MALCOLM X:”THE HOUSE NEGRO AND THE FIELD NEGRO”:SPEECH TO SNCC WORKERS,SELMA, ALABAMA,FEB.4,1965

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from mysonabsalom.wordpress.com

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House Negros
June 20, 2008 in History, Japan, Japanese
X says it straight:

To understand this, you have to go back to what [the] young brother here referred to as the house Negro and the field Negro — back during slavery. There was two kinds of slaves. There was the house Negro and the field Negro. The house Negroes – they lived in the house with master, they dressed pretty good, they ate good ’cause they ate his food — what he left. They lived in the attic or the basement, but still they lived near the master; and they loved their master more than the master loved himself. They would give their life to save the master’s house quicker than the master would. The house Negro, if the master said, “We got a good house here,” the house Negro would say, “Yeah, we got a good house here.” Whenever the master said “we,” he said “we.” That’s how you can tell a house Negro.

If the master’s house caught on fire, the house Negro would fight harder to put the blaze out than the master would. If the master got sick, the house Negro would say, “What’s the matter, boss, we sick?” We sick! He identified himself with his master more than his master identified with himself. And if you came to the house Negro and said, “Let’s run away, let’s escape, let’s separate,” the house Negro would look at you and say, “Man, you crazy. What you mean, separate? Where is there a better house than this? Where can I wear better clothes than this? Where can I eat better food than this?” That was that house Negro. In those days he was called a “house nigger.” And that’s what we call him today, because we’ve still got some house niggers running around here.

This modern house Negro loves his master. He wants to live near him. He’ll pay three times as much as the house is worth just to live near his master, and then brag about “I’m the only Negro out here.” “I’m the only one on my job.” “I’m the only one in this school.” You’re nothing but a house Negro. And if someone comes to you right now and says, “Let’s separate,” you say the same thing that the house Negro said on the plantation. “What you mean, separate? From America? This good white man? Where you going to get a better job than you get here?” I mean, this is what you say. “I ain’t left nothing in Africa,” that’s what you say. Why, you left your mind in Africa.

On that same plantation, there was the field Negro. The field Negro — those were the masses. There were always more Negroes in the field than there was Negroes in the house. The Negro in the field caught hell. He ate leftovers. In the house they ate high up on the hog. The Negro in the field didn’t get nothing but what was left of the insides of the hog. They call ‘em “chitt’lin’” nowadays. In those days they called them what they were: guts. That’s what you were — a gut-eater. And some of you all still gut-eaters.

The field Negro was beaten from morning to night. He lived in a shack, in a hut; He wore old, castoff clothes. He hated his master. I say he hated his master. He was intelligent. That house Negro loved his master. But that field Negro — remember, they were in the majority, and they hated the master. When the house caught on fire, he didn’t try and put it out; that field Negro prayed for a wind, for a breeze. When the master got sick, the field Negro prayed that he’d die. If someone come [sic] to the field Negro and said, “Let’s separate, let’s run,” he didn’t say “Where we going?” He’d say, “Any place is better than here.” You’ve got field Negroes in America today. I’m a field Negro. The masses are the field Negroes. When they see this man’s house on fire, you don’t hear these little Negroes talking about “our government is in trouble.” They say, “The government is in trouble.” Imagine a Negro: “Our government”! I even heard one say “our astronauts.” They won’t even let him near the plant — and “our astronauts”! “Our Navy” — that’s a Negro that’s out of his mind. That’s a Negro that’s out of his mind.

Just as the slavemaster of that day used Tom, the house Negro, to keep the field Negroes in check, the same old slavemaster today has Negroes who are nothing but modern Uncle Toms, 20th century Uncle Toms, to keep you and me in check, keep us under control, keep us passive and peaceful and nonviolent. That’s Tom making you nonviolent. It’s like when you go to the dentist, and the man’s going to take your tooth. You’re going to fight him when he starts pulling. So he squirts some stuff in your jaw called novocaine, to make you think they’re not doing anything to you. So you sit there and ’cause you’ve got all of that novocaine in your jaw, you suffer peacefully. Blood running all down your jaw, and you don’t know what’s happening. ‘Cause someone has taught you to suffer — peacefully.

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10 Replies
thinkingcrowd
June 21, 2008 at 9:13 pm
he says something straight but i’m not sure what it is. not sure we can take this conjecture of all “house negroes” being loyal and all “field negroes” as being revolutionaries as fact though. some of the “house negroes” ended up being key leaders to assist the cause of the north in the civil war. and, as such have every reason to say “we” when saying they are americans. without folks with a willingness to reconcile the differences between white and black we don’t have an obama for president or a chris rock doing comedy.

i can appreciate x for his positions in their context of the 60’s and the newly escaped jim crow laws of the south. in today’s context, we got lots of work to do in making the cooperation work. it’s working better than the 50’s but lots of room for improvement.

