What Might Malcolm X Say about Obama?

The day after November 4th, 2008 — I was walking my puppy (Abbey) around the block when I approached an older black man; I will never forget our conversation:

Older black man: “How are you, son?”

Carson: “It is a good day; it is a very good day.

Older black man: “Yes indeed. Yes indeed. It is a good day.”

I smiled as I continued to walk my dog; we did not say anything else — but we both knew why it was such a great day. With the inauguration approaching and Obama set to be president, I find myself smiling at the joy of this historical election. I am for the very first time in my life, really proud to be an American. Why? Because Americans illustrated to me that they are willing and do look beyond race. We should seeing that it is the 21st century. I do believe we will have a Muslim president, a female president, and a person of another ethnic/racial makeup.

I love this piece by Malcolm X, a person I deeply admire:

I’m not a Democrat, I’m not a Republican, and I don’t even consider myself an American. If you and I were Americans, there’d be no problem…Everything that came out of Europe, every blue-eyed thing, is already an American. And as long as you and I have been over here, we aren’t Americans yet.

Well, I am one who doesn’t believe in deluding myself. I’m not going to sit at your table and watch you eat, with nothing on my plate, and call myself a diner. Sitting at the table doesn’t make you a diner, unless you eat some of what’s on that plate. Being here in America doesn’t make you an American. Being born here in America doesn’t make you an American.



30 thoughts on “What Might Malcolm X Say about Obama?

  1. I don’t really think America looked beyond race. Given the 95%+ rate of Blacks voting for Obama and the racialist rhetoric coming out of the Liberal camps, I’d say that America looked very closely at Race.

    The Blacks voted for their candidate, and the White liberals set aside their lattes long enough to vote for a Black, thereby assuaging any lingering fears they might have had about their racism.

    On the bright side, Race trumped Gender so America was saved from HRC being elected. No White man could have beat Hillary, since the race card was needed to counter the gender card.

  2. I would like to respectfully disagree with jonolan. I am a white liberal, and race doesn’t figure into MY assessment of a person. While I agree that we still have a VERY long way to go in race relations in this country – a very, very long way to go – and that perhaps a greater portion of the country does se race as an issue, I don’t agree that race was a primary factor in this election. Obama is eloquent, unifying, and energetic, and he would be those things regardless of the skin he’s wrapped in.

    Brother Malcolm was incredibly insightful about the social conditions in our country, and he wasn’t afraid to be blunt about them. We have NOT reached a level of parity and equality in this country, but we’re a whole hell of a lot closer than we were even a short time ago. One of the things that supposedly makes up the American character is our ability to change and grow when presented with evidence that we should do so. I think Obama offered us a learning and growing opportunity, and my hope is that his administration will model for the people – and the world -a more compassionate and inclusive way to govern.

  3. Carson, I like the Malcolm X piece and I’m glad you are looking forward to Obama’s swearing in. However, like Jonolan, I think that the fact that 95% of blacks voted for Obama almost entirely because he is black means that we still have work to do. I believe that the person who votes for a person just because of their race is just as racist as the person who votes against someone based on their race. Now, Obama was an inspiring speaker, and had a message that the people agreed with, that is why he won. John Mccain lacked what was needed for success. Let’s face it a person who is so inspiring that even dead people vote for him is bound to be successful.

  4. I’m going to have to agree with Mrs. Chili. I know jackasses of all races and religions and I know marvelous people of all races and religions. To suggest that all white liberals, such as myself, only voted for Obama because we wanted to assuage our consciences and gave no regard to the man running for office is akin to suggesting that I hate all people named Barry because I had a bad romantic relationship with a man named Barry in college. By the way, I’m liberal because I know what it’s like to be poor and I know what it’s like to have plenty and I think that everyone deserves every opportunity that I was blessed enough to be granted simply because of who I was born to. Oh, and I didn’t have the opportunity to set down my latte because I can’t afford them as a general rule.

  5. Chili: I agree with you to and Kristi to an extent. I do believe he was elected because of his youthful energy and sense of visionand hope; however, I do suspect that some members of the younger block voted for him as a show that white liberals are not racist and do favor change. I think this base is between the ages of 18 and 40.

