Thursday, April 28, 2011

Dragging Malcolm X to Obamaland

In packaging the life of Malcolm X for a wide audience, the late Dr. Manning Marable has presented us with an opportunity to reignite the debate over the meaning of Black self-determination, a discussion-through-struggle that effectively ended when the Black Freedom Movement became no longer worthy of the name. Unfortunately, it appears this was not Dr. Marable’s intention, since Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention is largely an attempt to render useless the vocabulary of Black struggle. Essential terms such as “self-determination,” “Black nationalism,” “revolutionary” and “empowerment” lose their meaning, abused and misused in order to portray the great Black nationalist leader as inexorably evolving into a “race-neutral” reformer on the road to Obamaland.
Read the rest of Glen Ford's exacting article here.

Comment: I have not read Professor Manning Marable's "Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention" but I'm not surprised that he would want to re-manufacture Malcolm's politics.

His argument, as described by Glen, is aligned with his Obama-supporting-lefty-liberalism and consistently wrong about what Obama represents to oppressed peoples in general and black American struggle in particular.

Clearly, Malcolm's politics is the antithesis of the liberal American "idea" that constructed Obama. He did not seek to reform but to move beyond what Obama represents (just another agent of imperial whiteness).

To align Malcolm with the race-denial politics of Obama is to erase the radical black nationalist politics that created/grounded Malcolm. But this does not mean that Malcolm believed race was an organic and an unmovable reality. His Muslim beliefs would speak against such an assumption.

Race is a socio-political reality in that it is made 'real' by imposed white structure and its power politics. Removing the structure was the purpose of Malcolm's radical politics.

In is, therefore, almost impossible to be race-neutral about black/brown liberation under white racism.

In these contexts, Malcolm would not be like Obama -the corporate and imperial president- who is seeking to save America (particularly its wealthy white clientele) from (inevitable) decline.

Obama''s politics is definitely not Malcolm's politics.

I am saddened to know that Professor Marable passed on April 1, 2011. He will be missed in the academic world of Black Studies, African American Studies, and African Studies.

May he rest in peace.


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