This optimism that society could be reformed, which Islam kindled in Malcolm X, can be contrasted to the pessimism that seized Dr King after a lifetime of struggle in the arena of civil rights. He would conclude shortly before his assassination, “Yet the largest portion of white America is still poisoned by racism, which is as native to our soil as pine trees, sagebrush, and buffalo grass.”
As the level of racially-charged exclusionary politics grows throughout the Western world, Muslims will have to contribute to the developing discourse to counter this problem. Doing so will require a plunge into the murky waters of racial politics. We should not shy away from the challenge. We readily acknowledge that Islam opposes all forms of racism and bigotry. However, sometimes we deny the need for any involvement in a racially defined political arena fearing that by involving ourselves on such a basis, we are somehow implicitly legitimising racial distinctions.