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A Flawed Masterpiece:
Spike Lee’s Malcolm X

Theatrical poster for Spike Lee's Malcolm X1,558 words

Malcolm X (1992)
Spike Lee, Denzel Washington, Angela Bassett

In the early 1990s, the pre-release hype and merchandising regarding Spike Lee’s Malcolm X movie was a sight to behold. Every black teen in my Midwestern home city (a major portion of which had been destroyed by the so-called Great Migration of blacks from the Deep South) had a Malcolm X hat. This hat was normally all of one color with a prominent “X” on the crown. In the winter of 1991/92, blacks also wore a parka-style coat with a massive “X” across the back. The ubiquitous of this fad was such that I recall the following joke:

“Yo’ mamma so fat when she wears one of those Malcolm X jackets, helicopters be tryin’ land on her.”

The hype surrounding this movie was enormous. I recall reading all sorts of lightweight but still overanalyzed intellectual takes on quotes by Malcolm X in US News & World Report at the time – looking back on it, the mainstream intellectual narrative was really both constrained and shallow prior to the internet. The movie didn’t live up to the hype, though. I recall two blacks in one of my easy-peasy elective classes in high school saw the movie and didn’t know what to make of it. After the release of the film, the Malcolm X hats, jackets, and t-shirts vanished. Recently, I re-watched the film and realized that the movie very much rises to the level of a flawed masterpiece, and the ideas presented therein deserve discussion from a white advocate’s perspective.

The Plot

The movie is a glamorized and fictionalized[1] telling of the life of Malcolm X (1925–1965), who was born Malcolm Little. He changed his name to X because that letter expressed his unknown African name, and Little was a “slave name.” We discover that Malcolm grew up in a family with a Marcus Garvey “Back-to-Africa” supporting father and a “High Yellow” mother; Malcolm X’s mother, was the product of a white on black rape. Malcolm’s father must deal with the Klan and the Black Legion (a Klan-like organization with a considerable following in Michigan in the 1930s). Malcolm’s father is eventually killed by these racists, but his death is ruled a suicide so his family is not able to get the life insurance payout. This causes his mother to go mad and be put in an asylum. The family is broken up and the children put into Foster Care. Malcolm becomes a Zoot Suit[2] wearing “playa” and he travels around the areas that had large black populations that had not yet been destroyed in the 1940s, including Houston, Detroit, Boston, and Harlem.

Malcolm makes a decent living as a thief and sleeps with attractive blonde white women. He also runs numbers for a gambling bookie. Eventually, he is caught and sentenced to a long stretch in prison. Once in jail, Malcolm meets Baines, an incarcerated Nation of Islam preacher. Baines gets Malcolm clean and sober and teaches him about the philosophy of the Nation of Islam. This is when Malcolm Little becomes Malcolm X, and he becomes a dedicated follower of the Nation of Islam and its leader the Honorable Elijah Muhammad.

In America, black religious movements often have a warlord culture, rather than a monarchical culture with an orderly transfer of power. Sons often cannot duplicate the charisma of their fathers, or become apostates,[3] so new leaders emerge. These movements are also often sexually charged environments, with religious leaders having free access to multiple women.

Eventually, Malcolm X broke with the Honorable Elijah Muhammad over the latter’s sexual indiscretions and jealousy among other Nation of Islam ministers. Malcolm X then made the Haj to Mecca and Medina, became a Sunni Muslim, started a new Mosque along Black Nationalist lines (although it is heavily implied in the film he is moving towards universalism and integration), and was killed by Nation of Islam gunmen.

The film’s major flaw is its length. For example, the poignant lead up to Malcolm X’s assassination occurs to the score of Sam Cooke’s 1964 classic song “A Change is Gonna Come” –not a motif from that song, but to every note. Nonetheless, Spike Lee captures the color, evolving fashions, and rhythm of the black community in the decades after the “Great Migration.” Denzel Washington also ably captures the brilliant oratory and dynamism of Malcolm X.

The Film’s (Out-of-Focus) Ideas

Looking back on it, my black schoolmates didn’t know what to make of the movie because the ideas presented are not wrong, but out-of-focus.

In the early 20th century, white advocates passionately supported the Back-to-Africa movement. White supporters for this idea included Madison Grant and Ernest S. Cox. It was Jewish activists that ferociously worked against Garvey.[4] It is obvious that white advocates, even including those involved in illegal groups like the Black Legion, would logically support a Back-to-Africa social movement.

