Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X waiting for press conference, March 26, 1964. (Photo: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division)
Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X waiting for press conference, March 26, 1964. (Photo: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division)

Recently, on Howard University’s WHUR Radio, there was a guest who was a young African-American basketball player who played on a team in Ukraine. He was asked about the difficult time he had getting out of that country. One of the questions was whether his being Black played a role in the treatment he received. His response began with, “I have never been a part of the racial aspect of things, Thank God.”

Here we go again, I said to myself, another young Black person is seemingly unaware that he is able to do much of what he is doing today because many Black people in the 1950s and 1960s were a part of the racial aspect of things. I am willing to bet that though the young brother had at least heard of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Brother Malcolm X and maybe Rosa Parks, but had little if any knowledge of warriors such as Medgar Evers, Fannie Lou Hamer, Kwame Touré, James Cheney, Reverend George Lee and numerous other Black people and a few whites who were either murdered or brutalized by proponents of white supremacy. Their actions made it possible for him to be where he is today.

It’s not his fault if he is unaware of the real deal about race in this country. We Black folks have not done our jobs of teaching young Black people the historic truths they need to know.

History, as being taught throughout this country’s existence, has often been used as a tool of psychological warfare by the white supremacists, who are well aware that control of history plays a major role in maintaining control over other people. Brother Malcolm and Dr. King were both well aware of their use of history as a psychological weapon.

In his book “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community,” Dr. King wrote the following: “Group unity necessarily involves group trust and reconciliation. One of the most serious effects of the Negroes’ damage ego is his frequently loss of respect for himself and other Negroes. He ends up with ambivalence towards his own kind.”

In a previous column, I included the following statement about Brother Malcolm: “He once said that America’s greatest crime against Black people was not just slavery or even lynching but that we were taught to wear a mask of self-hate and self-doubt. … He told us that when discussing slavery, the focus is usually on the slave traders and the slave owners. Too often ignored was the pivotal role of what Brother Malcolm called the slave maker, a person whose job was to systematically and brutally take a people who had their own beliefs, culture and traditions and break them down, not only physically but psychologically into slaves totally dependent on the whims of slave owners.”

It is our responsibility to make that young basketball player and his generation aware in this society whether they like it or not they have a responsibility to be “a part of the racial aspect of things” that will affect them and their future. They better listen to Dr. King and Brother Malcolm about psychological warfare.

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