My daughter told me a few years ago that she “felt some kind of way” about Malcolm X. That “some way” was all about resisting his strategy and radical stage in history.
Long story short, by the time we were finished talking, she understood he was no more radical as the world around him, yet he was scorned and punished for the same thought process of the masterminds of the degradation of black people.
“I get it,” I told her, but without Malcolm, there would have been no Martin as we know him.
With her big brown eyes and braided hair, she stared at me as if she were figuring the logistics of how this could be true. She was about 9 years old, I think, at that time. Now, at 11, she can recite back why, how and what Malcolm X stood for and why the fire that lights his eyes in a portrait that hangs in my office makes her heart drop each time you glance at it.
But at first, she thought, “Did he feel nothing in his heart, Ma?” she said. I responded to her “He felt everything, in his heart, Nile”. I said something else to the effect of, “You know how Daddy feels about us? You know, if someone bumps us at the mall or treats us rudely, he gets all worked up as if we are royalty being gravely mistreated?” She laughed and said, “oh yes.” I said, ‘Malcolm was like that.’ He did not set out to “beat the brakes” off white people, but he moved very swiftly into a place of leadership, with strong forces behind him, to make his message as scarily true and real for white America as it was for Black folks.
In the first basketball game of the Golden State Warriors versus the Cleveland Cavaliers, in the current NBA Finals, LeBron James’ eyes, facial expression and body language changed when the game went into overtime. It was as if he was so shocked by the tightness of the game in points that he turned into a different kind of warrior. His eyes were beastly as if his life depended on a win. The end result was what mattered; no gray area in between. That’s basketball. Yet, this is life.
Malcolm X had little black girls of his own to raise and lived in a time where little black girls were burned alive in random church bombings all across the States.
Drinking from the same water fountain as whites was a crime and even now swimming in a pool with white people seem to be a major problem. Yes, even in 2015.
As I watched the video footage of the most recent viral outrage in true reality tv and social media, “cops versus black people,” I quickly grabbed the video as it was unfolding and showed it to my family. We sat there with mouths wide open. The color spectrum in our family ranges from white to black and all in between. It’s a ‘rainbow coalition,’ my family. We look scarily alike in the face, mannerisms and body structure yet the colors of our skin is vastly different.
A combination not often seen in one family let alone at one household at Sunday dinner. We usually get questions regularly on the race of those cousins, aunts or uncles after newcomers have stopped by and seen them all. I thought everyone’s family was that way as a child. I often wondered why my sister would be asked all the time if I was her “real” sister because of her skin color. The answer was always a fast, snarky, yes from her and the internal family response is “how dare they.” Nile, grew up looking at this “house o’ rainbows,” where everyone talked about race out loud in the house except those visitors who didn’t know what to say. They would whisper and say, “Don’t say that around such and such” or “is he black or white? Let me know before I say the wrong thing.” Funny thing is, no one in my family cared about the color issue in our house, we mostly agreed what we saw with our own “lying eyes” in America. Most of my relatives have traveled and lived outside of this country.
Unfortunately, when it comes to race, not one week can past that will allow us to not have to deal with race. Last Sunday we watched a teen have her rights violated by a law enforcement officer. The main officer acted as if he was tripping out of a chemical substance of some kind and shortly thereafter we saw an out of control officer and two standby officers and a “public servant” who stood around and allowed the officers to chase black kids with a loaded gun and wrestle a black teen to the ground for what could have easily been handled differently. At one point a random white man that was allowed to stand over one of the black teen girls’ head with his crotch planted at the top of her head.
Subsequently, he then blocked the young white videographer for a split second while the officer continued to wrestle the child to the ground. Even the young white teen is speaking out about the injustice of what happened to his friends whether he fully understands it’s an injustice or not. The problem is anger, fear and lack of training. All I could think about was my baby girl, Nile, on the ground screaming while being manhandled by this cop. As that girl shouted for her mom, the officer swore at the black children and sent them home. Even when other adults came over to help, the officer then sent them away with the exception of this one white guy who stood by pointing out the black children. I am not ok with that. I am not ok with it if it happened to children of any race.
We as a race of human beings should not be ok with that.
Sadly, in this world we live in, the disgust Malcolm X held in his eyes in the picture hanging over my desk erupts from the very same smoky soul that is stirring a fire inside of each of us each time we witness this kind of anger, fear and ignorance that is becoming so prevalent in our country. Black people are not the enemy. When we see this behavior, it is a poor, sloppy excuse for not actually going after the real enemy because that terrorist group of people, of all races, are too complex and too smart for a regular everyday mission on the streets yet the workload surely is there. As Malcolm X said, “the future belongs to those who prepare for it today.” We can only pray those teens, their parents and all of us watching from what we think is afar, learn a valuable lesson from this horrific event. May it make them stronger, more vocal and most active in changing the dynamics of the disgusting way the war is waged on black people in America today.