Friday, March 03, 2006
I've been reading the autobigraphy of Malcolm X lately, and it's really been challenging my assumptions about certain things! He's been talking about how ridiculous he thinks the civil rights movement is and how the leaders of that movement are basically puppets of the devil white man; initially, I was shocked at the criticism of what I view as such a crucial and important movement, but then I also started comparing it to the feeling that I and others have about other social movements. Have I not heard people say the same opposing things (It was/is great and worthy! It was/is a sell-out!) about, say, feminism and Gloria Steinem? What about the split in the LGBTQ community right now over gay marriage? It's easy to place the movements of the past on pedestals, an even if you do think that the civil rights movement was good and important overall (as I still do) you shouldn't let that keep you from critiquing them as well. Some of the things he says, about how many black equality groups were bankrolled and partially under the control of white men, really make me question what I previously assumed. Also the March on Washington: according to Malcolm X, it was initially concieved as a big angry protest led from a poor grassroots base, and then the white people in Washington freaked out thinking there was going to be a riot and diffused the energy that was building by welcoming the March and then controlling every aspect of it. I guess this is just a fresh perspective on something I hadn't been critiquing very hard. Also, even if something is kind of a sell-out, is it okay if it ends up benefiting people? I suppose it depends on what you consider to be a benefit. At this point in the book, anyway, I don't think Malcolm X would consider the aftereffects of the civil rights movement to be beneficial for black people.