Additionally, the scenes of white “Johns” seeking black female prostitutes, as well as the rape backstory of Malcolm X’s mom, are likewise out-of-focus. White men don’t have much interest in black women. White-on-black rape is rare, and black female prostitutes are seldom patronized by whites. This was as well known in 1992 as it is now.

The message of the Nation of Islam and Malcolm X is also out of focus. The term “white devils” is used enough in the movie to be salacious and controversial, but in my own readings of the Nation of Islam’s literature, I’ve found that their ideas are highly nuanced. They “spew” less hatred for whites than the mainstream media. Instead, they often focus on the Jewish Question. Indeed Malcolm X himself focused a great deal on the JQ in his ministry, but Alex Haley downplayed this in his Autobiography of Malcolm X, and the film only gives a cursory statement on the subject. There’s no serious study of why Malcolm X, who genuinely supported the uplift of his people, would be critical of Jews for no apparent reason.

In short, the Nation of Islam is a genuine social movement that seeks to elevate its people. More an offshoot of Low Church Protestantism than Islam proper, it arose when blacks moved from the simple Southern countryside to complex, problem-filled, urban environments with many temptations. The Nation of Islam is thus a legitimate response to such circumstances. The NOI also preaches racial separation. Thus they should support a North American White Ethnostate, as long as they get their own nation as well.

Malcolm X’s career as a dead martyr is clearly stage-managed by integrationists. In the film, the character Malcolm X goes from talking about racial separation, crackers, and white devils to a universalist globalism after he goes on a pilgrimage to Mecca and sees white Muslims. The shooting of Malcolm X can thus be portrayed symbolically in the film as angry black separatists killing a budding integrationist rather than the personal feud and religious schism that it was.

The real Malcolm X did not change from a nationalist to an integrationist after converting to Sunni Islam, because he put race and politics before religion. He focused on Black Nationalism first:

Islam is my religion, but I believe my religion is my personal business. It governs my personal life, my personal morals. And my religious philosophy is personal between me and the God in whom I believe; just as the religious philosophy of these others is between them and the God in whom they believe. And this is best this way. Were we to come out here discussing religion, we’d have too many differences from the outstart and we could never get together. So today, though Islam is my religious philosophy, my political, economic, and social philosophy is Black Nationalism. You and I — as I say, if we bring up religion we’ll have differences; we’ll have arguments; and we’ll never be able to get together. But if we keep our religion at home, keep our religion in the closet, keep our religion between ourselves and our God, but when we come out here, we have a fight that’s common to all of us against an enemy who is common to all of us.[5]

The real Malcolm X, not the character, is on to something here. A nation based on blood and race can tolerate a wide range of differing philosophical and religious views as long as those views are subordinated for the good of the race.

Notes

[1] It is likely that much of what was written about Malcolm X is not entirely true. The Autobiography of Malcolm X was coauthored with Alex Haley, who had a less than stellar reputation for truth. For more info: https://www.amren.com/features/2012/10/malcolm-x-a-model-for-white-advocates/

[2] The Zoot Suit itself was a conscious act of racial rebellion. The suit deliberately used more fabric than was necessary at a time when fabric was rationed to provide uniforms for the war effort. It was worn by blacks and Mexicans in Southern California. Zoot Suit wearers gained a reputation for criminality, and in Los Angles, white soldiers and sailors spontaneously rioted against Zoot Suiters. Gangs of white G.I.s would beat up a Zoot Suiter, strip off his suit, and burn it in the street.

[3] See Derek Black and Frank Schaeffer for two examples of sons going their own way.

[4] The trial of Marcus Garvey featured Jewish prosecutors, Jewish defense lawyers, and a Jewish Judge. Garvey didn’t have a chance.

[5] https://www.infosec.aueb.gr/Besides%20Security/TALKS/TALKS-10-X%20(The%20Ballot%20or%20the%20Bullet).pdf

9 Comments

  1. Achilles Wannabe
    Posted January 19, 2020 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

    “The real Malcolm X, not the character, is on to something here. A nation based on blood and race can tolerate a wide range of differing philosophical and religious views as long as those views are subordinated for the good of the race.”

    That is something I would like to see more white nationalists acknowledge. I would like to see
    acceptance of a certain kind of right leaning homosexual or feminist As it is I think SOME of these people are just pushed to the left. Of course I am not talking about gay marriage types or affirmative action opportunist women but rather just people who do not want to live under
    a reactionary heterosexual and patriarchal regime.

