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.
Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Malcolm), “Not Just an American
was unquestionably the most consummately ‘political’ activist,
a man who emphasized grassroots and participatory politics
led by working-class and poor blacks.
Sickbay, Capt. Jean-Luc Picard, “gravely” injured, slips
into a coma (“Tapestry,” The Next Generation, StarTerk.com).
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.
21-year old ensign Picard is aboard the Starship Enterprise
and once again among his friends.
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
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
understands; he summons Q. He wants to return to his life
the relief of Dr. Beverly Crusher, Picard survives this
recent injury and awakens in the present time, to his
the young Malcolm, in his prison cell, studying Will Durant’s
Story of Civilization (11 Volume Set) or Dubois’
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
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.”
was an effective way for him to reach the most marginalized
sectors of the Black community, giving justification to
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
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
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.’
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
“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).
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.
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.”
he writes, “there is no evidence from his prison record
in Massachusetts or from his personal life after 1952 that he was actively
of story…except for the press.
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.
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.
is the objective of the national and international media?
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!
what valid contributions do these State-funded and operated
media mouthpieces offer to humanity?
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
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.
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
to contact Dr. Daniels.
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