The Real Malcolm X?

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Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention
By Manning Marable
Viking, $30, 594 pp.

Malcolm: The Life of a Man Who Changed Black America
By Bruce Perry
Station Hill, $18.95, 542 pp.

When Navy SEAL Team 6 recently disposed of Osama bin Laden, the Nation of Islam’s Louis Farrakhan called Barack Obama an “assassin.” But according to a new biography of Farrakhan’s mentor, Malcolm X, that just may be the pot calling the kettle … well, you know.

Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention, one of the summer’s bestselling books, surprisingly is less of a hagiography than one might expect from the recently deceased Manning Marable — a veteran leftie whose website on Malcolm X promoted the idea that the authorities were complicit in his assassination.

Every account of the life of the black militant who became known as Malcolm X follows the same basic outline — a dirt-poor upbringing with parents dedicated to Marcus Garvey’s black separatist movement; a youthful life of foster homes, crime, drugs and general ne’er-do-well activities; a conversion in prison to the Black Muslim movement led by Elijah Muhammad; his rise to being the sect’s most prominent spokesman; a broadening of his message to a more inclusive and orthodox form of Islam after a trip to Africa; and his alienation from and eventual assassination by the NOI.

While Marable’s magnum opus makes a stab at being a “warts and all” objective biography, it doesn’t include all the warts. Still, however, it does examine many of its subject’s flaws.

Marable simply takes too much of the slain Black Muslim leader’s “reinventions” at face value, even though the evidence strongly suggests that the demagogue once known as Malcolm Little was actually reinventing his history.

“Even those who rejected his politics recognized his sincerity,” Marable states. Aside from the obvious point that this is too broad a statement and gives the writer credit for a certain omniscience, it’s also rather meaningless. Does this mean that people who viewed Malcolm X as a hateful, racist demagogue — who meant every word when he hailed a plane crash because it was filled with white people and said JFK’s assassination was white America’s “chickens coming home to roost” — would call him “sincere”?

But this contention typifies Marable’s approach of taking Malcolm X at face value. This would be more forgivable had not most of the contradictions of Malcolm’s life been authoritatively covered in Bruce Perry’s acclaimed 1991 biography, Malcolm: The Life of a Man Who Changed Black America.

Perhaps the stark difference between the books can best be illustrated by how the authors treat the supposed firebombing of Malcolm X’s house just a few days before his assassination.

Marable takes Malcolm at his word that he and his family were sleeping when Molotov cocktails were thrown at the house in the middle of the night. The author creates a façade of objectivity by mentioning all the possibilities of who set the fire: enraged white racists (as Malcolm claimed), the NOI as many suspected, or Malcolm X himself, as the police and fire investigators mostly believed. Marable firmly points his finger at the NOI and ridicules those who thought Malcolm X staged the firebombing for effect simply “because an exploded bottle of gasoline was found in the baby’s room.”

But what Marable fails to mention is that the fire inspectors claimed said the bottle was standing upright on the baby’s dresser, without even a wick in it.

Perry, meanwhile, asks a question that apparently did not trouble Marable: “Could a gasoline filled bottle land unbroken and upright after penetrating a window, a storm window and drawn venetian blinds?”

More importantly, Perry also connects this incident to another in Malcolm’s early life. His father, Earl Little, once claimed the house he was about to be evicted from was burned down by the racists who were enforcing a color code in the property deed.

Like his father, Malcolm had also just lost a court fight to stay in the house, which was owned by the Nation of Islam. Both the parallel of the other house fire in his subject’s life and the question of why the NOI would burn down a house it was about to regain possession of (something that also troubled inspectors in Earl Little’s case) seem to have escaped Marable.

Although each book has its strengths and weaknesses, the value of Perry’s book is it spends nearly three times as much time as Marable on Little’s life before he became Malcolm X. This enables Perry — and the reader — to examine patterns in Malcolm’s life that show while the facade may have changed, the man may not have, or at least not as much as his promoters would have us believe.

