Our Shining Manhood
Who was he really? Malcolm was, in my opinion, a great example of human evolution. He seemingly allowed any and every moment of his life to shape and mold him going forward. Malcolm defied the almost certain odds that would suggest that he would become another trophy on the shelf of recidivism. Statistics suggest that it is more likely for someone incarcerated to return to prison than to adjust to a life of normalcy. Malcolm did just that and far more than I believe he expected of himself. When I think of his legacy I see it in 3 components: The Man, The Myth, and the Legend.
As I alluded to earlier Malcolm began his adult life as an inmate. It is almost certain that once an individual becomes incarcerated they fall victim to institutionalized living, behaving and thinking. Malcolm did not fall victim to either of those. Instead, Malcolm X became a husband, a father, and ultimately a leader of men. While physically imprisoned he became an avid reader; in fact, his reading allowed him to free his once imprisoned mind. When his desire to increase his knowledge grew he began to rethink the destructive path he was constructing for himself and decided he needed a change.
While behind bars he was introduced to the Nation of Islam. His introduction to the religion gave him the structure and discipline needed to guide him into a better future. His discipline was a major reason that he became the man known in the annals of history. Many people are aware of his departure of the Nation of Islam as national minister; however, his faith in the religion of Islam practiced worldwide never change. In fact, he was granted the privilege to make his Hajj to Mecca and his eyes opened once again and he made another evolution. His prowess for information led to him being known in numerous circles as a consummate intellectual who was well read and well versed in a vast amount of diverse subjects. On several occasions, he was invited to and accepted invitations to debate in unlikely places including Oxford University. Because of the power of the media, his perception and the perception of his views were greatly distorted and in most cases dismissed.
The media has an undeniable prowess to marginalize any and all things they to find are in opposition to their programming. It seems as though they would rather have a group think mentality amongst the masses of the country. All of the thoughts, philosophies, and or ideologies which are deemed unapproved are quickly dismissed as propaganda and vilified. Malcolm and his thoughts, philosophies, and ideologies were and—in a great number of minds—are still shaped by the media’s reactions, intellectualizations and dissecting of his prominent prose. It is widely opined that Malcolm was violent, stood for violence and pushed his followers to be violent in their fight to change the conditions of his people; however, this is vehemently wrong. It is a myth that the media methodically metered to the minds of the masses to marginalize his Messiah like qualities. Malcolm was waking up the masses and not just those who identified in some “classification” of black. The main goal of his philosophy to unite the Negro so-called Negro in a mindset that was more communal like those of other ethnic minorities so-called ethnic minorities. He wanted to grow the wealth of the community to which he belonged in the same way that other groups possessed communal wealth. He wanted to obtain that wealth on a level playing field the same way that the constitution guaranteed to its citizens no matter what race, gender or religion. His life was tragically cut short in the middle of the growth of his following. His assassination made him a martyr among many and so his legacy lives on.
Malcolm is a martyr. He faced death and did not flinch. He sensed his demise before one bullet pierced his body. Somehow he still found the courage to take the stage at the Audubon Ballroom while conspirators planned his assassination. Sadly, Malcolm didn’t live to see his desires reach the potential he believed so strongly were possible. Yet somehow his powerful prose penetrated the psyches of many people and those people keep the possibility of his dream alive. I feel that the spirit of his dream and the awakening of his people comes and goes in cycles. If we recall in the 1990’s there was a short-lived rebirth of love for his ideologies, philosophies, and thoughts. People began to feel comfortable in kente cloth, cross colors hats and afro-centric hair and hair styles. But the roots of that tree weren’t too deep because as quickly as they had emerged they withered away amongst the masses. I am confident a rebirth will come again and soon; in fact, in my opinion, we are in the seed spreading stages and soon enough a harvest is coming. Hopefully, this harvest lasts until the end of time and not for a few moments of passion. Maybe we will marry the mindset this time instead of lusting after the beautiful appearance of black pride. Malcolm left his people with many blueprints to communal self-sufficiency maybe in the near future we will build a skyscraper for the world to see and not just a hut for people to exploit.
I sincerely hope that people who read this will remember King Malcolm as the man who dispelled his myths by living and dying in a life that demanded that his legend live on through his philosophies, thoughts, and ideologies and watch the skyscraper being built before their eyes. Lastly, maybe the legacy of Malcolm will prove that Fred Hampton was right when he bellowed that “you can kill the revolutionary but you can’t kill the revolution… you can kill the freedom fighter but you can’t kill freedom fighting.”