Malcolm X and the Wars at Home
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball
“Nothing that Malcolm X gave his life fighting to destroy has even been weakened since he was killed.”
Next week, on April 4th, we finally get to see the awaited biography Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable. For years many of us have been hearing of this book’s eventual publication and engaging in all the kinds of pre-hype discussion that often accompanies ambiguity. But now, apparently, the wait is coming to an end and not a moment too soon. For just as those gathered this weekend at the Black Is Back Coalition’s “National Conference on The Other Wars” described in great detail, nothing that Malcolm X gave his life fighting to destroy has even been weakened since he was killed.
An honest book about Malcolm X published on April 4th during yet another Western invasion of the African continent beautifully synthesizes so much of the contradiction and hypocrisy that accompanies imperialism. April 4th of course marks the date in 1967 when Dr. King most publicly unveiled his staunch and lonely stance against imperialism. And, of course, it is also on that date a year later when he would be made to pay with his life for that position. But a beautiful contradiction is also found in this nation’s attempt to freeze King in one moment, one mention of a dream, just as it has come to freeze Malcolm in one moment, one mention of prayer in Mecca, to distract us from the specifically anti-imperialist politics of either man; all while again bombing an African nation on the orders of a son of Africa who is also the first Black president.
Town halls both live and conducted via all forms of media must be convened on Marable’s book. What it reveals anew or simply reminds us of Malcolm X must be discussed as widely as possible and precisely within this context of Malcolm’s anti-imperialism. These town halls should not only encourage deep analysis of Malcolm’s life and work but should also encourage that more of us follow the patterns established by that life and work. The wars he struggled against continue, in fact, they intensify. And we are simply not being well-enough prepared, educated and or organized to resist.
“Malcolm X said that ‘the police do locally what the military does internationally.’”
The Black Is Back Coalition’s “National Conference on the Other Wars” powerfully made these points and more. And that this was done so soon before the publication of Marable’s book only increases the urgency and anticipation. Malcolm X was among the first of the major figures of the era to speak so openly and caustically against the hypocrisy of this nation’s claims to be fighting wars for democracy while warring against its own captives right here. King too would eventually reach those same conclusions with equal hostility to them. And here too those gathered at this weekend’s conference seem similarly positioned and similarly distinct from much of the prevailing wisdom of the day.
Those gathered at this weekend’s conference were cognizant of this fact. Its conveners clearly stated their opposition to and distinction from the liberal left, Black and white, who refuse to acknowledge the continuity of Western imperialism and the wars at home caused by that imperialism. So everything from police brutality and mass incarceration to the daily rounding up of 35,000 so-called “undocumented” Mexicans, to gentrification or social and ethnic cleansing, to even domestic food insecurity were all placed in this context of U.S. and Western imperialism. And given some special attention at the Conference on the Other Wars were some of those other wars occurring in blacker and, therefore, less popular regions of the world like Somalia and the Congo where tens of millions have been killed, displaced and looted by African forces from Uganda and Rwanda all serving their U.S. sponsors.
Malcolm X said that “the police do locally what the military does internationally.” The imperial circle drawn in full. It is the analytical equivalent to bearing witness today to a Black president bombing our African home while presiding over wars waged at home against Black people.
We can only be helped by critical readings of Malcolm’s words and words written about Malcolm. We need mass public discussion of Marable’s book on Malcolm X and even more organization around his legacy