While he makes some attempts to pierce the “masks” Little constructed for himself on his way to becoming Malcolm X — and the past he reconstructed for himself along the way — Marable takes a more postmodern approach to the character, admiring how the autobiographical narrative appealed to “black folk culture”— presumably, whether or not it was true.

According to Marable, the Malcolm X character was effective as “the embodiment of the two central figures of African-American folk culture, simultaneously the hustler/trickster and the preacher/minister.”

In the same passage, Marable writes that Malcolm exaggerated his criminal past as “Detroit Red” in order to present “an allegory documenting the destructive consequences of racism within the U.S. criminal justice and penal system. Self invention was an effective way for him to reach the most marginalized sectors of the black community, giving justification to their hopes.”

The problem with that lofty justification is that Malcolm Little exaggerated his criminal past while he was still openly a huckster in order to gain street cred in the lawless world he inhabited.

As Perry illustrates time and time again, Malcolm X’s stories about his past became whatever he needed them to be in order to further his present.

In his introduction to Malcolm, Perry states:

“One cannot adequately understand the adult, political Malcolm without thoroughly understanding the youthful Malcolm and the legacy that was bequeathed to him by the people who raised him. … Despite his efforts to attribute his unhappiness and his youthful delinquency solely to white ‘society,’ they originated largely in his conflict-ridden home.”

And that is the key difference between the two books.  Marable gives credence to any charge of racism or racist actions against Malcolm or his family because it fits his world view.  Perry holds each claim up to scrutiny and, more often than not, finds it wanting.

Thus, in the case of Earl Little’s death in Lansing, Michigan, Marable is willing to at least grant plausibility to the notion that Malcolm’s abusive and unfaithful father was killed by the Black Legion, an Ohio-based KKK-like group, because Malcolm and a few people in “oral histories” (a convenient term for rumors one wants to grant credibility) say it was so.

Marable thinks it’s a major counterpoint to the police theory of accidental death(and pretentiously calls it “forensic reconstruction” of the coroner’s narrative) merely to say that because Earl Little told the wife he was constantly cheating on that he was going one place and ended up dead in another, it raises sinister suspicions about the official story.

Perry thoroughly debunks these notions, showing it is far more likely that Earl Little was drunk and fell under the wheels of the streetcar he was trying to board. He also makes a strong case that the so-called Black Legion’s exploits in Michigan were largely, if not totally, mythical.

Unfortunately, the truth doesn’t always make for a compelling story of a lifetime of oppression and persecution by the white man, which is precisely the difference in the approach of the two books. Perry shows that Malcolm was his own worst enemy in both his public and private lives, while Marable is willing to present many of his subject’s contradictions but is heavily invested in the persecution narrative of American history, thus willing to grant credibility to some fairly unpersuasive stories.

Even when relating less-than-stellar moments in Malcolm’s life, Marable tends to shy away from details that might damage the iconic image. For instance, both authors tell the story about how Malcolm was part of a penny-ante burglary gang, and he was arrested because he arranged to have a stolen watch repaired in a shop where he had peddled stolen goods.

Only Perry, however, reports the telling detail that would have featured Malcolm in a Jay Leno “Stupid Criminals” segment: The thief filled out the redemption ticket for the watch under his own name.

This, however, does not mean that Marable’s book is without substantial merits. Marable was granted extraordinary access to Nation of Islam archives and even a lengthy interview with Farrakhan himself —and the NOI is decidedly not rewarded for its generosity.  Readers, however, are.

Farrakhan was not on Perry’s radar, but Calypso Louis Walcott, aka Louis X and Louis Farrakhan, played a major role in the NOI as an up-and-coming leader under Malcolm X, and he is a critical part of Marable’s narrative — particularly that of Malcolm’s assassination.

Still, the notion that Farrakhan was at least culpable of guilt by encouragement is hardly news. Over the years, depending on his mood, he has both bragged about and repented for that fact in several public statements.

