From Brother Malcolm X:
“A very good example was the riots that took place here during the summer: I was in Africa, I read about them over there. If you’ll notice, they referred to the rioters as vandals, hoodlums, thieves. They tried to make it appear that this wasn’t — they tried to make it — and they did this. They skillfully took the burden off the society for its failure to correct these negative conditions in the Black community. It took the burden completely off the society and put it right on the community by using the press to make it appear that the looting and all of this was proof that the whole act was nothing but vandals and robbers and thieves, who weren’t really interested in anything other than that which was negative. And I hear many old, dumb, brainwashed Negroes who parrot the same old party line that the man handed down in his paper.
It was not the case that they were just knocking out store windows ignorantly. In Harlem, for instance, all of the stores are owned by white people, all of the buildings are owned by white people. Black people are just there, paying rent, buying the groceries. But they don’t own the stores, clothing stores, food stores, any kind of stores; don’t even own the homes that they live in. This is all owned by outsiders. And then these run down apartment dwellings, the Black man in Harlem pays more money for it than the man down in the rich Park Avenue section. It costs us more money to live in the slum, than it costs them to live down on Park Avenue. Black people in Harlem know this. And the white merchants charge us more money for food in Harlem — and it’s the cheap food, it’s the worst food; and we have to pay more money for it than the man has to pay for it downtown. So Black people know that they’re being exploited and that their blood is being sucked and they see no way out of it.
So finally, when the thing is sparked, the white man is not there; he’s gone. The merchant is not there, the landlord is not there; the one he considers to be the enemy isn’t there. So, they knock at his property. This is what makes them knock down the store windows and set fire to things, and things of that sort.”