Texas Liberal

All People Matter

Malcolm, Martin & Liberals Like Myself

Politically-minded individuals take different routes of historical knowledge and personal experience to establish their ideological commitments.

For me, reading about Martin Luther King and Malcolm X was a major part of the political individual I am today.

Experience I would later gain matched some of what I had read. 

A point Malcolm X often made was his distrust of white northern liberals. This is what I am in many ways. I’ve lived in Texas for the last nine years and above the Mason-Dixon line for the first 30 years.

Here is a quote from Malcolm on the subject of white liberals— 

“I’ve been up north and you don’t know how to deal with it…He’ll sit there and smile in your face. You’ll go down to see them in the office, and they’ll serve you cookies and tea, and shake your hand and pose for a picture with you. And at the same time, keeping Negroes in ghettos and slums.” 

This quote matches well-enough my experience in Cincinnati city government. I worked for a black member of the City Council who was in some respects to the left of other council members both black and white. 

From the perspective of that office, you did not worry so much about Republicans and conservatives—They were what they were. It was so-called progressives and liberals who would say this and say that, but who at heart were not really engaged in the work of justice and meaningful change.

Martin Luther King came to this view later in his life than did Malcolm. Yet King did indeed come to this view. He saw the liberal as often more committed to order than to justice. He was disappointed by the slow liberal response to President Johnson’s war in Vietnam. 

King always retained his commitment to integration. Malcolm’s changes after visiting Mecca are well-documented. Yet their critique of the liberal remains of value to this day. 

On a personal level, none of this means I try to be something I’m not. I am what I am. Nor does it mean that the repeated failings of the black political establishment should go unnoticed. It’s also so that many white liberals risked their lives or expended considerable effort on behalf of the Civil Rights movement. 

It simply means that I try to understand why I hold the views that I hold. I know my beliefs come from many sources. Self-understanding is a path to effective communication with others. It is also a tool for effectively critiquing one’s own thoughts and actions. 

June 11, 2007 Posted by | Best Posts Jan.-June 2007, Cincinnati, Martin & Malcolm, Political History, Welcome To TexasLiberal | , , , , , | Leave a comment