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  • Fred Dawes

    If Malcolm X was white he would be called Nazi. And Farrakhan wants one thing a white free America and a mass murder of all jews.

    • Dennis X

      wrong, I guess you didn't bother to actually read the book. Brother Malcolm went to Mecca and embraced people of ALL colors , incliuding whites. This was against the teaching of the Nation.

    • Idiot Savant

      Wow, you are a genius. How many hours of deep contemplation did it take you to reach that conclusion?

      If he had been white, he would have never become a Malcolm X. If he had been white, he would have had a much easier life. He'd probably have gone to college instead of jail, would've never had to deal with racial discrimination, etc..

  • judy

    I am constipated. Get me some Malcolm X Lax

  • Amused

    Farrakhan was responsible for Malcom X's murder ,[ ordered by Elijah Mohamed ] and also believes the Black Race came from the moon . Oddly enough , the originator of the Nation of Islam …..was a white man .
    Go figure .

    • sharpsrifle

      An interesting point to add to that would be that Wallace Fard Muhammad founded NOI as an offshoot of a black Shriners lodge. They're no more muslim than a troop of Campfire Girls…just more deadly and hate-filled.

    • davidhorowitz

      W.D. Fard was hardly 'a white man.' I don't know where you got that from. Most likely of Syrian origin, but certainly not your ordinary cracker.

      • Amused

        The origins of Wallace Fard Muhammad, founder of the first Nation of Islam (NOI) mosque in the United States, are somewhat unclear. He was known by at least five other names: Wali Farad, Farrad Mohammed, F. Mohammed Ali, Wallace Dodd Fard, and Wallace Dodd Ford. The year of his birth is disputed (1877, 1891), as is his birthplace (Oregon, New Zealand, New York, Mecca, California, West Indies) and his ethnicity (British, Polynesian, Arab, African-American). The FBI identified him by his fingerprints as Wallie D. Ford, an ex-convict from Portland, Oregon. His common-law wife claimed that he was born in New Zealand to Polynesian and English parents. NOI contends that Wallace Fard Muhammad (WFM) was Allah himself, incarnated as the Savior of the Black Race, and thus celebrates February 26th, WFM's putative birthday, as “Savior’s Day.”

        That's the book on Fard . Take your pick , he also wasn't your average African American

  • DogWithoutSlippers

    He was a "community organizer" without a college degree!

  • BLJ

    The NOI took him out because they viewed him as a rival. Farrakhan wanted to be the next leader after that hypocrite Elijah Mohammed died. Another example of black on black crime.

  • Jim Swarthowe

    I just wonder if I started my own group called the WHITE PANTHERS, and I (being white) stood outside a mostly black gathering and through the use of a blowhorn, I shouted defamatory remarks, i.e., We need to kill the black babies!, what do you think would happen? Lawsuits, riots, fines….


    We live in a twisted P.C. society where everything good is bad, and all things bad are good. Double standards and pure hypocrisy is our mantra. Sad.

    I'm sick of it all.

    There, I said it.

    • tagalog

      Imagine if you got your White Panthers to don Gestapo-NKVD-like leather coats and carry billy clubs and stand in front of a polling place on election day, how palatable folks would find THAT.

    • Idiot-Savant

      This comparison is ridiculous.

      White people have never been an oppressed minority in the U.S. (with the exception of women and gay/lesbian). You seem eager to forget that until very recently black Americans weren't allowed to drink from the same water fountains or even vote. That's called racial discrimination, and it was practiced by a ruling white majority. You can't call a self-empowerment org/group within an oppressed minority "racist, that's like calling someone marching with the gay pride parade a "heterophobe" just because they are attending said march. Yes, there may be bigots in their midst, but bigotry and racism are not the same. Racism and racial discrimination can only exist within a power dynamic that puts one race in authority over another, and that has never been the case with non-whites in U.S. history. Also.. the Black Panthers did not commit mass murder on another racial group nor did they have a policy of racial discrimination/extermination towards non-whites.

