The origins of discrimination against African Americans in the United States stems from the inherent contradiction between the proclamation of freedom and its practice. The enactment of the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendment did not only advocate for the end of slavery but also equality for the free men and women of all races. However, some individuals, particularly from minority races strongly believe that these clauses in the U.S constitution are only a theoretical proclamation that has yet to be fully realized. According to Tischauser, Jim Crow was more than a set of anti-black community legislations but a way of life (10). From antiquity, after slavery was abolished in 1865, African Americans had been relegated to second-class citizens. Subsequently, in the 1950s and 60s, the African American community tried to fight for their constitutional privileges against Jim Crow through the Civil Rights Movement. It is during this era that Malcolm X became synonymous to racial equality narrative through an aggressive platform. A prevailing premise on the history of black civil rights is that the difference between Malcolm X and other civil rights leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is the use of violence. However, an in-depth analysis of Malcolm X and the ‘Black Nationalism’ tends to draw a dissimilar picture.
Malcolm X’s Criticism of the American Political System.
Malcolm X always believed that the American political system was always rigged to favor the white race while on the other hand limit the opportunities provided to the Black community. According to Butterfield, Malcolm X strongly believed that the political system he challenged was based on the African American society trying to fit into white community culture (39). According to Iton, Malcolm’s comprehension of a segregated Education system, community, as well as school came from the fact that people with a narrow perspective of all races controlled the society (41). In other words, schools, businesses, as well as legislation in black communities were developed by white supremacists causing segregation. Subsequently, he believed that the best way to solve the equality issues in the U.S at the time was through the separation of races. This Philosophy came to be known as nationalism, and for the black community it was labeled ‘Black Nationalism’.
Malcolm X Black Nationalism.
During his time in prison, Malcolm X changed his religion to Islam a factor that altered his drive towards civil rights advocacy. As a Muslim, Malcolm X believed in the philosophy of equal reciprocals; consequently, he respected all people of different races. However, in the same tone he asserted that Islam teaches ‘you if someone steps on your toe, chop off their foot’ Butterfield, 83). Malcolm himself did not advocate for a violent kind of revolution but rather one that would act in kind. In this instance, a resistance of physical violence would be as a result of the oppression of a similar kind. It is this foundation that later gave rise to ‘Black Nationalism’.
Malcolm X’s Black Nationalism philosophy was different from other civic right leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. Whereas Dr. King saw equality for the African Americans through the full integration of the black community into the white American Society, Malcolm believed in separation and introduction of self-governance.
Malcolm X’s Black Nationalism.
“Black Nationalism”, was a form of independence that was separated into three categories. Firstly, he believed in the political philosophy where the black community had the autonomy to control the politics of their own community. Secondly, he asserted the importance of an economic policy where the African American community had a hand in managing the economy of the businesses within their community. Lastly, he underlined the significance of social philosophy where the African Americans would be provided with the opportunities to uplift their community to the same level as others. As indicated by Iton, Malcolm advocated for a system where the black community did not give effort in trying to force themselves into a prejudicial society (99). Instead, his goals were aimed to emulate virtues the black community thus making average African American likable and sociable among each other.
Malcolm X notion of African American equality in the U.S at a time where the black community was oppressed was significantly different from the rest of other all civil rights leaders. As Dr. King, as well as other leaders, advocated for equality through negotiations of legislation between different communities Malcolm’s view was based on separation. In his view, the root cause of segregation and oppression was because the white community governed the African Americans. In this case, the disparities will always be present. Since a variety of government officials feared reciprocation of action between races, they saw his view as violent, which was never the case. At a time when African Americans were publicly beaten to death extreme, ‘Black Nationalism ‘seemed effective in finding equality.
In today’s society, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth is considered ineffective in solving racial inequality. Nevertheless, today’s society is different from the Jim Crow community of white supremacist. It is clear that the non-violent civic right methodology did not bear tangible results against Jim Crow. White supremacists such as the Ku Klux Klan acted out of spite and prejudice. Their actions cost most African Americans they confronted their lives. The best way to deal with such groups was through the violence of a similar nature. However, the biggest critic of such actions is that it painted the black activist activity as violent. The Black lives matter movement currently suffers from the perspective drawn from the evolution of the Civil Rights Movements drawn from Black Panthers Movements. In summation, Malcolm X remains as one of the more liberal civic right advocates in history as his method brought forward the notion of true equality in action and not a proclamation.
Butterfield, Stephen. Black autobiography in America. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1974. Retrieved from: http://fulibsaux.com/black-autobiography-in-america-stephen-butterfield-register-free-to-download
Iton, Richard. In search of the black fantastic: Politics and popular culture in the post-civil rights era. London: Oxford University Press, 2010. . Retrieved from: https://academic.oup.com/ahr/article-abstract/114/4/1115/21079
Tischauser, Leslie V. Jim Crow Laws. Santa Barbara, Calif: Greenwood, 2012. Print. Retrieved from https://books.google.co.ke/books?hl=en&lr=&id=whk2vBbjHp4C&oi=fnd&pg=PP2&dq=Jim+Crow+Laws&ots=3lF5zRySnt&sig=IBumNxj6RBJ5h1H0SddQX3prLS4&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=Jim%20Crow%20Laws&f=false