Get Your Hands Out My Pocket!
On February 21, 1965 political demagogue and civil rights activist Malcolm X was assassinated at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem, New York City. The weapon of choice: a 12-gauge sawn-off shotgun.
Fifty years later, racism is still a headline topic of discourse. The Black Lives Matter movement has demarcated the sardonic from the sanguine. Citizens of the country are concerned about law enforcement tactics within communities of color and are willing to protest for real results.
During his speech to announce an executive order on gun control, President Obama showed contrite emotions when he acknowledged the social ramifications yielded from this history of violence.
Even though his speech was directed at gun control in general, there was a natural tendency within his persona to focus on what he’s experienced as an African-American lawmaker from the South Side of Chicago.
Since the inception of this nation, guns have always been a prominent resource for enabling freedom. As America’s first immigrants not brought here by choice, we’ve often fought for a respectable and equitable identity. A seat at the table with a whole (5/5 instead of 3/5) serving. Throughout the times, intellectual activism has engendered change.
Enlightenment to the struggle does change people’s hearts. Yet, the cynics of the world still find a way to permeate through time only to transcend bigotry. One must combat the hate through active expression of intellect instead of physical harm.
The Deep South, formerly responsible for our nation’s economic prowess due to free labor (i.e. slavery), had to conform and kowtow to the abolitionists. However, they still fought for their way through means of segregation legislature (i.e. Jim Crow laws).
After WWII, many African-American families migrated from the Deep South towards more open-minded pastures. Economic opportunities were prevalent in places such as the West Coast, the Northeast, and in the Midwest.
Malcolm X was born Malcolm Little in Omaha, Nebraska on May 19, 1925. His father was a Baptist minister largely inspired by the rhetoric of Marcus Garvey, a pan-Africanist. The KKK, America’s first terrorist group, were responsible for his murder but weren’t convicted of any crime. They beat him up, laid him down on railroad tracks, and left him for dead.
It was notably clear throughout his speeches and literary works that he was a logician highly motivated to express the truth of the times. The memory of how his father died certainly strengthened Malcolm X. I interpreted his intellect to express his experiences substantively as a symbol of perseverance.
Malcolm X stood for this mantra and lived vicariously to support truth seekers against the oppressors. Having spent time in prison for burglary charges, he learned about Islam through his brother. One of the hardest experiences he shares is the simple notion of prostration to God.
Imagine that. A street hustler, known then as Detroit Red, had a hard time bowing down to show submission to the supreme being many revere and fear simultaneously. He might’ve been skeptical at first, but through him doing research, he made the rational argument to believe in God.
That was the impetus for his conversion — knowledge seeking. Aside from the misconstrued fact of the black man being God which was propped up by certain factions, Malcolm read a gamut of literature to support his claims and newfound interest in Islam all while in prison.
The problem with Malcolm X was his obdurate stance on integrating with non-blacks to stop the violence. He never was violent himself, he only promoted it as a means of self-defense. Yet if he were more receptive to non-blacks that understood his philosophy, then things might’ve evolved differently in terms of social acceptance.
After he returned from his pilgrimage to Mecca, his mind grew towards this. He sought to connect with other people that would help galvanize change. In doing so, he became critical in his speeches to the previous organization that he helped prop up in the mainstream media. This grew to a point where there was an eventual setup for the killing of El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz.
Fast forward to the 21st century, we now have a chance to be better than our predecessors. The Internet makes information more easily accessible. Social media outlets allow us to conduct a chain reaction effect to highlight important topics to debate.
A simple search on Google reveals information on the following profiles: Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice, Dontre Hamilton, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray, John Crawford, Michael Brown, Tony Robinson, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, and many more. We clearly aren’t playing the race card to spite. Those in power are acting under misguided assumptions whenever they interact with our communities.
Acts of violence are produced too often and need to be challenged with non-violent forms of discourse. The legislature will change if we present a formidable argument. The way things have been in recent years is quite shocking, really. It’s almost like a shoot first-ask questions last mentality. Biggie Smalls would not have wanted it to be this way.
Even more alarming: in 2o15 alone, more than 100 unarmed black people were killed by law enforcement. If that doesn’t conjure up conspiracy then you tell me what does.
Here’s my agenda:
I will continue to seek truth in the struggles of our people in this postmodern world. I will continue to seek truth in Islam as much as possible in order to clear up the turbid trace of its hard-lining practitioners. Islam hosts a race-agnostic doctrine, it does not discriminate amongst its practitioners. Lastly, I will simply seek truth as a humanist to discover how we can accomplish feats that will subsidize the violence in lieu for acceptance.
On that cold day in February, his final speech was interrupted with two brothers arguing. One of them yelled out, “Get your hands out my pocket!” Malcolm X responded, “Now, now brothers, break it up.” His last words were, “Be cool, be calm.”
So, America, I invite you to seek after enlightenment and fight for your intellectual truths to be heard. Just make sure you’re cool, make sure you’re calm.