      • BLJ

        The last time I checked it isn't still 1965. I can tell you the 3 biggest reasons for the problems blacks face in America:

        1) Being brainwashed from birth that they are victims.
        2) Lack of strong father figures in households.
        3) The bigotry of low expectations.

        All 3 of these are created from within. Their so called leaders profit by having them stay in place.

        The Black Panthers were and are thugs.

        • Idiot Savant

          Well. you're comparing a current day fringe self-proclaimed "black panther party", which none of the original members belong to nor embrace, to Malcolm X and the original BPP, both of which existed and were a product of the civil rights era and the racist policies of the U.S. government during the first half of the 20th century.

          The BPP was merely reacting to the violence perpetrated on african americans by police and the U.S. government during the 60's. To deny the fact that blacks were routinely abused, attacked and discriminated against, is a real act of bigotry on your behalf.

          • tagalog

            Many of the Black Panther Party of the 1960s were gang bangers, drug dealers and contract killers, including Huey Newton and Eldridge Cleaver.

            You're posting on the right website to find out about that, because David Horowitz began his long journey toward political enlightenment by finding out that what I said in the first paragraph, above, was the case.

          • BLJ

            Nice try to twist my words. I figured the bigot comment was coming as well. Your monicker serves you well. The Black Panther Party of the 1960's were thugs.

            People like you help enable the victim mentality of the black community in this country. I notice how you ignore those 3 reasons that I listed above. I guess the truth hurts.

          • Dennis X

            they were regular men who banded together to protect themselves from white racist police.

          • David Forsmark

            Read carefully, he had already LOST his fight to stay in the house…

          • David Forsmark

            The above was supposed to be a reply to a post near the end…

      • tagalog

        It's true that white people have never been in the minority in the United States, but it's also true that for about three generations, Irish people in the United States were treated worse than black people in the United States. Italians in the United States were treated in a similar bad way. The treatment of these groups was at least equally oppressive, if not worse.

        Second, not all places in the United States had segregated drinking fountains or other discriminatory infrastructure emplacements. American racism was NEVER imposed by a "ruling white majority" except in the South. American racism was, and to the extent it still exists is, an expression of majority cultural views of both the leadership and the masses, and is pretty much just a function of lazy stereotyping, not active dislike; just ask any black person where racism in America comes from.

        Whites did not commit mass murder on blacks in America. Not ever. There is no racial group in America that currently has authority over another, and hasn't been since the time of the antebellum years in the slaveholding states of the Deep South.

        • IdiotSavant

          "Whites did not commit mass murder on blacks in America."

          You're pretty much wrong on everything, but the above statement struck me as interesting because it really depends on what your interpretation of "mass murder" is . Thousands, if not millions of Africans were forcefully removed from their land, those who resisted before and during the trip were killed. Thousands were thrown off the boats in which they were carried, and thousands more were murdered by their owners. If that's not a form of mass murder, I'm not sure what is.

          • tagalog

            Actually, it's you who is pretty much wrong on everything.

            For example, you could have pointed out the weakness in my statement that American racism against black people was NEVER imposed by a ruling white majority by pointing out the fact that our Founding Fathers did agree to continue the international slave trade in the U.S. until something like 1808 or 1807. That's the one exception to my statement that I thought of. Apparently you didn't think of that.

          • Idiot Savant

            no, your whole argument is STILL complete nonsense.

        • Dennis X

          what are you smoking? the irish nor the italians were NEVER slaves and came here by their own free will. And as MLK said there was the same racistism in the north as in the south, defacto serigation exited, ie sun down towns etc. . mass murder was not commited against Black People like it was against the Red Man because slaves were considered property. I guess you have never heard of segregation.

          • Dennis X

            mis spelled words , my bad.

          • tagalog

            I don't smoke; instead, I read books and talk to people.

      • johnnywoods

        "White people have never been an oppressed minority in the U.S." You might want to take a look at the history of Irish,Italian and Polish immigrants.Also Jews,Slavs, etc.,etc.

