Click here to go to the Home Page

Marable’s Malcolm X, A Representative for Hope and Human Dignity - Represent Our Resistance - By Dr. Lenore J. Daniels, PhD - Editorial Board

Click to go to a Printer Friendly version of this article

And in order for you and me to know the nature of the struggle that you and I are involved in, we have to know not only the various ingredients involved at the local level and national level, but also the ingredients that are involved at the international level.
-El Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Malcolm), �Not Just an American Problem�
Malcolm was unquestionably the most consummately �political� activist, a man who emphasized grassroots and participatory politics led by working-class and poor blacks.

In Sickbay, Capt. Jean-Luc Picard, �gravely� injured, slips into a coma (�Tapestry,� The Next Generation, Q appears. Your artificial heart has failed: you are dead, he tells Picard. But he, Q, can grant any wish. What do you wish? To live with a real heart and to avoid the incident that caused me to receive the artificial heart.


The 21-year old ensign Picard is aboard the Starship Enterprise and once again among his friends.

The young Picard, a skilled rigger of gaming tables, is asked by one of his friends to take �revenge against a Nausicaan who cheated him.� If Picard complies, a fight will ensue and the victim of the scam will stab Picard in the heart. To avoid this outcome, he tells his friend to drop the matter. In turn, this friend, along with others and his girlfriend Marta, feel betrayed. They cannot understand Picard�s behavior.

Further, when he requests from his one time subordinates, Capt. Riker and Counselor Troi, an advanced position, he is informed that he is a good astrophysics officer but �doesn�t stand out.�

Picard understands; he summons Q. He wants to return to his life or die.

To the relief of Dr. Beverly Crusher, Picard survives this recent injury and awakens in the present time, to his life.

If the young Malcolm, in his prison cell, studying Will Durant�s The Story of Civilization (11 Volume Set) or Dubois� The Souls of Black Folk or Carter G. Woodson�s The Negro In Our History (1922), (The Autobiography of Malcolm X), encountered Q and the latter offered to grant any wish, I doubt Malcolm would ask to have his formative years erased or purified, for the many incidents that led him to Charlestown State Prison also led to his transformation from victim to freedom fighter.

This is not a story of �human waste� or personal tragedy. End of story, as Alex Haley chose to present Malcolm�s life (Marable). In Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention (April 2011), Professor Manning Marable argues, Malcolm�s �layers of personality� were often expressed as a series of different names�Malcolm Little, Homeboy, Jack Carlton, Detroit Red, Satan, Malachi Shabazz, El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz� - some created by Malcolm and others �bestowed upon him.� Marable writes, �No single personality ever captured him fully. In this sense, his narrative is a brilliant series of reinventions, �Malcolm X� being just the best known.�

�Self-invention was an effective way for him to reach the most marginalized sectors of the Black community, giving justification to their hopes.�

Today, the aspirations of our leaders and the Black masses alike are jaded, as the desires of the collective reflect an embrace of defeat and subsequent submersion in the depravity of consumerism - much like that lived, but briefly, by a 19-year-old sometimes labor and most times hustler, Malcolm Little. �What seems plain,� writes Marable, �is that between 1944 and 1946, Malcolm Little was struggling to survive.�

In Lansing, Michigan, the 11 or 12-year-old Malcolm, placed by welfare workers in the home of the Gohannas, was struggling. After the death (possibly murder by white neighbors) of her husband, Earl Little, Louise (both were active Garveyites) struggled for several years to maintain �a household routine that would nurture order and a sense of family for her children� in the �abyss of poverty� before a physician certified her �insane.�

At the end of the day, they �would all gather around the stove,� said Wilfred, �and my mother would tell us stories. Or we would sing our alphabets, or we would sing our math, and then she taught us French�And then she would tell us stories about our ancestry.�

Every bill collector in the city, country, and state rushed to her home or sent off letters requesting past due payments from the recipient of a widow�s pension and welfare payments �that never covered even basic needs.� Despite harassment, too, from white neighbors, Louise Little carried on - until she could no more. �The Littles,� writes Marable, �started to see themselves as victims of the State�s bureaucracy.� Then the grades of an excelling student started to plummeted. Malcolm confided in an English teacher of his wish to become a lawyer. �A lawyer - that�s no realistic goal for a nigger,� he was told. When the nearly 16-years-old Malcolm leaves his family in Lansing and heads for his older half-sister�s home in Boston, he, like any young person, is desperately searching for change.

But Ella Collins is struggling to survive, too. She, too, embraces the hustle to �get over,� maintaining an �idyllic middle-class existence� by engaging in petty crimes.

