwavers.

  5. Hamza21

    What can I say, I think you are wrong about that. Barack’s victory has instilled a new found love and appreciation for this country in the hearts of Black folk, and I think this is undeniable. I also believe your concept of “nationalism”, from the Islamic point of view anyway, is incorrect. It is only when love of one’s country trumps doing right that you have nationalsim. The mantra, “my country right or wrong” is nationalism. I am not giving up the investment my ancestors have in this country, period!

    The election of Barack Obama as the 44th President is a remarkable achievemnt unmatched in any so-called Muslim country at any time. Prove me wrong. That is not something to take pride in?

  6. As Salaamu Alaikum,

    Re Your statement “[I]n the final analysis, the militant Black Nationalism espoused by Malcolm X, Louis Farrakhan, The N.O.I, the Republic of New Afrika, and on and on, is a relic of the past. Anti-Americanism is a relic of the past. All of the angry, belligerent, anti-productive anger has been supplanted by a fierce patriotism and pride in the flag. In fact, radicalism of any kind is finished, especially Islamic radicalism.”

    What’s the phrase from the sports world? As I think it applies: “Can’t call it yet!” It’s simply too early in the game.

    First of all, let us examine the political landscape at the present conjuncture. Although the Obama campaign strategically trounced the McCain forces in terms of electoral votes with something like 365 to 173 electoral votes according to one post-election tally, the popular vote was much closer with Obama taking approximately 52% of the popular vote and Mc Cain taking 47%. The popular vote gives us a portrait of a nation still bitterly polarized. Although responsible factions of the Republican party are already meeting, planning and strategizing already on how to win back the White House in 2012, the disgruntled and embittererd fanatics from the rightwing who hate the idea that a “nigger Muslim” is in the White House, and who yelled out “Kill him!” when Obama’s name was mentioned at McCain rallies may opt for more violent means –a la Tmothy Mc Veigh perhaps — to ensure an early end to the Obama presidency. We are precariously balanced –one bullet or bomb away – from seeing the present emphasis on Dr. King’s “American Dream” turn into Malcolm’s “American Nightmare.” An assassination — or even an unsuccessful assignation attempt which leaves the President-Elect maimed or incapacitated — could flip the script overnight, and “the fierce patriotism and pride in the flag” which you cite above could be replaced by a wave of civil disturbances or urban insurrections across America perhaps surpassing those which occurred in over 125 cities immediately after the assassination of Dr. King

    Secondly, let us briefly examine the African American political landscape historically.
    DuBois in the most famous and oft-quoted passage in Souls of Black Folk speaks of a “double-consciousness. . . two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body,” one “Negro” (or African) and the other American.
    Amiri Baraka, cited DuBois’ quote and elaborated upon it, in a brilliant paper delivered at a Black Left Unity meeting in Chapel Hill, North Carolina (May30th-June1st) which called upon the Black Left to back Obama who was the choice of the masses rather than deliver a protest vote for Cynthia McKinney the more radical African American female candidate of the Green Party. Baraka stated that if double-consciousness of African Americans is not to be reduced merely to the level of some schizophrenic or psychopathological affliction, then we must realize (and actualize) the fact that the African American struggle for social justice has always been and continues to be a twin struggle. It is both struggle for democratic rights within the American polity and a struggle for national liberation – that is a struggle for sovereignty and autonomy of the oppressed African peoples in America. The struggle to elect Obama president is a struggle for democratic rights, it is a struggle for inclusion in a society where African people have so long been excluded by de jure and de facto segregation, i.e., American apartheid, and which is based upon goals of integration and assimilation. It is a just struggle and one which even the proponents of national liberation engaged in by at least pulling the lever in the election booth if not by active campaigning or monetary contribution.

    A proper reading of African American history, however, reveals a dialectic – alternating periods in which the one or the other of the two struggles –the struggle for democratic rights and the struggle for national liberation – has gained ascendancy. (See Bracey, Meier and Rudwick’s Black Nationalism in America and Thomas Blair’s Return to the Ghetto, for their insightful discussions of this alternating ascendancy.). Although one ideology may gain ascendancy for a while, it ultimately yields to the other. In short it is not a matter as some would simplistically state of choosing one ideology over the other, but in fact in realizing that our struggle always has been and always will be on two fronts, and that if we abandon either one of these fronts –we lose. Those who have attained a well-informed understanding of African American history understand that we must fight simultaneously for our democratic rights and for our liberation. Quoting Blair:

    In the day to day struggle for survival and progress, however, and in the context
    of changes in public opinion, government policies , legal and judicial precedents, it
    becomes increasingly difficult to maintain a social movement dedicated to one goal
    or to live one’s life totally according to one ideal or the other. The difficulty with
    the integrationist mode is that as racism beats him back, the black man is drawn
    towards separatism as an alternative mode of adaptation and action. With
    separatism, as blacks gain more opportunity , solidarity declines. The two themes – integration and separatism are therefore in constant interaction, each vying at
    different times or stages of history for the all consuming interest of black people.

