Book Review: “The political Legacy of Malcolm X” / Notes From the Inside

Tiny - Posted on 04 February 2016

Jose H. Villarreal, Plantation Prison Correspondent

Editor's Note: Editors Note: Jose Villarreal is one of several power-FUL PNNPlantation prison correspondents. As currently and formerly incarcerated poor and indigenous peoples in struggle and resistance with all plantation systems in Amerikkka, POOR Magazine stands in solidarity with all folks on the other side of the razor wire plantation. 

“The political Legacy of Malcolm X” by Oba T’ Shaka, Third World Press, $11.95

This book attempts to give another analysis of Malcolm’s theory. Here we read of Malcolm X the revolutionary. Many other books focus on his upbringing or his religious nature, but this book teaches us of his political side.

As a prisoner, I have always drawn strength from Malcolm X, who, like myself, also developed consciously in U.S. prisons. Like so many, I also used these pintas to study and learn from my own history and this drew me to Chican@ revolt. It was the extreme repression of California’s control units which enabled my consciousness to rise up in resistance. Malcolm X’s story is one being reborn many times over in dungeons throughout the U.S.

On page 29 we read of Malcolm’s psychological transformations. Like so many today, Malcolm X went from Malcolm to Lumpen street hustler to Malcolm X the revolutionary. This transformation was brought out by learning from history and what his role was under Amerikkka. He not only fully grasped that role which Amerikkka played in keeping the oppressed thoroughly disoriented, but he laid it out for others to also learn from. On page 32-33, he is quoted as stating…” one of the best ways to safeguard yourself from being deceived is always to from the habit of looking at things for yourself, thinking for yourself, before you try and come to any judgement. Never base your impression of someone on what someone else has said or upon what someone else has written. Never base your judgement on things like that. Especially in this kind of country and in this kind of society which has mastered the art of very deceitfully painting people whom they don’t like in an image that they know you won’t like. So we end up hating our friends and loving our enemies” (1).

This is what I enjoyed about this book, rather than focus on the trivial aspects of Malcolm X’s life, the author concentrates Malcolm’s political contributions for all of those struggling against the oppressor nation. In the above passage, Malcolm highlights how deceitful and crafty our oppressor is and how they have many out of touch with reality and manipulated to the point that some folks love the enemy and hate the people. This is what I mean by Malcolm having a deep understanding of Amerikkka and its foulness.

Many today, especially amongst the Black bourgeoisie, attempt to kidnap Malcolm’s legacy and paint him erroneously, particularly when it comes to Black nationalism. The author reminds us of what Malcolm X thought of Black nationalism where on page 36, Malcolm is quoted as saying it is t” the type of ingredient necessary to fuse or ignite the entire Black community”. This is a truth which applies to all oppressed peoples. Indeed even within Aztlan Chican@ nationalism will be what ignites the entire Chican@ nation. In today’s social reality in U.S. borders revolutionary nationalism of the oppressed is the correct method to propel us forward under today’s conditions.

Another thing that I enjoyed about this book was how the author put revolutionary nationalism in its proper context. Many have said towards the end that Malcolm had moved away from nationalism and into internationalism. But as the author states on page 107 “Malcolm was not changing from Nationalism to internationalism, he was simply linking up African nationalism in America with African nationalism in Africa”.

I believe that Malcolm did begin to see that the Black struggle in the U.S. was linked to that of Africa. As a Chicano I also see that the Chican@ struggle is linked to the struggle in Mexico. Our efforts ultimately are aimed at capitalism-imperialism which works to sabotage our liberation at every turn. For Chican@s revolutionary nationalism is our path forward to the day when Chican@s can decide whether we build a Chican@ nation or remerge to a future liberated Socialist Mexico.

White Marxists nationally and internationally, could not tolerate the existence of a base outside of their control”. Here the author speaks of the fact that Trotskyites work hard to corral non-white revolutionary organizations under their white leader-ship. Those non-whites who attempt to organize oppressed nations under their own leadership are branded as “bourgeoisie” by the Trots. It is a way, as the author explains, to push white nationalism under the guise of Marxism.

A good chunk of the book is focused on what the author calls Malcolm’s “African strategy” where we read how Malcolm attempted to re-orient Black people’s thought back to Africa. It was a re-education process which sought to ultimately get New Afrikans to want to someday re-locate back to Afrika. This is up for debate today.  I think many New Afrikans see the land in the Black Belt as the national territory of New Afrikans, just as Black Haitians would not want to go back to Afrika, but stay in a Black controlled Haiti. Just as many Chican@’s would not want to be under the Government of Mexico. Rather, some would want to build a distinct Chican@ Nation. These are pressing issues even today for the internal semi- colonies. These are questions people need to begin to think about and build their collectives around.

There was some error in this book. For one, the author speaks of “radical” religious groups being a step forward for Black people. He goes on to say that those who are against religion surrounding the Black liberation struggle are pretty much Western influenced. This is a metaphysical approach no matter which nation we are speaking of. A nation will liberate itself on it’s own accord not some supernatural force.

The author also lists a slew of things which he states help in the “disintegration of the Black family” and one of these things is homosexuality. Here the author defends those Westernized (white) patriarchal views which he spent a whole book telling us he’s against, by blaming homosexuality on a broken black family. He adds to gender oppression and as a result strengthens the white ruling class he claims to be against.

Overall this was an interesting book which attempts to give another view of Malcolm’s political thought.


(1)    Quoted from Malcolm X speaks, London: Secker and Warburg, 1966, p.91.


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