Malcolm X, Black Power and the Muslim World: A Personal Reflection.
CRMCS Research Seminar
Dr. Amir Saeed (University of Sunderland)
Monday 8th March, 6pm – David Puttnam Media Centre 233
Just as the Civil Rights and Black consciousness movements have inspired human rights activists around the world Malcolm X has been a motivating figure for such people (Marqusee, 1999). Malcolm X’s appeal and recognition has transcended the boundaries of ‘race’ and national borders. Much of this appeal is due to Malcolm X’s image in popular culture that depicts a strong-minded, non-compromising Muslim (Dyson, 1995).
The current moral panic created post 9/11 about terrorism has attempted to fuse prejudices about asylum seekers, Muslims and migrants to create an ‘enemy within’ the West. ‘Traditional’ discourses of ‘swamping,’ ‘illegal hordes,’ and ‘ immigrant-crime’ have now been accompanied by the (irrational?) fear of terrorism (Saeed, 2004).
Thus given the anti-Muslim rhetoric espoused by leading social commentators following 9/11, Malcolm X’s appeal and message of social justice seems more relevant than ever. Recent anti-war demonstrations in the UK saw Malcolm X’s image employed by young British-Muslims demonstrating what they perceived as social injustice being committed to Muslims around the world in the name of fighting terrorism primarily by the USA (Saeed, 2004).
This article examines why Malcolm X has been such a key figure and role model for many non-white communities and especially the Muslim and South -Asian Diaspora in the UK (Saeed, 2003) In order to do this the article highlights historical developments in Malcolm X’s political career that helped make him a symbol of anti-racism and the personification of an assertive black consciousness (Van De Burgh,1992).
These historical developments are further linked to the issue of identity politics and the globalisation of American popular culture. Thus terms like ‘black’ and ‘ Muslim’ are explored in relation to Malcolm X and his appeal in particular to British-Asian Muslim communities. Furthermore his appeal will be conceptualised within a subjective framework that explores the impact of Civil-Rights leaders to non-white people globally.