    As Paul Robeson succinctly stated, “The battlefield is everywhere, there are no sheltered rears.” As long as conditions of apartheid prevail in American inner cities, the fuel for racial conflagration still remains, the need for radical approaches still exists, and the twin struggles for both democratic rights AND national liberation will continue. Let us not be so easily swayed by the euphoria and brotherhood that swept the country on the night of November 4th. Don’t foolishly discount the white backlash of the 47% of the country who didn’t back Obama. We must be ever vigilant to protect the precarious democratic rights which we have won, and we must never give up our rights for self-determination. And please, my brother, don’t be so quick to desecrate the grave of the martyr Al Hajj Malik Al Shabazz. What unfolds in America still remains to be seen. Surely man plans and Allah plans and indeed Allah is the best of all planners.

    In struggle,

    Yusuf Nuruddin

  7. As Salaamu Alaikum

    This is a short addendum to my remarks above:

    It should also be duly noted that the political thought of Malcolm was not confused but complex. Furthermore it is not his legacy which is troubling, rather it is the feeble attempt to reduce his highly-evolved and rapidly-expanding ideological consciousness to some simplistic caricature which is troubling. In fact, Malcolm’s famous speech, “The Ballot or the Bullet” underscores his clear understanding of the necessity for twin struggles or dual approaches to attain freedom — rooted in the reality of the African American double consciousness described so aptly by Du Bois. Malcolm called for the ballot – the exercise of democratic rights – the right of the African American people to fully exercise first class U.S. citizenship especially the voting rights to elect an Obama. The revolutionary alternative — or the bullet – is seen as a necessity only if first class citizenship rights are in some way denied, aborted or tampered with. So to portray Malcolm as failed revolutionary in the age of Obama is a false construction to begin with. Malcolm, in his last year, allied himself with the civil rights struggle and met with followers of Dr. King. In one speech he stated emphatically that what Dr. King was fighting for — the civil rights, democratic rtights, constitutional rights, citizenship rights, voting rights of African Americans — was right and that the govenment ought to give Dr. King what he is fighting for. In this way he posed a militant alternative to the non-violent approach of Dr. King should the white power structure deny African Americans these democratic rights.

    In the age of Obama, we the African American people have exercised the ballot, and have seemingly achieved a milestone victory, but in our moment of celebration we must not become so complacent as to think that all is well in America. We must remain vigilant to protect our hard won long-overdue victory and we must ever be prepared to use any means necessary to preserve our human rights and our right for self-determination if in fact the white power structure or the fanatic fringe rightwing element attempts to trample on on newly won constitutional rights.


    Yusuf Nuruddin

  8. Abu Usamah al-Aswad says:

    ASA, All @Abdur-Rahman

    Aah yes the back patting has begun, how can you take a small phrase from an entire speech, extrapulate a weak conclusion then attempt to give it legitimacy by claiming to have studied a person? No, you merely built a strawman by taking a portion of a single sentence and use it to falsely represent the totality of someone views. At least you could shown more verasity by using a larger portion of his speech.

    Now, here in part is what he said on April 12 1964 speaking of “THAT ERA”

    “…I’m no politician. I’m not even a student of politics. I’m not a Republican, nor a Democrat, nor an American, and got sense enough to know it. I’m one of the 22 million black victims of the Democrats, one of the 22 million black victims of the Republicans, and one of the 22 million black victims of Americanism. And when I speak, I don’t speak as a Democrat, or a Republican, *nor an American.* I speak as a victim of America’s so-called democracy. You and I have never seen democracy; all we’ve seen is hypocrisy. When we open our eyes today and look around America, we see America not through the eyes of someone who have — who has enjoyed the fruits of Americanism, we see America through the eyes of someone who has been the victim of Americanism. We don’t see any American dream; we’ve experienced only the American nightmare. We haven’t benefited from America’s democracy; we’ve only suffered from America’s hypocrisy. And the generation that’s coming up now can see it and are not afraid to say it.”

