Malcolm X was an American leader who played an active role in the civil rights movement. He focuses on ‘politics of identity,’ and aimed to establish strong black identity. As a national spokesman for the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X denounced the racism of white society. Again and again, he pointed to connections between American history and the enslavement of Africans. He used politics of identity to highlight that the whites are like the “devil” because they acted as such at all times. They lynched blacks and preached the blacks against “non-violence”. As per him, the white people gave the black people a negative and degrading identity by giving them the dirtiest jobs, and by declaring that blacks were good for nothing else. They prevented the formation of African American and participated in their illiteracy offense. They talked and acted like liberal racists (Hamilton, 2013).
Malcolm X was considered as the figurehead of black people – he was stylized in the media as the enemy of white people. Malcolm, who considered himself to be a representative of the right of blacks was seen as a violent “hate preacher” and “black monster”. According to Malcolm, his focus was only on self-defence. The emphasis on independent, combative, African-American history, the pride, the “Black Muslims” combined with their blackness, their intransigence and radicalism made â€‹â€‹the Nation of Islam an important point of contact for the growing impatience and anger of African-American ghetto youth. The Nation of Islam and Malcolm X wore the approach of “black nationalism” in order to create a distinct black identity that was different from the identity provided to black people by the white people. Malcolm X’s approach was the precursor of the “Black Power” movement of the 1960s (Alkalimat, 2011).
Malcolm X was a radical critic of the early civil rights movement under Martin Luther King. King’s nonviolent integration strategy was particularly strong among blacks from the rural South and within the small black middle class. King wanted the black people to get accepted in the majority and wanted an end to “racial segregation.” He wanted to give black people a share of the American Dream. For the black people, the northern United States was like a “Promised Land”. They cherished the hope of being finally accepted by the whites. On the other hand, Malcolm X’s opinion and approach were completely different. He knew the city slums in the north. Malcolm spoke for the African-American slum dwellers of the North, who put no hope in white “liberals” because they had realized on their way from the plantations in the ghetto that there was no room for its progress on the part of whites. Malcolm X did not want acceptance of the White people. He wanted black people to acknowledge their individual identity (Baldwin, 2012).
King’s Christian non-violent approach was considered by Malcolm X as just another attempt by the white men who had demonstrated their unwillingness to provide justice already sufficiently. As part of his grassroots lectures in 1963, he coined the distinction between servile “House Negroes”. He counted King as a helper of the whites in the suppression. On the other hand, he saw himself as a rebellious “field negro”. This comparison rose to international fame, and in 2009, Al-Zawahiri, a leading member of al-Qaeda, called the newly elected U.S. President Barack Obama, a “house Negro”.
King might have had “a dream” that was shared by many blacks, but Malcolm saw the current nightmare above everything else. 400 years of white terror had made it sufficiently clear that the Whites did not compromise, and that talk of equality would be nothing but hypocrisy. As per Malcolm, the whites chose, again and again, the language of force, so the blacks should begin to “speak their language” to be understood. He stated that the African Americans should finally stand up and do what is always needed to defend themselves “by any means necessary” (Breitman, 2013).
To raise the self-confidence of African-Americans, Malcolm wanted them to acquire their own history which was corrupted by the whites’ history. The white historiography would have the African-Americans’ image to be submissive, stupid, innocent and ignorant and thereby “psychologically castrated”. In reality, the blacks have always resisted slavery, eg by armed uprisings against slavery. The white lie that Africa is merely a wild jungle and the blacks had only been civilized by them, would have a similar effect. Malcolm fought to sweep away this ideology and highlighted the fact that the “negro” (as they then called themselves and with each other) would have to reclaim their actual identity (Baldwin, 2012).
As per the views of Malcolm X, the black people were given a negative and degrading identity as they were given the dirtiest jobs and their negative views of black people. In order to increase the awareness of African-Americans, Malcolm wanted them to rebuild their own history which was faded by the history of white people and he also supported violence in order to regain the hidden history of the black people. On the other hand, Martin Luther King was an active member of the African American Social movement and he also took part in various actions in order to give the rights of voting and citizenship to the black Americans. He took an active role in various movements but he did not support the violence. He participated in various movements in order to provide equality in various aspects of life to the black Americans with the help of various non-violent techniques.