        • IdiotSavant

          Some of you folks really need to get back to the history books. I know that most of you are just plain old wilfully ignorant because it fits your agenda. But you're really only hurting your own cause and yourselves when you spew such nonsense.

          It is an established fact that the civil war did not put an end to racial discrimination and white on black violence and oppression. Both state-sanctioned and non-state sanctioned.

          Lynchings, segregation and other forms of discrimination towards Blacks were commonplace in both the North and South. Blacks did not have the freedom to attend the schools of their choice, do the work of their choice, get a bank loan to start a business, buy property wherever they felt like it, marry whomever they wished, run for elected office, vote for their own candidates. It may not have been law in every single state, but a law means very little when it's not enforced by the courts and the authorities.

          It's true that different european immigrant groups suffered discrimination in the U.S., but none went on as long nor in the same proportion and levels of violence as it was for blacks.

          First of all, yes, during the early years of the colonies European immigrants sometimes did serve as indentured servants (which is also not exactly comparable to slavery), but they did not experience a hundred years under Jim Crow law, and the restrictive covenants that followed the end of the Civil War. Although many of these laws may not have been in the books (not state-sanctioned laws) in Northern states, they were nonetheless practiced with impunity all over the country until very recently (and in some cases still occurs).

          It doesn't take a genius to figure out that all of these elements made it very difficult for Black Americans to gain the kind of economic footing that white European and non-black immigrants had access to. To compare the history of a formerly enslaved population to that of white Irish, Polish, Slavs, even Asian immigrants in the U.S. is ridiculous. Blacks were kidnapped and brought to the U.S. with no resources, no chance of return, they did not count on the network of support that many Irish, Chinese, Germans, Slavs and Jews could count on. They didn't receive any kind of help from fellow immigrants or foreign nationals that were better off. Their former homes (the African continent) was also colonized by racist white europeans.

          Segregation continued well after after the demise of the Jim Crow laws. Data on house prices and attitudes toward integration suggest that in the mid-20th century, segregation was a product of collective actions taken by whites to exclude blacks from their neighborhoods. Segregation also took the form of redlining, the practice of denying or increasing the cost of services, such as banking, insurance, access to jobs, access to health care, or even supermarkets to residents in certain, often racially determined, areas.

          So no, it's not about "making excuses" or playing the "victim card" it's about having a better understanding and awareness of our history as a nation built (in large part) on the backs of slaves towards whom we refused to provide the same benefits that we provided for ourselves once they were freed.

          • tagalog

            I think it's you who needs to take a look at the history. No one is saying racial discrimination and racial oppression ended with the Civil War. Everyone says that the Civil War ended the institution of slavery in the United States and established the principle of equal treatment under law, as well as the application of the Bill of Rights to the states. So you're wrong on that point. Mistreatment of blacks did continue, no one denies that.

            Segregation was a racist response to the Fourteenth Amendment.

          • tagalog

            Laws that did not exist were not enforced by the courts. No court would do that. So if a discriminatory law did not exist in Massachusetts or Ohio, you can bet your last dollar that it was not enforced by the courts of those respective states. The federal government and slaveholders had a difficult enough time in many states getting the Northern state courts to enforce the federal Fugitive Slave Act. That's why we had a Dred Scott decision, so the U.S. Supreme Court could enforce a law that did not allow slaves who managed to get to a free state (where they even had an Underground Railroad to get American blacks from the slave states to the free states, where they wanted to go) to be free.

            Racism in the North existed as a matter of custom, not a practice imposed by a "ruling white majority;" it was cultural and for most whites largely a matter of ignorant stereotyping and laziness. I don't have any doubt that white racism of that type would continue to exist if the majority race in America was black people. That's why the courts of our modern era have distinguished between "de jure" and "de facto" segregation.

            Segregation continues to this day, in colleges and universities as well as other places where black Americans choose to separate themselves from whites.