    How can you sit here 44 years later after the struggle of so many before us and claim that a sinlge vote in 2008 has “demonstrated that he was completely wrong in his views on race in America” as it stood in 1964?

    Now let’s take another fuller portion of what he actually said

    “Twenty-two million black victims of Americanism are waking up and they’re gaining a new political consciousness, becoming politically mature. And as they become — develop this political maturity, they’re able to see the recent trends in these political elections. They see that the whites are so evenly divided that every time they vote the race is so close they have to go back and count the votes all over again. And that…which means that any block, any minority that has a block of votes that stick together is in a strategic position. Either way you go, that’s who gets it. You’re — You’re in a position to determine who will go to the White House and who will stay in the dog house. You’re the one who has that power. You can keep Johnson in Washington D.C., or you can send him back to his Texas cotton patch. You’re the one who sent Kennedy to Washington. You’re the one who put the present Democratic Administration in Washington D.C. The whites were evenly divided. It was the fact that you threw 80 percent of your votes behind the Democrats that put the Democrats in the White House.

    When you see this, you can see that the Negro vote is the key factor. And despite the fact that you are in a position to — to be the determining factor, what do you get out of it? The Democrats have been in Washington D.C. only because of the Negro vote. They’ve been down there four years, and they’re — all other legislation they wanted to bring up they brought it up and gotten it out of the way, and now they bring up you. And now, they bring up you. You put them first, and they put you last, ’cause you’re a chump, a political chump.”

    How can you intellectually defend that this position isn’t STILL true today in 2008, not mention in 1964? Need I point out to you that in this election, while both Jews and Hispanics were openly courted and catered by both parties, Blackamericans and Muslims placed at the back of the bus were never openly courted by either party instead were only given the nod & wink by the democrates , like “I got you” so give me your vote and fall back because I don’t want them to see me with you.

    On another note I have empathy for you being so wrapped up emotionally in this years election and preceived gains, yet I will not allow you or anyone else canibalize our martyr or other elders to legitimize yourselves to the rest of America

  9. Hamza21 says:

    Abdur Rahman you misunderstood my words.

    “””What can I say, I think you are wrong about that. Barack’s victory has instilled a new found love and appreciation for this country in the hearts of Black folk, and I think this is undeniable.”””

    Again don’t see this. No one i have talked to have found “love and appreciation” of this country as they are more inspired to acheive more in this country.

    “”” I also believe your concept of “nationalism”, from the Islamic point of view anyway, is incorrect. It is only when love of one’s country trumps doing right that you have nationalsim.””””

    Didn’t I say that is what nationalism is?lol

    “””The mantra, “my country right or wrong” is nationalism. I am not giving up the investment my ancestors have in this country, period!”””

    Being “patriotic” and “giving up the investment my ancestors” are two different things.You don’t neccessary need one to have the other.Taking advantge of fruits of labor of those who before us is one thing being a flagwaving my country is best in the worlld right or wrong is another. That was my main point. Let’s take advantage of all opportunities of this country but let’s spend our trying to outdo the rednecks of the south in “loving America”.

    “”The election of Barack Obama as the 44th President is a remarkable achievement unmatched in any so-called Muslim country at any time. Prove me wrong. That is not something to take pride in?””

    I never stated that we shouldn’t be proud of Obama’s achievement. My views are more in line Tariq Nelson’s..that the achievement level for black folk has been raised and in order to succeed in today’s new reality we can’t have any more excuses for doing what is neccessary to acheive,ie, being twice as good as others and not being bitter when white foks will only accept you as lower than them.

    The new reality is if white people treat you as unequal to them even though you more educated and better at your occupation than them so what. You deserve and you will obtain more in life. Aa Obama’s motto,taken from Ceaser Chavez though not given credit, YES We Can and now nobody can’t say you can’t.

  10. Abu Usamah al-Aswad says:

    @ Hamza21

    there was never any excuse

  11. Abu Usamah al Aswad,

    I think you have made MY point by the very lenghty quotes in your comment. Secondly, I know ALL of these speeches quite well, and perhaps some you have never heard, so please don’t disrespect me like that. Thirdly, the social conditions in Malcolm’s day did make his message at least reasonable to a large segment of Black people. All I am saying here is that by 2008 his Black nationalist message did not win out.

