Interview: Michael Sawyer on the Political Philosophy of Malcolm X – Epistemic Unruliness 29

In this episode, Sid and John have the pleasure of talking with Dr. Michael Sawyer about his new book, Black Minded: The Political Philosophy of Malcolm X. Offering a systematic account of Malcolm X’s philosophy, Sawyer surfaces the distinctive radical humanism suffusing Malcolm X’s thought. Against the backdrop of ongoing anti-Black state and vigilante violence, we ask: What are the stakes of reading Malcolm X as a political philosopher, and what does it mean to be “Black minded”? How does Malcolm X theorize and practice the body as a site of Black subjectivity and self-sovereignty in the face of white supremacy, especially in white supremacy’s expression through the violent policing of Black bodies? In ways is Malcolm X a “bridge” between W.E.B Du Bois and Franz Fanon, and what do we learn from reading Malcolm X through Audre Lorde? What are the resonances and differences between Malcolm X’s conception of the New Human and the anti-humanism of Afro-pessimism? How should we grasp his often misunderstood notions of Black nationalism, violence, and revolution? Our conversation works though these pressing questions, clarifying the complexity, continued relevance, and radical horizon of Malcolm X’s political and philosophical critique of the white supremacist social order. We close with Sawyer’s reflections about contemporary struggles against white supremacy and the Black Lives Matter movement.

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Photo courtesy of Michael Sawyer


Malcolm X behind the counter at a restaurant, photographing Cassius Clay.

One of the images analyzed by Sawyer in the book.
Photo originally by Bob Gomel/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images; sourced from

Roundtable on the Movement for Black Lives – Epistemic Unruliness 15

In this special round-table discussion on Black Lives Matter, James is joined by Travis Harris, Shana Haines, and Tyrell Cooper, activist-scholars from the Hampton Roads region of Virginia. This robust conversation details the wider Movement for Black Lives and covers issues related to the many forms of state-instantiated violence against Black bodies beyond police brutality, the representation of #BlackLivesMatter in media, and critically raises the question of visibility for sexual and gender queerness within Black liberation movements. Though this difficult subject matter is approached soberly, this dynamic grouping was able to bring levity to the conversation, and at times the tea in this episode is served piping hot! Get up to speed on Black social death and resistant Black joy in contemporary America by listening now.

Remember to support us on Patreon to help offset/reimburse the cost of our fancy new microphone, which we have named Lacan. Requests for texts for us to discuss? Dreams for us to interpret? Advice questions for us to answer? Email us at alwaysalreadypodcast AT gmail DOT com. Subscribe on iTunes. Follow us on Twitter. Like our Facebook page. RSS feed here. Thanks to Leah Dion and to Jordan and to B for the music. Get the mp3 of the episode here.