by C5Damani (Old Head of the Movement) & Bukata
~ Setting and context: you are entering into a much needed Universal Black Family conversation. It’s all love. ~
“WE are gather’d he’ah ta-day… to pay our respecks to the Happy… to be Ingnant (Ignorant)… Negroes!”
Happy Birthday to the Brother Malcolm X! On this day, the 19th day of May in the year of Nineteen Hundred and Twenty-five, Malcolm Little was born to Earl and Louise Little in Omaha, Nebraska. Never before and never after have Black folks had such a powerful defender and advocate. “By any means necessary” was not a situational slogan for Malcolm X but his relentless reality in his quest for Black liberation.
Happy to be Ignorant Negroes (HTBINs referred to hereafter)… yall did know that his government name was Malcolm Little, right!? He was not always the brother “X”. Matter of fact, if we were to be most accurate of his name, it was El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz signifying the completion of his pilgrimage (Hajj) to Mecca. Yall did know that was his name as well, right? Just checking…
Reason we ask is because we still see far too many of yall HTBINs insistence on misleading other brothers and sisters through your consistent misquoting and fractured contextualizations of many of Malcolm X’s quotes. Case in point… the following quote from the Brother Malcolm and the Happy to be Ignorant Negroes interpretation:
“Happy to be Ignorant Negroes” Interpretation:
“See… Malcolm tried to warn yall about dees Liberals. Obama was a liberal and look… he ain’t do shit for Black folks. He. Ain’t. Do. Nothing! And now yall lost stupid sheep (popular moniker used by HTBINs against anyone not falling for their okey doke) thinking that liberals like Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden or even Bernie Sanders… he a progressive… but that is just a liberal by another name trying to trick yall… is going to be on our side. Liberals are worse than Conservatives. Brother Malcolm said it himself. Be cool. Stay woke!”
Happy to be Ignorant Negroes… my dear brothers and sisters… Malcolm X uttered this quote in 1963. At that time, the political landscape was diametrically different than our current one in 2020. In 1963, Democrats were essentially southern conservatives and Republicans were less conservative, teetering on the verge of being liberal. The parties basically switched sides in the 1968 (years after Malcolm X had been assassinated on February 21, 1965) to elect Richard Nixon. Southern Democrats, known as “Dixiecrats” for their racists views on integration and civil rights, flipped parties due to their disdain of President John F. Kennedy and Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson supporting civil rights and especially, President Johnson’s (assumed presidency after JFK assassination) role in passing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawing segregation in businesses.
In 1968, Southern Democrats, Dixiecrats and white “liberals” voted en masse for “law and order” Republican presidential candidate Richard Nixon, who won the election. Lee Atwater, a Republican strategist, would later go on to develop the Southern Strategy as a way to lure (and keep) racist whites from the Democratic Party who were unhappy about the rise of civil rights. Listen to his own word here. To drive home the point of Southern racists jumping ship and switching parties in protest of civil rights momentum, in the 1968 presidential election, proud “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever” candidate George Wallace, former Governor of Alabama, won southern states Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia. Southern racists have voted and propped up the Republican party ever since.
So you see Brother Malcolm could not and was not talking about liberals of TODAY. He was not talking about Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and this iteration of white Liberals. Malcolm X was clearly referring to about white liberals of his day, of the 50’s and 60’s, who were against civil rights and integration for racist reasons.
But the quote above does bear witness to the essence of Malcolm’s critique which is our white “allies” silence and inertia in dismantling a racist and unjust system.
…by allowing themselves to become tools of the system, people perpetuate it and its inherent evils. White masses are just as guilty as white leadership because in tolerating injustices, in adjusting to society’s inequities, by simplying remaining silent, they compromise their own integrity and bid the evil endure.”author unknown,
found in “Nigga Notes & Quotes” book
“But that is what I was talking about. That is what I was saying. You just brainwashed and a dumb-ass sheep, man. Be cool. Stay woke”
NO. NO. NO. That is not what you said my Happy to be Ignorant Negro! You said that Malcolm X was talking about the actual white liberals of 2020. By taking this stance, that Malcolm X said white liberals of today were our worst enemy, you are tacitly encouraging Black folks, in our current situation, to side with and vote for white conservatives like Mike Pence, Rand Paul, Donald Trump and others OR to simply vote conservative following the likes of Candace Owens, Jesse Peterson, Isaiah Washington and Kanye West. Do you really think Malcolm X would be telling us to vote for Donald Trump who is adored by white supremacists and the KKK? C’mon, my Happy to be Ignorant Negroes!
You know what… while we are at it… let’s get to some of yall other misreadings about the brother Malcolm X… NO. Malcolm did not tell us NOT to vote. He instructed us in “The Ballot or The Bullet” to participate in a “bloodless” revolution via democracy and voting! He stated that America was in the unique position to carry out a “bloodless” revolution as opposed to the blood-filled revolutions that had occurred and were occurring across the globe. Brother Malcolm advocated VOTING as a way to get freedom, justice and equality. He was a separatist because he didn’t believe whites would allow us to vote freely. But if they did, we should participate in the democratic process.
Last, NO. Malcolm did not hate all white people in perpetuity. Follow the brother’s arc. After his evolution on the question on race, one of his regrets, as clearly detailed in his book, “The Autobiography of Malcolm X: as told to Alex Haley” published in 1965, was his cold dismissing of a young white female college student who sincerely asked Brother Malcolm what she could do to help the cause. In the moment, he flatly told her nothing. His regret of his response to this authentic request for ally-ship, showed his growing enlightenment and humanity, while still talking fiercely against white racism and white supremacy.
After exchanging with yall, we always end up at the same place… we love yall negroes… we really do… BUT we can’t stand yall at the same time. LBVS… that is just too much damn happy to be that ingnant!
But we digress… Happy Birthday, in the words of Ossie Davis as stated in his eulogy at your funeral, to “our shining Black prince” , you were our “braver, more gallant young champion… — unconquered still”!
Rest in Power and Splendor, El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, best known to his loving people as Malcolm X!
Check back for episode 3 of “To My HBTINS!“