    I am sure there will always be some die-hards like yourself, and you are entitled to your views like everybody else. I certainly respect that. But I repeat, the overwheming number of Black folk have simply repudiated the notion that we are not American, and to believe otherwise is delusional. What was all that crying, and praying, and shouting, and dancing, and singing, and celebrating all about on Nov. 4th, the return of the ships to take us back to Africa? Of course not, it was a celebration of the fact that with Obama’s victory we Black people feel now truly a part of America, and not as Malcolm said, A VICTIM OF IT.

  12. Abu Usamah al-Aswad says:

    Abdur Rahman

    My intent was not to disrespect you, nor did I disrespect you, it takes some hubris for you to feel that your brothers correction of your misintepretion of fact, is beyond the pale or a form of disrespect. Now what IS disrespectful is your statement “not even Malcolm knew what he believed, or would say, even then.” how could you possibly think your feeble attempt to marginalize and characterize our martyr as confused, uncertain and erratic would go unchallenged? Yes, his position on tactics “evolved”, yet he never wavered in his goal of self-determination for Black people (Blackamericans).

    If in the begining you had stated “that by 2008 his Black nationalist message did not win out.” well thats true, but that’s not what you wrote initially, no what you said was “he was completely wrong in his views on race in America” and that my beloved brother is simply not a true statement.

    Using the “hind-sighted” logic you’ve displayed, the abolishionist would be wrong in their veiws also since there are no slave plantations today (we’ll table the prison industrial complex for another discussion)

    Yes, perhaps he could have nuanced in his rhetoric a bit, for in fact he never gave up his citizenship nor passport. And yes he was wrong about “some” things and he may have overstated others for rhetorical oral effect (a license you use quite liberally for written effect), yet he was not “completely wrong in his views on race in America” as it was in 1964 which numerous historical records prove, and even prior to 1964 when he still held beliefs of shirk he was able to trounce the opposition in debates on race in America.

    Also, I see how you deftly dodged my point about Blacks and Muslims being made pariah in this election. Dodge it all you like while Jews where being openly fawned over and pledged fealty, Muslims couldn’t even be seen in pictures. This wasn’t necessarily a reflection on the candidates but rather where they believe America still is socially, my friend. (this a play on words you are my brother)

    Look, I am not trying to quench your fierce patriotism and pride in the flag, but I will leave you with two sobering quotes from your fellow Americans “patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel” and “when fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in a flag carrying a cross”, I have a vested interest in this land and will continue to push for a social contract that is in keeping with Islamic principles. We are a true national minority in this land and have a moral right to self-determination just as much as Native Americans.

    I am befuddled about one thing though, how is that you can speak so forcefully and correctly (inspite of the bouts of rhetorical license and hyperbole) against Blackamericans accepting second class treatment when it comes to immgrant Muslims yet, willful accept the marginalization of Muslims shown in this election.

    Your brother the die-hard

  13. Hamza 21 says:

    @ Abu Usmah

    Well to many children Santa Claus does exist regardless of the facts that disprove that. As well to many black folk,especially young black males, a belief that no matter how hard you try white folks will conspire to keep your from objectives and goals was reality. You’re right there’s no excuse but to many there was before Obama’s victory.

  14. Hamza 21 says:

    oops sorry brother, a little typo, I meant to write is Abu Usamah.

  15. As Salaamu Alaikum,

    Re: your statement ” the overwheming number of Black folk have simply repudiated the notion that we are not American, and to believe otherwise is delusional. What was all that crying, and praying, and shouting, and dancing, and singing, and celebrating all about on Nov. 4th, the return of the ships to take us back to Africa? Of course not, it was a celebration of the fact that with Obama’s victory we Black people feel now truly a part of America, and not as Malcolm said, A VICTIM OF IT.”

