The Militant (logo)  

Vol. 74/No. 35      September 20, 2010

Malcolm X: internationalize
struggle against racism
(Books of the Month column)
Below is an excerpt from By Any Means Necessary by Malcolm X, one of Pathfinder’s Books of the Month for September. Through these speeches from the last year of his life, Malcolm takes his place as one of the outstanding revolutionary leaders of the working class. Malcolm sought, as he put it, to “internationalize” the fight against racism. He solidarized with the African freedom struggle and championed the revolutionary victories of the Chinese and Cuban people. The piece below is from his speech to a rally held by the Organization of Afro-American Unity, Nov. 29, 1964, in New York City. Copyright © 1970 by Betty Shabazz and Pathfinder Press. Reprinted by permission.

You waste your time involving yourself in any kind of organization that is not directly connected with our brothers and sisters on the African continent. Can I prove it? Yes. There was a time in this country when they used to use the expression about Chinese, “He doesn’t have a Chinaman’s chance.” Remember when they used to say that about the Chinese? You don’t hear them saying that nowadays. Because the Chinaman has more chance now than they do. And what makes the cheese so binding is he has the same things they have, and will use it faster than they will.

It was not until China became independent and strong that Chinese people all over the world became respected. They never became respected by sitting-in, begging-in, praying-in, kneeling-in, or crawling-in. They became respected only when China as a nation became independent and strong. And then they had something behind them, they had someone behind them. Once China became independent and strong and feared, then wherever you saw a Chinaman, he was independent, he was strong, he was feared and he was respected.

It’s the same way with you and me. They can pass every kind of bill imaginable in Washington, D.C., and you and I will never be respected, because we have nothing behind us. The law is not behind us. Washington, D.C., is not behind us. Nor are the Congress, the Senate, and the President behind us. We haven’t got anything in this country behind you and me. You and I have to get our people behind us, our people in our own motherland and fatherland. Just as a strong China has produced a respected Chinaman, a strong Africa will produce a respected black man anywhere that black man goes on this earth. It’s only with a strong Africa, an independent Africa and a respected Africa that wherever those of African origin or African heritage or African likeness go, they will be respected.

But as long as Africa is not respected, it doesn’t make any difference if you’re a doctor or lawyer—why, they’ll bounce your head like a knot on a log, no matter where you go. Can I prove it? Yes. While I was in Africa, this young Negro educator in Georgia—he wasn’t ragged, he wasn’t uncouth, he wasn’t uncivilized; he was an educator, he was as uppity and dicty as they were—and they still shot him. Why? Because he had nothing behind him. His education couldn’t save him, his degrees couldn’t save him, his profession couldn’t save him. No, because he didn’t have anything behind him. The government wasn’t behind him. But had Africa been a strong, independent entity that was respected and recognized by every other power on this earth, then the brother, who reflected all the characteristics of an African, whether he liked it or not, would have been respected by even the Klan and other people down there who are supposed to be so ignorant and don’t respect the rights of our people.

So I say that we must have a strong Africa, and one of my reasons for going to Africa was because I know this. You waste your time in this country, in any kind of strategy that you use, if you’re not in direct contact with your brother on the African continent who has his independence. He has problems, but he still has his independence, and in that independence he has a voice; in that voice there is strength. And when you and I link our struggle up with his struggle, so that his struggle backs our struggle, you’ll find that this man over here will pay a little more attention. You can sit on his doorstep all day long nonviolently; he’ll pay you some attention, but not the kind you want… .

Never let anybody tell you and me the odds are against us—I don’t even want to hear that. Those who think the odds are against you, forget it. The odds are not against you. The odds are against you only when you’re scared. The only things that makes odds against you is a scared mind. When you get all of that fright off of you, there’s no such thing as odds against you. Because when a man knows that when he starts playing with you, he’s got to kill you, that man is not going to play with you. But if he knows when he’s playing with you that you’re going to back up and be nonviolent and peaceful and respectable and responsible, why, you and me will never come out of his claws.

Let him know that you’re peaceful, let him know that you’re respectful and you respect him, and that you’re law-abiding, and that you want to be a good citizen, and all those right-thinking things. But let him know at the same time that you’re ready to do to him what he’s been trying to do to you. And then you’ll always have peace. You’ll always have it. Learn a lesson from history, learn a lesson from history.

I must say this once before we close. I don’t want you to think that I’m coming back here to rabble-rouse, or to get somebody excited. I don’t think you have to excite our people; the man already has excited us. And I don’t want you to think that I’m ready for some unintelligent action, or some irresponsible action, or for just any old thing just to be doing something. No. I hope that all of us can sit down with a cool head and a clear mind and analyze the situation, in the back room, anywhere, analyze the situation; and after we give the proper analysis of what we’re confronted by, then let us be bold enough to take whatever steps that analysis says must be taken. Once we get it, then let’s do it, and we’ll be able to get some kind of result in this freedom struggle.
Related articles:
Malcolm X is relevant for fighters today  
Front page (for this issue) | Home | Text-version home