“[T]he oppressed never uses the same yardstick as the oppressor.” — Malcolm X

Full answer to the question: “Do you forsee a total assimilation with equal rights of the Afro-American into the white community of the United States in many, many years to come?”:

No! Nobody! Who’s going to wait many years? I’m glad you asked the question like that because you see, the oppressed never uses the same yardstick as the oppressor.

And this is what the oppressor doesn’t realize. In his position of power he takes things for granted and he takes it for granted that every that everybody uses his yardstick. Well, today for a long time, we, the oppressed people, not only in America but in Africa, Asia and elsewhere, had to use someone else’s yardstick. When they said ‘fast,’ what was ‘fast’ for them was ‘fast’ to us, but nowadays the yardstick has changed. we got our own yardstick. And when you say a long time this assimilation, or a long time this solution, the thing you don’t realize is that other generations used a different yardstick. They had patience and you could tell them a long time and they would sit around for a long time, but the young ones that’s coming up now are asking ‘Why should we wait? Why should he have to wait for what other people have when they’re born? Why should he have to go to a Supreme Court or to a Congress, or to a Senate, or to some kind of legislative body to be told he’s a man when other people don’t have to go through that process to be told that they’re a man?’ So you have a new generation coming up…necessary to let the world know right now that they’re going to be men or there just won’t be a human being anywhere else.

Source: Malcolm X. By Any Means Necessary. pg. 119. Stated during the question and answer period following his lecture titled “The Black Struggle In the United States” given at the Salle de la Mutualite on November 23, 1964 in Paris, France.


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