    No, we were not lining up for a seat on a ship to take us to the Motherland. The majority of the African American masses have always recognized that North America –fertilized by the blood, sweat and tears of our enslaved ancestors –is our home. But coinciding with this recognition has been our consciousness of black people constituting “a nation within a nation” (Martin R. Delany and E. Franklin Frazier immediately come to mind as two prominent African Anericans who used this term). This “nation within a nation” is the concept of a “Blackamerica.” A concept, which of course, Obama’s rhetoric negates or denies (“there is no black America, there is no white America, there is only the United States of America”). While it makes sound political sense for Obama as a candidate, and now President–Elect, of ALL the people to reiterate such a mantra, it is doubtful that Blackamerica has bought into this sudden erasure of itself. Whatever our own individual concept of Blackamerica –and it has dozens of nuanced variations or visions from community control/community empowerment to cultural autonomy (e.g., Kwanzaa, dreadlocks, mudcloth fashions) to the radical idea of a sovereign and independent nation arising in the Black Belt South – no one can deny that this concept has flourished historically. Some of the variations or visions of Blackamerica are compatible with pride in America (e.g., the vision of a “race man” chairperson of an ivy league Black Studies department), others are not at all compatible (e.g., the vision of a leader of a Congress of African People) and I believe that most visions or variations are simply “neutral” vis a vis American pride although “apathetic” may be a better term (e.g., check out the film WATTSTAX FESTIVAL). Thus while most of us are not clamoring to get on board the ship for the repatriation return trip, as you say, our embracing of this Western hemisphere land as our home, hasn’t necessarily equated to flag-waving patriotism.

    I was in Harlem amongst the crowd of thousands who stood in front of the Harlem State Office Building on the evening of November 4th as the election returns were being reported by CNN on a huge screen HDTV mounted outdoors. I went wild with jubilation with the rest of the crowd when Obama’s victory was announced. My reaction was not one of patriotism or flag-waving but the celebration and elation that comes from a once-in-a-lifetime unbelievable TRIUMPH. The crowd, by the way, had a large contingent of Afrocentic, black nationalist and radical socialist activists who attend all black political consciousness or black liberation theme events. African Drumming echoed throughout the night. It was clear that what was being celebrated by much of the crowd was the victory of BLACK POWER. Black voting power, black power being successfully exercised via the ballot.

    Just as black people danced in the streets of America on the evening of November 4th, the black people of South Africa danced in the streets when Nelson Mandela was elected president. I doubt however if their jubilation was an indication of flag-waving patriotism for the Republic of South Africa.

    Our celebration here on November 4th was not about the “Star-Spangled Banner,” brother. It was about “Lift Every Voice and Sing!”

    In Struggle,

    Yusuf Nuruddin

  16. Luqman Abdel Magied says:

    THE VISCERAL DILEMMA by Luqman Abdel Magied
    Responding to Abdur-Rahman Muhammad’s comments; appearing under
    A Singular Voice Malcolm’s Troubled Legacy in the Age of Obama.

    During the campaign he waged in the course of seeking the presidency of the United States, President elect Barack Obama’s stunning popularity has caused him to be described as a towering figure with the celebrity status of a rock star. Given the historical significance of being the first black man to be elected president of the United States it is expected that there will be people that will see such momentum as an opportunity to advance their own agenda.
    In many of these instances financial gain is the overwhelming motivating factor. To put this into further perspective; From Operation Desert Storm (1990) to the American occupation of Iraq (2003) where the vast majority of people practice the religion of Islam—enormous interest has been generated (in the greater world outside of the Middle East) in the religion of Islam. Publishers in the west now refer to a growing “culture of Islam based articles and books (titles),” that reflect a readership’s growing interest and fascination in Muslims and their religion.
    The infamous writer Salmon Rushdie, author of the inflammatory title known as Satanic Verses, (1988) jump started his mediocre career by insulting the Islamic World and their Holy Prophet Muhammad; after which he became the darling of publishers and the lecture circuit. The only problem is that the Fatwa that still hangs over his head probably forces him to live under the threat of death every day for the rest of his life.
    Irshad Manji, described as an American born Muslim of Indian decent, authored a book titled The Trouble with Islam (2004). Even though her book is considered to be disrespectful to Islam and Muslims it has been acclaimed by those who harbor hostility, fear and resentment towards Muslims for whatever their reasons. Ms Monji is now one of the darlings of the publishing industry—and the lecture circuit; because she (a self confessed lesbian) can always be counted on to speak disparagingly about Muslims and their religion. And those people, who suffer from Islamophobia, are delighted to hear the voice of any person that derides Muslims, their Prophet or their God.
    Other voices of controversy and descent from within the black Diaspora have been and continue to be, people such as Armstrong Williams, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell, called a house nigger by prolific entertainer Harry Belafonte.

    Muslim immigration to the U.S. is rising and in 2005 alone more people from Muslim countries became legal permanent United States residents — nearly 96,000 — than in any year in the previous two decades.

