Today is the birthday of El Hajj Malik El Shabazz, Detriot Red, Malcom Little... or a name you might know from the Spike Lee Movie or the Autobiography, Malcom X. This man was a very unique, intelligent, powerful, inspirational individual, and everyone should be familiar with who he was for a number of reasons. He shaped race relations in this country for a very long time.
I can't hope to tell the entire story of his life, but he had his story told first in a book, "The Autobiography of Malcom X", then later in film, "X", directed by Spike Lee. The book should be required reading in all schools for young men around the age of 10. I needed this book earlier in my life and I might not have made some choices I later came to regret. I was at the opening night, November 18th, 1992, and I was nervous. I so wanted this movie to not be bad. I thought that there was no way they could go wrong with Denzel... and I was right. I sat and watched the story completely riveted, knowing what was going to occur, giving Spike his latitude as a filmmaker to interpret the vision. It was masterful. When Malcom rallied the brothers to go save a brother Muslim, I think I actually cheered out loud. And when it came time for him to take that fateful trip to the Audobon Ballroom in Harlem, I almost pleaded out loud for him not to go... and when they shot him, I cried. I knew what happened, but I felt like I was there. I knew only too well what they were losing.
I don't want this to be all Doom and gloom, but Malcom journey paralleled my own so much. He actually directly influenced mine. As I read the book and I saw what the Nation Of Islam did for Malcom when he was in prison, I began to wonder how might it help me? I read up, I looked into, I went by the Temple over on 8th Street (next to I-95). I gotta tell you, they were very glad to see me. Made me feel very much at home... I don't want to be immodest, but I think they saw my potential, the fact that I was articulate and handsome, I could convert a lot of people. I thought this was it, but I didn't have the whole story at that point. When the conversation turned to Brother Malcom, one of the brothers said some things that struck me as very negative. I decided that I might have rushed my decision to join and read more into the story of Malcom. I got my answers, and decided that the Nation wasn't going to be the place for me, either.
Malcom X became an Orthodox Muslim and made the Hajj, it's a journey that all Muslims should take at least once in their lifetime to pray in the Holy City of Mecca. There Malcom saw Muslims of all colors calling each other brother and praying with one another. He determined that Islam was the only religion that would allow for the complete elimination of racism. The indoctrination of the Nation Of Islam was so strong that they couldn't believe that whites were allowed into the holy city, they didn't think it possible.
Malcom reversed his position on working with non-Blacks, and it began to set the stage for an event that I think J. Edgar Hoover was simply not going to allow: The union of Malcom X and Martin Luther King. The whole idea of the COINTELPRO program of the FBI was to "identify, surveil, and eliminate any leader(s) that could polarize the Negro Community". I don't think my Caucasian friends can fully appreciate what it means when you think "my government wanted to make sure we stayed down." This is the mythical "Man", J. Edgar Hoover, doing surveilance on the Black Panther Party, Stokeley Carmichael and the SNCC, Martin Luther King, and Malcom X. I hold the FBI responsible for Malcom's death. There is no (direct) proof that they killed him, but there is evidence provided by them that they knew of the death threats against him, and either they assisted or stood by and allowed it to happen. The scene in the movie where Malcom freed the brother brutalized by the police was a metaphor for the fear many felt about Malcom. Captain Green, the police officer said: "That's too much power for one man to have." He didn't think like King, and truthfully neither could or would I. I wasn't raised that way. I couldn't afford to.
I'm pointing out the truth about Malcom and the impressions of Black people when it comes to "The Man". Sometimes the Man is just a metaphor, but sometimes the man is very literal. "The Man" had a name in this case. This was a government entity that worked from a position of power to hold down a specific group of people for their own personal 'shortcomings' (Hoover was secretly gay and liked to dress as a woman), he was driven to oppress an entire group of people. My own interpretation of other events lead me to believe that Hoover may have been instrumental in most of the major assassinations of the 60's. Both Kennedys (John and Robert), King, and El Shabazz.
I have another blog I want to do today because someone is playing the Race Card and I think it's very trife and unfair that they are, but I didn't want to have that be my first blog on El Hajj's Birthday. So I'll wrap this up here and say Thank you El Hajj Malik El Shabazz, because you lived I am the Man I am today, I wonder what I might have become had you lived and I could have worked at your side? Because the person that you were, I don't think I could have resisted going to work beside you, because your mission is still my mission, and while you worked within your religion, I work within my culture of HipHop. A culture that was built on the Spirit of individuals like you.
I Am Malcom X.
-ere'bodee's favorite mega, blogninja