Wigger Please is a documentary feature film chronicling the cultural stereotypes of white Americans embracing hip hop culture. Currently in production, the filmmakers are interviewing rappers, actors, artists and writers who have had their political or personal perspectives influenced by their experiences with hip hop or black culture. For information on the project, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
And finally, a quick wrap-up to head into the three day weekend. Malcolm's message was so strong, that over 25 years after his death, boy bands were dedicating music videos to him. The New Kids are on tour right now, but you gotta think that the wrong "boy band mogul" is behind bars after witnessing this injustice:
Long before Chamillionaire, they were trying to catch Malcolm ridin' dirty. There are two great scenes in the Autobiography that show white folk were rollin' up next to Malcolm and voicing their approval. The first bit is from Alex Haley's journal of his time with Malcolm, the second concludes the chapter on the pilgrimage to Mecca.
And as a bonus, what better illustrates the love that white middle class America could have for Malcolm, than a soundtrack by Arrested Development!
One day in his car, we had stopped for the red light at an intersection; another car with a white man driving had stopped alongside, and when this white man saw Malcolm X, he instantly called across to him, "I don't blame your people for turning to you. If I were a Negro I'd follow you, too! Keep up the fight!" Malcolm X said to the man very sincerely, "I wish I could have a white chapter of the people I meet like you." The light changed, and as both cars drove on, Malcolm X quickly said to me, firmly, "Not only don't write that, never repeat it. Mr. Muhammad would have a fit." The significant thing about the incident, I later reflected was that it was the first time I had ever heard him speak of Elijah Muhammad with anything less than reverence. --Alex Haley
The next day I was in my car driving along the freeway when at a red light another car pulled alongside. A white woman was driving and on the passenger's side, next to me, was a white man. "Malcolm X!" he called out--and when I looked, he stuck his hand out of his car, across at me, grinning, "Do you mind shaking hands with a white man?" Imagine that! Just as the traffic light turned green, I told him, "I don't mind shaking hands with human beings. Are you one?"
In the past, yes, I have made sweeping indictments of all white people. I never will be guilty of that again--as I know now that some white people are truly sincere, that some truly are capable of being brotherly toward a black man. The true Islam has shown me that a blanket indictment of all white people is as wrong as when whites make blanket indictments against blacks.
Yes, I have been convinced that some American whites do want to help cure the rampant racism which is on the path to destroying this country!
...Why, here in America, the seeds of racism are so deeply rooted in the white people collectively, their belief that they are 'superior' in some way is so deeply rooted, that these things are in the national white subconsciousness. Many whites are actually unaware of their own racism until they face some test, and then their racism emerges in one form or another.
"Listen! The white man's racism toward the black man here in America is what has got him in such trouble all over this world, with other non-white peoples. The white man can't separate himself from the stigma that he automatically feels about anyone, no matter who, who is not his color. And the non-white peoples of the world are sick of the condescending white man!
From The Autobiography of Malcolm X as told to Alex Haley:
I knew, better than most Negroes, how many white people truly wanted to see American racial problems solved. I knew that many whites were as frustrated as Negroes. I'll bet I got fifty letters some days from white people. The white people in meeting audiences would throng around me, asking me, after I had addressed them somewhere, "What can a sincere white person do?"
When I say that here now, it makes me think about that little co-ed I told you about, the one who flew up from her New England college down to New York and came up to me in the Nation of Islam's restaurant in Harlem, and I told her that there was "nothing" she could do. I regret that I told her that. I wish that now I knew her name, or where I could telephone her, or write to her, and tell her what I tell white people now when t hey present themselves as being sincere, and ask me, one way or another the same thing that she asked.
The first thing I tell them is that at least where my own particular Black Nationalist organization, the Organization of Afro-American Unity, is concerned, they can't join us. I have these very deep feelings that white people who want to join black organizations are really just taking the escapist way to salve their consciences. By visibly hovering near us, they are "proving" that they are "with us." But the hard truth is that this isn't helping to solve America's racist problem. The Negroes aren't the racists. Where the really sincere white people have got to do their "proving" of themselves is not among the black victims, but out on the battle lines of where America's racism really is--and that's in their own home communities; America's racism is among their own fellow whites. That's where the sincere whites who really mean to accomplish something have to work.
