This is a crazy question I know. Who would ever think to question Martin Luther King Jr’s blackness and go as far to ask if Malcolm X was blacker than him?
Well, I’m asking you this question after reading ESPN columnist Jason Whitlock make this point in response to the latest scandal to hit the NFL.
This scandal involves a White player named Richie Incognito bullying a Black player named Jonathan Martin in the Miami Dolphins locker room. Bullying him to the point that he quit the team this week making national headlines.
The bullying is a side note, however. The media is making the story more about how Richie Incognito was considered an “honorary” Black player because he was tougher and somehow more “Black” than Jonathan Martin.
It points to our fundamental lack of knowledge of our own history in this country. We think the fake tough guy, the ex-con turned rhetoric spewer was more courageous than the educated pacifist who won our liberation standing in the streets, absorbing repeated ass-whippings, jail and a white assassin’s bullet. We fell for the okeydoke.
We think Malcolm X was blacker than Martin Luther King Jr.
I’m as guilty as anybody. I’ve read X’s autobiography a half-dozen times. I own Spike Lee’s movie about X and watch it a couple of times a year. I love Malcolm X. But I’m not an idiot. MLK liberated me. MLK blazed the proper path to respect, progress and achievement. Barack Obama stands on MLK’s shoulders. And so does Jonathan Martin.
Richie Incognito is an “honorary” bigot, standing on the shoulders of Gov. George Wallace. The fact that a group of young black men in the Dolphins’ locker room can’t see that speaks to the level of ignorance unleashed by Mass Incarceration, Hurricane Illegitimacy and commercial hip-hop.
Whitlock also goes on to make a few debatable points comparing MLK’s non-violent persona with educated Black men raised in two parent households to Malcolm X’s “by any means necessary” persona’s relation to the “Thug Life” culture.
This is a serious issue for me. I am the father of two Black boys who will likely face stereotypes like this in their future. I often think about how when I grew up it was by far more accepted to mimic Tupac’s thug life than to mimic the Cosby Show.
As a result, there were periods in my teen years that I attempted to follow Tupac’s example rather than Dr. Huxtable’s even though my Dad was there everyday leading my family like the latter.
In reality, Tupac was not Malcolm X and Dr. Huxtable was not MLK Jr and all of these types of comparisons create a false dichotomy that is more about class warfare than it is about criminality, violence, and race.
- There are plenty of politicians who are wolves in sheeps clothing and plenty of so called thugs who are sheeps dressed like wolves.
- We should all practice nonviolence when our life is not in danger, yet be willing and ready to defend ourselves in the face of aggression.
- Thuggish and criminal behavior is always wrong, but dressing like a thug is perfectly fine if that’s what you choose to do.
- We always judge a book by it’s cover, even though we are told over and over that we shouldn’t.
- I can write about race and sports today, and tomorrow write about startups, business, and technology
These are all facts every person in America must deal with.
With that said, Jason Whitlock’s conclusions in this Miami Dolphins bullying case are dead wrong. His baseless assertion that most people think Malcolm X is “blacker” than Martin Luther King Jr. and relating this to how Jonathan Martin was treated in the locker room is irresponsible at best for someone with his influence and reach.
No, Malcolm X was not “blacker” than Martin Luther King Jr. and Martin Luther King’s nonviolent movement would not have worked without the aggression promoted by Malcolm X. Contrary to Mr. Whitlock, this has nothing to do with the NFL, the Miami Dolphins, and the plight of Jonathan Martin.