    It has been estimated that 4.7 to 6.7 million Muslims reside in the United States and I am deeply troubled by Abdur-Rahman Muhammad’s comments “so much of what Muslims believe about Malcolm X is myth.” I wonder about the equation he used to establish that assumption. In the black Diaspora we have tens of thousands of black personalities. Historically we’ve celebrated our scientists, pilots, artists, clothing designers, dancers, athletes, entertainers, lawyers, physicians, surgeons, writers, theological personalities, academicians, as well as our matriarchs and patriarchs.
    I am further concerned about Professor Abdur-Rahman’s comments as setting a dangerous precedent. Is the euphoria that blacks experience because of the election of the first black President of the United States so overwhelming that our university professors will now embark upon concerted campaigns to dismantle the black heroes that got us to this lofty juncture—in the first place? While this paper examines the motivation behind the respected professor’s remarks it seeks to give the reader several opportunities to appreciate the enormous configuration of talent and intellectual assets that we as a black Diaspora have amassed.
    The presidency of the United States is not something that came easy and the tears and pain that our ancestors, martyrs and fatalities, shed; that we may arrive at this juncture is to be considered holy territory. Their sacrifices should not be seen as another opportunity to advance one’s career or to bring back the bad blood once again—that may have led to Malcolm’s demise. Our great men (and women) of color (as J.A. Rogers would have said) should be respected in perpetuity, and their memory should be left to reside in the hearts of the world’s men, women and children of all ethnic persuasions. Even if some black people don’t have anything in their life that they hold sacred, whatever intellectual assets they claim to possess should help them to realize that there are millions of people that consider the memory of our warriors hallowed ground.
    In the memory of scholarship that lives well beyond the life of the author and has not been established on the bones of the dead who have gone before us, I refer to the prolific Anna Marie Schimmel; who reportedly wrote 75 books on Islam, and Indian Sub Continent cultures and linguistics, without disparaging the culture’s great accomplishments or personalities. Professor Barbara Freyer Stowasser of Georgetown University is another gifted academician that deserves to be heralded for her outstanding research in Islamic matters. If it comes down to black people having to learn what to write about when they aspire to be active in the theatre of intellectual property, they should take notes from these two women and hundreds of others, before they stoop to a profession that can only have grave consequences for us all. Let’s avoid a visceral dilemma at all costs.
    President Obama energized the American people by reminding them that they can bring about change—for the better. Let’s move forward, not backwards. ■

  17. Re: my own statement above, “We are precariously balanced –one bullet or bomb away – from seeing the present emphasis on Dr. King’s “American Dream” turn into Malcolm’s “American Nightmare.”

    Following news item:

    Threats Against Obama on the Rise


    WASHINGTON (Nov. 14) – Threats against a new president historically spike right after an election, but from Maine to Idaho law enforcement officials are seeing more against Barack Obama than ever before.

    The Secret Service would not comment or provide the number of cases they are investigating. But since the Nov. 4 election, law enforcement officials have seen more potentially threatening writings, Internet postings and other activity directed at Obama than has been seen with any past president-elect, said officials aware of the situation who spoke on condition of anonymity because the issue of a president’s security is so sensitive.

    Earlier this week, the Secret Service looked into the case of a sign posted on a tree in Vay, Idaho, with Obama’s name and the offer of a “free public hanging.” In North Carolina, civil rights officials complained of threatening racist graffiti targeting Obama found in a tunnel near the North Carolina State University campus.
    And in a Maine convenience store, an Associated Press reporter saw a sign inviting customers to join a betting pool on when Obama might fall victim to an assassin. The sign solicited $1 entries into “The Osama Obama Shotgun Pool,” saying the money would go to the person picking the date closest to when Obama was attacked. “Let’s hope we have a winner,” said the sign, since taken down.
    In the security world, anything “new” can trigger hostility, said Joseph Funk, a former Secret Service agent-turned security consultant who oversaw a private protection detail for Obama before the Secret Service began guarding the candidate in early 2007.

    Obama, of course, will be the country’s first black president, and Funk said that new element, not just race itself, is probably responsible for a spike in anti-Obama postings and activity. “Anytime you’re going to have something that’s new, you’re going to have increased chatter,” he said.

    The Secret Service also has cautioned the public not to assume that any threats against Obama are due to racism.