    Josh: The reality is that 90 (not 95) percent of blacks would have voted for “W” if he was running as a dem. We are the largest political block in the country. Why would blacks who do not makeup a large postion of the middle class endorse a party that has worked against their plights since the 1970s?

  6. Well of course that’s partially true Carson. I was merely responding to his blanket statement. All of the white liberals I know, which is a fair number, voted for him, not for his blackness.

  7. “I think that the fact that 95% of blacks voted for Obama almost entirely because he is black means that we still have work to do.”

    How do you know that they voted for Obama entirely because he is black?

    We have had this discussion before, blacks have voted for Democrats for a while now.

  8. If we look solely at the General Election, I’d have to agree you, Mr. Carson. Blacks have approx. 90% Democrat voting record vs. Republicans. Therefor a small bump to 95% is near meaningless. Though Kerry only got 70% of the Black vote in 2004…

    But Obama was pulling 90 – 95% of the Black vote during the Democratic primaries as well, and her platform was near identical to Obama’s.

    Please understand that I’m not saying that Obama won the General Election solely on his Race. I am saying it was a factor in his favor though; the media ensured that. I’m also saying that he DID win the Primary on the strength of his race, or at least the number sure make it look that way.

  9. Of course race was a factor. Some people probably DIDN’T vote for him because of his race. But, to claim that 95% of African-Americans voted for Obama solely because he is black is absurd.

  10. When I was in Disney World the week after the election, I saw many blacks wearing shirts that said “My President is Black” on the front and “Yes We Can” on the back. I don’t mean to say all blacks voted for Obama due to his race, but I think it shows that race played a huge factor in the election.

    If a black voted for Obama simply because he was black, then that black is just as racist as a white man who did not vote for Obama because he is black. I’m sure both of these cases occurred during the election.

    Here is one thing I don’t understand: Blacks want to be treated and viewed the same regardless of their race. How can we ever achieve that goal if we continually treat blacks differently with things like affirmative action? It doesn’t make any sense to me when minorities say they don’t want to be viewed upon by the color of their skin, yet they advocate affirmative action which looks right at the color of their skin. It just seems paradoxical that they wish to not be judged by their skin color yet want people to look right at it at the same time.

    One last thing. A parent of a friend of mine was asked who she was voting for in the election. She had always been a conservative and replied John McCain. She was then accused of being a racist for voting for a white over a black, even though she had always voted Republican. Why is it that when a minority (of any race) who votes for a candidate simply because they are the same race is not seen as racist, yet a white who has always voted Republican can be accused of racism for voting a Republican white over a Democratic black?

  11. Many of the statements in this string have boiled my blood, starting with this: “I am for the very first time in my life, really proud to be an American.” Is that really what it took for you? I too, Carson, was very proud of this country for taking a step many people thought couldn’t be taken yet. But were you so convinced of America’s bigotry before that you could find no pride in being an American? If so, how on earth could this election NOT have been about race?

    For those of you who believe the election of Barack Obama wasn’t to a large degree about race, ask yourself this: doesn’t a white Barack Obama remind you of John Edwards from a few years ago, or a young Al Gore? For all the talk about what an eloquent individual he is, personally I don’t think he’s half as charismatic, charming, or eloquent as Bill Clinton. Which proves my point. Libs are so turned on by the fact that we just elected a black President that he may go down in their books with the most well-voiced men in history. His legacy has a head start because he’s black. It’s like giving him a handicap…which isn’t racist at all.

    The Malcolm X quote also gave me shivers. The line between equal opportunity and entitlement is growing more thin every day. This quote made sense in X’s time; blacks were being actively kept away from the table by the institutions of this country. It has little to no relevance today. No, I do not see things in – pardon the pun – black and white. I understand that there are inequalities that still exist. But on some levels there has also been overcompensation. The argument that not everyone in America has the same opportunity won’t float very far with me. We have work to do, but the hatred, division, bigotry, and inequality that is often lamented here is not as deep and thick as some find it convenient to believe.

    Kristi –

    “I’m a liberal because I know what it’s like to be poor and I know what it’s like to have plenty and I think that everyone deserves every opportunity that I was blessed enough to have simply because of who I was born to.”

