Message to the grassroots

Malcolm X’s speech known as “Message to the Grassroots” speaks to this day and time although it was given in 1963.

In it, Malcolm identifies the threads of solidarity with anti-colonialist movements and the Black struggle for human rights. He exhorts the Detroit audience to understand the lessons of the Ban-dung conference of 1954, in which many of the emerging independence and revolutionary movements in Asia and Africa found unity and common cause against Western imperialism.

Here’s a link https://youtu.be/lY39tp3LEKI

Today Sikh people are grieving the loss of kin last week in Indianapolis. Community elders taken in targeted violence at a Fedex facility. The East Asian community in Atlanta is still dealing with the trauma of the mass murder of their kin in Atlanta, compounded by the violence of indifference and dismissal shown by the police. Racialized violence against Black, Indigenous, and Latine communities — sanctioned in so many cases by federal, state, and local authorities — has been unceasing.

Malcolm’s speech shows its age in some places…when you hear him say “the white man” you can just sub “white cis-hetero-patriarchy” and keep it moving. But in many ways it is precisely the kind of clear eyed eulogy that all of our communities need now. The kind that sums up where we are and what we need to do.

I’ve heard people advise to be silent, to give people time to grieve. But there isn’t a day when we’re not mourning the loss of a child, a mother, an aunt, an uncle. The society in which we live is based upon our dehumanization. By design, the trauma is endless.

All this to say that that as Malcolm put it “we each have a common enemy”, white supremacy. The sooner we come to terms with it, name it, and unify in eradicating it, the closer we will be to liberation.

Even the simple act of not participating in it — the refusal to uphold the hierarchies implicit in white supremacy — is enough.

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