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June 4, 1964, Vol. IX, No. 33
Whites Cheer Malcolm X For Blasts at Whites
By Susan Goodman
“It doesn’t make me sad at all, if it does exist.” This statement came from Malcolm X on the alleged band of karate-trained “blood brothers” reportedly killing white people in Harlem. “Our people are too quick to apologize for something that the white power structure finds deplorable. Anything the black man needs to get his freedom right now, that thing should exist. Anyone who has caught the same kind of hell that I have caught is my blood brother.”
The Friday-evening audience, 60 per cent of whom were white, cheered the commanding Black Muslim leader as two dark-suited men taped his remarks with a gadget in a suitcase. Junius Griffin, the Negro New York Times reporter who broke the story, sent a telegram expressing his “regret” that “professional ethics” kept him from attending the packed meeting about “What’s Behind the Harlem ‘Hate Gang’ Scare” held in the hall of the Militant Labor Forum, which shares space with the Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party at 116 University Place. He suggested that the audience read his lengthy follow-up story published in that morning’s edition of the Times.
Social worker William Reed, who represented CORE at the meeting, charged there wasn’t “an ounce of truth” in Griffin’s story and accused him of “violating journalistic ethics.” Clifton DeBerry, the Presidential candidate of the Socialist Workers Party, also labeled the Griffin report a “hoax” which will be “used to frame outspoken opponents of the white power system.” DeBerry, a Negro with a fleeting resemblance to Eisenhower, cried, “It’s designed to create the kind of hysteria which on the West Coast resulted in the police breaking into the Mosque.” The Socialist Worker party head said he anticipates a sharp increase in police brutality when the “no-knock” and “stop-and-frisk” laws go into effect this July…
Malcolm X, just back from a tour of the recently liberated African countries, also lit into the men in blue. “They’re an occupying army in Harlem to protect the interests of the businessmen, who don’t even live there,” he said. “The younger generation doesn’t care any more whether the oppressor has a sheet or a uniform — he’s in the same category.”
The erect, handsome Muslim leader called Police Commissioner Michael Murphy a “dangerous man” because “almost all his public statements give the policemen courage to incite to violence.” However, Malcolm X backed the Commissioner’s recent $10,000 raise on the grounds that, “He earned it. Any man who has to make the statements Commissioner Murphy does on behalf of the interests should be paid.”
Malcolm X drew a parallel between the plight of the American Negro and that of the natives in former colonial countries, such as Cuba and Algeria. “Time is on the side of the oppressed,” he said, punctuating his remarks with an oddly unnerving short laugh and sharp snap of his long fingers. “You’ll soon see a terrorism that will terrify you.” The audience applauded his observation.
Advancing the proposition that it is “impossible for a white person to believe in capitalism and not believe in racism,” Malcolm X noted that he felt “flexible” about socialism. “It’s not an accident that they’re turning toward it in the ex-colonial countries,” he remarked.
The Black Muslim leader, who appears to be moving in the direction of a new political philosophy, declined to be “tricked” into a debate posed in terms of “integration, segregation, or separatism.” Commenting that “travel broadens one’s scope,” he said, “”That doesn’t mean you change. You broaden. No religion will ever make me forget the conditions of my people — the police clubs — in this country.”
He then described the “anthropologist’s paradise” he had seen in Mecca, where “people of all colors, all sizes, all everything” ate together with their hands from the same plate. He found himself sharing food “with people who in America would be considered white. But one thing I noticed about them, they didn’t act white. The fact that they had accepted the Oneness of God had the chain reaction effect of causing them to accept the Oneness of the human family.” In America, Malcolm X asserted, it was completely different, for here whites go about with the attitude “I am white” in the “sound of their voices, in the essence of their being.”
…Earlier in the evening, the speaker reminded his receptive, predominately white audience, “It’s easy for you to live in another neighborhood and be sympathetic to the cause. If you had to live in our neighborhood and suffer what our people suffer, you would have gotten rid of that non-violent stuff a long time ago.” And, at the end of the speech, the Black Muslim spokesman said, “We will work with any group, no matter what their color is, as long as they are genuinely interested in destroying the vulturous system that has been sucking the blood of the black people.” But, he cautioned them, “You can’t talk this ‘Negro Revolution’ jive to me when you’re not ready for it. When the deal is down, most of you aren’t.”
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This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 15, 2009