Two Kinds of Negros - House and FieldPublished:
by Kiri Vadivelu | 2 min. read race
Malcolm X's speech on Northern Negro Grass Roots Leadership Conference in 1963 about different types of black Americans
“There were two kinds of slaves, the house Negro and the field Negro. The house Negroes--they lived in the house with master, they dressed pretty good, they ate good because they ate his food--what he left. They lived in the attic or the basement, but still they lived near their master; and they loved their master more than their master loved himself. They would give their life to save their master's house--quicker than the master would. 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 go 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 them 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.”
- Malcolm X: “Message to the Grass Roots."
Northern Negro Grass Roots Leadership Conference. Group on Advanced Leadership. King Solomon Baptist Church, Detroit. 10 November 1963.