By Tyler Samuels
When I was younger, I detested Malcolm X. He was the black supremacist, part of an anti-Semitic organization that disparaged Dr. King and advocated loudly for segregation to remain. My heroes for the racial struggle were total opposites, Dr. King, Mandela, Sojourner Truth, or Samuel Sharpe. However, after recent events both in Canada and the United States where week after week a black person is shot dead or dies mysteriously under the hands of the police, I can no longer say I see Malcolm as a demagogue, a racist, or an angry, violent black man. Years ago when I wrote Why White American Jews Should Rethink Race, I stressed that being black in America was a death sentence. The anger at that statement still shocks me. If we can learn anything from the moment, I published it until now; we see this statement is 100% accurate.
When Sandra Bland died, arrested on no legitimate charges and ending up dead mysteriously in her jail cell, it should have been the alarming bells for Jews that we fellow Jews of Colour face. If the Bland case did not suffice then the Sam Dubose case, where a university campus officer shot Sam point blank in the head, contrary to false statements of the officer who claimed he was being dragged by Sam’s car forcing him to shoot; moreover, now with George Floyd, Adam Toledo, and now Makiyah Bryan. Faced with all this violence, especially now against Black women, Malcolm’s message of no passive resistance needs to be embraced. This does not mean we should go around lynching whites as conservatives claim Malcolm wanted.
What Malcolm wanted was for Black people to remove themselves from the “yes masa, no masa” attitude with challenging state authority abusing them. Michael Eric Dyson in his book, The Myth & Meaning of Malcolm X argues Malcolm had five different stages of learning throughout his life however it did not change his resolve to see Blacks empowered.
As Jews we have learned that passive reluctance has led to the greatest tragedies that no other people except Blacks have faced. So I question why is there such opposition for Blacks to embrace the right for self-defence by not only the white community but elements of the Jewish community? If we look at the Sandra Bland case, she followed the law and when she saw she was unjustly being blighted by the same law that is supposed to protect all Americans; she resisted within her constitutional rights. Resistance to a wrongful authority should never lead to a person’s death. If it does, it shows that the authority is by any means necessary, the consequences of social contract theory should remove no longer. However, as usual the Jewish response is quiet, except for the few liberal & orthodox Jewish rabbis who have publicly shared their outcry for these recent events..
Previously when I mentioned this wide range of indifference to the community, responses claimed I did not know what I was talking about. Things like, I was very ignorant not to recognize all those rabbis protesting for #AllBlackLivesMatter. Ironically, these are the same people who in different conversations claim the same rabbis they’re so “proud” of are not even rabbis. The ultimate irony is when the Jewish community feels threatened by BDS, they call up their black allies and ignored Jews of Colour to write speeches and star in videos talking about Israel. Unfortunately when we, the Jews of Colour need our Jewish brethren that benefit from white privilege, they fail us consistently. So I say no more, no more to police brutality or quotes of peaceful protest. It is now time for resistance with honour like Malcolm preached, not passive, docile resistance hoping the white community will shake their heads in approval.
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