    The service investigates threats in a wide range. There are “stated threats” and equally dangerous or lesser incidents considered of “unusual interest” — such as people motivated by obsessions or infatuations or lower-level gestures such as effigies of a candidate or an elected president. The service has said it does not have the luxury of discounting anything until agents have investigated the potential danger.
    Racially tinged graffiti — not necessarily directed at Obama — also has emerged in numerous reports across the nation since Election Day, prompting at least one news conference by a local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in Georgia.

    A law enforcement official who also spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly said that during the campaign there was a spike in anti-Obama rhetoric on the Internet — “a lot of ranting and raving with no capability, credibility or specificity to it.”

    There were two threatening cases with racial overtones:
    — In Denver, a group of men with guns and bulletproof vests made racist threats against Obama and sparked fears of an assassination plot during the Democratic National Convention in August.
    — Just before the election, two skinheads in Tennessee were charged with plotting to behead blacks across the country and assassinate Obama while wearing white top hats and tuxedos.

    In both cases, authorities determined the men were not capable of carrying out their plots.
    In Milwaukee, police officials found a poster of Obama with a bullet going toward his head — discovered on a table in a police station.
    Chatter among white supremacists on the Internet has increased throughout the campaign and since Election Day.

    One of the most popular white supremacist Web sites got more than 2,000 new members the day after the election, compared with 91 new members on Election Day, according to an AP count. The site,, was temporarily off-line Nov. 5 because of the overwhelming amount of activity it received after Election Day. On Saturday, one Stormfront poster, identified as Dalderian Germanicus, of North Las Vegas, said, “I want the SOB laid out in a box to see how ‘messiahs’ come to rest. God has abandoned us, this country is doomed.”

    It is not surprising that a black president would galvanize the white supremacist movement, said Mark Potok, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center, who studies the white supremacy movement.

    “The overwhelming flavor of the white supremacist world is a mix of desperation, confusion and hoping that this will somehow turn into a good thing for them,” Potok said. He said hate groups have been on the rise in the past seven years because of a common concern about immigration.
    Associated Press writers Lara Jakes Jordan in Washington and Jerry Harkavy in Standish, Maine, contributed to this report.

    Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. Active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.

    2008-11-14 18:27:12

  18. […] I have commented elsewhere, many of the cherished beliefs held by Muslims regarding the life and legacy of Malcolm […]

  19. […] A few weeks ago, I wrote about a lecture I gave to George Washington University students about the legacy of Malcolm X in which I informed them that Malcolm has been proven wrong. […]

    • Proven wrong by whom? We are witnessing his predictions: unable to win wars, economic collapses because of greed, immoral behavior increasing to distract all working class people of the theft of the robber barons. Increases in post-colonial oppressions, the failure of worldwide organizations to maintain justice between the powerful developed nations and the underdeveloped
      nations. I believe that provocations has a place in discourse but not if it totally obliterates the truth.It is not a troubled legacy per se it’s the interpretation of it that is troubling. In your research, you undoubtedly ran across these items that are well known.

  20. Shibli Zaman says:

    as-salamu `alaykum, brother Abdur-Rahman,

    You said:

    “The election of Barack Obama as the 44th President is a remarkable achievemnt unmatched in any so-called Muslim country at any time. Prove me wrong. That is not something to take pride in?”

    Between the 12th and 16th centuries AD the bulk of the Muslim world’s slaves came from the Caucasus region of modern-day Russia. They were an extremely skilled demographic and those who were involved in business and trade became a powerful economic and social class, while those who were involved in the military became the Sultans and rulers of the Near Eastern Muslim world.

    They were called the “Slave Dynasty” and exacted crushing and pronounced defeats upon the Crusaders and the Mongols simultaneously in spite of their alliances with each other, thereby, ending both invading forces’ incursions into the Near East. As Genghis Khan’s grandson, Hulagu, was on a sworn quest to destroy Mecca and Medina, the Mamluks teamed up with his cousin Berke who had become a devout and pious Muslim and decimated Hulagu’s forces. They saved Jerusalem, Mecca and Medina, the three holy cities of Islam.

    So, we Muslims had turned our slaves into rulers over 700 years before Barack Obama was ever born. Not only that but those slaves made achievements that history’s jaw drops at. Now THAT is something to be proud of. Will you be proud of your Muslim brothers who achieved this nearly a millennium before the 44th US Presidential election even though the tables are turned and those slaves were WHITE and their owners were people of color and often times Black?

    So to answer your question: “That is not something to take pride in?”