On this day in 1925 Malcolm X was born as Malcolm Little in Omaha, Nebraska. Much has been made of Malcolm's life as a religious leader and spokesman for Black Muslims and the Nation of Islam in the United States. Just as much has been written about his later life, and how following a pilgrimage to Mecca, he changed his beliefs from thinking that all whites were "devils."
There's kind of a glossy pop culture historical view of this, as it sort of makes a great spokesperson against American injustice, racism, and militarism seem to have changed his views to become somewhat of a predecessor to Samuel L. Jackson in Die Hard 3: "Yeah, he hated white folk at the start, but then he got to know some and learned to love us right before he died."
..or maybe it's Samuel L. Jackson in Deep Blue Sea.
In actuality, following his pilgrimage, Malcolm still kept very militant and prescient views on the military/industrial complex, American foreign policy, white supremacy, and the roles of whites involved in transracial social and racial organizing. So this week here on the blog we'll focus on some of those ideas--especially when they pertain to whites working, living, and learning in and around black spaces. In the 43 years since his assassination some of these brilliant ideas are all the more relevant today, than they were in the mid 60's.
To start off here are two great sources for Malcolm in relation to white identity and the construction of racism in the States and abroad. First is his "Letter from Mecca" followed up with a great scene from Spike Lee's biopic that's kind of obvious in relation to this blog:
During the past eleven days here in the Muslim world, I have eaten from the same plate, drunk from the same glass, and slept in the same bed, (or on the same rug) -- while praying to the same God -- with fellow Muslims, whose eyes were the bluest of blue, whose hair was the blondest of blond, and whose skin was the whitest of white. And in the same words and in the actions and in the deeds of the 'white' Muslims, I felt the same sincerity that I felt among the black African Muslims of Nigeria, Sudan and Ghana.
We were truly all the same (brothers) -- because their belief in one God had removed the 'white' from their minds, the 'white' from their behavior, and the 'white' from their attitude.
I could see from this, that perhaps if white Americans could accept the Oneness of God, then perhaps, too, they could accept in reality the Oneness of Man -- and cease to measure, and hinder, and harm others in terms of their differences in color.
With racism plaguing America like an incurable cancer, the so-called 'Christian' white American heart should be more receptive to a proven solution to such a destructive problem. Perhaps it could be in time to save America from imminent disaster -- the same destruction brought upon Germany by racism that eventually destroyed the Germans themselves.
Each hour here in the Holy Land enables me to have greater spiritual insights into what is happening in America between black and white. The American Negro never can be blamed for his racial animosities -- he is only reacting to four hundred years of conscious racism of the American whites. But as racism leads America up the suicide path, I do believe, from the experience that I have had with them, that the whites of the younger generation, in the colleges and universities, will see the handwriting on the wall and many of them will turn to the spiritual path of truth -- the only way left to America to ward off the disaster that racism inevitably must lead to.
"In our country, the kind of contact that rubs away race consciousness is possible only in rare places, and intermittently. But it exists, in scattered underground pockets of resistance to the norm. One of them is the Negro college, where white people can become so immersed in a Negro environment that they are oblivious, at least temporarily, of race. The fact that they live on an island, against which waves of prejudice roll from time to time, means that they slide back and forth from over-consciousness on some days to a blissful amnesia on others.
A white student, after several months living, eating, studying, playing in a totally Negro college environment, visited a nearby white college and returned saying, "How pallid they all seemed--all those white faces and sharp noses!" This is a startling example of race consciousness in reverse, but it is encouraging to see how quickly one can change the temper of racial awareness by an inundation of sense experiences.
Once the superficiality of the physical is penetraded and seen for what it is, the puzzle of race loses itself in whatever puzzle there is to human behavior in general. Once you begin to look, in human clash, for explanations other than race, they suddenly become visible, and even when they remain out of sight, it is comforting to know that these non-racial explanations exist, as disease began to lose its eeriness with the discovery of bacteria, although the specific problem of identifying each bacterial group remained."
--Howard Zinn, The Southern Mystique