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Malcom X on Immigration in American Today

November 2, 2010

My previous blog explored how I think that Martin Luther King Jr. would view the current illegal immigration problems in Arizona and many boarder states.  Considering that today is election day, and people feel more politically inclined then usual, I think it would be appropriate to revisit the topic of the Arizona State Senate Bill 1070.  This time though, I will explore this issue while examining how Malcolm X would react to this issue.

The issue presented in Arizona State Senate Bill 1070 is that it is attempting to”…discourage and deter the unlawful entry and presence of aliens” from entering into Arizona.  Additionally, the ramifications of this bill will be that many companies and business will have to let go of their already hired workers or any other potentials workers who are not legal citizens of the United States.  According to Marc Lacey’s New York Times Article “Arizona Immigration Laws Divide Latinos Too” not as many Latinos support allowing immigration as one would expect- only 70% nationwide.   But, as I noted in my previous article, it is the social issues of implied racism that make this issue most disturbing.

Unlike MLK, Malcolm X would have had a much more heated stance on this issue.  MLK would have activated sit-ins and boycotts to get his point across.  In this case, I think Malcolm X would have been very apt to use his Ballot or the Bullet stance.  Malcolm X criticized the White congressmen for filibustering the issue of  racism in the 1960’s trying to put the issue to rest.  I think Malcolm would equally describe Arizona’s government as “pitiful” and he would “question the sincerity, and some of the strategy” they are using to create and enforce these laws.  One of the reasons Malcolm X is so heated in his speech is that his ancestors put their sweat and blood into this country and helped make it great but got nothing in return.  Similarly, many immigrants are putting their time and effort into working hard here trying to make a living for themselves.  Yes, I know that what I am saying may be a stretch, since the African Americans were slaves and the immigrants are not.  Today though, immigrants are a cornerstone to the American economy and should be treated with more respect.  In 1964, we ended public racism in America mostly in the favor of African Americans.  Today, Malcolm X would think that immigrants who are working hard should get something in return in the way of rights because they are doing so much to help the American economy.  He makes the connection that segregation is illegal and people (even if they are the police) who are enforcing illegal laws need to be put down.  Malcolm X blatantly advocated killing attack dogs used by the police to break up riots about racial inequality.   He would want the representatives of the illegal immigrants today to take a much more heated and possibly violent stance to rally and gain support for the Hispanic immigrants who are working hard here in America.

I know that this is a hot topic right now here in the United States, and I honestly feel that Malcolm X would have some extremely powerful words to say on this issue.  But the lasting sentiment that I want to leave you with on election day is go vote and make sure that any bill that encourages or emphasizes segregation here in America is forever banned.


  1. joshuacy permalink
    November 2, 2010 9:50 PM

    While I do believe that Malcolm X would get pretty “heated up” about this issue, I’m not so sure he would use his Bullet or the Ballot argument.

    Bullet or the ballot suggests that the oppressed party has the opportunity to change something about the government themselves, via voting or revolution. The disenfranchised “Latinos” in this case, however, are not American citizens. They cannot vote for representative officials, nor can they take up arms against the American government in an act of rebellion (an attack against the government from the outside, remember, is a declaration of war according to Locke).

    When all you’ve seen of Malcolm X is a hammer, all the issues look like nails.

    • November 6, 2010 9:10 PM

      While I agree with you that the disenfranchised Latinos do not have a vote, there are still millions of Americans who do feel strongly about this issue. These Americans need to rally themselves to vote to give these Latinos who are working here in America and are staying out of trouble more rights and opinions in our society. Whether we like to acknowledge it or not these workers are a pivotal part of our economy today doing jobs that help keep our costs lower. Additionally if we give some of these hard working Latinos citizenship then we can tax them and gain more money for our struggling economy.

  2. blanchc permalink
    November 2, 2010 10:01 PM

    I very much enjoyed reading this post and I agree that Malcolm X would be emphatically opposed to the Arizona State Senate Bill 1070, because it encourages discrimination against all Latinos, including illegal immigrants, legal immigrants, and American citizens. However, would Malcolm X really be opposed to the government simply enforcing immigration laws? His argument for ending segregation is founded upon the fact that the enforcement of laws is not equal or just. Illegal immigration and segregation are a seperate issue because illegal immigrants chose to enter the country illegally and break valid, just laws, whereas black citizens were treated unfairly because of unjust, unconstitutional laws. But I must say that I do agree with your comment that Malcolm X is a hammer who makes all over the issues seem like nails. I have never heard this analogy before and I must say I think it is quite accurate.

    • November 9, 2010 12:19 AM

      You make a very valid point that I do not feel I thoroughly addressed in my post. Malcolm X’s beliefs are based upon whether or not the laws are just or not. So he would not directly disagree with the immigration. But what he would disagree with is the racial connotations that these laws have. The profiling and discrimination of Hispanics in Arizona would have Malcolm X up in arms, causing him to rally people to vote immediately to create new legislation.