          • tagalog

            You say, "Segregation also took the form of redlining, the practice of denying or increasing the cost of services, such as banking, insurance, access to jobs, access to health care, or even supermarkets to residents in certain, often racially determined, areas.'

            Yes, it did at one time; we also had racially restrictive real estate covenants at one time. None of those things is permitted to exist any more, as a matter of law. Any member of a "protected minority" who is subjected to that kind of thing can expect a nice little financial windfall after his Civil Rights Act of 1964 lawsuit. Protected minorities even get to go to jury trial these days, because civil rights activists understand that a jury (white or not) will award larger monetary amounts when they find discrimination; that occurs in this "deeply racist" society.

          • Idiot Savant

            So what are you arguing about then?

            We're discussing Malcolm X, who as a person was a product of this era as was his family. What laws are in the books or are practiced now are completely irrelevant to the discussion.

            You're the one who claimed that other immigrants had a HARDER time in the U.S. than blacks in the past, which is obviously not true. Sure, you could probably find a few cases where immigrants of other ethnicities were mistreated, even murdered, but none occurred in the same proportion and with the same degree of tacit approval/collaboration from the authorities as it did to Blacks. Blacks were pretty much, consistently treated as "less than human" by whites in authority (police, judges, elected officials, educators, landlords, etc.) during and 100 years after the abolition of slavery. That is a fact.

            I agree that things have improved, but you can't expect an entire group of people who were disenfranchised and mistreated for the last 300 years to simple forget and move on. Most african americans today have at least one uncle, aunt, parent, or grandparent that was beaten/abused by a white person in authority at some point in their lives. Most even have great grandparents that were born into slavery. It's not as if simply because the Civil Rights Act became law, all of sudden everything was ok and they had everything at their disposal to make a better life for themselves.

            "Any member of a "protected minority" who is subjected to that kind of thing can expect a nice little financial windfall after his Civil Rights Act of 1964 lawsuit. Protected minorities even get to go to jury trial these days, because civil rights activists understand that a jury (white or not) will award larger monetary amounts when they find discrimination; that occurs in this "deeply racist" society."

            You know this is complete nonsense, first of all most people do not have the time/money/resources to file this kind of lawsuit, most are not even aware that such a thing exists or is possible. In fact, I would dare to say that most of these cases never make it to trial.

          • tagalog

            There is a host of antidiscrimination organizations who will take such cases on for free.

            To suggest that blacks and other minorities don't know about the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the right to sue for racial discrimination assumes a level of ignorance among members of minorities that says volumes about your own racial prejudices and lack of knowledge.

          • Idiot Savant

            nice try to turn this around over some nonsene argument about access to legal representation and knowledge of the law. But, you're still wrong and misinformed about the treatment of blacks in the U.S.

            Most Americans, of all races, don't know to what extent the laws on the books and the constitution protects them against everything from the police searching your home without a warrant to what kind of claims you can file with regard to your civil rights. And most, cases (especially in cases of employment, access to housing) are very difficult to prove/make your case. To support your claim you have to file one, you have to keep accurate documentation on who you spoke with, what happened, count on witnesses, etc.. It's not as simple as just filing a complaint, going to court and abracadabra you get a big compensation! That's an extremely overtlysimplified way of looking at it.

            You really think a simple "law" is going to wash over the issue of racial discrimination? That's your argument? That the U.S. is not racist, because it has a law that lets you sue people/entities considered racist?


        • Dennis X

          white on white crime.

  • Lady_Dr

    While I suppose there is some merit in knowing about these books and the late, unlamented Mr. X – none of this has much relevance to anything current. Except the hate whitey element and evidence that it was there long ago. As far as I'm concerned X was just another hustler/criminal who conned a bunch of suckers. Too bad his parents did take him to Africa for good when he was a child – it would have made Marcus Garvey happy and the USA would have had one less criminal.

  • StephenD

    6 shots in the back of the head. Worst case of suicide the police ever saw!

