During the 2016 presidential race, Republican nominee Donald Trump told Black Americans that the Democratic Party failed them. Trump asked Black Americans, what did they have to lose if they voted against the Democrats.
After Trump’s presidential upset he wanted to meet with distinguished members of the Black community. Some Blacks refused to meet with Trump, because they felt the president-elect was a racist, but others accepted the invitation. But the Blacks that refused to meet called the Blacks that met disloyal.
One online headline said: Malcolm X warned Blacks about sellouts entertaining racist leaders like Trump. This writer wrote, “There has been a lot of criticism of Black celebrities who have met with…Donald Trump as he transitions to the presidency.” Notable stars and activists who have met with Trump include Jim Brown, Ray Lewis, Kanye West, and comedian Steve Harvey. The meeting with Harvey has created the biggest stir on social media with some calling him a “coon,” “Uncle Tom,” and “sellout” for speaking with Trump. Then the writer used one of the many Malcolm X quotes about Uncle Tom Negro leaders meeting with Whites to turn the Black masses astray.
Recently, that insignificant moment in presidential transition time, repeated its insignificance when President Trump hosted a televised meeting with hip hop star Kanye West, but the backlash against Kanye West for his racial treachery was more intense.
Kanye West has become hip-hop’s version of Clarence Thomas, and social media is full of Malcolm X images and quotes about sellouts and Uncle Toms in the service of Whites.
But in 1960 Malcolm X met with members of the Ku Klux Klan.
The Nation of Islam promoted racial separation and were opposed to desegregation which gave The Nation of Islam a common interest with the Klan. A week before Malcolm’s assassination (by Black people who labeled him a sellout), Malcolm X admitted publicly that he met with the heads of the Ku Klux Klan to negotiate a land deal for Elijah Muhammad. Malcolm said, “They had some very responsible persons in the government who were involved in it and who were willing to go along with it. They wanted to make this land available to him so that his program of separation would sound more feasible to Negroes and therefore lessen the pressure that the integrationists were putting upon the White man. I sat there. I negotiated it. I listened to their offer. And I was the one who went back to Chicago and told Elijah Muhammad what they had offered.”
In 1961, several members of George Lincoln Rockwell’s American Nazi Party attended a Malcolm X speech. The Nazis were seated in the front row and during the request for contributions to continue the work of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, the Nazis made donations. Rockwell said, “I am fully in concert with their program, and I have the highest respect for Elijah Muhammad.”
If Kanye West is a sellout for having an insignificant meeting with President Trump, then what was Malcolm X?
In 1967 the FBI created a “Ghetto Informant Program.” Its stated purpose was to monitor public opinion in Black communities, and by 1968 the FBI hired over 3,000 people to develop its “ghetto listening post.” A common tactic used by the FBI was to spread rumors that this or that activist had “sold out.” (This worked well against the Black Panther Party.)
Nowadays, when I hear Black people refer to other Blacks as sellouts I wonder if they’re on the FBI payroll.
(J. Pharaoh Doss is a contributor to the New Pittsburgh Courier.)
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