    My answer is, “Meh. If your standards are very low.”

    The election of Barack Obama is nothing but a mere baby step, nay, a first CRAWL, on the road towards Black Americans being given anything to make up for the injustices dealt to them by the America’s historical slave consumers.

    I’m a proud American, just as I am a proud Muslim. Yet, I am just as impressed with Obama’s election just as much as Saudi King Abdullah’s interfaith conference impressed me. Good steps. Not enough. Not near enough.

    Allah knows best.

  21. Shibli Zaman says:

    @Yusuf Nuruddin

    as-salamu `alaykum, brother. Your assessment of the popular vote is wholly incorrect and I believe you are repeating what a famous Salafi instructor from a certain popular institute wrote about the subject recently on his blog.

    52% vs 47% is a -significant- margin and not close at all. That is the same margin between Bill Clinton and Bob Dole and I don’t think anyone in their right mind considered that a close election.

    As far as “Good ole boys” yelling out “Kill him” at a Palin rally, that is always going to exist in the “sticks” no matter what time period we live in and is just as relevant a reflection of America’s collective state of mind as is Skinhead Punk.

  22. Shakeer says:

    While I definitely agree that Obama’s victory signals that American society has reached a “significant” plateau is its history vis-a-vis Black Americans, I think that we as muslims need to be careful in our rush to anoint him and his administration as a possible solution to our problems. Yes we have Americans but unlike most Americans we still must retain our ability to critique issues and concerns through the lenses of Quran and Sunnah, as well as coontemporary history. This is necessary since 7 out of 10 Americans (estimates) never read a book in a year and so therefore are largely unable to adequately analyze complex domestic and international issues effectively. Does recognizing our Americanness men that Islam and its noble precepts becomes subverted to whims and opinions (read hawaa) of the dominant culture? Or can we effectively walk and chew gun at the same time, meaning be American, acknowledge the historical significance of Obama’s victory yet be as vocal and visceral at potential policies and directives that could harm not only muslims domestically and internationally but the general American public as well? Just two cents worth coming from a sheikh (milk shake that is!)


  24. […] I have commented elsewhere, many of the cherished beliefs held by Muslims regarding the life and legacy of Malcolm […]

  25. Now I am ready to do my breakfast, once having my breakfast coming over again to read more news.

  26. ll of a sudden everyone has co-opted Malcolm as they did Che. I met him when I was seven spoke and worshipped with his team post NOI. It was not so much that he was confused but rather a re-examination of many of the concepts and ideas that caused his divergent from the NOI. He finally became aware that he was hated long before “the chickens have come home to roost” comment in reference to the assasination of JFK. Severe personality conflicts and the notion that some consider him a “prima donna” caused a great deal of misunderstanding.
    Unfortunately, Malcolm being used to promote capitalist ventures by immigrant Muslims who appear to only acknowledge our halocaust as a capitalistic incentive is a criminal act. However, there are aspects of Malcolm’s speeches etc. that are appealing to a marginalized group. Malcolm was the only leader a that time that focussed and spoke about the conditions of Black women and their mistreatment by society and Blackmen. I appreciated your vald points of clarification on this area and I feel what you layed out applies not only to him but to the ppl as a whole.
    I teach in a Seminary in NYC and realized that many of his concepts has gained more relevance
    today and may need to be updated. James Cone still teaches at Union and has a resavior of information that he offers in his classes there. James Baldwin’s estates still maintain writiings and notes etc. of Malcolm and I cannot recall the reason why he did not write Malcolm’s biography. i believe he was out of the country when the projected started.
    In concclusion, your extensive research and knowledge is a blessing and I agree with you that Malcolm has been utilized for every absurd capitalistic venture but capatilstic imperialism is often parasitic. i hope you do continue clarifying and accenuating the positive bc we still need heroes like Martin, Malcolm, Fannie Lou hammer, Abizo Campos, etc. Some of the examples we have today are missing the mark and the talented tenth does not work well for the”people darker than blue’
    Dr TA Bashir, Co-Director of The African-American Contributions to Islam before Columbus and The Diaspora Liberational Theologies.

  27. There is a report that Malcolm once said in his charismatic way: Soon the White man will place a Negro in the WH. To clean-up their mess. Who will invite everyone to drink tea and smoke cigars. Then what we will have is a lighted cigar on one end and a fool on the other. I’m curious do you think he would hold that view if he met Obama?

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