The Playboy interview with Malcolm X was shocking in its revelations concerning the beliefs of Black Muslims, their view towards white people, and race relations as a whole. Malcolm X, the established leader of the militant group, was candid in blunt in his descriptions. From celebrating the deaths of white people in accidents condemning other black leaders, the article was a stark portrayal of Malcolm’s feelings and attitudes.
The article gives a brief description of Malcolm X’s background. An ex-factory worker, Malcolm X changed his named and converted to Islam, abandoning his previous way of life and embracing the tenants of Black Muslims, such as black superiority. He became a foremost leader in the Black Muslim community.
Malcolm X spoke with reverence and full confidence in the beliefs and teaching of Muhammed, stating that black men could be cured of addictions and moral failings through following Muhammed. He believed white men had denigrated black people for so long that black people lost their sense of self. Malcolm X stressed that Muhammed taught them to be self-sufficient, with their own industries and businesses, with the goal to surpass white people.
Malcolm X spoke against black Christians and those who opposed the Black Muslims, saying Muhammed would “wake them up” and they would see what Christianity had done to them. Malcolm X believed firmly in the idea of an Armageddon, when white people would be eliminated.
One of the most controversial sections occurred when Malcolm X was questioned about his earlier comments surrounding a plane crash where 140 white people were killed. At the time, Malcolm X had said it was “good news.” Malcolm X defended his remarks, saying white people were getting what they deserved after years of mistreating black people. Malcolm X put down the thoughts of other black leaders who opposed him, such as Dr. Bunche. Malcolm X dismissed his words since he viewed Bunche as a white person’s puppet, speaking words given to him by white people.
Malcolm X also asserted that Christ was black, when questioned by the interviewer if he hated Christ for being white. He stated that the perception of a white Christ was from a rewriting of histories to fit a white mindset. He also claimed other major figures were actually black, such as Hannibal, Beethoven, and Columbus.
Malcolm X was against positive race relations, saying intelligent white people knew they were inferior to blacks. Comparing race to coffee, Malcolm said if you want strength, you ask for black, if you want weak, you go with white. He stated unequivocally that he found all white men to be evil by nature.
Malcolm X cited his heritage as part of the reason for his hatred of white men; his mother was raped by a white man whens he conceived him, and he stated that he “hated every white drop in his body.” After his father died and his family was starving, Malcolm X was placed with a white family and attended a white school. He eventually was introduced to criminal activity in Harlem. It was in prison that he had his epiphany and converted to Islam, convinced in the evil of white people.
Malcolm X also firmly stated that no white leader had ever done anything for the benefit of black people. He dismissed the work of Lincoln, stating that it was not to free slaves but for the sake of the Union that Lincoln had started the Civil War. He believed whites needed to take ownership for their treatment of blacks and their own inferiority. To do so, Malcolm X believed the only resolution was to allow black people to have a completely segregated land of their own to inhabit.