  3. fvenzor permalink
    November 3, 2010 12:46 PM

    I also found this post to be very interesting, seeing that this would be taking Malcolm X from a different perspective. I think this because I don’t seem to see the subject of illegal immigration and their legitimacy as a hot topic for him but I’m glad you wrote on this. Me being a Mexican-American coming from a family of immigrants it’s tough for me to choose my position on the issue. Let me clarify, I am second generation here so both of my parents were born here but none of my grandfather were. On one hand I feel like I relate to families who are here and judges based on their appearance and are categorized as unskilled and cheap labor.
    How we all see Malcolm X is through a scope that shows us his pressure on the people and government to fix any sort of inequality. But the fact of the matter is that there is a difference between those that were born and raised here as part of this country and those that were not. Now don’t misunderstand me to be lowering the value of the immigrant from wherever they may be, because the fact is that they are still people. But where is the line that America has to draw when they are setting up laws and keeping in mind what is good for the common people. What if America tore down its borders and gave immunity to all those who wished to live here? I just can’t imagine.
    So basically what I’m trying to say is that his principles of equality towards all races, skin colors, ages, disabilities, etc. is unacceptable to him; so the new Arizona laws that allows for racial profiling is just wrong. He says “WHO TAUGHT YOU TO HATE YOUR OWN KIND; TO HATE THE RACE YOU BELONG TO SO MUCH THAT YOU DON’T WANT TO BE AROUND EACH OTHER!” But I also think he would understand that the government or any of the legal immigrant families are trying to hate on immigrants when they are not citizens, they are merely trying to protect the common good of the people by ensuring their safety and their right to property and their ability to find work.

  4. Jameson McRae permalink
    November 3, 2010 4:00 PM

    I agree fully that Malcolm X would have jumped out to the forefront of this issue if he was here with us today. He would have been a strong candidate to lead the fight as he was one of the best orators of all time. I think you make a very good point when saying that Hispanics put so much labor into this country, but get nothing in return. This is almost a mirror image to African Americans arguments in the 1960’s.

    I do disagree with some of the points in the article though. After Malcolm X went on his hajj to Mecca he was forever a changed man. He had so many experiences, one described in his autobiography was when he was flying to Saudi Arabia he walked up into the cockpit to meet the pilot who happened to be black. This was the first time Malcolm X had ever seen this, and it showed him that blacks could truly do anything. This hajj changed Malcolm X from hating “White People” to hating the “White Mentality” which in turn made him far less radical. This is my opposition, I do not think Malcolm X would be a very radical figure in todays world, his hajj really made him a changed man. His campaigns would be much more like that of Dr. King, more civil and less heated. I think that if both were alive today they would form the perfect duo to come to the forefront of this issue.

    • November 9, 2010 12:25 AM

      I had never really considered this aspect of Malcolm X’s interpretation of this issue. When writing this post I only used his mindset at the time he gave his ballot or the Bullet Speech to explain how he would feel about this topic. But yes, towards the end of his life Malcolm X did become a much more docile person and there is a good chance that we would have reacted in a much less violent manner than he would have when he gave his powerful Ballot of the Bullet speech. Thank you for your input, you have helped change my beliefs towards how I feel Malcolm X would have reacted in a way I had never considered.

  5. mquintin permalink
    November 8, 2010 11:26 AM

    In reply to the very first comment, I agree with the author’s argument that the bullet or the ballot would have been used by Malcom X. Not all of the oppressed Hispanics are citizens, but some are. Either way, the treatment of the whole group is not acceptable. Some have made an effort to go through all of the legalities, yet they are treated just the same. For example, I have had an experience in my hometown like this. There is a heavy Hispanic population in my town due to agriculture and carpentry. Some of these Hispanics were employed by my father. Just after leaving a construction site, these Hispanics were pulled over by a police officer, quite randomly because there was no reason for the happening at all. They were ushered out of the car, searched, and accused of being illegal to an certain extent until they of course showed identification. They did nothing wrong, in fact they were completely legal. Seeing this, most definitely makes me believe Malcom X would use the bullet or the ballet. This, however, is not to say I endorse this philosophy. I just believe that X would have seen this method as an effective action.

    • November 9, 2010 12:45 AM

      The example you use is actually part of the reason why I was inspired to write this two part series about MLK and Malcolm X. I was so disgusted by the police officers who pulled over these Hispanics. They clearly had no right to pull them over and only did so in a malicious manner. Whether or not MLK and Malcolm X agreed on how to react to this situation, there is no doubt in my mind they both of them would be infuriated and would speak out heavily. Again, I agree with you that I do not necessarily agree with Malcolm X’s philosophy in Ballot or the Bullet but I do feel that this speech does apply to this situation because of the racial hatred and segregation it is causing in Arizona. So I do hope that the people of Arizona are quick to use Malcolm X’s plea for running ballot to overturn and forbid 1070 or any other laws like it so that the bullet is never used.

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