    • Ambrose Kane
      Posted January 21, 2020 at 11:08 am | Permalink

      “Of course I am not talking about gay marriage types or affirmative action opportunist women but rather just people who do not want to live under a reactionary heterosexual and patriarchal regime.” – Wherever there is a sane society, there will be serious opposition to homosexuality because the practice runs counter to the created order of things, and because people know that it’s not good for the family structure upon which society is built.

      Homosexuality is morally deviant, and if those who oppose it are accused of being “reactionary,” it’s only because they see it being shoved down their collective throats. Homosexuals are not content with society having a ‘live and let live’ attitude when it comes to their sexual proclivities. No, it must now be ‘affirmed’ and even ‘celebrated,’ and one’s refusal to do so makes them a ‘hater’ and a ‘homophobe.’ Homosexuals and Jews work together to further erode the moral foundation of any and all western nations.

      • Achilles Wannabe
        Posted January 21, 2020 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

        If homosexualityis is against ” the created order of things” . why is there homosexuality? Is it all a left wing conspiracy? Homosexuality is as old as time itself. I wonder if there aren’t plenty of homosexuals who just want to practice their sexuality in peace. I know there were in the 70’s because I knew some. Maybe this type of homoseuxual is still there. Maybe Leftist ideological homosexuality or militant homoseuality is a creation of the tribe – one more way to divide the white goyim. Why don’t we try welcoming homosexuals in on the grounds of their white identity and see what happens? Today it is hard enough to get people to think white, much less straight. and patriarchal. Also I think women are more empathetic toward homosexuality than men and distrust the dissident right in part because of its heterosexual obsessiveness. We need numbers. Why don’t we lighten up a bit?

        • Ambrose Kane
          Posted January 22, 2020 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

          “If homosexuality is against ” the created order of things” why is there homosexuality?” – There are all sorts of deviancies and destructive conduct that run counter to the created or moral order, and homosexuality is one of them. This doesn’t mean homosexuals should be arrested or harmed per se, but a sane society should recognize the perversion for what it is. Anti-white self-hatred runs counter to our natural propensity for self-preservation, and yet there are millions of white people who long for the end of their ‘white privilege.’ Humans engage in all sorts of practices that are wrong and which are self-evidently bad for them. Nature itself tells you that homosexuality is unnatural. The parts don’t match and one can procreate by means of it. This should be an obvious hint.

          “Homosexuality is as old as time itself. I wonder if there aren’t plenty of homosexuals who just want to practice their sexuality in peace” – Yes, it’s very old, but so are a lot of wicked and obscene practices. Its duration is no proof that it’s valid, normal or that society should tolerate it.

          Yes, there are homosexuals who just want to be left alone and in peace. I don’t have a problem with them. Unfortunately, a sizable number of gays feel compelled to shove their sexual proclivities down society’s throats. It’s now no longer good enough to ‘tolerate’ them, we must now ‘celebrate’ their sexual deviancy and if you fail to do so, you’re a ‘hater’ and a ‘homophobe’! This is the opinion of not just a few gays, but is the majority viewpoint (yes, I recognize that there exceptions to all of this).

          “Maybe Leftist ideological homosexuality or militant homoseuality is a creation of the tribe – one more way to divide the white goyim” – There’s no “maybe” about the Tribe’s creation and promotion of militant homosexuality. They have definitely stirred the pot. Yet, at the same time, millions of homosexuals with no prodding of the Jews are quite militant in forcing their gay agenda on the rest of society and forcing us all to conform to it. The Jews could do nothing to subvert our nation unless large numbers of people went along with it which is what most gays do.

          The white goyim are already divided, and that much more than the mere presence of homosexuals among the white population. There are multiplicity of reasons for this as you are well aware. I am not blaming this entirely on homosexuals. However, militant and in-your-face homosexuals have contributed greatly to the demise of this once great nation, and any future white ethnostate ought to at least be aware of the divisive nature of these very confused people – or else we will find ourselves fighting many of the same battles all over again.

          “Why don’t we try welcoming homosexuals in on the grounds of their white identity and see what happens?” – No, why don’t we instead make it clear that as a society (or future white ethnostate) we will allow ones sexual practices to remain private in one’s own room, but we will NEVER allow homosexuals to ever again morally corrupt the nation nor force us to ‘celebrate’ their deviancy as in America. A sane society rejects homosexuality propaganda because it knows that if it ignores it, it will inevitably trickle down into the moral health and culture of the nation. Moreover, it attacks the very foundation of society itself – the family!

