O, Malcolm, My Malcolm: You are present when you are away.
Dearest Malcolm X,
You were just a name for me from my history books; until I read Maya Angelou’s account of meeting you at Harlem. That day something changed. I sat there dumbfounded reading about the rollercoaster called your life, till they, ‘killed’ you.
Nothing can effectively describe your struggles, your passion, and your words which pierced like barbs. They just did not know where to hide, when you spoke your mind.
And what a mind you had Malcolm!
When you talked about the House Negroes and Field Negroes, I giggle thinking of our own, House Muslims; we have dozens of them.
No, they are not found here.
Shame! You whispered?
Oh, I heard!
My people here don’t know you much or for that matter they don’t care.
They don’t know your father was murdered by Klu Klux Klan[KKK] and your mother remained in a mental asylum. The welfare department played havoc with your life and you had to spend your days in different foster homes. You were a school dropout but a day came when your words stunned the Oxfordians, Harvardians etc. Unmatched.
As those Malcomesque sound bites turned into electromagnetic waves, hit the ears, we knew; it disturbed their world.
Take my word, it still does.
Your first quote, I remember is about the Blacks not getting the same rights after 400 years, as citizens of America which the immigrants landing on the US soil get instantly! Irony dies with it, Malcolm.
Your life is so fascinating, it’s impossible to put it into the limits of an article as an introduction to your life. What African-Americans face in America is similar to what minorities in the sub continent have to put up with. Your words and your work still hold true while the King’s struggle however powerful fell short of providing economic security and social justice for your people . You put your hand on that nerve of America where it hurt most and they hated you for that.
It began when your white English teacher Mr.Ostrowski told you to have a realistic goal. He was asking you to be a carpenter and not dare dream of being a lawyer.
That was the first time you realized you were not equal; despite your intelligence. You were being asked to be in your place.
It was then that I began to change-inside. You felt.
You went on to become the best cocaine seller in the town, the best hustler, the best pimp or best of everything in that, ’other’ world. This exposed you to understand best what is most difficult to understand.
The Human Mind.
The way you have read the White mind, the Black mind, the Female mind; is mind blowing! Your psycho-analysis becomes the last word on the issues you took up. Few can match you when it comes to analyzing why we hate, what we hate. Your postmortem of the White Mind still gives jitters to those who understood how lethal it was. You were called a demagogue and you tore their argument apart saying a demagogue is, ’a teacher of the people’. What about Socrates and Jesus Christ who were killed as demagogues? What about Galileo, Martin Luther and Gandhi, the naked fakeer of Churchill who,’ twisted the British lion’s tail! Your words strike me with the power of 10,000 volts or more if I confess.
Your hustler days were marked with shoe polishing to drug dealing, small dacoity with white girls for which you were jailed. You were ‘doing time’ for 6 years and your ferocity made the guards call you Satan.
And then you got to know Elijah Muhammad! You changed, no, you transformed, and how!
You began to learn new things. You noted words down one dictionary page a day and became a voracious reader. You wrote letters to Elijah Muhammad and your prison debates paved way for your brilliant future vocalizations at radio stations, universities and panel discussions; debates that made you immortal. You emphasized applying one’s education to uplift one’s community and on building institutions.
You understood the Machiavellian machinations of the West in general and America in particular, and shred it to pieces. Unlike King you didn’t believe America has a conscience. You believed injustice was inherently built in the genes of America, its institutions , and unless you changed that mindset, all those million marches to Washington were nothing but good Walking Exercises. Today we understand this.
White Man’s intelligence will fail him altogether if the human happens to be non white, you reiterated. He [the white man] has been able to exploit and oppress the Blacks and the world because the world and the black man have not applied their education. You further tore them to pieces, saying; “Ignorance, greed and a skillfully designed program of mis-education that goes right along with the American system of exploitation and oppression… So, it takes education to eliminate it. Just because you have colleges and universities, doesn’t mean you have education. The colleges and universities in the American educational system are skillfully used to mis-educate.”
You always put emphasis on applying education for the upliftment of one’s community and building institutions.
You always hit at the root of the problem and never hemmed or hawed. How many like you do we have today in our world?
Though you praised Mahatma Gandhi, you didn’t seem to believe in Gandhism. You believed in giving it back, what you get. That meant a punch on the nose will be returned, that too with a grateful nod of the head.
Hmm, Malcolm, they feared this spirit of yours. While the Mahatama preached an eye for an eye shall make the whole world blind; you opined, this only ensures justice.
I bowed to your intelligence which recognized that, excepting the African slave trade, nowhere has history recorded anymore bestial and ruthless human carnage than the British suppression of the non White Indian people. You were referring to the first Indian Mutiny of 1857.
You stand tallest among the world leaders, though the media doesn’t forget to add the sobriquet of controversial with your name. They forget [deliberately?] that you were a highly disciplined man; disciplined intellectually, morally and spiritually. They would not like you talking today, just as they did in those days.
You were dead against America bringing democracy to other countries; a democracy which gives more rights to a white immigrant than the Black man who has been slaving and serving since last 400 years. You made an interesting point by illustrating how it benefited the Jews to keep prejudice focused upon the Negro; so that the white Gentile’s prejudice would keep attention diverted off him, the Jew. Can we interpret it to Islamophobia of today? It’s a 160 million strong industry defined by Sam Harris as, a term invented by the fascists, used by the cowards to manipulate the morons.
You had advice ready for the Arabs as well, whom you thought poor at public relations and wanted them to properly advertise and communicate to the world ,the myriad colorfulness of and mingling of races at Hajj, which would send a strong positive message about Islam. It’s amazing to see how for the most part you lived in darkness, and then came to the pseudo-prophet Elijah Mohammad but renouncing him after your hajj, you turned to Sunni Islam, for the one and last year of your life!! You now believed not every white man is a devil.
You embraced death knowingly, you could have escaped, but didn’t. You never feared fear.
Malcolm, you were never violent, didn’t cause any public trouble anywhere but believed in justice. With centuries of oppression behind your people’s back, can you be faulted with this strong view? Of course as stated earlier you used the threat only for shock purposes to wake people up out of their self delusions. Malcolm was one of the gentlest persons I knew, wrote James Baldwin, the writer. Atallah Shahbazz your eldest daughter’s words have the power to stir a chord in every human heart. She had written, Daddy was the jubilant energy in our world. In addition to being determined, focused, honest, he was also greatly humorous, delightful, and boy-like, while at the same time a strong, firm male presence in a house filled with little women. His women. My sisters, me, and our mother. A collaboration of qualities that enchants me even now.
We are enchanted Malcolm, we are in a trance. There is a big need to carry forward your legacy of unity of humanism and equality and justice for all. We need you today, more than ever but we know, You are present, when you are away.
By: Dr.Asma Anjum Khan [@saysanjum]