Living with Ella may have reinforced the importance of politics and racial identity, prized by his [Malcolm�s] parents, but her example also gave him a different set of ideas on how to get on in the world.

An anything goes to �get over� lifestyle attracted the teenager Malcolm who desperately wanted to be independent, but it was a lifestyle that led to petty crime, cocaine, and in Boston, �his role as a steerer for prostitutes.�

Nineteen and trapped, Malcolm nonetheless would often hear the voices of his parents speaking of Black pride and the voice of Adam Clayton Powell �reminded him of the more positive heritage of active engagement once practiced by his parents.� But between family homes in Lansing and Boston, menial jobs, money and no money, he finds lost souls, experts in the hustle.

The �white business man,� referred to by the national and international press as William Paul Lennon, represents one lost soul Malcolm encounters on his journey. It is Malcolm who, in The Autobiography of Malcolm X, refers to this man and an incident, using the alias, Rudy, (�probably� Malcolm himself).

[Rudy] had a side deal going, a hustle that took me right back to the old steering days in Harlem. Once a week, Rudy went to the home of this old, rich Boston blueblood, pillar-of-society aristocrat. He paid Rudy to undress them both, then pick up the old man like a baby, lay him on his bed, then stand over him and sprinkle him all over with talcum powder. Rudy said the old man would actually reach his climax from that.

Marable writes, �Based on circumstantial but strong evidence, Malcolm was probably describing his own homosexual encounter with Paul Lennon.� But while the incident �produced much speculation about Malcolm�s sexual orientation,� Marable continues, �the experience appears to have been limited.� Furthermore, he writes, �there is no evidence from his prison record in Massachusetts or from his personal life after 1952 that he was actively homosexual.�

End of story�except for the press.

Since Dr. Manning Marable�s illness and untimely death on April 1, 2011 and the April 4, 2011 publication of Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention, one report on the biography after another repeats the phrase �He is universally known as the activist who championed the rights of black people - but a new book also claims Malcolm X was bisexual who had an affair with a white man� - this particular line is from the Dailymail in Britain. Newsvine and Ebony Inspired followed in similar fashion.

Yet, Marable only dedicates 2 pages out of 604 to this incident, suggesting that his book, in the making for 20 years, was not intended to sensationalize the life of Malcolm X for a world audience saturated in images of violence, erotic or otherwise.

What is the objective of the national and international media?

In a world where the �Black� U.S. president boasts of firing off drones and bombs half way around the world to displace and kill women and children - what is the message the media is trying to reinforce? Are Black people asked to imagine the depravity of the struggle for freedom? Your past and your future are firmly in the muck!

Ultimately, what valid contributions do these State-funded and operated media mouthpieces offer to humanity?

Malcolm evolved into a human being, despite the deep-seated racism that tried to engulf him, his family, and community in the social and economic decadence Western civilization claims to have left behind it. Malcolm rose above that gutter and landed on his feet with his mind focused on resistance and his heart in love with Black people, with humanity.

A deep respect for, and a belief in, black humanity was at the heart of this revolutionary visionary�s faith. And as his social vision expanded to include people of divergent nationalities and racial identities, his gentle humanism and antiracism could have become a platform for a new kind of radical, global ethnic politics. Instead of the fiery symbol of ethnic violence and religious hatred, as Al-Qaeda might project him, Malcolm X should become a representative for hope and human dignity. At least for the African-American people, he has already come to embody those loftier aspirations.

Malcolm would not ask for his past to be erased or purified - just understood, as Marable shows, in the context of the Black struggle in an Amerikkka always poised to re-define the meaning of hope and human dignity. Editorial Board member, Lenore Jean Daniels, PhD, has a Doctorate in Modern American Literature/Cultural Theory. Click here to contact Dr. Daniels.

Click to go to a Printer Friendly version of this article
Click here to go to a menu of the Contents of this Issue

e-Mail re-print notice
If you send us an emaill message we may publish all or part of it, unless you tell us it is not for publication. You may also request that we withhold your name.

Thank you very much for your readership.

Apr 14, 2011 - Issue 422
is published every Thursday
Est. April 5, 2002
Executive Editor:
David A. Love, JD
Managing Editor:
Nancy Littlefield, MBA
Peter Gamble
Road Scholar - the world leader in educational travel for adults. Top ten travel destinations for African-Americans. Fascinating history, welcoming locals, astounding sights, hidden gems, mouth-watering food or all of the above - our list of the world’s top ten "must-see" learning destinations for African-Americans has a little something for everyone.