The uproar caused by the statements attributed to Al-Qaeda's deputy leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, in which he labeled President-elect Barack Obama and former and current Secretaries of State Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice "house Negroes" is fascinating to those of us who consider ourselves Malcolmites.
Ayman al-Zawahiri was correct in saying that Brother Malcolm X used that name to describe "Negroes" whom he considered to be basically allies of White power. While working with him as editor of the Organization of Afro-American Unity's (OAAU) newsletter, I heard him, scornfully, use the term.
If Brother Malcolm was still with us today, I believe he would use it to describe those "Negroes" who are constantly called upon by White television and radio talk show hosts, journalists and academicians who are looking for a "house Negro" to attack Black folks whom they consider insufficiently grateful for "all the good Whites have done for them."
Such people are willing weapons of mass mis-information ready to be used by White power whenever called upon. Notable examples of such "house Negroes" are Ward Connerly, Jesse Lee Peterson, Clarence Thomas and their cohorts in the political, journalistic and academic arenas.
Though Brother Malcolm, based on his speeches and writings, would strenuously disagree with many of the positions of Obama, Powell and Rice on issues of importance to the empowerment of Black folks, I don't believe he would put them in the same category as Connerly, Peterson and Thomas.
One doesn't often see White power propagandists such as Sean Hannity, for instance, calling on them when they want to launch an attack on a Black person whom they want to put in this or her place.
Some of Brother Malcolm's beliefs on what Black people must do, if we are to ever achieve real power in this group-oriented society, can be ascertained in the following statements from the goals and objectives of the OAAU and one of his speeches:
"The organization of Afro-American Unity will organize the Afro-American community block by block to make the community aware of its power and potential; we will start immediately a voter-registration drive to make every unregistered voter in the Afro-American community an independent voter; we propose to support and/or organize political clubs, to run independent candidates for office, and to support any Afro-American already in office who answers to and is responsible to the Afro-American community….And in this manner, the organizations will increase in number and in quantity and in quality, and by August, it is then our intention to have a Black nationalist convention which will consist of delegates from all over the country who are interested in the political, economic and social philosophy of Black nationalism. After these delegates convene, we will listen to everyone. We want to hear new ideas and new solutions and new answers….
"We must establish all over the country schools of our own to train our children to become scientists and mathematicians. We must realize the need for adult education and for job retraining programs that will emphasize a changing society in which automation plays the key role. We intend to use the tools of education to help raise our people to an unprecedented level of excellence and self-respect through their own efforts.
"The political philosophy of Black nationalism means the Black man should control the politics and the politicians in his own community; no more. The Black man in the Black community has to be re-educated into the science of politics so he will know what politics is supposed to bring in him in return. Don't be throwing out any ballots. A ballot is like a bullet. You don't throw your ballots until you see a target, and if that target is not within your reach, keep your ballot in your pocket…."
This doesn't sound like a Democrat or a Republican to me.
A. Peter Bailey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org