Whenever black history month rolls around I get frustrated because some of the greatest Black Americans get overlooked because the mainstream media is too afraid to remind people that these people existed, because the power of these people frightens the hell out of them. One of these people is Malcolm X.
During Black History Month you will see a bunch of tributes to black singers and jazz musicians. Frederick Douglas and Sojourner Truth may make an appearance, and of course you’ll get lots of stuff about Martin Luther King Jr., Coretta Scott King and Rosa Parks who fought for a seat on the bus. If a media outlet is really edgy you will see a picture of Angela Davis somewhere at the bottom of the list of Black American Heroes without mentioning too much, if anything, about her association with the Black Panthers. You will barely hear anyone use Black History Month to sing the praises of one black man in particular, one that sparked an intellectual revolution that triggered an army of people to rise up around him ready to pursue every single right that Black people are entitled to according to the constitution. That man was Malcolm X.
People don’t seem to want to acknowledge that without Malcolm X the racist people in power would have dismissed Martin Luther King Jr. outright and we would have made no progress whatsoever. Malcolm X gave America a choice about how they could deal with civil injustice, his vociferous and militant presence said to racist America, “You can listen to and fulfill the righteous demands of nice, patient, Martin Luther King Jr. over there, or you can face the immediate fire and righteous anger of the unyielding, unapologetic forces led by Malcolm X. You decide, America, how you would like to proceed because justice will not suffer one more minute of your inhumanity against your fellow man.”
Suddenly Martin Luther King Jr. was the belle of the ball. Heads of state couldn’t wait to be seen with him, shaking his hand, inviting him down to Washington to stand on the mall and tell everyone about his peaceful dream. Meanwhile Malcolm was invited on talk shows, where ratings rule, and gave the networks the shock value they needed to keep advertising dollars pouring in. Malcolm utilized the power of the mass media fearlessly and spoke glorious truth to power. People watching were in awe and also scared witless by his poetic, intellectual, historically accurate, brilliance. He could not be cornered into stupid arguments that would diminish his nobility and the truth of what he was saying.
Critics called him crazy. They called him the devil. The terror he inspired in the minds racist people, who had gotten cozy and comfortable seeing black people treated as second class citizens, well, their fear of Malcolm’s wrath woke their racist asses up! Racist America realized that black people knew they had second amendment rights and if they decide to use them, it wasn’t going to be pretty. Martin on the other hand told black Americans to stand down when they got hosed and when dogs were sent after them and when police beat them in the street. Martin could be worked with. Non-racist whites rushed to Martin’s side hoping their white privilege would act as a force field during his peaceful marches to equality.
Let’s face it, Americans love stories about the triumph of the underdog, so if America was treating black people as the underdog that meant the next American Revolution would be led by them, that’s how things work in America. Once racist America saw their two options for the future they had to make a decision.
Option 1 – Get your racist asses kicked violently by Malcolm’s army of supporters until you give Black Americans every single right and every single acre of land that they are entitled to as reparations for slavery.
Option 2 – Listen to Martin, accept black people in your communities and treat them with respect. Let black people sit in the front of white America’s busses and go to white America’s schools and drink from white America’s water fountains, and get served at the counter of white America’s ‘five and dimes’ and let them work in white America’s factories and institutions and if they can scrimp and save enough let them buy back some of that land their grandfathers and grandmothers toiled on. Listen to Martin Luther King Jr. and everything will be pretty much the same for white America, you’ll just have a few more pictures of black people showing up in Life Magazine from time to time.
Suddenly to white America, what Martin Luther King Jr. was asking for seemed totally doable. And so it was done.
Once America made the choice of the one black man they would accept political dissent from, the pressure was put on Malcolm, by the civil rights movement and leaders in the Nation of Islam to submit to Martin’s model and become more peaceful. In essence he was asked to put down his arms. His family was threatened his home fire bombed and he was assassinated. Three years later Martin Luther King was assassinated.
Imagine if white racist America had assassinated Martin first, how Malcolm would have responded? The peaceful revolutionary, Martin, needed to be seen as the victor of the civil rights movement, the martyr worth remembering and honoring year after year, because racist white America can’t have the world remembering Malcolm X as one who also pointed the way toward a peaceful civil rights movement by filling every other avenue to the future with fire and rage that no one dared travel.
Without Malcolm and Martin around any longer, the drug war was initiated and all of the progress made by the civil rights movement was stolen back by the power elite. Now we have more black men in prison than we ever did slaves. And the drug war knows no color, so the American hell that used to only be reserved for the black man is the providence of all poor and disenfranchised people in America, no matter what race you are.
The hip hop movement that rose up against this oppression was persecuted by law enforcement and co-opted by the corporations who changed the tone from one of social awakening to one of bling and booty chasing. The political power of the music was silenced as Tupac bled to death in Las Vegas and the rest of the now rich rap revolutionaries chose the good life over liberty and sacrificed the soul of the movement to mingle on red carpets with the spiritually worthless Kardashians and to sit in the front row at fashion week. They turned hip hop into a bitch game that Anna Wintour now controls.
The fortunes of man are a two-sided coin. On one side is the warrior and on the other the diplomat. No human progress can be earned by one side or the other. Both sides must be valued to insure social change can be made.
Until the 1,200 people who control the economies of this world are terrified of being ripped from their mansions and castles and murdered in the streets by the 7 billion people in the world living under their oppressive rule, the divide between the rich and the poor will continue to grow. Prisons will swell, slavery will spread, and genocide will continue to be committed. Do we want to live with hypocrisy and injustice and silence our voice for the approval of a few, to enrich ourselves or do we stand up and demand justice for the tired and the poor and the huddled masses yearning to be free, every waking minute of our lives until we are gone from this earth?
Today too many people think peace is something we have to beg for when it is something we create by keeping the tyrants in government and big business quaking in fear of exploiting us and unleashing our collective fury upon them. That passivity is why we can't get a fair shake no matter how many marches we go on.
To honor the legacy and spirit of Malcolm X one must despise injustice, practice discipline, pursue knowledge, learn history, think philosophically, speak eloquently, write passionately, pray religiously, and champion the American right to bear arms in self-defense. Do NOT put down the sword of your righteous anger to comfort your oppressor. Justifiable rage and the means to exercise it are needed to carve a fair and just civilization for future generations. Purposeful, productive, anger is the best partner for people with peaceful pursuits. Focused, informed, educated ire is the best weapon human beings have to make sure the more gentle members and leaders of our society do not get murdered in the streets and silenced forever while trying to deliver us all toward lasting peace and harmony.
Remember Malcolm X.
Have a nice day.