    I absolutely despise this logic. I can apply it to myself as well: I was raised in a low-income household. Now my means are above-average. I’m a staunch conservative because I understand what it’s like to make the best of my own opportunities rather than waiting for someone to drop them in my lap. By making the statement above, you’re suggesting that conservatives don’t believe that “everyone deserves every opportunity”. In fact, it’s really the essence of conservative thought. My observation over the past few years, as I alluded to above, is that many liberals have stopped fighting for the means and started demanding the ends.

  12. Nimrod-
    Really? Having people be sick and exhausted and die of debilitating illnesses that could be treated is a way for them to have opportunity? Hungry children are full of opportunity? Not being able to find a way to better yourself through education because of the decrease in higher education funds is a way to have opportunity? Piss poor schools that are based entirely on what part of town you can afford to live in are a way to have opportunity? I despise your logic and I absolutely despise your inability to see anything beyond the fact that you were at least given opportunities. Come hang out in the inner city of Little Rock or Houston or Chicago some day and tell me if those people have been given opportunities.

  13. “The argument that not everyone in America has the same opportunity won’t float very far with me. We have work to do, but the hatred, division, bigotry, and inequality that is often lamented here is not as deep and thick as some find it convenient to believe.”

    You should try leaving your gated community sometime.

  14. Here we go. I could have written your posts for you. “Come hang out in the inner city!…try leaving your gated community!” You two make it sound like I’ve never seen a black person before. The idea that conservative thinkers like myself are ignorant to or ignore the fact that life in the inner-cities is different from suburbia is very convenient for you. It helps you rationalize why someone like me, who has been successful, would feel the way I do. It’s convenient for you to ignore the fact that I grew up in a low-income neighborhood and spent time in high school and college volunteering in even more low-income areas. It’s easier for you to swallow if you see Scrooge when you look at me.

    As I said before, we’ve got work to do. We need to fix the school systems and the health care system. But this idea that the underprivileged – blacks, whites, browns, whatever – are being held down by the elite – ‘the man’ if you will – is just silly. Everyone is given the chance to be successful. I’ll be the first to admit that my road wasn’t as hard as others’ might be. That doesn’t mean they cannot be successful. Everyone’s road is different, obviously, but then of course if they weren’t, we’d be talking about socialism. That is inevitably where your arguments lead.

  15. I think I was a bit vague on my America comment. In essence, I was saying that I am happy that Americans are willing to move past race for the greatness of our nation. Furthermore, though I am proud to be an American and most proud of the progress we have made, it is this single event that has me excited. I do not think there is much to debate about the issue of race and history as it relates to America. But to show how far we have come is a proud moment for me.

  16. theNimrod-I couldn’t agree with you more. Everyone does have the chance to be successful, but not everyone’s path to success is easy. Are we to pave everybody’s road to success? No, that is up to the person.

    Would you venture to say that Barack Obama did not have he same opportunities as anyone else. I say he did have the same opportunities because he has risen to the highest office in the state. If he didn’t have opportunity, he wouldn’t be our country’s next president. Sure, he may have had to work harder than someone else, but he had the same opportunity. By the way, is hard work such a bad thing?

    Dillon-Are you going to tell me to leave my gated community? I don’t live in one. Are you going to ask me if a lot of blacks live in my neighborhood? Sure, there aren’t too many, but no one would object if a black family moved in. Just because I or my neighborhood doesn’t actively try to promote blacks in our community doesn’t mean we aren’t welcome to them.

    Mr. Carson-I’m glad you cleared up what you meant about your America comment. I’m proud of my country now, and I’m proud of my country always.

  17. Opportunity – “a set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something”

    theNimrod – I am not attacking your conservative thinking. Rather, I am attacking your ignorance. You said that “the argument that not everyone in America has the same opportunity won’t float very far with me.” And, if you genuinely believe this, then you need to wake up. Do you think that the high school student in inner-city Houston has the same opportunities that I do?

    I’m SO sick of the “I grew up in the ghetto and now I make six figures” crap. Go sell your story to the Hallmark channel so they can make a movie out of it.

