Islam seemed to offer an outlet to express the sense of rage at a white Christian America, a found repair that could welcome the alienated and disenfranchised; a means of sheltering the need for radical change. Beyong the exoticism, ritual and display there was enduring religious value, especially if there were blinders that fed the message of Islam having clean hands when it came to slavery with the slave traders and cleric apologists being Christians. The militancy also appealed. When Islamic warriors invaded Iberia the prisoners were put to death by sword, live on the premises. No hesitation when dealing with sub-human infidels. So, there was a sense of previously lacking identity power that could canalize the anger. Also, the patriarchy was appealing: the male exaltation as family head figure could engulf all the contradictions and even pathologies of wounded pride, loss of dignity and in the extreme, the narcissism engendered by deep psychic wounds. Part of the dynamic, at its most dysfunctional and perverted version, outright nihilism was that of Eldridge Cleaver and probably others who in fact used the religious pretext of Islam to mask profoundly destructive and self-destructive behavior, misogyny on a disturbing level:
( see link at end ) Every time I embrace a black woman I’m embracing slavery, and when I put my arms around a white woman, well, I’m hugging freedom. The white man forbade me to have the white woman on pain of death…. I will not be free until the day I can have a white woman in my bed. Eldridge Cleaver ”Allegory of the Black Eunuchs,” (1968)….
African-American life life in the U.S. before and after slavery with all its northern ambiguities and hypocrisies, tended to denigrate the status of the male. For various structural reasons., the traditional role of provider and protector was only to be achieved within very narrow parameters and with limited income. Structurally, White males had more ready access to Black women, while the authority, the unwritten but operational laws of society, private power, was arranged to clearly not facilitate Black men from approaching white women:
from the Chicago Seven trial: But the poisoned dart of that “blatant racist” remark made Judge Hoffman declare at this moment to the court that the first desegregation case in a northern state, the South Holland school case, had been tried and won in his courtroom. He mentioned the editorials in newspapers that praised the wisdom and liberality of his decision, but he did not mention the phone calls and letters that decried it. He did not mention that he occasionally said as a bit of a joke, “I only ruled that little boys and girls could go to school together not that white women should marry black men.” Read More:http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/741147.html
Because of sexual attraction, The Black woman could always more easily approach the source of power: the patriarchal white man. Also, American ideas that weighed what were appropriate occupations for women, even Black women, would often place them in a more advantageous position than their spouses to obtain less demeaning and physically dangerous work. At least to some extent. Islam, as we well know, stresses more severe obligations on the male, but with them, the leniency of privilege and more exalted status. Paradoxically, the conditions of American life, make many Blacks feel that the exoticism, its culture of poetry, music, lifestyle, helps them come closer to grasping what is perceived as the middle-class norms of white American family life.
( see link at end) During this period, Cleaver discovered in the deeper recesses of his consciousness that he had an “Ogre,”– literally the white woman–who possessed “a tremendous and dreadful power over” him. The sexual appeal of the American white woman, he philosophized, was a great power in the mind of the American black man. Though he attempted to be theoretical on generalized racial traits, Cleaver thus introduced inadvertently his own sore spot–the interconnectedness of his “sexual identity” and his identity as “an oppressed black man.” In short, Cleaver politicized his own sexual perversions.
In Soul on Ice, Cleaver tells of a crucial event that occurred after he posted an image of a white woman on the wall of his cell. In his absence, the white male guard entered his cell and “ripped my sugar from the wall” and had “torn her into pieces, and left the pieces floating in the commode.” For Cleaver, it “was like seeing a dead body floating in a lake.”…
Feeling violated, Cleaver sought out the whi
uard who assassinated his “voluptuous bride” of the “forbidden tribe of women.” On questioning the guard, Cleaver was told he could have a pin-up of any “colored woman” on his cell but not a “white woman.” Cleaver confessed that he “was more embarrassed than shocked” by the guards response.
The disturbing part of the whole incident was that a terrible feeling of guilt came over me as I realized that I had chosen the picture of the white girl over available pictures of black girls . . . So, I took hold of the question and began to inquire into my feelings. Was it true, did I really prefer white girls over blacks?…
Cleaver, then, began to poll his prison inmates to find out whether his own preference for white women was, more or less, unusual for men of color:
One afternoon, when a large group of Negroes was on the prison yard shooting the breeze, I grabbed the floor and posed the question: which did they prefer, white women or black. Some said Japanese women were their favorite, other said Chinese, some said European women, others said Mexican-they all stated a preference, and generally freely admitted their dislike for black women.
But what did Cleaver really expect to find within a prison population of dysfunctional black men? After all, the love/hate conflict between black men and black women was nothing new even in the1960s. The tale of Shakespeare’s “Othello” had demonstrated how ancient and complex the relationship was between black men and white women. In effect, Cleaver’s self-revelation spoke more about himself than what went on or goes on between black men and women.
Only the prisoner named Butterfly spoke plainly of his hatred of white women. “It’s a sickness,” he said. “All our lives we’ve had the white woman dangled before our eyes like a carrot on a stick before a donkey: look but don’t.” Butterfly became a “Black Muslim” and was “chiefly responsible for teaching him [Cleaver the] Black Muslim philosophy.” Read More:http://www.nathanielturner.com/soulonice.htm
Malcolm turned against Elijah because, in violation of the rules against fornication, the leader had impregnated a series of women. Meanwhile, Malcolm’s marriage to Betty Shabazz produced six daughters, including twins born after his death. But Betty complained he did not satisfy her sexually, and every time a daughter was born, he fled town on business. In his last years he began an affair with an 18-year-old secretary.
Marable brings the volume to a violent and sickening climax, leaving both the stench of police or F.B.I. collusion in the assassination and a portrait of the Nation of Islam, the most likely culprits, as thugs straight from “The Sopranos.” On Feb. 21, 1965, as Malcolm began a lecture at the packed Audubon Ballroom in Washington Heights, someone tossed a smoke bomb; and three men, one with a shotgun, stood up, shot him down and escaped. Marable identifies the three. Only one of them was convicted and sent to prison, along with two men who were in fact not involved. At the trial Betty walked past the defense table and shouted hysterically, “Those two men killed my husband”—the wrong men.Read More:http://www.americamagazine.org/content/article.cfm?article_id=13026