          “Also I think women are more empathetic toward homosexuality than men and distrust the dissident right in part because of its heterosexual obsessiveness. We need numbers. Why don’t we lighten up a bit?” – Women are by nature more empathetic, and generally more gullible than men. So, this is hardly an argument supporting your position, especially when one considers the insane things and political causes that women fall for. The right of women to vote has proven to be disastrous for this once great nation.

          I’m sorry but people aren’t rejecting the dissident right in large measure because so many of us reject homosexuality – as if they would somehow accept it if we all weren’t such darn homophobes! It’s our white advocacy and its racial implications that most alarms them.

          Yes, of course, we need numbers and we don’t want to unnecessarily turn our people away. Yet we must be honest about the problems our society is plagued with, and why we should be very careful about what sort of things we should allow in any future white ethnostate.

          “Why don’t we lighten up a bit?” – Better yet, why don’t we speak the WHOLE truth and not make the same nation-destroying mistakes that America has made?

          Personal Note: I am quite familiar with homosexuals and their ways having been raised in Hollywood (CA) because my father had a long-time business in the movie industry. I am not a homosexual and never have been one. However, I have personally witnessed how incredibly confused and utterly deviant these people are. They are indeed often very creative and artistic, and I have met several of them who are decent people and less flamboyant than most of the ones I have encountered. But almost all of them have a uniquely dark side to their lives, a deeply perverted one, and the greater majority seem to have no moral compass. They may hide it well, but the truth about what routinely occurs sexually among homosexuals would alarm most persons (e.g. ‘gift givers,’ ‘bug chasers,’ etc.).

          This is not to say that heterosexuals are as pure as the driven snow because they are not. But the level of perversion and strange sexual practices among gays takes things to entirely new levels.

          • Achilles Wannabe
            Posted January 23, 2020 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

            “No, why don’t we instead make it clear that as a society (or future white ethnostate) we will allow ones sexual practices to remain private in one’s own room, but we will NEVER allow homosexuals to ever again morally corrupt the nation nor force us to ‘celebrate’ their deviancy as in America. ”

            Actually, I am fine with that

  2. Dr. Krieger
    Posted January 16, 2020 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    I particularly like Spike Lee’s floating main character close up shot in this movie.
    Malcolm is floating down the street (During the Sam Cooke song???) and the old lady at the end says something like, “I’ll pray to Jesus for you.” He just imperceptibly deflates for a moment.
    I also like this movie. I think I may have seen it in a theatre. I’m going to watch again and reevaluate it.
    Thanks.

  3. James J Omeara
    Posted January 15, 2020 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    Glad to see this review, as MX is one of my favorite films, though mainly for the cinematography and recreation of the 50-60s.

    I’ve usually thought about the NOI and similar groups, like the Moorish Orthodox, along the lines of Sun Ra’s notion that Christianity is a slave religion, demonizing the Egyptians, who are the true “we wuz kangz” of Africa. The movie tries to present Malcolm reversing that, as he accepts “real” Islam and becomes a Abrahamster universalist.

    However, that last quote shows how Protestant his thinking still was; no “real” Moslem would accept the idea that Islam is some private matter btw him and Allah, and the organization of society is up for discussion; indeed, Islam is arguably really a political doctrine with some religious trappings.

  4. Ambrose Kane
    Posted January 15, 2020 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    One of the disturbing parts of the film shows a young and pretty white college student approach Malcolm-X and inquire what she can do for his cause. His response was “Nothing.” I had read somewhere that he later regretted saying this to the young woman because he felt she could have been used to influence and recruit other whites.

    At the time when the movie showed, I wasn’t yet racially-conscious. However, it bothered me that this gullible white woman would so lower and devalue herself, including those of her own race, to help this black radical who openly detested white people.

    That scene and so many other real-life examples has opened my eyes to how gullible so-called ‘educated’ white women are. Much of it is due to white men who have abdicated their leading role in marriage and the family. While I grant that women are generally weak and not as critically-minded as men (which is one of several reasons why they should not be allowed to vote), the problems of miscegenation among our white women would not be as prevalent had our white men not abandoned their role as leaders in the home and society.

    • Spencer J. Quinn
      Posted January 16, 2020 at 6:03 am | Permalink

      Hi Ambrose,

      That scene stuck out for me as well. Sadly, I had a similarly obsequious attitude in college, and that could have been me. I think the white girl deserved the contempt that MX gave her, and it also shows MX’s sense of honesty. He saw her as a member of an enemy demographic, despite her good intentions, and treated her as such. This seems to me like more honorable behavior than being falsely nice to her and attempting to exploit her as a ‘useful idiot.’

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