  18. Haha. What would you like me to say? I’m not saying I grew up under a rock OR that I’m now Donald Trump. I’m only saying that I’m not quite as ‘ignorant’ as people like yourself find it convenient to believe I am.

    By the definition of opportunity you have posted here, you’re suggesting that if someone doesn’t have the opportunity to be successful, success is flat out not possible for them. Do you believe that it is impossible for a child from inner-city Houston to make something of himself? To be President of the United States, for argument’s sake?

    As I said, I’m not saying it’s as easy for one person as it is for the next. That would be called socialism. Certainly, success was a shorter reach for me than for many others. But it’s also not a stretch to say that many had it easier than I did. The bottom line is that the chance – the opportunity – is there for every American to be successful. To believe otherwise is to take everything in front of you for granted. It enables the idea that people are entitled to more than the FREEDOM to pursue success and perpetuates class warfare.

  19. The bible says that we can do all things through CHRIST that strengthens us. CHRIST, not the government. God says rely on him, liberals says rely on the government. I think God is a more reliable source.

    The thing is that the government is meant to protect us and our borders. Beyond that is left to us. The government creates laws that protect our rights, our beating hearts, and our freedom (by making sure that any threat to us is neutralized. By what means is up to them. However we control that by putting the right people in office). We control our personal lives, our finances, and who gets into office to represent us. Limited government is a good thing. Anyone who supports socialism says that the government should control just about everything. Including who pays for us to have what we need, while we sit at home watching government approved television, eating government distributed food, and taking government produced medication. Oh, and if we have a problem with it, oh well, to bad, we voted for socialism and we got it. Congratulations.

    God says that our actions have consequences. If an opportunity arises and we don’t take it, that’s our fault. We have more opportunities than we think. The fact is the liberals (You know the people that hold senate majority and control most of the media, which people listen to above all else) tell us we should let the government do things for us. Therefore, we don’t try. The sooner people realize that they are going to have to work for what they want, the better but you liberals are going to let them continue in their victim mentality. Tell someone they can do something and encourage them to work for it, and they’ll feel empowered. But tell them that the government will do it for them, and they’ll just sit back and complain until the government follows through.

  20. theNimrod – I would disagree with your statement that the chance is there for every American to be successful. If the poor kid in inner-city Houston goes to a crappy high school and has no interest in learning and drops out without opposition from his parents or anyone else, he isn’t going to go to college, and probably won’t be successful. It happens all the time. Or let’s say, for argument’s sake, that this kid does really well in high school, and gets into college, but can’t go because no one can afford to pay for it. Why should he have it so difficult? Why shouldn’t everyone exist under a set of circumstances that make it possible to be successful?

    I already know your response: because that’s socialism. Actually, it’s not. Making our schools better, making sure everyone is healthy, and making sure anyone who wants to can go to college is not socialism. It’s fairness. It’s equality. It’s giving EVERYONE the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

    Josh – I am SO sick of people acting like, somehow, I am less of a Christian because I am Liberal. I would elaborate on this topic, but I have already written about it – https://ecarson.wordpress.com/2008/12/15/a-christian-democrat/

    I encourage you to read more about both socialism and the Democratic party. When you realize that Barack Obama and every other Democrat holding a political office is not a socialist, let me know.

    Socialism, by definition, is a theory that advocates that all economic activities (production, distribution, and exchange) should by owned by the community as a whole, not just the government. The belief that “the government should control just about everything” would actually be called totalitarianism. Democrats would actually be considered more egalitarian than anything.

  21. Dillon –

    You said it for me: “It’s giving EVERYONE the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” The PURSUIT of happiness. We all are entitled to live our lives unimpeded (life). We are all entitled to live that life in the direction we choose (liberty), and we are all entitled to pursue happiness in our life, no matter how you define it. We are NOT entitled to happiness or success. We are entitled to the opportunity at it. Once again, not everyone’s road to happiness or success is the same. Assuredly some will have more difficult paths than others. But no one in this country is prevented from pursuing their happiness.

