A Quick Piece on Malcom X
As Martin Luther King Jr. approaches us, I also want to pay respects to Malcolm X. Do you know what the ‘X’ means?
While MLK is remembered for his non-violent philosophy and X is not, I respect him for all that he was.
I’ve been reading about him for the past hour. His father died when he was 6, and it seems quite likely that he was murdered by people from a racist white group.
After seeing his mother committed to a mental institution (24 years total!), Malcolm moved to Harlem and committed some crime. While serving time, he learned about the Nation of Islam (NOI).
While many criticized him for his philosophy (google him if you want to learn more, I don’t want to do his story injustice), he saw many a horror. As I already mentioned, his father was likely murdered and his mother had a mental breakdown. At one NOI temple, police officers shot innocent Muslims, one even who had his hands up from behind. No officers were charged. Doesn’t it make sense that somebody who saw all these things would not want to wait around for blacks to be treated equally?
However, Malcolm X changed in his forty years. While advocating violence was in the long run not right, his unity of blacks for sure empowered many who felt disenfranchised. Over the years Malcolm X felt out with the leader Elijah Muhammed, who had extramarital affairs (and after from what I read it totally wouldn’t surprise me if this guy had something to do with X’s assassination).
X completed the hajj (the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca) and changed his view when he saw that Islam ☪️ could unite not just people with black skin and brown eyes, but people “with blue eyes and blond hair” as well. Essentially, what I got out of this was, religion elevated this man from a life of petty crime. The NOI is the 50’s and 60’s had a very distinct approach, but once X saw his preferred religion from a broader view, he saw that people of all races could unite.
He even worked with those in the civil rights movement towards the end, but I believe he preferred the label to change to human rights, with his idea being that human rights would involve the UN and bring eyes and change from countries all over the world who were equalizing human rights in their homelands at the time.
What really irks me is that X was evolving and would have continued to do so if not for his assassination. He may have been remembered at the end for a bigger impact than MLK, perhaps even with a peaceful perspective. Somehow, that he was assassinated by black members of NOI saddens me deeper in a different direction, but I don’t know how to explain that really. His dad was likely murdered by racists from the Black Legion, and he was murdered by members of a society he helped build more than practically anyone.
Not to mention the FBI infiltrations (COINTELPRO) and the apathy of NYPD arriving to the crime scene.
What brought me down this path was the Joe Rogan Podcast with Mike Baker. I didn’t know that the guy who tried to assassinate Ronald Reagan was alive and out living freely to this day. And I didn’t know about the harrowing fates that met those who descended from the NOI (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was a pallbearer for one).
I think of my grandparents and my friends in their sixties and seventies who lived through a decade of assassinations including JFK, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King.
Having a primarily Irish lineage, I try to understand how African-Americans and other folks with darker skin pigment experience life, how their ancestors experienced life. To be honest, I’ve probably spent more of my life imagining what it must have been like to be black in past and present day than I have wondering what it was like for my greatx3 ancestors coming over here. They didn’t leave any notes, so I never read into it.
I believe racism still exists. Some people don’t, and that’s fine, because I’m sure racism doesn’t exist underneath rocks. People are still hated for their race, still killed for their religion, and worse. I think that harping over these things will burn a hole in your gut, but believing they don’t exist… how does that solve anything when they do?
I also think that slavery didn’t happen that long ago. The civil rights movement happened in some of our parents’s lifetimes. Didn’t ‘Unite the Right’ happen just last year? In 2019, far after the deaths of Martin Luther King and el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz, the fight for human equality battles on, both peacefully and violently.
We may live in a better world than our idols may have seen in generations past, but we still live in an age where the cruel range freely, where racist agendas have adopted a more deceitfully private and political approach.
I think it’s fair to say that X and King were yin and yang symbols of the Civil Rights Movement, so the close out this segment, here’s a photo of the one time the two coincided.