Malcolm X, Obama, Powell, Rice and ‘House Negroes’

By A. Peter Bailey
Published 11/26/2008

The uproar caused by the statements attributed to Al-Qaeda’s deputy
leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, in which he labeled President-elect Barack
Obama and former and current secretaries of states Colin Powell and
Condoleezza Rice, “house Negroes” is fascinating to those of us who
consider ourselves Malcolmites.

Ayman al-Zawahiri was correct in saying that Brother Malcolm X used that
name to describe “Negroes” whom he considered to be basically allies of
white power. While working with him as editor of the Organization of
Afro-American Unity’s (OAAU) newsletter, I heard him, scornfully, use
the term.

If Brother Malcolm was still with us today, I believe he would use it to
describe those “Negroes” who are constantly called upon by white
television and radio talk show hosts, journalists and academicians who
are looking for a “house Negro” to attack black folks whom they consider
insufficiently grateful for “all the good whites have done for them.”

Such people are willing weapons of mass mis-information ready to be used
by white power whenever called upon. Notable examples of such “house
Negroes” are Ward Connerly, Jesse Lee Peterson, Clarence Thomas and
their cohorts in the political, journalistic and academic arenas.

Though Brother Malcolm, based on his speeches and writings, would
strenuously disagree with many of the positions of Obama, Powell and
Rice on issues of importance to the empowerment of black folks, I don’t
believe he would put them in the same category as Connerly, Peterson and

One doesn’t often see white power propagandists such as Sean Hannity,
for instance, calling on them when they want to launch an attack on a
black person whom they want to put in his or her place.

Some of Brother Malcolm’s beliefs on what black people must do if we are
to ever achieve real power in this group-oriented society can be
ascertained in the following statements from the goals and objectives of
the OAAU and one of his speeches:

“The organization of Afro-American Unity will organize the Afro-American
community block by block to make the community aware of its power and
potential; we will start immediately a voter-registration drive to make
every unregistered voter in the Afro-American community an independent
voter; we propose to support and/or organize political clubs, to run
independent candidates for office, and to support any Afro-American
already in office who answers to and is responsible to the Afro-American

“And in this manner, the organizations will increase in number and in
quantity and in quality, and by August, it is then our intention to have
a black nationalist convention which will consist of delegates from all
over the country who are interested in the political, economic and
social philosophy of black nationalism. After these delegates convene,
we will listen to everyone. We want to hear new ideas and new solutions
and new answers….

“We must establish all over the country schools of our own to train our
children to become scientists and mathematicians. We must realize the
need for adult education and for job retraining programs that will
emphasize a changing society in which automation plays the key role. We
intend to use the tools of education to help raise our people to an
unprecedented level of excellence and self-respect through their own

“The political philosophy of black nationalism means the black man
should control the politics and the politicians in his own community; no
more. The black man in the black community has to be re-educated into
the science of politics so he will know what politics is supposed to
bring in him in return. Don’t be throwing out any ballots. A ballot is
like a bullet. You don’t throw your ballots until you see a target, and
if that target is not within your reach, keep your ballot in your

This doesn’t sound like a Democrat or a Republican to me.


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