    “Making our schools better, making sure everyone is healthy, and making sure anyone who wants to can go to college is not socialism. It’s fairness. It’s equality.” Fairness is only equity insofar as everyone who wants to go to college gets the chance TO APPLY.

    To clarify my point: there’s a distinct difference between a black student being denied the right to apply to a college and that same student being allowed to apply but subsequently being denied because he’s black. In the former case, the system is wrong. In the latter, it’s a matter of correcting a malfunctioning component within the system.

    As for the example you started with: First of all, the kid dropped out of school. Bad school or not, HE forfeited HIS OPPORTUNITY at college. If you believe he cannot be successful because he will not go to college, then how can you possible believe that he has anyone to blame but himself? Sure, we should try to fix our inner-city school systems, but that does not mean you can drop out and THEN blame the system.

    Second of all, who says a person can’t be successful without a college degree, or a high school diploma for that matter? Granted it’s much more difficult, but it’s not impossible. The OPPORTUNITY is there.

    Finally, the issue of paying for college. There are plenty of options for those that don’t have the money. Believe me, I know. I still haven’t paid off my student loans. I also thought about military service. There are scholarships. There is community college, for which it would be easier to get loans. Etc, etc, etc. If a prospective student is somehow denied a loan, doesn’t receive scholarships or grants, doesn’t like the idea of the military, etc, then his opportunities may have run out. It’s not easy to swallow, but anything more than the availability of OPTIONS by which to ATTEMPT to gain entry into college would in fact be undue interference by the government.

    Your belief that everyone is entitled to success is equal parts well-intentioned and naive. The suggestion that it would jive with democratic/capitalistic values is flat wrong. Based on the tenets of our democratic republic and our economic system, it’s simply unrealistic.

  22. Dillon, I never said anything about you. You can be a liberal and a christian, I’ve already read and loved your article, (in fact I have read your blog and I am very impressed. After reading your articles, here and on the gray ghost, I had to make sure I was reading a high school student’s writing) my comment is and has been there. I never attacked you, if I did please forgive me. I haven’t meant any spite. I never mentioned any names, the fact that you took it as a personal attack was your choice.

  23. Actually, Nimrod, it’s not as easy right not to get loans as it used to be. When I was a freshman, loans weren’t a problem; now that I’m in graduate school they are much harder to get and I’ve read that the same is true for undergrads. There is less grant money than used to be available and it’s actually harder to get loans to pay for community college because they don’t offer four year degrees as a general rule and therefor you get significantly less, even proportionately, money. Also, and I don’t know about anywhere else because I’ve only participated in higher education in Arkansas, state funded and privately funded scholarships have been drastically reduced and the standards for the money left are continually being raised. Not to mention the fact that since we use property taxes to fund public schools here in Arkansas, if you live in a poorer part of town, your school receives less money and therefore is not as good of a place to receive an education, despite the fact that you have to compete for scholarships and even college acceptance with people from much nicer schools. And again, I’m not talking about private vs public. I’m speaking of a glaring disparity in public schools in Arkansas school districts. Again, I don’t know about other states, but it’s true here.

  24. Nimrod – Actually, your belief that everyone can achieve success in some for another is naive. You are correct, the belief that everyone is entitled to success does not jive with capitalistic values or our economic system. That is why we must reform our economic system and rid our country of its extreme capitalism and consumerism. The more capitalist our country becomes, the more stratified it becomes. And just in case you didn’t know, many others before us have proved that these two things in conjunction ultimately have negative consequences.

    Josh – Sorry I took it personally. You attacked “liberals,” and since I fall under that category, I was offended.

    Kristi – We have the same problem in Texas. The public school taxing system is a joke.

  25. Kristi – All of that may be true. None of it changes my point.

    Dillon – You didn’t respond to my last post. You’re just being argumentative. Do you have any reasons for calling my belief naive? What makes you think it’s naive to believe everyone in America is equipped with the opportunity to be successful? How on earth do you justify the argument that a kid in inner-city Houston has zero opportunity to be successful?

    And you’re reaching on the “extreme capitalism + consumerism” issue. It’s not what we’re talking about here. Your issue with equal opportunity in the inner-city exists in a capitalist system regardless of those concerns.

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