51 years...gone but not forgotten...

It’s about 2am on Sunday morning and it is my friend’s birthday. 21st February. “How could I have forgotten?” I say to myself.

Malcolm X was born on my best friend’s birthday, May 19th and was assassinated on the birthday of my next closest friend; 21st February.

“I should have taken the time to properly write a meaningful blog, but it’s too late now.”

But actually meaningful, will not be going back through the autobiography I’ve read a dozen times and extracting carefully picked quotes, or researching again the many minute details, that in all honesty, are not at the tips of my fingers all year round.

Meaningful, will be to just write, right now, the thoughts that come to my mind about a man, who died 51 years ago; but who still impacts so many today. 

(Without getting in to the debate of “that performance”) When I saw Beyonce at the Superbowl the image that stuck with me most was the “X” formed by her “Black Pantheresque” dancers. I took that as a nod to the man himself.

I almost found it strange to see the mainstream acknowledge Malcolm X. I didn’t think that was the done thing. Didn’t the mainstream have Martin (repackaged and commercialized)? Weren’t “we” supposed to have been left with the “radical reject” to treasure while being sneered at?

It was a powerful performance. That “X” was powerful, for me at least; still filled with all the power of the man and the meaning of that unknown letter. 

Malcolm X was my education and my reeducation.  On “Black America”, on racism, on Africa, on Islam…on myself. Every time I reread and revisit him, it strikes me more and more. 

He said many powerful things that we have been mulling over socio-politically for a generation. But for me, that has become almost secondary. It’s neither about what he said at the start nor what he said at the end (one the words of a man unstarted, the other of a man unfinished). It’s about the profound journey of the power and strength we can hold and the threat we can become when we go on a journey to discover truth. More importantly when that journey means we do not fear admitting we are wrong, every step of the way, when we thought we had the truth, and advocated for it, lived it…then had to change. Again and again and again. To acknowledge that “our” transitional “truth” my not really be it at all. 

To me, Malcolm X’s story was a lesson with an impact so lasting, that I can only compare it to a form of spirituality.  

It was the journey. It was the mistakes. It was the reevaluations. The growth. Even then the media and politics were vultures. Today, I wonder if such a leader could ever get past the PR machines (and whether he really would have any twitter followers?) They don’t need bullets anymore; they can assassinate characters before they ever have a chance to speak. 

That deters so many, but then every now and then; there’s a Malcolm X. And I often wonder, if I think of his story on that spirituality, whether his natural progression wasn’t in fact his death.  A man who they assassinated, but until this day, could not assassinate his character. 

I will go a long time, not thinking of you, but when I do, you inspire me all over again. And I wonder why can’t we all be Malcolm X’s and what in the world will happen the day that we all do? Because, for sure they can assassinate one, ten, hundreds, thousands or more. But they cannot assassinate us all.