Dan
June 22, 2008 at 3:23 am
MLK…what an asshole.

mysonabsalom
June 22, 2008 at 8:11 am
I’m relating this to teaching English in Japan. Ain’t nobody more critical of X than me.

Dan
June 22, 2008 at 10:54 am
The post suddenly assumes a great truth. I must remember to read the tags.

Colin Doyle
June 22, 2008 at 10:59 am
You can’t relate it to teaching English in Japan unless you can find some earlier paragraphs which tell how the slaves got on the boats themselves, sailed to America and *asked* the white folks to *make* them slaves.
Nothin’ like a jug of sweet self-pity on a warm summer’s night on the ol’ plantation…

Dan
June 22, 2008 at 11:02 am
There seems to be a great number of field slaves who are painting their faces white… I guess you refused to be such a coward (all matters of prudence aside)?

Life is full of reconciling contradictions. This, I guess, is the other side of “When in Rome”.

mysonabsalom
June 22, 2008 at 1:25 pm
More specific: This reminds me of my current situation in which a gaijin in authority is trying to enforce an unfair contract meant to exploit foreigners who are unaware of Japanese law and who is doing it more vigorously than the Japanese in authority.

thinkingcrowd
June 22, 2008 at 2:24 pm
fight the power my friend.

colin’s comments made me laugh though. so true. i guess it’s the difference between forced slavery and indentured servitude.

Colin Doyle
June 22, 2008 at 3:26 pm
Ah. You’re referring to your employer, not yourself.Now it (kind of) makes sense. Well, there are plenty of those about, it’s true. Strained analogy, though.

Dan
June 23, 2008 at 1:58 am
Ah yes, the painted slave is whiter than the white man. : ) I could allegorize all day.

Really, though, this is a definite type. I was always fortunate never to encounter it in a superior though.

16 Responses to “MALCOLM X:”THE HOUSE NEGRO AND THE FIELD NEGRO”:SPEECH TO SNCC WORKERS,SELMA, ALABAMA,FEB.4,1965”

  1. Villager Says:

    Malcolm X was born on May 19, 1925. This weekend we celebrate what would have been his 82nd birthday. Please join us on the Electronic Village and share your thoughts on this African American hero. Let your voice be heard. peace, Villager

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  3. Troy Gould aka Thunderbird Heart Says:

    I’m from the Mi’kmaq tribe, eastern sea board of US and Atlantic Canada, we suffer from the same thing, we have what Malcolm X describes as a “house negro or field negro” Many of our Mi’kmaq house-Negro’s are supporting the british, english, Canadian style South Africa Apartheid on to our people.

    Thunderbird Heart
    AKA
    Troy Gould

    • Yeye Akilimali Funua Olade Says:

      Troy Gould aka Thunderbird Heart ,you are right about house negroes being in every group! We are glad to know something more about our FIRST AMERICANS,THE NATIVE AMERICANS HERE BEFORE the whites slaughtered them to take the land from them!Keep fighting for the right thing against these traitors and we will win!

  4. malcolm x house negroes Says:

    CAIRO, Egypt (AP) _ Al-Qaida’s No. 2 leader used a racial epithet to insult Barack Obama in a message posted Wednesday, describing the president-elect in demeaning terms that imply he does the bidding of whites. The message appeared chiefly

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  6. Mimi Says:

    Someone referenced: without the willing negro “we” wouldn’t have Obama in office or Chris Rock in comedy. President Obama is in office to further the cause of the New World Order. He was not voted in by the people, he was placed there to further a cause!

  7. Vukile Says:

    Mimi could possibly be a house negro as well. You cant wilfully ignore the things you see around you just because youve managed to carve out a comfortable niche for yourself. The premise of the house negro, as it was in South africa, is that ‘as long as Im doing okay, forget everbody’. Yet if you had any ounce of true african values you would understand the communal standpoint that is prerequisite of African civilisation. The mindset of towing the line until you pick up enough crumbs to get fat has been well marketed, i say this without oversimplifying those factors that propel such prominent figures as Chris Rock and Obama.

    If you are to be judged on your values,we certainly wouuldnt have much to go on. say hi to the master of the house for me.

  8. romm Says:

    The negro or the hispanic or the white need to stop thinking in racial terms, we are one. Brothers and sisters, united against the State or babylon (as the rastafarian might say).

    see http://www.black-stone.net/articles/index.htm

  9. Captain Says:

    Divide and conquer… even the greats fell victim to it. Just because they fell for it does not mean that we have to fall for it.

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