Malcolm's observations on how blacks get treated by the press and police wouldn't have changed in the last fifty years

Malcolm X must have had a crystal ball. If not, he was able pin-point the exact problems that black Americans would still be facing today. What’s sad, is that Malcolm’s statement was not a prediction (per-say), but an observation of how White America rationalizes police-brutality against minorities in the 1960s.

Malcolm X was giving a speech before a congregation where he outlined what he saw as the problem with the “White Press” during the Civil Rights era. Word for word, it sounded as if Malcolm was speaking about Ferguson or Baltimore in 2015. The exact same problems still exist today, it seems.

Malcolm spoke about how the mainstream white press frames issues of violence in the black community. According to him, the media paints the entirety of the “Negro Community” (as he called it) as a “criminal element.” When the narrative sets into White Americans that the vast majority of black people are part of a criminal enterprise, then all bets are off when it comes to police action.

When the white public becomes convinced that all black people are criminals, it somehow justifies police to act against this perceived “criminal element.” Police brutality becomes common-place and justified. Malcolm X calls it “Gestapo Tactics”, when the white public convinces itself that all minorities are criminals who deserve anything they get.

While X was calling out the issues of his day, it’s sad to point out that we have a very similar problem in America today. While Ferguson and Baltimore were violent reactions to police brutality, very few rational people would deny the bubbling source of anger of the black community.

Yet, the right-wing in America today (as well as in Malcolm X’s day) paints the entire black community as criminals and “thugs”, which therefore justifies any manner of police action against them. Notice how people on the right will never call the cops that stomped Freddie Grey’s spine “thugs,” but if black people riot in response to generations of police brutality, then they are automatically branded “thugs” and criminals.

The media conversation always fixates on the riots and instances of looting, not the source of anger that spurred the riots. The black community is by definition seen as a criminal enterprise, and the “guilty enough” attitude sets in. That means, as X said, that any black person is suspect and will be harassed whether guilty or innocent of a crime.

One Baltimore activist called out Wolf Blitzer on CNN, which I loved. Blitzer demanded the activist denounce the violence of the riots. In response the activist asked Blitzer to denounce the violence of the police. Blitzer had no response. It’s exactly as Malcolm X laid out, decades ago.

Here is the video with commentary, which I think people should watch for amazing context. It’s incredible to think that the exact same issues are just as strong today as they were during the Civil Rights era.

1 COMMENT

  1. It is apparent that things haven’t changed in this area in centuries. Racism and brutality provoke rioting, arson, and looting. Nothing much changes.

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