Muhammad Ali’s Controversial Comments On Racial Diversity

Muhammad Ali Explains Why Races Should Not Mix

If you have been watching Ken Burns excellent documentary about Muhammad Ali on PBS, you can only wonder how Muhammad Ali’s views on everything would be taken today.  Ali was always unabashedly honest expressing his opinions. Ali said and did things that always created controversy.

One of Ali’s most provocative statements was never seen or heard by Americans. It was broadcast only in Great Britain in 1971 on the BBC talk show Parkinson hosted by journalist Michael Parkinson. As of this writing only one episode of Ken Burns documentary has been broadcast. Will any of this clip make it into the documentary?


After Michael Parkinson says to Ali “its sad that you have this attitude,” Ali replies:

It ain’t sad because I want my child to look like me. Every intelligent person wants his child to look like him.

I’m sad because I want to blot out my race and lose my beautiful identity?

Chinese love Chinese. they love the little slanted eyes the pretty brown-skinned babies. Pakistanis love their culture. Jewish people love their culture.  A lot of Catholics don’t want to marry nothing but Catholics, they want the religion to stay the same.

Who want to spot up yourself and kill your race?

You, you’re a hater of your people if you don’t want to stay who you are. You ashamed of what god made you? God didn’t make no mistake when he made us all like we are.

How would this go over in 2021 when everyone is promoting diversity and inclusiveness? If this was anyone but Muhammad Ali speaking, what would the reaction be? Would Ali be applauded or derided?

In our brave new world of cancelling people for holding a different (possibly unpopular) opinion, what should happen when you speak your mind?

3 thoughts on “Muhammad Ali’s Controversial Comments On Racial Diversity

  1. Nolan Parker

    One of the worst ideas about how people think or feel.
    That man was just so smart. Criticize him if you will. I did. I didn’t understand why he made the decision to give up what he gave up and take the heat for not going to Nam. It took me years to understand that. Not understanding that man and the things he says is not an indictment of Him.
    You might need to spend some time in Deep introspection before you decide he is wrong.

  2. Wendy K.

    There are two questions here:
    1. Is Ali correct that this is how people feel about themselves?
    And if he is right about that,
    2. Is that how people SHOULD feel about themselves?

    My own opinion is that the answer to #2 is much easier to address. No, we shouldn’t feel that way. However, the glaring truth is that human beings are imperfect creatures. None of us is free from the encumberance of error, in deed and/or in thought. If we were, we wouldn’t need things like laws to keep us from stealing, cheating, and endangering one another. But the bottom line is that as a species we not only are universally flawed, but we are universally devious. We seek to cover up our own shortcomings and mistakes, and blame others when we can not do so.
    Which leads us back to the first question. Racism is a defense mechanism. It is no more exclusive to white Europeans than any other race. The creation of an “us and them” mindset exists to make it easier to psychologically and artificially dimninish and/or negate our own flaws by placing the “others” in a negative light. We don’t just do this with race, either. We do it with religion. We do it with gender. We do it with income. We do it with political party. And we ALL do it. Some may not engage in this discrimination with one group, or even two. Some rare individuals may only engage in it with one group. Some are blatantly open about it, some are much more subtle. But every human being on the planet does this in one form or another.
    So I think it is pretty hard to come up with any convincing conclusion other than that Ali is correct. As a species, we do generally prefer to not racially interbreed. But at the same time, that preference is itself a condemnation of our own inability to securely harness our uniquely human capacity for rational thought. We have the ability to think rationally…but we do not allow that rational thought to guide our actions nearly often enough.
    The sad part is that we no longer even bother teaching our youth the fundamentals of rational thought, let alone coach and encourage them to develop these skills over the course of their educations. Now all decisions are made by a population of thoughtless, self-centered, emotional basketcases.


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