    • David Forsmark

      Actually, a shotgun blast to the chest was the big one…

    • Fred Dawes

      Police always love a good Suicide

  • BLJ

    Who killed him then? You?

    • Amused

      Farakhan was behind Malcom X's murder , he may not have actually pulled the trigger, but was no doubt behind it .Malcolm X's family knew it, as did his oldest daughter who was accusing Farakahn for years ….but she was bought off for either money or a position in NOI by Farakhan , or both .

    • Dennis X

      Yo BJ , how long did it take for you to come up with that great come back. He was killed for breaking away from the Nation and for his embracing of white people. The shooters were from the Nation with fbi involement.

  • David Baker

    I was introduced to an idealized concept of Malcolm who saw things differently and abandone the poison ofracism and hate….Black racists will deny that…Who knows? Malcolm was mor egenuine than the devil in the White House….

  • Ghostwriter

    I'll be honest here. In his time,Malcom X was a much a bigot and racist as another man,George Lincoln Rockwell,the man who founded the American Nazi Party. But was surprising is that he reached out to the KKK because he liked their ideas of racial purity. I was surprised about that. Somehow,it wouldn't surprise me about the revelations of a friendship between two loathsome bigots,Louis Farrakhan and David Duke.

  • tagalog

    My favorite Malcolm X moment was when he encouraged American blacks to form gun clubs. He caught hell for that from both his friends and his enemies. Right on Malcolm! Tell it like it is!

  • davidhorowitz

    If you're going to firebomb your own house, it doesn't seem logical to carefully place it on a dresser – hardly an effective setup. Moreover, Forsmark suggests that NOI wouldn't have firebombed the house they wanted to seize. Well, if they decided they wanted X DEAD it does stand to reason. And we know that NOI played a key role in the assassination, almost immediately after. Moreover, if X wanted to stay in his abode, it doesn't make a lot of sense to firebomb YOUR OWN HOUSE, a thought that seems to have eluded Forsmark. He seems to be bending over backward to indict the X Man.

    • David Forsmark

      Yes people NEVER trash the houses they are being evicted from … Try reading the article

  • Amused

    LOL….."seems to be …" ? I'm just waiting for the "tie in " .

  • Flipside

    Yeah, yeah. It's common knowledge that Mossad tried to poison Malcolm X when he took his world tour and that a JDL gold thief tried to contract assassinate Farrakhan in 1994, resulting in the death of Betty Shabazz. But even with the dubious titles you have penned, Mr. Forsmark, your criticisms aimed at long dead political leaders and recently deceased writers betrays a rather large personal insecurity. Maybe if Manning Marable were still alive he could rebut you.

    • David Forsmark

      Yep, I specifically asked the publisher to withhold publication of the book until the author died.

  • Flipside

    Regardless, your synopsis is derisive and nonacademic. You are clearly trying to micturate upon the grave of a perceived political enemy and pass it off as a book report. It is a testament to Manning Marable that he has detractors trying to hasten the decay process. It's a shame you do not put these skills to good use by penning a good tome. Marable did pretty decent writing, and so did Haley.

  • Richard Ong

    I think "two central figures of African-American folk culture, simultaneously the hustler/trickster and the preacher/minister” should be revised. I prefer:

    1. rejectionist:
    a. socialist/communist/revolutionary/community organizer (Frank Marshall Davis).
    b. hustler/trickster/criminal.
    c. entitled welfare recipient ("Legacy of slavery" types).
    d. racist (New Black Panther Party official, "your enemy").
    e. homicidal maniac.
    f. forever stuck on racist white America.

    2. grateful American:
    a. preacher/minister ("Africa is your heritage but America is your destiny." DC pastor).
    b. the late Elizabeth Wright.
    c. my friends Cyndi, Eleanor, Joe, Joe, Glenn, and Otis.
    d. other.

    OK, 1a, 1c-f, 2b-d not so much part of black folk culture but definitely part of black culture.